True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 24
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24 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
was joined to the main land by a narrow neck of land with rather
deep water on each side, so it was simply a question of beating
the boat there or throwing up the sponge. However, in the
language of Mark Twain's cowboy they "seen their duty and
they done it." They beat the boat to the point by a neck and
passed it gloriously, their pace being accelerated at the critical
moment by the explosion of a big shell over their heads and a
brisk fire from the marines in the boat, who now, realizing that
they had lost, concluded to get an extra spurt or two. from the
land side of the race.
The main land was reached, but there was that broad prairie,
and for at least two miles the noble band would be within
reach of the guns of the gunboat. Shells began falling in front,
behind and all around them. There was no abatement of the
pace. It was a mad, headlong plunge forward, a mad desire to
get anywhere, anywhere out of reach of the shells. Finally the
-shells ceased to fall, but the mad rush continued until an old
deserted house on the prairie was reached. Here the gallant
men fell in a heap and attempted to catch their breaths and to
still their throbbing hearts.
After awhile, one by one, they succeeded in crawling into the
deserted house and lay there panting, bathed in perspiration,
but silently congratulating themselves on their escape. The captain,
a very large and fleshy man, was three-fourths dead, but
after an hour or two regained sufficient energy to sit up and then
announced that he would go upstairs and see if the gunboat had
gone. The others sat or lay around too utterly played out to
take the slightest interest in the matter or care whether it had
gone or not so long as they were out of range.
A few moments after the captain had gone there was a tremendous
crash as if the side of the house had been crushed in
by a shell. There was but one thought-the gunboat had returned,
had got the range of the house and had plugged it the
first time. That thought cost the old house its front door for
there was not room for the whole crowd to get out at once as
they tried to do. Part of the old fence was swept away, too, as
they, swerving neither to the right nor to the left, made a beeline
for their camp in the live oak grove in the distance. It was
another mad rush with the devil take the hindmost for several
hundred yards, when, hearing no more shells, one of the boldest
slackened his pace and then others, emboldened by his example,
slowed down until they all came to a dog trot. Now, for the
first time they thought of their captain and noticed his absence.
A council of war was held, which resulted in a determination
to return and bear away his mangled remains, for there was no
doubt among them that the shell had found a shining mark in
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/24/?rotate=90: accessed May 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .