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قراءة كتاب Graham's Magazine Vol XXXII No. 6 June 1848

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Graham's Magazine Vol XXXII No. 6 June 1848

Graham's Magazine Vol XXXII No. 6 June 1848

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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immediately organized an expedition for the purpose of entering the great everglade south of the Lake Okeechobee, in which the Seminoles were supposed to be in much strength. The country in which he was about to act seemed to be the realization of the poetic chaos. It was overgrown with trees of immense size, of kinds almost unknown in other portions of the peninsula, and grass of great highth and strength rose two or three feet above the surface of the water, which not unfrequently had a depth of several feet. Notwithstanding, however, that this was the general character of the country there were often portages, or shoal and dry places, over which it was necessary to carry their boats by main force. In this kind of country the Indians had the manifest advantage, being acquainted with sinuous pathways, which, it is said, enabled them to thread all the intricacies of the hamac almost without wetting the moccason. The party of Col. Harney, however, were picked men, inured to all the hardships of Indian warfare, and after several days of hide and seek, surprised a party of Indians, among whom was a chief of distinction. As this identical party had more than once surrendered and broken truce, Colonel Harney ordered all the men to be hung summarily, and took the women with him to the nearest post as prisoners. So important was this service that the names of all the party were mentioned in general orders, and the enlisted men advanced in grade. The effect on the Indians was great; large parties came in and surrendered, and they remained almost quiet until their last attempt was crushed by Gen. Worth in the brilliant affair of Pilaklakaha, April 17, 1842.

Previous to this time, young Walker had been discharged from the service, by reason of the expiration of his enlistment, and with some funds he had amassed while in the army, proceeded at once to Texas, then embroiled with the abrasions of the great Camanche race and the minor tribes strewn along her northern frontier. He was one of the party of the famous Jack Hays, when in 1844 that leader defeated, with fifteen men armed with Colt's pistols, then novelties in the West, a large force of Indians. In this encounter Walker was wounded by a lance, and left by his adversary pinned to the ground. After remaining in this position for a long time, he was rescued by his companions when the fight was over.

The disastrous expedition commenced under the command of Gen. Somerville, and terminated at Mier by the surrender of the whole party to Don Pedro de Ampudia, since become a person of most unenviable notoriety, is well known. One of the most conspicuous members of this foray, for it scarcely deserves another name, was Walker. He distinguished himself during the long siege the Texans maintained in the house they had seized, until forced for want of provisions and ammunition to surrender. With the rest he was marched to the castle of Perote, suffering every indignity which Mexican cruelty and ingenuity could invent. On this sad march, at Salado, Walker performed perhaps the most brilliant exploit of his life. Wearied out by cruelty, the Texans resolved to escape, and on this occasion Walker was the leader. The prisoners were placed in a strong stone building, at the door of which two sentinels were placed, while their escort bivoucked in front of the building. Walker, at a concerted signal, threw open the door, seized and disarmed one of the sentinels, while a gallant fellow named Cameron, a Highlander, was equally successful with the other. The unarmed prisoners immediately rushed through the gateway and seized the arms of the Mexican guard. No scheme was ever more daringly planned or more boldly executed. Within the course of a moment the two hundred and fourteen Texans had changed places with the numerous Mexican guard. Outside of a court-yard, in which the guard had bivoucked, was a strong cavalry force, which the Texans charged with the bayonet and routed, and immediately resumed their march back to the Rio Grande.

They deserved success and liberty, but ignorant of the country, soon became lost in the mountains, were overpowered and taken back to Salado. They found Santa Anna there, and the Mexican President decimated the party.

The Texans in their escape and conflicts had lost five men, and Santa Anna demanded the decimation of the rest. A bowl was brought, and a bean for every man was placed in it, every tenth bean being black. The bowl was covered, and the whole party were then ordered in succession to take out one bean. The twenty-one individuals who had chanced on the black beans were immediately shot. This was the famous Caravanza lottery, the mere mention of which is sufficient to make the bosom of every Texan boil with indignation, and which is the origin of the intense hatred borne by all the people of that state to Santa Anna. This worthy has during the whole war carefully avoided the Texan Rangers, and had he come in contact with them, they would doubtless have exacted a fearful retribution.

Walker with the survivors of the party were taken to Perote, whence he was lucky enough to escape, and returned to Texas, into the service of which he was at once received.

When the Mexican war began Walker was the captain of a company of Texan Rangers stationed on the Rio Grande, and immediately offered his services to General Taylor, who accepted them, and stationed him between Point Isabel and the cantonment for the purpose of keeping open the communication. On the 28th of April he discovered that the Mexican troops were in motion, and at once, with his small command of twenty-five men, set out to report the fact to the general. On his way he encountered the Mexican column, and it is not improbable that with his small party he was in contact with one wing of the force which subsequently fought at Palo Alto. The Texans were pursued to Point Isabel, on which place they fell back, having lost several men, but killed more of the enemy than their own force numbered.

In spite of the intervening force of the enemy, Walker determined to reach General Taylor on that night, and accompanied but by six of his men set out. After charging through a large body of Mexican lancers, he reached Gen. Taylor on the morning of the 30th.

On the 1st of May Gen. Taylor broke up his camp, and what followed is well known. On the 3d Walker was again employed in the perilous service of ascertaining the condition of Fort Brown, which was then being bombarded by all the batteries of the city of Matamoras. His reconnoisance was one of the boldest feats performed during the war, and though May, who had command of a hundred horse for the purpose of covering him, presuming he must have been captured returned to Gen. Taylor, Walker again returned on the 4th, having accomplished his duty alone.

At Palo Alto and La Resaca Walker again distinguished himself, and was mentioned by Gen. Taylor in the dispatch with the highest terms of commendation. For his distinguished services, on the organization of the Mounted Rifles, he was appointed a captain of cavalry in the regular service.

After sharing in all the perils of the war, Walker devoted himself to the pursuit of the Guerilleros, who infested the road from Vera Cruz to the capital, and uniformly maintained his high reputation. In the affair of La Hoya, Sept. 20, 1847, he acted independently, and was perfectly successful.

In the expedition of Gen. Lane, which terminated so gallantly at Huamantla, Walker served for the last time. The prize he had proposed to himself was great, being nothing less than the capture of Santa Anna. Walker on this occasion commanded the whole cavalry force, and led the advance. His charge into the town, from the covering of Magues, is described by old soldiers who saw it as having been terrific. Passing completely through the town, he pursued the enemy's retreating artillery. After the success was sure, Walker returned, and was treacherously shot from a house on which a white flag was hanging. Within thirty