H. Irving (Harrie Irving) Hancock.

Uncle Sam's boys in the Philippines; or, Following the flag against the Moros online

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in motion. At the head of the line marched
acting First Sergeant Overton, setting a stiff

For an instant Prescott stood still, eying


Ms men as they swept by.i Then he ran to the
head of the line, falling in beside the young ser-
They were off on the Flag's business!



IT was a deserted road over which the de-
tachment marched.
When there is fighting in Mindanao,
and troops are scurrying along the roads, those
inhabitants who are non-combatants keep
within their doors — at all events, they remain
out of sight. It is as though evpry native feared
to be shot as a possible rebel.

But Uncle Sam's troops have no quarrel with
men and women following peaceful occupations.
If these brown natives understood our people
better they would not scurry to cover when the
khaki-clad men are passing on fighting bent.

For three miles, or until Bantoc was left well
behind, the quick time continued. Then Ihe
young lieutenant decided that it would be neces-
sary to slacken the pace for a while. Soldiers
must not only reach their destination as early
as possible ; they must also be fit for fighting on


It was not difficult to find the way. An almost
straight road led out to the Seaf orth plantation.
Lieutenant Prescott had a map of the country
for use in case he found it necessary.

Twice on the way the men halted, for five
minutes each time.

Then, about eight miles out, they came upon
outlying scenes of plantation life. There were
broad fields, rich with crops, but to-day no
laborers were to be seen at work.

Then the main buildings of the Draney plan-
tation were sighted.

About the buUdings, too, all was unwontedly
quiet. In fact, the main house was closed and
had the air of being in a state of siege.

"Humph!" muttered the young lieutenant to
the boyish sergeant. "If all we hear about
Draney is true, or even the half of it, he has
no need to fear the Moros."

Just as the detachment , was passing opposite
the main building the front door opened, and
Draney, bearing a rifle in the hollow of his left
arm, hastened out, holding up his right hand.

"Detachment halt!" commanded Prescott in
a wearied tone. Then the young commanding
officer stepped rapidly toward the planter.

"Well, Mr. Draney, what is it?" Prescott in-

"I'm thankful you've come, Prescott."

g 4 Uncle Sam's Boys.


"Mr. Prescott, if you please," interposed the
officer coldly.

"I'm mighty glad you've come. Off yonder
we've been hearing firing at intervals 'ever since

"How recently have you heard it!" queried

"Within ten minutes."

"Thank heaven, then!" muttered the lieu-
tenant. "The Seaforth people are folding

"Is it at Seaforth 'si" demanded Draney,
with assumed eagerness.

" So I imagine. But I must hurry on my way.
Take care of yourself, Mr. Draney."

Perhaps that last bit of advice was delivered
in a tone of some sarcasm. Draney appeared
to feel very uneasy.

"Prescott — Mr. Prescott — aren't you going
to leave some of your men here to protect this

"I don't believe it will be necessary," replied
the lieutenant, and again, no doubt, there was
some hidden irony in his words.

"But the Moros may attack us here- at any
moment," urged Draney pleadingly.

"I hope they won't attack you, Mr. Draney.
But, in any event, I have no orders to leave any
of my men here."


' ' Yet, surely, as an officer commanding troops
in the field, you have some discretion in the

"I fear it would be an abuse of my discretion
to weaken my" detachment by leaving men here. ' '

At that moment four or five shots sounded
faintly in the distance.

"You must see my present duty as clearly as
I do, Mr. Draney," uttered the young lieuten-
ant quickly. "Good-bye, sir."

"Can't you leave me even six men!"

Prescott did not reply, but called:

"March the detachment, Sergeant."

Hal gave the moving order instantly, the lien-
tenant cutting off the c6lumn obliquely and thus
rejoining its head.

"The impudence of that fellow!" growled
Lieutenant Prescott, under his breath, but
Sergeant Hal heard the words.

Two or three minutes later, when the plan-
tation buildings were out of sight, the young
sergeant chanced to look back along the line.

As he did so something in the sky caught his

"Look at that, sir," urged Hal, stepping out
of the way of the colmnn and pointing back-

Lieutenant Prescott uttered an exclamation of


"1 wish we had men to spare. I certainly
would send some of them back to that con-
founded Draney!" quivered Prescott.

