The Mentor: Historic Spots of America, Vol. 1, Num. 32, Serial No. 32 by McElroy, Robert McNutt

The Mentor, No. 32, Historic Spots of America


“A Wise and Faithful Guide and Friend”

VOL. 1 NO. 32










_Head of the Department of History and Politics, Princeton University_

A few years before the settlement of the territory now known as the United States the people of Europe had witnessed a great naval battle in which two kinds of civilizations contended for supremacy. England and Spain were the combatants, and the issue, as we now clearly see, was whether the old idea of monarchy or the new idea of democracy should dominate two continents. Gold from Mexico and Peru had made Spain a great power. Successive royal inheritances had given to her kingly line the control of a large part of Europe. She was the champion of the Church of Rome, and regarded it as her mission to prevent all heretics from planting colonies in the New World. England, on the other hand, was the champion of Protestantism, whose doctrine of the direct responsibility of the individual led logically to democracy in government. England won the battle, destroying Spain’s great Armada, and thus opening the New World to the settlement of men professing Protestant doctrines; for as soon as Spain’s power on the seas was shattered Protestants could plant colonies without danger of having them destroyed by a Spanish man-of-war.


_The exact site of the original settlement. Once a peninsula, this ground has been cut away from the mainland by the constant washing of the river. It is now protected by a stone wall._]



_A ruined tower of the earliest colonial days._]


_A reproduction of the church built 1639-1647. This building was put up for the Jamestown Exposition in 1907, using the old tower, which can be seen in the background, for its entrance._]

Within a few years after the destruction of the Armada a great colonizing company was established in England for the purpose of sending out men to settle the New World. Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Somers, and a number of associates asked King James the First of England to grant them a charter of incorporation. He consented, and on April 10, 1606, transferred to them the vast district called Virginia, which comprised practically all the territory later occupied by the thirteen American colonies. The charter which made the grant clearly declared “that all and every the Persons … which shall dwell and inhabit within every or any of the said colonies or Plantations, and every of their children, … shall have and enjoy all liberties, Franchises, and Immunities … as if they had been abiding and born within this our Realm of England.” This was a promise of self-government for all English colonies in America, and if England had carried it out in good faith there would not later have been the necessity of fighting the Revolutionary War; since all that the Americans demanded at the opening of that conflict was to be taxed only by their own representatives, a privilege which Englishmen in England had enjoyed for many generations.


_A shaft to commemorate the first permanent English settlement on American soil. Jamestown was founded May 13, 1607._]

The Virginia Company, as this great corporation was called, was divided into two subcompanies, the London and the Plymouth Companies, to each of which was assigned the task of colonizing one-half the territory.

Before many weeks had passed George Popham attempted to plant a colony in the part assigned to the Plymouth Company, but it utterly failed.

The London Company, meanwhile, had fitted up three small vessels, the Godspeed, the Discovery, and the Susan Constant, placed one hundred and five colonists aboard, and sent them forth to plant a colony. They sailed from the Downs on New Year’s Day, 1607, and after a stormy voyage of almost four months dropped anchor off a pleasant point of land, to which in gratitude they gave the name “Point Comfort.”


As they had been warned, however, to establish this settlement far up a navigable river, out of danger from wandering vessels of the Spanish Main, they entered the beautiful river of Powhatan, which they called the James, and sailed up it for some fifty miles until they came to a wooded island, which they chose as the site of their colony. There they cut logs and built the rude huts which marked the site of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement within the limits of what we now know as the United States of America.

[Illustration: THE MAYFLOWER

_The pilgrim ship is shown as it entered Plymouth Harbor bringing the first New England settlers._]

Through sorrow and privations, surrounded by the nameless terrors of an unknown wilderness, harassed by savages, and disheartened by sickness, the little colony survived as by a miracle, and became the nucleus of a nation. Of the old Jamestown nothing now remains but an ancient church tower overgrown with ivy and a few crumbling tombstones. But its honor remains, secure in the hearts of a grateful people.

