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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

Fannin's Camp

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Luckily it was a dark night, and Ned believed that they had more than half a chance of getting away. The great door was thrown silently open, and, with a moving farewell to their wounded and disabled comrades, they filed silently out, leaving the door open behind them.

Then the column of nearly one hundred and fifty men slipped away, every man treading softly. They had chosen a course that lay directly away from the Mexican army, but they did not expect to escape without an alarm, and it came in five minutes. A Mexican horseman, one of the patrol, saw the dark file, fired a shot and gave an alarm. In an instant all the sentinels were firing and shouting, and Urrea's army in the wood was awakening.

But the Texans now pressed forward rapidly. Their rifles cracked, quickly cutting a path through the patrol, and before Urrea could get up his main force they were gone through the forest and over the prairie.

Knowing that the whole country was swarming with the Mexican forces, they chose a circuitous course through forests and swamps and pressed on until daylight. Some of the Mexicans on horseback followed them for a while, but a dozen of the best Texan shots were told off to halt them. When three or four saddles were emptied the remainder of the Mexicans disappeared and they pursued their flight in peace.

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Morning found them in woods and thickets by the banks of a little creek of clear water. They drank from the stream, ate of their cold food, and rested. Ned and some others left the wood and scouted upon the prairie. They saw no human being and returned to their own people, feeling sure that they were safe from pursuit for the present.

Yet the Texans felt no exultation. They had been compelled to retreat before the Mexicans, and they could not forget King and his men, and those whom they had left behind in the church. Ned, in his heart, knowing the Mexicans so well, did not believe that a single one of them had been saved.

They walked the whole day, making for the town of Victoria, where they expected to meet Fannin, and shortly before night they stopped in a wood, footsore and exhausted. Again their camp was pitched on the banks of a little creek and some of the hunters shot two fine fat deer further up the stream.

Seeking as much cheer as they could they built fires, and roasted the deer. The spirits of the young recruits rose. They would meet Fannin to-morrow or the next day and they would avenge the insult that the Mexicans had put upon them. They were eager for a new action in which the odds should not be so great against them, and they felt sure of victory. Then, posting their sentinels, they slept soundly.

But Ned did not feel so confident. Toward morning he rose from his blankets. Yet he saw nothing. The prairie was bare. There was not a single sign of pursuit. He was surprised. He believed that at least the younger Urrea with the cavalry would follow.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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