The object at which both gazed was a blood-
red kite, flying high, and apparently sent np
not far from the Draney house.

"It must be a signal, sir," suggested Ser-
geant Hal.

"Of course it is!" stormed the lieutenant.
"It's the easiest way in the world of sending the
news to the brown fiends swarming around Sea-
forth's that a military column has passed
Draney 's place."

"I could take a few men, sir, go back and ar-
rest Draney and bring him to you," suggested
Hal quietly.

"What would be the use?" demanded the
young oflScer, a scowl of disgust settling on his
face. "In the first place, you wouldn't find
Draney in an hour, for probably he has hidden
himself. Even if you found him sitting on his
back porch he'd be prepared to swear that some
native had sent up the kite without his knowl-
edge or permission. Sergeant, a fellow of
Draney 's type is always hard to catch, and it's
bad judgment to try to catch him until you have
evidence enough to hang him. So, for the
present, I'm certain that we'd better let the
scoundrel go. But the flying of that kite means


that there's danger of an ambuscade. This is
the first "time I've commanded in the field and
I don't intend to be cut to pieces in ambush."

Eaising his voice, Lieutenant Prescott called :

"Detachment, halt!"

As the column of twos came to a stop Lieu-
tenant Prescott announced:

"Men, you can see that red kite flying, back
at the plantation. It's a signal to a possible
enemy ahead of us. The enemy may try to
ambush us. Therefore, from now on, every man
wUl move as quietly as he possibly can. No
unnecessary word will be spoken in ranks. You
wiU take pains to keep your equipments from
jingling. I am going to march you off the road
and send a 'point' ahead. Corporal Cotter!"


"Take the first four files for a 'point' and
march two hundred yards ahead of the detach-
ment. Halt and signal back to us if at any time
you hear anything, or have any other reason
to believe that you are nearing an ambush.
Take the first path to the left, which you will
find about a quarter of a mile from here. If I
have further orders for you I will send them for-

"Very good, sir."

"March the 'point,' Corporal."

When the last file of Cotter's men was two


hundred yards in advance Lieutenant Prescott
nodded to Sergeant Hal to march the main

Not a soldier, now, but understood that the
command was probably close to the enemy. At
all events, fighting within the hour seemed
almost certain, for occasional shots still sounded
in the country ahead.

No word was now spoken. Cotter found the
path, and led his men into it. Prescott knew,
from his map, that the path would lead his men
to Seaforth's, though by a wide detour from the

Sergeant Hal Overton felt a queer little thrill
when he realized that they were now nearing an
enemy reported to be much superior in numbers.
The thrill was not exactly of fear, though there
was some uneasiness in it. Every soldier has
felt this sensation when marching into battle.
But Hal was curious to know how the feeling
affected the other men.

If Lieutenant Prescott felt any of it, there
was nothing in his face or manner to betray the
fact. He appeared to be "all business," and to
have a keen sense of responsibility which, how-
ever, did not dismay him in the least. No sol-
dier could gaze at that young officer and feel
that the detachment was badly commanded.
Such is the West Point training.


Kelly and some of the other soldiers who had
seen much active service plodded along like so
many laborers going unconcernedlv to their

Some of the newer enlisted men, who had
never before been in real action, betrayed their
newness only by the eager light that shone in
their eyes. These new men, too, took pains to
walk still more softly along the forest path than
did any of the old hands at campaigning.

To any but the most hardened old soldier
there is something "creepy" in plodding along
over a narrow path in a rather dense forest, not
knowing at what moment a lurking enemy may
pour in a volley that will bowl over half of the

Yet every man clutches a rifle and feels at
his belt enough ammunition for putting up a
good and long fight. There is something ex-
ultant in the consciousness that, if attacked; one
can render back a good account of himself, and
that the American soldier has no cause to be
afraid of any troops on earth. It is man's work
— and it takes a man to do it!

To the "point," naturally, came the real

^danger — in the first moment of possible ambush

along the path. It would run into trouble first.

