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The Conquest of America - A Romance of Disaster and Victory
by Cleveland Moffett
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After cabling this news, I went back to my hotel, the old Brevoort, for a snatch of sleep; and at half-past eight I was out in the streets again. The first thing that caught my eye was a black-lettered proclamation—posted by German spies, no doubt—over Henri's barber shop, and signed by General von Hindenburg, announcing the capitulation of New York City. The inhabitants were informed that they had nothing to fear. Their lives and property would be protected, and they would find the Germans just and generous in all their dealings. Food and supplies would be paid for at the market price, and citizens would be recompensed for all services rendered. The activities of New York would go on as usual, and there would be no immediate occupation of Manhattan Island by German troops. All orders from the conquering army in Brooklyn must be implicitly obeyed, under penalty of bombardment.

I could scarcely believe my eyes. New York City had capitulated! I asked a man beside me—an agitated citizen in an orange tie—whether this could be true. He said it was—all the morning papers confirmed it. The immense pressure from Wall Street upon Washington, owing to the hold-up of multimillionaires, had resulted in orders from the President that the city surrender and that General Wood's forces withdraw to New Jersey.

"What about John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan and the other hostages?" I asked.

"The Sun says they have been taken over to Brooklyn where the German army is, and they've got to raise a billion dollars in gold."

"A billion dollars in gold!"

"Sure; as an indemnity for New York City. You'll notice we could have bought a few defences for that billion," sniffed the angry citizen.

Things moved rapidly after this. All the shipping in waters about the island metropolis, including ferry-boats, launches, pilot-boats, everything that floated, was delivered over to the Germans. The Sandy Hook defences were delivered over, and the rivers and bays were cleared of mines. All motor-cars, supplies of gasolene, firearms, and ammunition in New York City were seized and removed to Brooklyn. The telephone service was taken over by the Germans and operated by them, chiefly for military purposes. The mail service ceased. The newspapers were ordered not to appear—with the exception of the Staats-Zeitung, which became the official organ of the invaders and proceeded to publish editions in English as well as German.

"What will happen if we go ahead and get out the paper in spite of your order?" inquired the city editor of the Evening Journal when a youthful Prussian officer informed him that the paper must not appear.

"Oh, you will be shot and William Randolph Hearst will be shot," said the officer pleasantly.

About noon on the day of capitulation, May 25, 1921, a company of German soldiers with two machine guns, two ammunition carts and a line of motor trucks landed at the Battery and marched quietly up Broadway, then turned into Wall Street and stopped outside the banking house of J. P. Morgan & Co. A captain of hussars in brilliant uniform and wearing an eyeglass went inside with eight of his men and explained politely to the manager that the Germans had arranged with J. P. Morgan personally that they were to receive five million dollars a day in gold on account of the indemnity and, as four days' payment, that is twenty million dollars, were now due, the captain would be obliged if the manager would let him have twenty million dollars in gold immediately. Also a match for his cigarette.

The manager, greatly disturbed, assured the captain that there was not as much money as that in the bank, all the gold in New York having been sent out of the city.

"Ah!" said the officer with a smile. "That will simply put you to the trouble of having it sent back again. You see, we hold the men who own this gold. Besides, I think you can, with an effort, get together this trifling amount."

The manager vowed it was utterly impossible, whereupon the captain motioned to one of his men, who, it turned out, had been for years a trusted employee of J. P. Morgan & Co. and had made himself familiar with every detail of Wall Street affairs. He knew where a reserve store of gold was hidden and the consequence was that half an hour later the German soldiers marched back to the Battery, their motor trucks groaning under the weight of twenty million dollars in double eagles and bullion.

"You see, we need some small change to buy eggs and chickens and vegetables with," laughed the officer. "We are very particular to pay for everything we take."

An hour later the first show of resistance to German authority came when a delegation of staff officers from General von Hindenburg visited the city hall to instruct Mayor McAneny as to the efficient running of the various municipal departments. I had the details of this conference from the mayor's private secretary. The officers announced that there would be no interference with the ordinary life of the city so long as the results were satisfactory. Business must go on as usual. Theatres and places of amusement were to remain open. The city must be gay, just as Berlin was gay in 1915.

On the other hand any disorder or failure to provide for German needs in the matter of food and supplies would be severely dealt with. Every morning there must be delivered at the foot of Fulton Street, Brooklyn, definite quantities of meat, poultry, eggs, butter, vegetables, flour, milk, sugar, fruits, beer, coffee, tea, besides a long and detailed list of army supplies.

"Suppose we cannot get these things?" protested the mayor. "Suppose the train service to New York is cut off by General Wood's army?"

"Hah!" snorted a red-faced colonel of artillery. "There are two and a half million Americans on Manhattan Island—and we'll see that they stay there—who will starve within one week if General Wood cuts off the train service. I don't think he will cut it off, Mr. McAneny."

"Besides, my dear sir," drawled a slender English-looking officer, wearing the iron cross, "if there should be any interference with our food supply, remember that we can destroy your gas and electric lighting plants, we can cripple your transportation system and possibly cut off your water supply with a few well directed shots. Don't forget that, Mr. McAneny."