[Illustration: EDWARD WINSLOW

_From the only portrait of a “Mayflower” pilgrim in existence. Edward Winslow was one of the governors of Plymouth colony._]

The failure of the Popham colony had discouraged the Plymouth Company, and it was not until Jamestown was a flourishing village that a permanent settlement was made in the northern part of the region which King James had granted to the Virginia Company. Those years had been years of strife and sorrow in England. The king in the narrow bigotry of his ecclesiastical views, had declared that if any refused to conform to the rules of worship prescribed by the established Church of England, he would “harry them out of the land,” and King James had kept his word. Many Englishmen had been “harried out of the land,” and had taken refuge on the continent of Europe; but the band for whom history was reserving the largest place had escaped from Scrooby in Nottinghamshire and established themselves at Leyden, Holland. Here they had prospered; but they were still English, and, seeing their children growing up with distinctly Dutch characteristics, they determined to migrate to a land where the son of an Englishman would grow up an Englishman. It is often said that the chief aim of the Puritans was to settle in a land where they could worship God as they pleased. This, however, they were quite at liberty to do in Holland. It might be said with greater truthfulness that they desired to settle in a land where they could compel others to worship God as they commanded--and this they managed quite effectively for some years after their landing.


They accordingly obtained from the London branch of the Virginia Company permission to settle at the mouth of the Delaware, and from the king the promise that he would “wink at their heresy.” When all was ready, the youngest and strongest of the Leyden congregation, with Brewster, Bradford, Winslow, and Myles Standish at their head, repaired to Delft Haven, where they embarked for England upon the Speedwell. At Southampton they were joined by the Mayflower, with recruits from London, and the two little vessels turned their prows toward the vast waters of the Atlantic.

[Illustration: PLYMOUTH ROCK

_The granite boulder on which the Pilgrims are said to have landed in 1620._]

The Speedwell, however, soon sprang a leak, and the two vessels entered the harbor of Plymouth in Devonshire, where as many as possible of the Speedwell’s passengers were transferred to the Mayflower, those who could not be there accommodated being placed ashore. As the Mayflower glided out of the harbor on September 6, 1620, the one hundred and two devoted souls on board waved a sad farewell to their twenty disconsolate fellow Pilgrims who stood on the quay. As the dim outlines of ancient Cornwall faded from their view, the hearts of flesh cried out, but the steady voice of the Spirit gave them courage; for to the Puritan, in spite of his faults, which were many and great, duty was always first, and the planting of the wilderness with the choicest seed, as he modestly called himself, was a solemn duty laid upon him by God.

[Illustration: Copr. 1906. A. S. Burbank, Plymouth, Mass.


_Erected in remembrance of their sufferings for civil and religious liberty._]

Driven from their course, lost on the vast oceans of an unknown world, the little company pressed bravely on, and on November 9 sighted Cape Cod, far to the north of their intended destination. Here their patent was useless, and as some of the company in “discontented and mutinous speeches” during the voyage had declared that “they would use their own liberty” after landing, it was thought wise to draw up a compact binding its signers to render “all due submission and obedience” to the government therein provided. This document has been called the first written constitution in the world’s history. It was not a constitution, however; but only a compact.


After five weeks of careful inspection of the coast they selected for their colony a spot which Captain John Smith had already named Plymouth, in honor of the lovely harbor from which they had sailed. Here, as tradition says, upon a great rock, now known throughout the world as Plymouth Rock, they landed on December 21, plowed through the deep snow, and amid the “murmuring pines and the hemlocks” began to build a House of God and about it rude cabins of logs. To this scene every true American heart should turn with reverence, whatever his creed, political affiliation, or sectional tradition; for it, more than any other in American colonial history, typifies the spirit which has made of America a great nation. At Plymouth, more even than at Jamestown, the political doctrines which had grown out of Calvinistic theology took firm root. In religion the Puritans were bigoted and intolerant; but in political theories they represented the idea of the freedom and dignity of the individual. The God-given right of self-government was their political motto, and from it they never swerved. The great contest which we call the American Revolution was not, as is sometimes asserted, an attempt to throw off the shackles of tyranny, but was, on the contrary, a determined refusal to allow these shackles to be put on. George the Third and his obsequious minister, Lord North, were the real revolutionists; for they sought to take away from the American colonies rights of self-government as old as Jamestown and Plymouth. In this they failed, and their failure cost England an empire.