That is what it is for. If the "point" meets an

enemy every man in it may be bowled over by a


sudden shower of hostile bullets. But the main
column is warned, and the commander can bring
up the bulk of his force in battle line armed with
the knowledge of where the enemy is. When the
"point" marches but two hundred yards in ad-
vance of the main body of the command then
it can be promptly supported if trouble

Now the distant firing broke out again, and

"The Moro fiends are trying to rush the
planter's house before help can reach him!"
muttered Lieutenant Prescott to himself.
"We'll spoil some of the joy of those savages
when we get close enough to send them a raking
volley. I hope they're lined up so that we can
give them a flank fire before the scoundrels
know that we're on the ground at all."

Two miles covered, then a third was left be-

Now, a nervous or too eager commander
might have hurried his men over the remaining
ground, but Prescott, at West Point, had been
taught the value of cool, deliberate work.

It was noticeable, however, that now the men
marched along with more spirit and swing.
Those who may have been secretly nervous were
at least certain that soon their suspense would
be over. A few minutes, and they would be en-


gaged in something more definite than merely
tramping in the direction of danger.

Suddenly Corporal Cotter halted his men,
and the same gesture was visible at the head
of the column behind.

"Softly," whispered Lieutenant Prescott, but
bis gesture carried further than did his voice.
The main column closed slowly up with the

"I couldn't go further, sir, without running
into those fellows yonder," whispered the cor-
poral. "I didn't know that you would want
me to do it."

Cotter pointed through the rows of trees to
a clearing beyond.

In the center of the clearing stood a little
building — plainly the sehoolhouse in which the
few white children on the plantation and prob-
ably many native children of the neighborhood
were taught, five days in the week, by some
clear-eyed Yankee schoolma'am furnished by
Uncle Sam's Government.

Seven Moros were visible at or close to the
sehoolhouse. All of them were armed. One fel-
low was hurrying up with a can of oil, which,
while the soldiers waited and watched, he
sprinkled over the woodwork of the doorway,
carrying a trail of the oil inside the building.

"That's a Filipino estimate of the value of


education," whispered Lieutenant Prescott
savagely to his sergeant.

But then something happened that made Hal
Overton boil with indignation.

Just as the fellow had finished scattering the
oil and was about to strike a match, one of the
other Moros seized the fellow's arm, then
pointed up to the flag pole over the front of the

All of the brown rascals began to chuckle.
Then one of them climbed up. With a keen-
edged creese he cut the Flag loose, hurling it
down to the ground.

Now began an orgy of derision. First the
Moros spat upon the Flag; th6n, howling glee-
fully, they commenced to dance upon it. Every
now and then one of the brown men bent down
to slash at the Flag.

It was hard for some sixty of Uncle Sam's
men to stand there, with guns in their hands,
and witness such desecration as that. Some of
the soldiers began to mutter.

"Silence!" hissed Lieutenant Prescott.

One soldier rested his rifle forward, as though
bent on taking a shot, but Sergeant Hal, like
a flash, knocked up his arm.

"No man is to fire unless ordered," muttered
Overton, and Lieutenant Prescott nodded his


Soon the Flag lay torn and trampled, all but
covered in the dust of the roadway before the
school. Then one of the Moros again struck a
match. In a moment the flames began to crackle
and the smoke to ascend.

Then, as if satisfied with their work, the brown
rascals set out at a steady trot in the direction
of Seaforth's.

"Men," spoke Lieutenant Prescott, in a low
voice, "it would have been fine to have poured
a volley into those wretches, but it wotdd have
told their main body our exact location. We
must sink all other feelings until we have
reached the plantation and rescued those im-
periled there. Corporal Cotter, lead your men
to the left, through the woods and around the
schoolhouse. On the other side you will find a
path that you will follow."

As the detachment started Hal saluted.

"Sir, have I your permission to run out into
the clearing, recover the Flag and then rejoin

Lieutenant Prescott shot a keen look at the
Army boy, then answered briefly :

"Yes, Sergeant."

Hal's task was quickly executed. In the open
he encountered no one; when he rejoined the
column in the woods he reverently carried a
Flag, torn, slashed and dirt-stained.


"One of these days, sir," quivered the Army
boy to his oflficer, "I hope to be able to teach
those Moros a lesson with this very Flag!"



AT times, while the detachment in the
woods covered that last mile the firing
ahead cropped up briskly. Then it
died down into an occasional, sputtering shot or
two. But every discharge of a rifle ahead was
now distinctly audible to Uncle Sam's men
marching to the relief.

