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Harper's Round Table, October 15, 1895   By:

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[Illustration: HARPER'S ROUND TABLE]

Copyright, 1895, by HARPER & BROTHERS. All Rights Reserved.






It was a bright and beautiful morning in June, 1927. The war between Venezuela and England had been in progress just three weeks, and every one was wondering why the big monarchy had not whipped the little republic off the face of the earth. But the resources of the South American country had been underestimated, and so had the immense difficulties which confronted England in her endeavor to carry on an offensive war at an almost inaccessible distance from her most trustworthy sources of supplies, and in a climate which was formidable to her men. She had succeeded in landing a small force of trained soldiers, fresh from her latest campaign against the Ameer of Afghanistan, who had set up a new boundary line beyond Herat, and was consequently in hot water with both England and Russia.

These trained Indian curry eaters had penetrated a vast forest in the interior and had never come out, and it was currently reported that half of them had perished in a swamp, and the other half had been destroyed by fevers and cobras. A strong fleet, under command of Vice Admiral Sir Wallace Bruce, had been scattered by adverse winds, and two of the ships had fallen in with powerful Venezuelan armor clads, and had been most impertinently sent to the bottom. Others had sunk three Venezuelan war ships, but the little republic had three better ones afloat inside of a week, and experts said that they looked very French.

The war had broken out over England's high handed occupation of an insignificant island off the Venezuelan coast. The Venezuelans had been amazed by the proceeding, but the Marquis of Wintergreen, the Foreign Secretary, had at once declared that the island had been conquered and attached to England by Sir Francis Drake in the course of his first voyage to the West Indies. As Mr. Froude and other English historians had proved that Drake was little better than a pirate, this made every one laugh, except the Venezuelans, who said they were going to fight; and they did. As soon as war was declared, President Roosevelt, of the United States, on the advice of Secretary of State George B. McClellan, Jun., called an extra session of Congress, and the legislative halls at Washington so rang with patriotic speeches about the Monroe Doctrine that the New York Sun got out extras every two hours, day and night, and had illuminated bulletins covering the entire front of the building. Congress at length declared that the United States must act as an ally of Venezuela, whereupon the Sun printed itself in red, white, and blue, and the World despatched correspondents by special balloon to South America. The President ordered the entire National Guard into the service of the United States, and the various regiments at once repaired to their camps of instruction and began field drills. It was expected that they would be fully equipped and prepared for service at the front in about two months. The naval militia was also ordered out, and immediately began a series of cruises alongshore in open boats, landing and sending signals in every direction every four hours. The officers clamored for coast defense vessels to man, but there were only four such ships, and they were all in dry docks undergoing repairs that would take three months to complete. The Secretary of the Navy issued orders to Rear Admiral Ward to get the North and South Atlantic squadrons to the Venezuelan coast as quickly as possible, and the Rear Admiral answered that he would be ready to sail by the end of August.

As soon as the action of Congress had been taken, Harry Borden, of Tickle River, went by express train to Washington... Continue reading book >>

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