_A restoration begun in 1909. The first fort, called Fort Carillon, was built by the French in 1755. It was taken by the British in 1758 and rebuilt as Fort Ticonderoga._]



_An inn at Dorset, Vermont, where the Revolutionary hero used to stop._]


_On this rock are the names of Ticonderoga’s heroes, Champlain, Montcalm, Lord Howe, Amherst and Burgoyne._]

To tax a man without his consent has always been, since Magna Charta was written, contrary to the liberties of native-born Englishmen. It was therefore contrary also to the liberties of native-born Americans, and as such it was resisted by our ancestors of the revolutionary epoch, as it had been resisted by our ancestors of the colonial era. When, on May 10, 1775, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold, sword in hand, called upon the king’s ancient fortress of Ticonderoga to surrender, giving as their authority “the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress,” they were but putting into striking phrase the political doctrines of Calvinism and seeking to enforce the royal promise that Americans of whatever colony were entitled to “all Liberties, Franchises, and Immunities … as if they had been abiding and born, within this, our Realm of England.” And when the great political figures of the Revolution--Adams, Witherspoon, Franklin, Jefferson, and the rest--assembled in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, and signed the Declaration of Independence, while the Liberty Bell pealed forth the notes of freedom, they were but repeating the declaration of the first American charter.


_Erected at Manchester, Vt., to the daring frontiersman who captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British._]

Our Revolution was thus a war calmly entered upon to maintain immemorial rights and ancient institutions, whose preservation meant liberty not alone for America, but for England as well. Today we can clearly see what was at stake at Ticonderoga, at Bunker Hill, and upon the long chain of Revolutionary battlefields, stretching from the lakes to the faraway swamps of Georgia. Representative government hung in the balance, and whenever we hear of a nation’s rising against despotism and demanding that the people shall rule, we should add one more blossom to the garland which we are weaving for the graves of the men who gave Liberty to enlighten the world. Tennyson, with the soul of a true poet, though writing for Englishmen, has expressed the thought for all men:

“Oh! Thou who sendest out the man, To rule by land and sea, Strong mother of a Lion-line, Be proud of those strong sons of thine, Who wrench’d their rights from Thee!”

[Illustration: LIBERTY BELL

_In Independence Hall, Philadelphia._]

Years passed by. The ideas which had triumphed in the Revolution grew ever stronger in the nation that war had created. By slow degrees men came to understand more fully what it meant for the people to rule.


_The room where the Declaration of Independence was adopted July 4, 1776. Much of the original furniture is preserved here, and the portraits of those who signed the Declaration hang about the walls._]

The colonies grew to populous cities, and the far off plains of Texas became the field for pioneer activity: Austin, Houston, and a host of others, with their love of “God’s out of doors,” left settled parts of America and sought homes upon the spreading prairies of that distant province of Mexico. With these men ideals of American freedom had become instinctive, and from the very first a trial of strength was inevitable between them and Santa Anna, the despotic ruler of Mexico.


The Alamo was a Franciscan mission, dating from the eighteenth century. It was strongly built, and inclosed an area of about three acres, upon which stood a roofless church and a few other crumbling buildings. Its garrison consisted of 186 men, under Colonel Travis, and included the famous frontiersmen, James Bowie and David Crockett. Sam Houston, commander of the Texas forces, had ordered that the Alamo be blown up and abandoned; but his orders had been disregarded, and the gallant little garrison was now to pay the terrible price of its disobedience.

[Illustration: Copr. Archer’s Studios


_The tower will be 802 feet high, the loftiest in America, and will cost 2,000,000 dollars._]

On February 23, 1836, the Alamo was invested by four thousand Mexican soldiers and the final reckoning began. On March 6, after a gallant defense, it was taken by storm, its garrison having been slaughtered to a man. “Thermopylæ had its messenger of defeat--the Alamo had none,” so runs the epitaph which stands upon the monument of these heroes of liberty.

But the blood-avenger was at hand. A few weeks later Sam Houston, standing with bared head before his little army of Texas patriots, gathered at San Jacinto, gave the watchword, “Remember the Alamo!” and within twenty minutes the army of Santa Anna was scattered “like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” Texas was free.