At last the marching men came so close that
the young lieutenant whispered to the boyish
sergeant :

" I 'm going to join the ' point, ' Overton. Bring
the men on at the same interval, but keep your
eyes ahead for signals from me."

"Very good, sir."

Ahead the marching men could now see that
the trees were thinning out. Still further ahead
they knew that there must lie either plantation
fields or the.houses themselves.

Many a soldier in the column tightened his
grip on his rifle as he thought how soon, now,
the raiding Moros would find that they had


more fighting on hand than they had bargained

The "point" presently halted at the edge of
the forest and Lieutenant Prescott signaled back
by raising his hand with a downward gesture.
Sergeant Overton halted the main detachment.

Over a broad field the soldiers looked, but
it was now plain that the besieged planter's
house lay on the other side of a belt of timber
at the further edge of the field. Then the officer
signaled for the main column to be brought up.

"I don't see any of the enemy in sight, men,"
declared Prescott. "You wiU deploy into line
of skirmishers and then we'll run across the
field. Be prepared for the order to lie down in
case the enemy develops."

A moment later, and the men, in one straight,
thin line, with considerable intervals between
them, charged silently across the field.

At the edge of the timber they halted again.
Lieutenant Prescott, revolver in hand, moved
forward, accompanied only by Corporal Cotter.

After some minutes the pair came back again.

"You'll go forward as skirmishers," said
Prescott. "Keep your intervals. Forward!"

No further word was spoken, but the lieuten-
ant, at the right of the line and slightly in ad-
vance, moved so stealthily that those nearest
him felt that the enemy could not be far off.


Suddenly the stick that the lieutenant carried
in place of a sword was held aloft, then the
point lowered. The advancing line halted.

"When you move forward again," went the
low, almost whispered and repeated order down
the line, "crouch low and do not hurry. A
hundred yards ahead is a position from which
we can rake the rascals with a flanking fire.

Very soon the advancing soldiers caught sight
of the planter's house between the trees. It
stood some seven hundred yards from this
nearer edge of the clearing.

Now the soldiers, crouching as they moved,
until they appeared to be bent nearly double,
came in sight of a trench. It spread away
obliquely before them, but everything in the
trench was visible to them. At a rough estimate
there were some seventy-five brown-skinned
Moros crouching in the trench behind a line of
hard-packed dirt thrown up before them.

At this moment most of the brown fellows
were loafing in the trench. Only occasionally
one of them showed himself, raising his gun
quickly and firing toward the house. The
planter's return fire did not come toward Fres-
co tt's command, but well to the right of the

"The Moros are up to their same old rascally


tricks," whispered Lieutenant Prescott to Ser-
geant Hal Overton. "They fire heavily, once
in a while, and then pepper the house occasion-
ally with single shots. Their idea is to keep
those in the house firing until the defenders
have used up all their ammunition. When the
Moros are satisfied that Seaforth's party have
no more cartridges, then those brown pirates
plan to rush the house, with little loss to them-
selves, and run creeses through every defender
left alive."

A moment later Prescott 's order was repeated
down the line of soldiers, now lying prone on
the groimd:

"Load magazines! Eemember to fire low.
At the pistol shot begin firing at wiU, but keep
cool and try to make every cartridge tell. Bet-
ter to shoot slowly than to waste any ammu-

As noiselessly as they could the prostrate men
opened the magazines of their rifles and slipped
the cartridges in.

Lieutenant Prescott, revolver in hand, waited
until he saw that all had had time to obey the
order. Then the stick, now in his left hand,
pointed forward, and the various squad leaders
whispered :

"At four hundred yards, aim!"

It was a tense moment for the new men.


Bang! Lieutenant Prescott's revolver rang
out, the muzzle pointed toward the enemy.

Instantly following it came a sputtering of
reports, then a settled, heavy fire. The noise
of so many soldiers firing at will was like that
made on Fourth of July by a hundred packs of
cannon crackers all going off at once.

Yet over all the din rose the yells of the sur-
prised Moros in the trench. It had caught them
hard, for most of the soldiers were doing good

Heedless, now, of the fire from the planter's
house, the Moros in the trench rose to flee.
Some of them dropped where they stood.
Others ran away as fast as their brown legs
could carry them, some brandishing their rifles
with defiance, a few others throwing down their
firearms as they started to bolt.