The trouble began as these German officers walked down Broadway with a small escort of soldiers. Whenever they passed a policeman they required him to salute, in accordance with published orders, but a big Irishman was defiant and the officers stopped to teach him manners. At which a crowd gathered that blocked Broadway and the officers were insulted and jostled and one of them lost his helmet. There was no serious disorder, but the Germans made it a matter of principle and an hour later the Staats Zeitung came out with a special edition announcing that, inasmuch as disrespect had been shown to five German officers by a Broadway crowd, it now became necessary to give the city an object lesson that would, it was hoped, prevent such a regrettable occurrence in the future. That evening five six-inch shells would be fired by German siege guns in Brooklyn at five indicated open spaces in Manhattan, these being chosen to avoid losses of life and property. The first shell would be fired at seven o'clock and would strike in Battery Park; the second at 7.05 and would strike in Union Square; the third at 7.10 and would strike in Madison Square; the fourth at 7.15 and would strike in Stuyvesant Square; the fifth at 7.20 and would strike in Central Park just north of the Plaza.

This announcement was carried out to the letter, the five shells exploding at the exact points and moments indicated, and the people realised with what horrible precision the German artillery-men held Manhattan island at their mercy.

The newspapers also received their object lesson through the action of the Evening Telegram in bringing out an extra announcing the bombardment. My own desk being in the foreign editor's room, I witnessed this grim occurrence. At half-past five a boyish-looking lieutenant sauntered in and asked for the managing editor, who was sitting with his feet on a desk.

"Good-evening," said the German. "You have disobeyed orders in getting out this edition. I am sorry."

The editor stared at him, not understanding. "Well, what's the answer?"

The officer's eyes were sympathetic and his tone friendly. He glanced at his wrist watch. "The answer is that I give you twenty minutes to telephone your family, then I'm going to take you up on the roof and have you shot. I am sorry."

Twenty minutes later they stood up this incredulous editor behind the illuminated owls that blinked down solemnly upon the turmoil of Herald Square and shot him to death as arranged.



CHAPTER VII

NEW HAVEN IS PUNISHED FOR RIOTING AND INSUBORDINATION

Meantime the United States from coast to coast was seething with rage and humiliation. This incredible, impossible thing had happened. New York City was held by the enemy, and its greatest citizens, whose names were supposed to shake the world—Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Vanderbilt,—were helpless prisoners. General Wood's defeated army had been driven back into New Jersey, and was waiting there for von Hindenburg's next move, praying for more artillery, more ammunition, more officers, and more soldiers. Let this nation be threatened, Secretary of State Bryan had said, and between sunrise and sunset a million men would spring to arms. Well, this was the time for them to spring; but where were the arms? Nowhere! It would take a year to manufacture what was needed! A year to make officers! A year to make soldiers! And the enemy was here with mailed fist thundering at the gates!

The question now heard in all the clubs and newspaper offices, and in diplomatic circles at Washington, was, which way would von Hindenburg strike when he left New York? Would it be toward Boston or toward Philadelphia? And why did he delay his blow, now that the metropolis, after a week's painful instruction, was resigning itself to a Germanised existence, with German officials collecting the New York custom house revenues and a German flag flying from the statue of Liberty? What was von Hindenburg waiting for?

On the 3d of June these questions were dramatically answered by the arrival of another invading expedition, which brought a second force of one hundred and fifty thousand German soldiers. What cheering there was from Brooklyn shores as these transports and convoys, black with men, steamed slowly into the ravished upper bay, their bands crashing out "Deutschland Ueber Alles" and their proud eagles floating from all the mast-heads!

"This makes three hundred thousand first-class fighting-men," scowled Frederick Palmer as we watched the pageant. "What is Leonard Wood going to do about it?"

"I know what von Hindenburg is going to do," said I, taking the role of prophet. "Divide his forces and start two drives—one through New England to Boston, and one to Washington."

As a matter of fact, this is exactly what the German general did do—and he lost no time about it. On June 5, von Hindenburg, with an army of 125,000, began his march toward Trenton, and General von Kluck, who had arrived with the second expedition, started for Boston with an equal force. This left 50,000 German troops in Brooklyn to control New York City and to form a permanent military base on Long Island.

General Wood's position was terribly difficult. His army, encamped half way between Trenton and Westfield, had been increased to 75,000 men; but 50,000 of these from the militia were sadly lacking in arms and organisation, and 5,000 were raw recruits whose first army work had been done within the month. He had 20,000 regulars, not half of whom had ever seen active warfare. And against these von Hindenburg was advancing with 125,000 veterans who had campaigned together in France and who were equipped with the best fighting outfit in the world!

It would have been madness for the American commander to divide his outclassed forces; and yet, if he did not divide them, von Kluck's army would sweep over New England without resistance. In this cruel dilemma, General Wood decided—with the approval of the President—to make a stand against von Hindenburg and save Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, if he could, and to leave New England to its fate.

At this critical moment I was instructed by my paper to accompany a raiding expedition sent by General von Hindenburg into northern New Jersey, with the object of capturing the Picatinny arsenal near Dover; and this occupied me for several days, during which General von Kluck's army, unresisted, had marched into Connecticut up to a line reaching from beyond Bridgeport to Danbury to Washington, and had occupied New Rochelle, Greenwich, Stamford, South Norwalk, and Bridgeport. The Germans advanced about fifteen miles a day, living off the country, and carefully repairing any injuries to the railways, so that men and supplies from their Long Island base could quickly follow them.

