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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Flag Of No Quarter

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Looking from the flag to the earth, he saw great activity in the Mexican lines. Three or four batteries were being placed in position, and Mexican officers, evidently messengers, were galloping about. The flat roofs of the houses in San Antonio were covered with people. Ned knew that they were there to see Santa Anna win a quick victory and take immediate vengeance upon the Texans. He recognized Santa Anna himself riding in his crouched attitude upon a great white horse, passing from battery to battery and hurrying the work. There was proof that his presence was effective, as the men always worked faster when he came.

Ned saw all the Texan leaders, Travis, Bowie, Crockett and Bonham, watching the batteries. The whole Texan force was now manning the walls and the heavy cedar palisade at many points, but Ned saw that for the present all their dealings would be with the cannon.

Earthworks had been thrown up to protect the Mexican batteries, and the Texan cannon were posted for reply, but Ned noticed that his comrades seemed to think little of the artillery. In this desperate crisis they fondled their rifles lovingly.

He was still watching the batteries, when a gush of smoke and flame came from one of the cannon. There was a great shout in the Mexican lines, but the round shot spent itself against the massive stone walls of the mission.

"They'll have to send out a stronger call than that," said Davy Crockett contemptuously, "before this 'coon comes down."

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Travis went along the walls, saw that the Texans were sheltering themselves, and waited. There was another heavy report and a second round shot struck harmlessly upon the stone. Then the full bombardment began. A half dozen batteries rained shot and shell upon the Alamo. The roar was continuous like the steady roll of thunder, and it beat upon the drums of Ned's ears until he thought he would become deaf.

He was crouched behind the stone parapet, but he looked up often enough to see what was going on. He saw a vast cloud of smoke gathering over river and town, rent continually by flashes of fire from the muzzles of the cannon. The air was full of hissing metal, shot and shell poured in a storm upon the Alamo. Now and then the Texan cannon replied, but not often.

The cannon fire was so great that for a time it shook Ned's nerves. It seemed as if nothing could live under such a rain of missiles, but when he looked along the parapet and saw all the Texans unharmed his courage came back.

Many of the balls were falling inside the church, in the convent yard and in the plazas, but the Texans there were protected also, and as far as Ned could see not a single man had been wounded.

The cannonade continued for a full hour and then ceased abruptly. The great cloud of smoke began to lift, and the Alamo, river and town came again into the brilliant sunlight. The word passed swiftly among the defenders that their fortress was uninjured and not a man hurt.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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