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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

The Flag Of No Quarter

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Santa Anna moved some of his batteries and also erected two new ones. When the work on the latter was finished all opened in another tremendous cannonade, lasting for fully an hour. The bank of smoke was heavier than ever, and the roaring in Ned's ears was incessant, but he felt no awe now. He was growing used to the cannon fire, and as it did so little harm he felt no apprehension.

While the fire was at its height he went down in the church and cleaned his rifle, although he took the precaution to remain in one of the covered rooms by the doorway. Davy Crockett was also there busy with the same task. Before they finished a cannon ball dropped on the floor, bounded against the wall and rebounded several times until it finally lay at rest.

"Somethin' laid a big egg then," said Crockett. "It's jest as well to keep a stone roof over your head when you're under fire of a few dozen cannon. Never take foolish risks, Ned, for the sake of showin' off. That's the advice of an old man."

Crockett spoke very earnestly, and Ned remembered his words. Bonham called to them a few minutes later that the Mexicans seemed to be meditating some movement on the lower wall around the grand plaza.

"Like as not you're right," said Crockett. "It would be the time to try it while our attention was attracted by the big cannonade."

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Crockett himself was detailed to meet the new movement, and he led fifty sharpshooters. Ned was with him, his brain throbbing with the certainty that he was going into action once more. Great quantities of smoke hung over the Alamo and had penetrated every part of it. It crept into Ned's throat, and it also stung his eyes. It inflamed his brain and increased his desire for combat. They reached the low wall on a run, and found that Bonham was right. A large force of Mexicans was approaching from that side, evidently expecting to make an opening under cover of the smoke.

The assailants were already within range, and the deadly Texan rifles began to crack at once from the wall. The whole front line of the Mexican column was quickly burned away. The return fire of the Mexicans was hasty and irregular and they soon broke and ran.

"An' that's over," said Crockett, as he sent a parting shot. "It was easy, an' bein' sheltered not a man of ours was hurt. But, Ned, don't let the idea that we have a picnic here run away with you. We've got to watch an' watch an' fight an' fight all the time, an' every day more Mexicans will come."

"I understand, Mr. Crockett," said Ned. "You know that we may never get out of here alive, and I know it, too."

"You speak truth, lad," said Crockett, very soberly. "But remember that it's a chance we take every day here in the southwest. An' it's pleasant to know that they're all brave men here together. You haven't seen any flinchin' on the part of anybody an' I don't think you ever will."

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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