On June 10, when I rejoined General von Kluck's staff (to which I had been assigned), I found that he was accompanied by the Crown Prince and the venerable Count Zeppelin, both of whom seemed more interested in this New England occupation than in the activities of von Hindenburg's army. They realised, it appears, the great importance of controlling the industrial resources, the factories and machine-shops of Connecticut and Massachusetts. It was this interest, I may add, that led to the first bloodshed on Connecticut soil.

Thus far not a shot had been fired by the invaders, who had been received everywhere by sullen but submissive crowds. Only a small part of the population had fled to the north and east, and the activities of occupied towns and cities went on very much as usual under German orders and German organisation. The horrible fate of Brooklyn, the wreck of the Woolworth and Singer buildings were known everywhere; and if New York City, the great metropolis, had been forced to meek surrender by the invaders, what hope was there for Stamford and Bridgeport and South Norwalk?



But in Hartford a different spirit was stirring. By their admirable spy service, their motorcycle service, and their aeroplane service, the German staff were informed of defiant Hartford crowds gathering in Bushnell Park; of the Putnam Phalanx parading in continental uniforms, and of the Governor's First Company Foot Guards marching past the monument where the Charter Oak had stood facing the South Congregational Church; and of patriotic speeches from beside the statue of Nathan Hale on Main Street.

Also in New Haven, city of elms and of Yale College, the Second Company of Governor's Foot Guards and the valiant New Haven Grays, followed by cheering crowds, had marched down Chapel and Meadow streets to the Second Regiment Armory, home of joyous Junior promenades; and here vehement orators had recalled how their ancestors, the minute-men of 1776, had repelled the British there to the west of the city, where Columbus and Congress and Davenport avenues meet at the Defenders' Monument. Why should not this bravery and devotion be repeated now in 1921 against the Germans? Why not?

The answer was spoken clearly in a widely published appeal to the people of New England, made by the Governor of Connecticut and supported by Simeon E. Baldwin, ex-Governor of the State, and Arthur T. Hadley, president of Yale, in which the utter folly and hopelessness of resistance without army or militia was convincingly set forth. Professor Taft declared it the duty of every loyal citizen to avoid nameless horrors of bloodshed and destruction of property by refraining from any opposition to an overwhelmingly superior force.

We entered New Haven on June 12, and for forty-eight hours there was no disorder. German siege guns were placed on the sheer precipice of East Rock, ranged alongside the grey shaft of the Soldiers' Monument, dominating the city; machine-guns were set up at the four corners of the Green, at points surrounding the college buildings, and at other strategic points. Students were not allowed to leave the college grounds without military permission.

To further insure the good behaviour of the city, twenty hostages were taken, including ex-President William H. Taft, President Arthur T. Hadley of Yale University, Thomas G. Bennett, ex-president of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, Major Frank J. Rice, ex-Governor Simeon E. Baldwin, Edward Malley, General E. E. Bradley, Walter Camp, and three members of the graduating class of Yale University, including the captains of the baseball and football teams. These were held as prisoners within the grey granite walls and towers of Edgerton, the residence of Frederick F. Brewster. As staff headquarters, General von Kluck and the Crown Prince occupied the palatial white marble home of Louis Stoddard, the famous polo-player.

The trouble began on June 14, when the invaders tried to set going the manufacturing activities of New Haven, shut down during the past week—especially he Winchester Repeating Arms Company, mploying about eleven thousand men, and the Sargent Hardware Manufacturing Company, employing eight thousand. Large numbers of these employees had fled from New Haven in spite of offers of increased wages, so that the Germans had been obliged to bring on men from New York to fill their places. This led to rioting and scenes of violence, with a certain amount of looting, in various parts of the city; and toward evening German troops fired upon the crowds, killing and wounding about two hundred.

In punishment of this insubordination, General von Kluck ordered the guns on East Rock to destroy the Hotel Taft and the new Post Office Building, and this was done as the sun was setting. He also ordered that two of the hostages, chosen by lot, should be led out before Vanderbilt Hall, at the corner of College and Chapel streets, the next day at noon, and shot.

However, this grim fate was averted through the intercession of an American woman, a white-haired lady whose husband, a Northern general, had fought with Count Zeppelin in the American Civil War, and who at midnight went to the Whitney mansion, where the Count and his staff were quartered, and begged on her knees for mercy. And, for the sake of old times and old friendship, Count Zeppelin had this penalty remitted.



CHAPTER VIII

I HAVE A FRIENDLY TALK WITH THE GERMAN CROWN PRINCE AND SECURE A SENSATIONAL INTERVIEW

After the pacification of New Haven and the re-establishment of its industries, our division of the German army, numbering about five thousand men, swung to the north, through Wallingford, Meriden, and Middletown, and marched toward the capital of the State.

