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The Texan Scouts Joseph A. Altsheler

To The Last Man

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"They cannot recoil! They cannot!" he cried.

But they did. The column led by Colonel Duque, a brave man, was now at the northern wall, and the men were rushing forward with the crowbars, axes and scaling ladders. The Texan rifles, never more deadly, sent down a storm of bullets upon them. A score of men fell all at once. Among them was Duque, wounded terribly. The whole column broke and reeled away, carrying Duque with them.

Ned saw the face of Santa Anna turn purple with rage. He struck the earthwork furiously with the flat of his sword.

"Go! Go!" he cried to Gaona and Tolsa. "Rally them! See that they do not run!"

The two generals sprang from the battery and rushed to their task. The Mexican cannon had ceased firing, for fear of shooting down their own men, and the smoke was drifting away from the field. The morning was also growing much lighter. The gray dawn had turned to silver, and the sun's red rim was just showing above the eastern horizon.

The Texan cannon were silent, too. The rifles were now doing all the work. The volume of their fire never diminished. Ned saw the field covered with slain, and many wounded were drifting back to the shelter of the earthworks and the town.

Duque's column was rallied, but the column on the east and the column on the west were also driven back, and Santa Anna rushed messenger after messenger, hurrying up fresh men, still driving the whole Mexican army against the Alamo. He shouted orders incessantly, although he remained safe within the shelter of the battery.

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Ned felt an immense joy. He had seen the attack beaten off at three points. A force of twenty to one had been compelled to recoil. His heart swelled with pride in those friends of his. But they were so few in number! Even now the Mexican masses were reforming. The officers were among them, driving them forward with threats and blows. The great ring of Mexican cavalry, intended to keep any of the Texans from escaping, also closed in, driving their own infantry forward to the assault.

Ned's heart sank as the whole Mexican army, gathering now at the northern or lower wall, rushed straight at the barrier. But the deadly fire of the rifles flashed from it, and their front line went down. Again they recoiled, and again the cavalry closed in, holding them to the task.

There was a pause of a few moments. The town had been silent for a long time, and the Mexican soldiers themselves ceased to shout. Clouds of smoke eddied and drifted about the buildings. The light of the morning, first gray, then silver, turned to gold. The sun, now high above the earth's rim, poured down a flood of rays.

Everything stood out sharp and clear. Ned saw the buildings of the Alamo dark against the sun, and he saw men on the walls. He saw the Mexican columns pressed together in one great force, and he even saw the still faces of many who lay silent on the plain.

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The Texan Scouts
Joseph A. Altsheler

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