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    Mark Twain

    16. Telegraph Dog

    By Mark Twain

    It was in the time of the Indian war, a quarter of a century ago. Company C, 7th Cavalry, 45 strong, had been headed off by a body of well armed Indians numbering 600 seasoned warriors, and had taken sanctuary in a small island in the South Platte a hundred miles from the nearest army post. Their situation was critical, and from day to day it grew worse; for their supply of provisions was slender, and a couple of attempts to get word to the fort had failed. This during the first twelve days. The Indians appeared in force every morning at a judicious distance beyond the river in the plain, and for hours kept up a long-range rifle practice upon the camp. The sharp-shooters of Company C wasted no ammunition—it was too scarce and too precious for that; they only fired when they were nearly sure of their man; the intervals between their shots were wide, but the shots were deadly. In the course of a day’s work they bagged many Indians, while the reckless storm of Indian bullets harvested but a small crop of casualties by comparison. Yet the general result was against the soldiers, for to them the loss of a man was a serious matter, whereas to the enemy the loss of a dozen was of no considerable consequence.

    Sometimes the Indians, driven to fury by the stubborn resistance of the handful of whites cast their native caution aside for a moment and dashed through the shallow stream and tried to storm the camp—but in broad day always; so the whites were ready for them, and flung them back defeated, each time.

    At the end of three weeksthe soldiers were in sorry case. Their commander was lying in the protection of a pit hollowed in the sand, helpless, with both legs broken by balls; eight of his men were dead, twelve were wounded, five of them to disablement; . . . Read More.


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