I shall always remember the morning of June 17, 1921, when, at the request of the Crown Prince, I rode at his side for an hour before we entered Hartford. I was amazed at the extent of the Prince's information and at his keen desire for new knowledge. He asked about the number of men employed in the Hartford rubber works, in Colt's armory, in the Pratt & Whitney machine-shops, and spoke of plans for increasing the efficiency of these concerns. He knew all about the high educational standards of the Hartford High School. He had heard of the Hotel Heublein, and of the steel tower built by its proprietor on the highest point of Talcott Mountain—had already arranged to have this tower used for wireless communication between Hartford and the German fleet. He knew exactly how many Germans, Italians, and Swedes there were in Hartford, exactly how many spans there were in the new three-million-dollar bridge across the Connecticut. He looked forward with pleasure to occupying as his Hartford headquarters the former home on Farmington Avenue of Mark Twain, whose works he had enjoyed for years.

"You know Mark Twain was a great friend of my father's," said the Crown Prince. "I remember how my father laughed, one evening at the palace in Berlin, when Mark Twain told us the story of 'The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.' It's rather a pity that afterward Mark—but never mind that."

"Your Imperial Highness has a wonderful memory for details," I remarked.

"That is nothing," he smiled. "It's our business to know these things; that is why we are here. We must know more about New England than the New Englanders themselves. For example, ask me something."

"Does your Imperial Highness—" I began. But he stopped me with a jolly laugh. I can still see the eager, boyish face under its flashing helmet, and the slim, erect figure in its blue-and-silver uniform.

"Never mind the Imperial Highness," he said. "Just ask some questions—any question about Hartford."

"The insurance companies?" I suggested.

"Ah! Of course I know that. We considered the insurance companies in fixing the indemnity. Hartford is the richest city in America in proportion to her population. Let's see. Of her life insurance companies, the Aetna has assets of about a hundred and twenty million dollars; the Travellers' about a hundred million; the Connecticut Mutual about seventy million; the Phoenix Mutual about forty million—besides half a dozen small-fry fire insurance companies. We're letting them off easily with twenty million dollars indemnity. Don't you think so, Mr. Langston?"

This informal talk continued for some time, and I found the Prince possessed of equally accurate and detailed information regarding other New England cities. It was positively uncanny. He inquired about the Bancroft Japanese collection in Worcester, Massachusetts, and wanted to know the number of women students at Wellesley College. He asked if I had seen the portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds at the Athenaeum in Providence. He had full details about the United States Armory at Springfield, and he asked many questions about the Yale-Harvard boat races at New London, most of which I was, fortunately, able to answer.

Frederick William was curious to know what had given Newport its great popularity as a summer resort, and asked me to compare the famous cottages of the Vanderbilts, the Belmonts, the Astors, along the cliffs, with well-known country houses in England. He knew that Siasconset on Nantucket Island was pronounced "Sconset," and he had read reports on marine biology from Woods Hole. He even knew the number of watches made at Waltham every year, and the number of shoes made at Lynn.

I was emboldened by the Crown Prince's good humour and friendly manner to ask the favour of an interview for publication in the London Times, and, to my great satisfaction, this was granted the next day when we were settled in our Hartford quarters, with the result that I gained high commendation; in fact my interview not only made a sensation in England, but was cabled back to the United States and reprinted all over America. Needless to say, it caused bitter resentment in both countries against Frederick William.

"The responsibility for the present war between Germany and the United States must be borne by England," he said in this memorable utterance. "It was the spirit of hatred against Germany spread through the world by England and especially spread through America that made the United States unwilling to deal with the Imperial government in a fair and friendly way, touching our trade and colonising aspirations in South America and Mexico.

"We Germans regard this as a most astonishing and deplorable thing, that the American people have been turned against us by British misrepresentations. Why should the United States trust England? What has England ever done for the United States? Who furnished the South with arms and ammunition and with blockade runners during the Civil War? England! Who placed outrageous restrictions upon American commerce during the great European war and, in direct violation of International law, prohibited America from sending foodstuffs and cotton to Germany? England!

"What harm has Germany ever done to the United States? Turn over the pages of history. Remember brave General Steuben, a veteran of Frederick the Great, drilling with Washington's soldiers at Valley Forge. Remember the German General De Kalb who fell pierced by red-coat balls and bayonets at the battle of Camden. Remember General Herckheimer with his band of German farmers who fought and died for American independence at the battle of Oriskany.

"Then go to Greenwood cemetery and look at the graves of German soldiers, rows and rows of them, who gave their lives loyally for the Union at Antietam, at Bull Run and at Gettysburg.

"The United States is a great nation with vast resources," he went on, "but these have been largely wasted, owing to the inefficiency and corruption inevitable in all democracies."

"Your Imperial Highness does not think much of American efficiency?"

The prince threw back his head with a snort of contemptuous amusement.

"Ha! What can one expect from a government like yours? A government of incompetents, politicians, office seekers."

"I beg your pardon," I protested.

"I do not mean to offend you," he laughed, "but hasn't the whole world known for years that America was utterly defenceless? Haven't you Americans known it since 1914? Haven't you read it in all your newspapers? Hasn't it been shouted at you from the housetops by all your leading men?

"And yet your senators, your congressmen, your presidents and their cabinet officers did nothing about it, or very little. Is that what you call efficiency? America remained lacking in all that makes for military preparedness, did she not? And she tried to be a world power and defend the Monroe doctrine! She told Germany in 1915 what Germany might do with her submarines and what she might not do. Ha! We were at a disadvantage then, but we remembered! You, with your third-rate navy and your tenth-rate army, told us what we might do! Well, you see where your efficiency has brought you."