But I have mentioned one other battlefield, and one which in numbers and in the military skill of those engaged, as well as in the principles at stake, stands among the great battles of the world. Gettysburg is a name which is justly mentioned with pride by Americans of all sections; for when its aged veterans, North and South, can clasp hands and declare themselves brothers, it would be presumptuous for others to display the rancor of partizanship.

The settings of the battle were dramatic. Robert E. Lee, the ablest commander of the Confederacy, had crossed into Pennsylvania with his main column. The Federal army of the Potomac was close behind, intent upon pressing northward after Lee to protect Baltimore should it be endangered. Gettysburg lies in a fruitful valley of Pennsylvania, just north of the Maryland borderline. It is walled in by low mountain ranges studded with peaks--Culp’s Hill, Round Top, and Little Round Top--whose names rouse thrilling memories. Here on July 1, 2, and 3, 1863, the two armies fought the most fearful and significant open battle of the whole Civil War.

For the first two days fate favored the Confederate army, and “these partial successes,” writes General Lee, “determined me to continue the assault next day.” A movement was planned in which Pickett’s division of Longstreet’s corps was to strike the Federal line in the center, while Stuart with his cavalry attacked it in the rear. It was a desperate venture, and Longstreet declared that when the moment came for ordering Pickett and his gallant five thousand to advance, his lips refused to form the words, and to the calm inquiry, “General, shall I advance?” he could only reply by an affirmative bow. Within thirty minutes two thousand of the detachment had fallen, and of the officers who had headed this desperate venture, only Pickett and one lieutenant came out unharmed.

Stuart had failed to reach the Federal rear in time to aid the attack which, unsustained, had ended in disaster. “It was all my fault,” generously commented Lee, when the whole tragic result was understood, “Let us do the best we can toward saving that which is left us.” Meade made no attempt at pursuit. Lee led his army back to Virginia and was safe.

In an order of July 4, Meade had used the expression, “driving the invader from our soil,” which, when the great, sad-eyed Lincoln read, he heaved a deep sigh and remarked, “Will our generals never get that idea out of their heads? The whole country is our soil.”


_This struggle, the crisis of our Civil War and one of the great battles of the world, raged for three days._]

SUPPLEMENTARY READING--John Fiske’s “Old Virginia and Her Neighbors,” “Beginnings of New England,” “The Critical Period of American History,” and “The American Revolution”; “True Relation of Virginia,” Smith; “Plymouth Plantation,” Bradford; “Sam Houston,” Bruce; “Stuart’s Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign,” John S. Mosby.



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Volume 1 Number 32 Serial Number 32



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[Illustration: JAMESTOWN TOWER]




Slowly up the river three vessels made their way with the light though favoring breeze. Gradually the open of the bay was passed, as, two days previously, the open of the sea had been left behind. Now the land was closing in on each side, and both ships were alive with the figures of those who stood eagerly scanning the shore. And what they saw was a welcome sight. The April sun was shining on the forests of both banks; elms, they saw, like old friends, stretching out their branches in friendly protection; oaks, too, knotted and gnarled, seemed to voice a welcome. On nearer approach they noticed masses of dogwood in brilliant bloom, and other shrubs in flower, whose fragrance was wafted over to them as a pleasant incense. And there was a riot of sweet birds’ songs coming out of the woods.

Truly, it was a paradise that they had come to, and many fell on their knees in thanksgiving that they had safely crossed the seas and been guided to a land of such beauty. Till night they sailed on up the river, and then the sails were furled, the anchor dropped, and their long journey was at an end.

Thus came the colonists who, a few weeks later, founded Jamestown in Virginia, the first English settlement in America, which they named after King James I. Starting in three small vessels, one of them but twenty tons in burden, they had taken more than four months in crossing.

At first they had only tents to live in. It was late to plant, and food was not plentiful. And they soon learned that terror and death lurked in the land. Indians had stolen up, and with bows and arrows wounded seventeen of the men and killed a boy. The thunder of muskets drove them away; but the settlers felt it necessary to keep regular watch, and each man sat up every third night to take his turn. Those first few months were hard, and many died. Then they built cabins, and enjoyed more comfort.

Captain Smith, later a governor, was absent much of the time, buying food from the Indians. Two years afterward he went home, and the months that followed were called the “Starving Time,” when all but sixty of the four hundred settlers died.