About a dozen of the rascals tried to re-
turn the fire of the soldiers, but fired too high.
None of the khaki-clad men were hit.

"Cease firing!" shouted Lieutenant Prescott,
but he addressed his order to the bugler who
stood beside him. No voice could carry over
such a din of firing.

Ta-rar-ta-ra-ta! rang the bugle. As the men
obeyed the command to cease firing one would
again have been reminded of exploding packs
of fire crackers, for the fire died down sputter-


ingly, with here and there another report or
two from soldiers who felt that they had a fine
bead drawn and ached to "get" another enemy
or two.

Fully twenty-five of the Moros had fallen,
either in the trench at the first crash of fire, or
else while running to cover.

These, however, were not the only enemies
at hand, for, from a grove off to the left of the
planter's house a heavy fire now crashed out,
and bullets began to clip twigs from the trees
among which the soldiers lay.

Other bullets whizzed by over the heads of
Uncle Sam's men as they lay there. There was
a peculiarly spiteful sound to the passage of
these bullets. "Whew-ew-ew!" they sang, for
most of the Moros were using the .43 Eeming-
ton, with the brass- jacketed, heavy bullet, this
being a favorite arm in the islands among the
natives. There are always adventurers at Hong
Kong who, for a price, will land any number
of Remingtons and any amount of ammunition
at lonely spots along the coast of the islands.

Shading his eyes with his left hand Lieutenant
Prescott tried to locate this other firing party
of Moros. Smokeless powder gives no clue to
the hiding places of an enemy, and even if there
be any kind of echo it is a confusing guide.

But at last Prescott was sure he had located

-4 Uncle Sam's Boys,


the second Moro fighting party and he pointed
out the place to his men.

* ' Send them a volley over there, all together, ' '
ordered the young officer. "Eeady; load! At
six hundred and fifty yards, aim. Fire!"

Prescott's face beamed with satisfaction as
he held his field glass to his eyes and saw where
the bullets threw up the dirt.

"Splendidly done, men!" he cried. "We'll
send 'em another. Ready; load. Aim — ^fire!"

Once more the volley crashed out splendidly.
Then the men lay on their hot-barreled rifles.

No more shots came their way just then.

""We've silenced their fire for the time
being," chuckled the officer. "I wonder if the
enemy are retiring?"

In the silence Uncle Sam's men could hear
a frantic cheer rise from the interior of the
planter's house.'

"Yes; I'll warrant they're glad," cried Pres-
cot't, his eyes shining mistily. "But we haven't
reached them yet!"

It looked easy. All the detachment had to
do was to run across a field and halt before the
planter's house.

Yet how could the young commanding officer
know that he would not lose half his men by
ambushed fire while crossing that open space?




IF Sergeant Hal, or any other soldier in
that detachment of sixty men, had felt
any nervousness before the fight started,
everyone of them had forgotten it by this time.

So far, not a man had they lost, and none
had been even lightly hit. The bravery of sol-
diers is usually founded on their confidence in
their officers. Every man in the detachment
now knew that Lieutenant Bichard Prescott was
an officer who would do all that lay before him
to do, yet an officer wha would not needlessly
sacrifice the life or safety of any man in his
command. That discpVery by the men goes far
to make an officer capable. Let the men once
think their commander careless about slaugh-
ter, and they will' not respond as quickly.

"Men," pres^tly spoke the young officer, as
coolly and slowiy as though he were explaining a
manoeuvre in Kis once favorite game of football,
"we have now to reach the house yonder, and
there's a ^kelihood of our being fired upon
when we ikove forward. When I give the order
you'll r^iii slowly, at the gait set by Sergeant
Overton, who will be ahead of you. If you


hear the eommajid to lie down, drop in your
tracks. But let no man lie down until he hears
the word. We may have to employ half a
dozen rushes in reaching the house. Rise!
Sergeant Overton to the front. Forward!

Steadily and gallantly the little line swept
forward. Hal Overt|>B, who knew the pace ex-
actly, went forward at a trot that did not vary
by as much as a stei^ to the minute.

In the distance half a dozen rifles popped
out singly. Some of the bullets whistled by,
others struck the ground near them^ ploiughing

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Online LibraryH. Irving (Harrie Irving) HancockUncle Sam's boys in the Philippines; or, Following the flag against the Moros → online text (page 6 of 13)