I sat silent until this storm should pass, and was just making bold to speak when the prince continued:

"Do you know where America made her great mistake? Oh, what a chance you had and missed it! Why did you not declare war on Germany after our invasion of Belgium? Or after the sinking of the Lusitania? Or after the sinking of the Arabic? You had your justification and, with your money and resources, you could have changed the course of the great war. That is what we feared in Berlin. We were powerless to hurt you then and we knew you would have time to get ready. Yes, if America had gone into the war in 1915, she would be the greatest power on earth to-day instead of being a conquered province."

These words hurt.

"America is a long way from being a conquered province," I retorted.

He shook his head good-naturedly, whereupon I resolved to control my temper. It would be folly to offend the prince and thus lose my chance to secure an interview of international importance, which this proved to be.

"We hold New York already," he continued. "Within three weeks we shall hold New England. Within three months we shall hold your entire Atlantic seaboard."

"We may win back our lost territory," said I.

"Never. We are conquerors. We will stay here exactly as the Manchu conquerors stayed in China. Exactly as the Seljuk conquerors stayed in Asia Minor. Your military strength is broken. Your fleet will be destroyed when it reaches the Caribbean. How can you drive us out?"

"Our population is over a hundred million."

"China's population is over three hundred million and a handful of Japanese rule her. Remember, America is not like Russia with her heart deep inland. The military heart of America lies within a radius of 180 miles from New York City and we hold it, or soon will. In that small strip, reaching from Boston to Delaware Bay, are situated nine-tenths of the war munition factories of the United States, the Springfield Armory, the Watervliet Arsenal, the Picatinny Arsenal, the Frankfort Arsenal, the Dupont powder works, the Bethlehem steel works, and all these will shortly be in our hands. How can you take them from us? How can you get along without them?"

"We can build other munition factories in the West."

"That will take a year or more, in which time we shall have fortified the whole Appalachian Mountain system from Florida to the St. Lawrence, so that no army can ever break through. Do you see?"

The prince paused with a masterful smile and played with a large signet ring on his third finger.

"Surely Your Imperial Highness does not think that Germany can conquer the whole of America?"

"Of course not, at least not for many years. We are content with your Atlantic seaboard, the garden spot of the earth in climate and resources. We shall hold this region and develop it along broad lines of German efficiency and German kultur. What wonderful improvements we will make! How we will use the opportunities you have wasted!

"Ha! Let me give you one instance among many of your incredible inefficiency. Those disappearing carriages of your coast defence guns! I suppose they were the pet hobby of some politician with an interest in their manufacture, but Gott in Himmel! what foolishness! The guns themselves are good enough, but the carriages allow them an elevation of only ten percent against a thirty percent elevation that is possible for guns of equal calibre on our battleships, which means that our twelve-inch guns outrange yours by a couple of miles simply because we can fire them at a higher angle."

"You mean that one of your super-dreadnoughts—"

"Exactly. One of our super-dreadnoughts can lie off Rockaway Beach and drop shells from her twelve-inch guns into Union Square, and the twelve-inch guns of your harbour forts, handicapped by their stupid carriages, could never touch her."

The conversation now turned to other subjects and presently the prince was led by enthusiasm or arrogance to make a series of statements that gave extraordinary importance to my interview, since they enraged the whole Anglo-Saxon world, particularly our Western and Middle Western states. Fortunately I submitted my manuscript to Frederick William before cabling the interview to London, so there was no danger of his repudiating my words.

With brutal frankness this future ruler of a nation maintained that against German arms America must now go down to defeat just as England went down to partial defeat in 1917 and for the same unchangeable reason that the fittest among nations inevitably survive.

"Ask your readers in the London Times, Mr. Langston, why it was that in the fall of 1915 Germany had been able to put into the field nine million fully equipped, highly efficient soldiers, whereas England, with nearly the same population, counting her white colonies, had been able to send out only two and a half million, a third of these being physically defective? Why was that?

"Was it lack of guns and ammunition? Lack of officers and training? Partly so, but something else was lacking, I mean patriotism among the English masses that would give them the desire to fight for England, also a high standard of physical excellence that would make them able to fight effectively and to endure the hardships of the trenches.

"Now why should there be more patriotism in Germany than in England? Why should the masses of Germany excel the masses of England in physical vigour?

"I will tell you why, and the answer applies in some degree to America; it is because the German system of government is better calculated to create patriotism and physical vigour, just as it is better calculated to create an efficient war machine. In Germany we have concentration of power, a benevolent paternalism that knows the needs of the people and supplies them whether the people wish it or not. For example, in Germany we have to a great extent abolished poverty and such degrading slum conditions as prevail in English and American cities. We know that slums lead to drink, vice and physical unfitness. We know that we must kill the slums or see the slums kill efficiency and kill patriotism.

"In Germany we hold the capitalist class within strict bounds. We allow no such heaping up of huge fortunes as are common in America through the exploitation of the weak by the strong. We Germans protect the weak and make them stronger, but you English and Americans make them weaker by oppressing them. You make slaves of children in a thousand factories, crushing out their strength and their hope, so that a few more of you can become millionaires. Do you think those children, grown to manhood, will fight for you very loyally or very effectively when you call on them to rally to the flag? What does such a flag mean to them?"