Yet, through many tribulations, Jamestown lived. In 1608 it was burned, and other cabins were built. In 1619 word was received that a representative government had been granted. The settlers were each to have a portion of ground, and plantations were gradually laid out along the James. In spite of Indian massacres the colony and all Virginia grew.

In 1676 Jamestown was burned by Nathaniel Bacon, who had risen against the autocratic rule of the governor. In 1691 the capital of Virginia was removed from Jamestown to Williamsburg, and the importance of the old colony ceased, until it is now but a site of ruins.

It was on low and marshy ground that later became an island. There are monuments erected in commemoration of the colony, of Captain Smith and Pocahontas, and a church that resembles the one first built.

The Jamestown Exposition in 1907 was held near Norfolk, forty miles down the river.


[Illustration: PLYMOUTH ROCK]


_Plymouth Rock_


The little ship hove to and the sails were furled upon the yards. The long journey was over. There, on the harbor’s edge, rose the hill that was to become so familiar in after years to those who had spent these many weeks at sea. There too, below the hill and on the very shore, projected the great boulder of granite upon which they were to make their landing, which would ever afterward be famous. Here, at last, was freedom in a new land, freedom to think and worship as they pleased! And the voyagers were jubilant.

It was cold, for Christmas was only four days off; but the spirits of the Pilgrims were not dampened. The armed men went ashore to reconnoiter, and soon returned with the word that it was a likely spot. Then for many days there was a sound of axes clearing the land and felling trees to build houses with; the smoke of many fires brought with it the odor of burning pine. But the buoyant spirits of the colonists could not long withstand the penetrating cold. Food was poor and scarce, and none was to be had from the surrounding country. Sickness came, and death broke into the ranks. Indeed, before the close of that first winter nearly half of the colonists had perished. They were buried upon the hill near the harbor, and in the spring grain was sowed over their graves that the Indians might not see how terribly the little company had suffered.

Friendly Indians showed them how to plant their corn, putting fish into the hills to fertilize it. Other colonists came; other colonies were established--and so New England was born.

The story of gruff, big-hearted Myles Standish, the military captain of Plymouth, and Priscilla Mullins, is inseparably connected with the colony. Captain Standish had many encounters with the Indians. A fort was built, and, while in general the Indians were friendly, the men of the little army under his command were constantly on the lookout for trouble that might arise. Once a conspiracy was detected, and the Indians put to death with the very weapons they had brought to use upon the people of the colony.

In 1624 each member of the colony received a parcel of land, which he was allowed to work for himself. After that there was always plenty of food in Plymouth. The colony was united with that of Massachusetts Bay in 1691.

Today Plymouth is a busy city of more than 12,000 people. The great boulder upon which the Pilgrims stepped is still there at the harbor edge, and a protecting canopy of granite has been built above it. The bones of some of the Pilgrims have been placed within the canopy.


[Illustration: TICONDEROGA]




Darkness had fallen long before the men of Vermont came to the lakes. Through woods where giant trees reached upward and made the darkness impenetrable they had marched, stumbling along, feeling their way, often bumping into trees or falling over logs. Now at the lake shore they were ready to embark. Silently they moved to and fro, and the only sound was the lapping of the water against the shore and the roar of the falls. Just a few boats could be found; but they were filled and rowed across in silence, brought back, filled again, and again rowed across. When dawn broke in the east eighty-three American soldiers had been ferried over, and it was too late to wait for more.

If the attack was to be a success it must be made without more delay. With the utmost caution, therefore, the men moved forward and up the slope. The rumble of the falls helped them, drowning out all other sounds. They reached the sally port. There a sentry pointed his musket at the leader of the Americans and pulled the trigger. The piece did not go off, and the sentry fled. In a few moments the little army of invaders had formed a hollow square within the fort, facing the barracks about them, their muskets ready to fire. The Indian war-cry was given, and Ethan Allen, who led them, made his way to the quarters of the commandant, and demanded the surrender of the fort.

“In whose name,” asked the commandant.

“In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress,” replied Allen. And the surrender was made. So easily and quietly did Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold capture Ticonderoga from the British on that early morning in May, 1775, without the loss of a man or the firing of a gun, and the army of the colonies was enriched by many precious cannon, muskets, and a large amount of ammunition for the struggle for freedom that had but started.

