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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

Fannin's Camp

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When Ned made his startling announcement he leaped down lightly from the wall.

"If you will look through the loophole there," he said to Colonel Ward, "you will see a great force only a few hundred yards away. The man on the large horse in front is General Urrea, who commands them. He is one of Santa Anna's most trusted generals. His nephew, Captain Urrea, led the cavalry who besieged us yesterday and last night."

Captain Ward looked, but the Mexicans turned into the wood and were hidden from sight. Then the belief became strong among the recruits that Ned was mistaken. This was only a little force that had come, and Ward and King shared their faith. Ward, against Ned's protest, sent King and thirteen men out to scout.

Ned sadly watched them go. He was one of the youngest present, but he was first in experience, and he knew that he had seen aright. General Urrea and the main army were certainly at hand. But he deemed it wiser to say nothing more. Instead, he resumed his place on the wall, and kept sharp watch on the point where he thought the Mexican force lay. King and his scouts were already out of sight.

Ned suddenly heard the sound of shots, and he saw puffs of smoke from the wood. Then a great shout arose and Mexican cavalry dashed from the edge of the forest. Some of the other watchers thought the mission was about to be attacked, but the horsemen bore down upon another point to the northward. Ned divined instantly that they had discovered King and his men and were surrounding them.

He leaped once more from the wall and shouted the alarm to Ward.

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"The men out there are surrounded," he cried. "They will have no chance without help!"

Ward was brave enough, and his men, though lacking skill, were brave enough, too. At his command they threw open the gate of the mission and rushed out to the relief of their comrades. Ned was by the side of Ward, near the front. As they appeared in the opening they heard a great shouting, and a powerful detachment of cavalry galloped toward their right, while an equally strong force of infantry moved on their left. The recruits were outnumbered at least five to one, but in such a desperate situation they did not blench.

"Take good aim with your rifles," shouted Ward. And they did. A shower of bullets cut gaps in the Mexican line, both horse and foot. Many riderless horses galloped through the ranks of the foe, adding to the confusion. But the Mexican numbers were so great that they continued to press the Texans. Young Urrea, his head in thick bandages, was again with the cavalry, and animated by more than one furious impulse he drove them on.

It became evident now even to the rawest that the whole Mexican army was present. It spread out to a great distance, and enfolded the Texans on three sides, firing hundreds of muskets and keeping up a great shouting, Ned's keen ear also detected other firing off to the right, and he knew that it was King and his men making a hopeless defence against overpowering numbers.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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