"What does the American flag mean to thousands of American steel workers forced to toil at the furnaces twelve hours a day for two dollars? Twelve hours a day and often seven days a week lest they starve! Why should these men fight for a flag that has waved, unashamed, over their misery and over the unearned and undeserved fortunes of their task masters, Andrew Carnegie and J. P. Morgan? Why should the down-trodden miners in Colorado fight to perpetuate a John D. Rockefeller system of government?"

"What does Your Imperial Highness mean by a John D. Rockefeller system of government?"

"I mean the English and American system of individualism gone mad—every man for himself and the devil take the hindermost. The result is a trampling on the many by the few, a totally unfair division of the products of toil and such wicked extremes of poverty and riches as are familiar in London and New York but are unknown in Germany.

"In Germany the masses are well housed and well nourished. In all our cities cheap and wholesome pleasures abound, music, beer gardens, great parks with playgrounds and dancing pavilions. It is literally true that work at fair wages with reasonable hours is provided for every German citizen who is able to work. And those unable to work are taken care of,—pensions for the aged, homes for the disabled, state assistance for poor mothers. There are no paupers, no factory slaves in Germany. The central government sees to this, not only as a matter of humanity, but as good policy. We know that every German citizen will fight for the German flag because he is proud of it and has personal reason to be grateful to it, since it represents fair play, large opportunity, a satisfactory life for him and his children."

The prince maintained that here were new elements in the problem of Germany's conquest of America. Not only were the invaders more valiant warriors possessed of a better fighting machine, but they came with a moral and spiritual superiority that must make strong appeal to Americans themselves.

"After yielding to us by force of arms," he went on, "your people will come to welcome us when they see how much better off, how much happier they will be under our higher civilisation. Mr. Langston, we understand your nation better than it understands itself. I assure you, Americans are sick of their selfish materialism, they are ashamed of the degrading money worship that has stifled their national spirit."

Here I challenged him angrily.

"Do you mean to say that we have no national spirit in America?"

"Not as Germans understand it. You live for material things, for pleasures, for business. You are a race of money schemers, money grovellers, lacking in high ideals and genuine spiritual life without which patriotism is an empty word. Who ever heard of an American working for his country unless he was paid for it?

"Think what America did in the great war! Why was your president so wrought up in 1915 when he assailed Germany with fine phrases? Was it because we had violated Belgium? No! When that happened he had nothing to say, although the United States, equally with England, was a signatory of the Hague Conference that guaranteed Belgium's integrity. Why did not your president protest then? Why did he not use his fine phrases then? Because the United States had suffered no material injury through Belgium's misfortune. On the contrary, the United States was sure to gain much of the trade that Belgium lost. And that was what he cared about, commercial advantage. You were quick enough to protect your trade and your money interests. You were ready enough to do anything for gold, ready enough, by the sale of war munitions, to bring death and misery upon half of Europe so long as you got gold from the other half. High ideals! National spirit! There they are!"



CHAPTER IX

BOSTON OFFERS DESPERATE AND BLOODY RESISTANCE TO THE INVADERS

Our wing of the advancing German army remained in Hartford for four days, at the end of which all signs of disorder had ceased; in fact, there was little disorder at any time. The lesson of New Haven's resistance had been taken to heart, and there was the discouraging knowledge that a row of German six-inch siege-guns were trained on the city from the heights of Elizabeth Park, their black muzzles commanding the grey towers and golden dome of State House, the J. Pierpont Morgan Memorial, the gleaming white new City Hall, the belching chimneys of the Underwood typewriter works, and the brown pile of Trinity College.

There was the further restraining fact that leading citizens of Hartford were held as hostages, their lives in peril, in James J. Goodwin's palatial home, among these being ex-Governor Morgan G. Buckley, Mayor Joseph H. Lawler, Bishop Chauncey B. Brewster, Dr. Flavel S. Luther, Bishop John J. Nilan, Mrs. Richard M. Bissell, Mrs. Thomas N. Hepburn, the Rev. Rockwell Harmon Potter, Charles Hopkins Clark, Rolland F. Andrews, the Rev. Francis Goodwin, Thomas J. Spellacy, and Sol Sontheimer.

So the invaders' march through New England continued. It is a pitiful story. What could Connecticut and Massachusetts do? With all their wealth and intelligence, with all their mechanical ingenuity, with all their pride and patriotism, what could they do, totally unprepared, more helpless than Belgium, against the most efficient army in Europe?

Three times, between Hartford and Springfield, unorganised bands of Americans, armed with shotguns and rifles, lay in ambush for the advancing enemy and fired upon them. These men declared that they would die before they would stand by tamely and see the homes and fields of New England despoiled by the invader. Whereupon the Germans announced, by means of proclamations showered upon towns and villages from their advance-guard of aeroplanes, that for every German soldier thus killed by Americans in ambush a neighbouring town or village would be burned by fire bombs dropped from the sky. And they carried out this threat to the letter, so that for every act of resistance by the fathers and brothers and sons of New England there resulted only greater suffering and distress for the women and the children.