“Sounding waters” is the interpretation given to the Indian name, Ticonderoga. Here, where the waters of Lake George descend tumultuously into Lake Champlain, falling thirty feet in one sheer drop, where the voyagers from Canada to New England had to leave their boats, and portage their loads, a fort had been built by the French twenty years before. Three years after it was put up, Ticonderoga was attacked by six thousand British regulars and ten thousand provincials. The four thousand men of the French garrison repulsed the attacking army, and among the killed was Lord Howe. His memory is kept fresh by a tablet in Westminster Abbey, erected by the people of Massachusetts. Three weeks after this repulse, when Montcalm had gone to Quebec to oppose General Wolfe and only four hundred men were left in the fort, Lord Amherst, with eleven thousand English, besieged it. Realizing the hopelessness of their task, the garrison blew up the fortifications and abandoned the place. It had been in English hands since that time up to its capture by the “Green Mountain Boys” under Ethan Allen. Two years later, when General Burgoyne descended from Canada, the fort was captured, while the Americans retreated after a feeble resistance. But when Burgoyne surrendered, after the battle of Saratoga, Ticonderoga again fell into American hands.

In 1909, on the three hundredth anniversary of the discovery of Lake Champlain, the owner of the ground on which the ruins of the fort stood began its restoration.

The waters still roar at the falls as they did on the night Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys made the bloodless attack upon the fort.




_Independence Hall_


Of the sixty American gentlemen in frosted wigs and silk stockings, who sat in what is now Independence Hall in Philadelphia and composed the Continental Congress, there was none more aristocratic by birth, more democratic by nature, than Thomas Jefferson. Perhaps that was one reason why they selected him to pen the Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776, which remains today America’s most sacred historical document. He was sufficiently modest, however, to insist that in writing the Declaration he simply put down the ideas prevalent at the time.

This Continental Congress was the first body of men at that time sitting in any of the parliaments of the world. These statesmen had the courage to break an old order, the valor to maintain a new one, and the wisdom to fortify it with laws and a constitution. The first and second Congress of our nation comprised the flower of the character of that age. As a whole body they ruled higher for talents, firmness, and good judgment than any national assembly known to history.

So when it came to a division between allegiance to England and a complete separation from the mother country, these men chose wisely, bravely, and confidently. It was a big step to take, and a dangerous one also. Hitherto the colonies had been merely fighting for “no taxation without representation”; but now they would be fighting for liberty. And, if conquered, the leaders could hope for no better fate than execution as traitors.

It is related that when Benjamin Franklin lifted his pen, after signing the Declaration of Independence, he turned to the assembly and said with a grim smile:

“Now, gentlemen, we must all hang together, or we shall hang separately.”

The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776; but not all the members of the Continental Congress signed it on that day. A great many signed at later dates.

The old bell that rang out this message of liberty is now kept as an almost sacred relic in Independence Hall. When the Pennsylvanians were building their State edifice they ordered a bell from England. But when it arrived they found that it had lost its voice and had to be recast. A quotation was inscribed on the new bell, which, though chosen a quarter of a century in advance of the Declaration of Independence, showed the direction in which the thoughts of all the people of America were even then turning--“Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” This quotation was taken from the tenth verse of the twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus.

The bell was afterward used on various occasions of national importance; but was cracked in 1835 in tolling for the funeral of Chief Justice Marshall, and since 1843 has never been sounded.


[Illustration: THE ALAMO]


_The Alamo_


Two men who were riding up the heights dismounted, left their horses, and walked to the top. The scene before them was one that tried their souls,--a great circle of troops; here and there a battery of guns; in the center a low rambling building of adobe, at which the fire was directed.

“It’s no use, Bonham,” said the elder of the two. “We can’t do it. To try to get in now would be certain death. You have done your best to get assistance; you can do no more.”

“Smith,” replied the other, “I am going in. Travis sent me for help. It is right for you to turn back; but I cannot. I will report the results of my mission or die in the attempt.”

Putting a white handkerchief in his hat brim and fastening it there he mounted the splendid cream-colored horse. The two men clasped hands and looked into each other’s eyes for a moment, and then Bonham rode down toward the beleaguered fort. Smith saw him reach the Mexican lines and spur his horse on. He was apparently unnoticed for a time, and then the fire of hundreds was turned upon him. Bending low in the saddle, man and horse seemed to fly over the ground. Hundreds of bullets must have whizzed past him; but he seemed to have a charmed life. On and on he went, and the fire against him grew heavier. But now the men of the garrison had seen the white handkerchief, which had been agreed upon as a signal, and a cheer went up. The gates of the fort swung open. The horse went faster. Smith saw horse and rider reach the fort, and the gates swing to behind them. They had gone unscathed through the entire Mexican army.

The Alamo at San Antonio, originally built for a mission, had been taken by the Texans in their efforts to gain independence from Mexico. Garrisoned by a few men under Col. William Barrett Travis, it was surrounded on February 23, 1836, by an army variously estimated at from 3,000 to 8,000 men, under General Santa Anna.

With his force of 150 Texans, among them Colonel Bowie, David Crockett, frontiersman and ex-member of Congress, and James Butler Bonham, a friend from boyhood days of Colonel Travis, the last named made a gallant fight against overwhelming odds. Messengers had been despatched to summon help, and finally Travis sent his friend out to bring assistance. At the first place he tried, appeals were of no avail, and he rode on to Gonzales. There he found that Captain Martin and thirty-two men had gone to the assistance of the besieged men, fighting their way into the fort. So he returned.

Three days after Bonham’s ride the Mexican army made a general assault. All but six of the brave garrison were killed, and these, surrendering on condition of parole, were butchered in cold blood. The Mexicans lost 1,600 men. On April 21 the Mexican army overtook General Houston and his army of 780 men at San Jacinto. The battle cry of the Texans was “Remember the Alamo!” and the enraged men of the little army cut the Mexican forces to pieces, killing 630 and capturing nearly all the rest. Thus Texas won her independence.


[Illustration: GETTYSBURG]




Gettysburg was the high-water mark of the Rebellion, and Pickett’s charge was the high-water mark of Gettysburg. In that terrific engagement of the third day the advance of the Confederates into northern territory was effectually checked, and the question of the Confederacy maintaining a position in northern territory was settled. Lee turned south with his defeated and broken forces, and as the booming of the guns of Gettysburg died down, the Confederate cause ebbed away.

When the battle started, more than two hundred cannon hurled shot and shell across a lovely green valley with yellowing grain fields. The carnage and the roar and smoke of guns continued until the Confederate gunners began to run short of ammunition; then, on the third day, came a lull. It was an ominous silence. Down from the one hill surged a line of gray, and another, and another. The Confederate forces charged on across the valley, and still the Federal batteries reserved their fire. The supreme moment was at hand. North and South hung upon the issue with drawn breath. Then as the gray army mounted the opposite hill, rifles and cannon thundered again, line after line broke and fell; but still the charging body of the Confederates kept on. They captured the first Federal outworks, and staggered on toward the second. But the Union fire had been too deadly. No human bravery could withstand such losses. The gray lines fell back, leaving most of their men dead on the field. Thus with the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg over, the climax of the war was past.

The little town round which the battle raged was settled about 1740, and in 1800 it became the county seat. It holds the oldest Lutheran college in America, and likewise the oldest Lutheran theological seminary. Today the valley is a beautiful national park, with the lines of battle marked by six hundred monuments, five hundred iron tablets, one thousand markers, and hundreds of cannon. Observation towers enable the visitor to see the surrounding country.

It is a curious fact that neither side had intended to fight at Gettysburg, General Meade having determined to make a stand at Pipes Creek, fifteen miles distant. But Lee’s troops, coming into contact with a body of Union cavalry near Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, precipitated the battle, and both armies hurried to the scene. The Federal troops were forced back, retreating through the village, and took position on Cemetery Hill, just beyond. At one time in his march toward Gettysburg, General Lee was within a few miles of the main ammunition stores of the Federal army, which, had he known it, he could easily have captured.

Both sides suffered tremendous losses. Of an army of 75,000 Lee lost 43,000 killed, wounded, and captured, and Meade 23,000 in killed and wounded out of 90,000. In Pickett’s charge, out of fifteen regimental commanders, ten were killed and five wounded. One regiment lost 90 per cent. of its members; of 4,500 officers and men 3,393 were left on the field.