The average man, especially one with a wife and children, is easily cowed when he has no hope; and presently all resistance ceased. What feeble opposition there was in the first week dwindled to almost nothing in the second week and to less than nothing in the third week. Stamford paid two million dollars in gold, Bridgeport five million, New Haven five million, Hartford twenty million, Fall River three million, Springfield five million, Worcester two million, Providence ten million, Newport fifty million. The smaller cities got off with half a million each, and some of the towns paid as little as one hundred thousand dollars. But every community paid something, and the total amount taken from New England, including a hundred million from New Hampshire, a hundred million from Vermont, and a hundred million from Maine, was eight hundred million dollars, about a third of which was in gold.

With a battle-front fifty or seventy-five miles long, von Kluck's forces strolled across this fertile and populous region, living off the land, leaving small holding forces with artillery at every important point, a few hundred or a few thousand, while the main army swept relentlessly and resistlessly on. It was a delightful four weeks' picnic for von Kluck and his men; and at the end of four weeks everything in New England had fallen before them up to the city of Boston, which had been left for the last. And the total German losses in killed and wounded were less than twenty!

On July 2, General von Kluck's army, sweeping forward unopposed, reached the western and southwestern suburbs of Boston, passing through Newton and Brookline, and making a detour to avoid ruining the beautiful golf links where Ouimet won his famous victory over Ray and Vardon. This sportsmanlike consideration was due to the fact that several of the German officers and the Crown Prince himself were enthusiastic golfers.

Meantime there was panic in the city. For days huge crowds had swarmed through Boston's great railway stations, fleeing to Maine and Canada; and across the Charles River bridge there had passed an endless stream of automobiles bearing away rich families with their jewels and their silver. Among them were automobile trucks from the banks, laden with tons of gold. No boats left the harbour through fear of a grim German battleship that lay outside, plainly visible from the millionaire homes of Nahant and Manchester.

Even now there was talk of resistance, and German Taubes looked down upon a mass meeting of ten thousand frantic citizens gathered in Mechanics Hall on Huntington Avenue; but prudent counsels prevailed. How could Boston resist without soldiers or ammunition or field artillery? Brooklyn had resisted, and now lay in ruins. New Haven had tried to resist, and what had come of it?

At three o'clock on this day of sorrow, with banners flying and bands playing, the German forces—horse, foot, and artillery—entered the Massachusetts capital in two great columns, the one marching down Beacon Street, past the homes of Oliver Wendell Holmes and Julia Ward Howe, the other advancing along Commonwealth Avenue, past the white-columned Harvard Club, past the statues of Alexander Hamilton and William Lloyd Garrison, on under the shade of four rows of elms that give this noble thoroughfare a resemblance to the Avenue de la Grande Armee in Paris.

It was a perfect summer's day. The sun flashed from the golden dome of the State House on the hill over Boston Common, and from the great white Custom House tower that rose impressively in the distance above the green of the Public Gardens. Boston looked on, dumb with shame and stifled rage, as the invaders took possession of the city and ran up their flags, red, white, and black, above the Old South Meeting House on Washington Street, where Benjamin Franklin was baptised, and above the sacred, now dishonoured, shaft of the Bunker Hill Monument.

Hostages were taken, as usual, these including Major Henry L. Higginson, President A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvard University, Major James M. Curley, Edward A. Filene, Margaret Deland, William A. Paine, Ellery Sedgwick, Mrs. John L. Gardner, Charles W. Eliot, Louis D. Brandeis, Bishop William Lawrence, Amy Lowell, T. Jefferson Coolidge, Thomas W. Lawson, Guy Murchie, and Cardinal O'Connell.

A proclamation was made in the Transcript (now forced to be the official German organ and the only newspaper that was allowed to appear in Boston) that these prominent persons would be held personally responsible for any public disorder or for any failure of the city to furnish the army of occupation with all necessary food and supplies.

On the night of occupation there were scenes of violence, with rioting and looting in various parts of Boston, notably in Washington Street and Tremont Street, where shops were wrecked by mobs from the South End, several thousand of the unruly foreign element, crazed with drink and carrying knives. Against this drunken rabble the American police, sullen and disorganised, could do nothing or would do nothing; and the situation was becoming desperate, when German troops advanced along Washington Street, firing into the crowd and driving back the looters, who surged through Winter Street, a frantic, terrified mass, and scattered over Boston Common.

Here, in front of the Park Street Church, another huge mob of citizens had gathered—five thousand wildly patriotic Irishmen. Armed with clubs, rifles, and pistols, and madly waving the Stars and Stripes, they cursed, cheered, and yelled out insults to the Germans. Suddenly a company of German soldiers with machine-guns appeared on the high ground in front of the State House. Three times a Prussian officer, standing near the St. Gaudens Shaw Memorial, shouted orders to the crowd to disperse; but the Irishmen only jeered at him.

"They want it; let them have it," said the Prussian. "Fire!"

And three hundred fell before the blast of rifles and machine-guns.

At which the mob of Irish patriots went entirely mad, and, with yells of hatred and defiance, swarmed straight up the hill at the battery that was slaughtering them, shouting: "To hell with 'em!" "Come on, boys!" charging so fiercely and valiantly, that the Germans were swept from their position, and for a short time a victorious American mob held the approaches to the State House.

Alas, it was for only a short time! The enemy quickly brought forward reinforcements in overwhelming strength, and an hour later there were only dead, wounded and prisoners to tell of this loyal but hopeless effort.

In other parts of the city during this night of terror there were similar scenes of bloodshed, the Germans inflicting terrible punishment upon the people, innocent and guilty suffering alike for every act of disobedience or resistance. There were a few cases of sniping from houses; and for these a score of men, seized indiscriminately in the crowds, were hanged from windows of the offending or suspected buildings. As a further lesson to the city, two of the hostages, chosen by lot, were led out into the Public Gardens the next morning at sunrise and shot near the statue of Edward Everett Hale.

Machine-guns were now placed on the high ground before the Soldiers' Monument and at other strategic points, and ten thousand soldiers were encamped on Boston Common, the main part of the army being withdrawn, after this overwhelming show of force, to Franklin Park on the outskirts, where heavy siege-guns were set up.

The Transcript appeared that day with a black-lettered proclamation, signed by General von Kluck, to the effect that at the next disorder five hostages would be shot, and six beautiful buildings—the State House, the Custom House, the Boston Public Library, the Opera House, the Boston Art Museum, and the main building of the Massachusetts School of Technology—would be wrecked by shells. This reduced the city to absolute submission.

Mrs. John L. Gardner's fine Italian palace in the Fenway, with its wealth of art treasures, was turned into a staff headquarters and occupied by the Crown Prince, General von Kluck, and Count Zeppelin. The main body of officers established themselves in the best hotels and clubs, the Copley Plaza, the Touraine, the Parker House, the Somerset, the St. Botolph, the City Club, the Algonquin, the Harvard Club, paying liberally for the finest suites and the best food by the simple method of signing checks to be redeemed later by the city of Boston.

Non-commissioned officers made themselves comfortable in smaller hotels and in private houses and boarding-houses to which they were assigned. A popular eating-place was Thompson's Spa, where a crush of brass-buttoned German soldiers lunched every day, perched on high stools along the counters, and trying to ogle the pretty waitresses, who did not hide their aversion.

It is worthy of note that the Tavern Club was burned by its own members to save from desecration a spot hallowed by memories of Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, Charles Eliot Norton, and George William Curtis.

I must mention another instance of the old-time indomitable New England spirit that came to my knowledge during these sad days. The Germans levied upon the city of Boston an indemnity of three hundred million dollars, this to be paid at the rate of three million dollars a day; and on the morning of July 4, two of von Kluck's staff officers, accompanied by a military escort, marched down State Street into the now deserted region of banks and vaults and trust companies, to arrange for the regular payment of this sum. Entering the silent halls of a great banking house, they came to a rear office with the door locked. A summons to open being unanswered, they broke down this door; whereupon a shot, fired from within, killed the first soldier who crossed the threshold. A German volley followed, and, when the smoke cleared away, there sat a prominent Boston financier, his father's Civil War musket clutched in his hands and the look of a hero in his dying eyes. All alone, this uncompromising figure of a man had waited there in his private office ready to defy the whole German army and die for his rights and his convictions.



CHAPTER X

LORD KITCHENER VISITS AMERICA AND DISCUSSES OUR MILITARY PROBLEMS

I was standing with Count Zeppelin in the doorway of Mrs. John L. Gardner's Fenway palace when the news of the great sea horror reached Boston. The German submarine U-68, scouting off the coast of Maine, had sunk the American liner Manhattan, the largest passenger vessel in the world, as she raced toward Bar Harbor with her shipload of non-combatants. Eighteen hundred and sixty-three men, women, and children went down with the ship. No warning had been given. No chance had been offered for women or children or neutral passengers to escape. The disaster duplicated the wrecking of the Lusitania in 1915, but it exceeded it in loss of human life. The American captain and all his men shared the fate of the passengers intrusted to their care.

In Boston the effect on the German officers and men was unbelievable. Tremont and Boylston and Washington streets, echoing with cheers of the exulting conquerors, resembled the night of a Harvard-Yale football game when Brickley used to play for Cambridge University. The citizens of the big town, their senses deadened by their own disaster, received the news, and the ghastly celebration that followed it, without any real interest. The fact that an ex-Mayor of Boston and the son of the present Governor were among those that perished failed to rouse them. Boston, mentally as well as physically, was in the grip of the enemy.

That this was just the effect the Germans planned to produce is shown by General von Kluck's own words. In an interview that he gave me for the London Times, after the occupation of Boston on July 2, 1921, General von Kluck said:

"The way to end a war quickly is to make the burden of it oppressive upon the people. It was on this principle that General Sherman acted in his march from Atlanta to the sea. It was on this principle that General Grant acted in his march from Washington to Richmond. Grant said he would fight it out on those lines if it took all summer—meaning lines of relentless oppression. In modern war a weak enemy like Belgium or like New England, which is far weaker than Belgium was in 1914, must be crushed immediately. Think of the bloodshed that would have stained the soil of Connecticut and Massachusetts if we had not spread terror before us. As it is, New England has suffered very little from the German occupation, and in a very short time everything will be going on as usual."

The veteran warrior paused, and added with a laugh: "Better than usual."

As a matter of fact, within a week Boston had resumed its ordinary life and activities. Business was good, factories were busy, and the theatres were crowded nightly, especially Keith's, where the latest military photo-play by Thomas Dixon and Charles T. Dazey—with Mary Pickford as the heroine and Charley Chaplin as the comedy relief—was enjoyed immensely by German officers.

As to the commerce of Boston Harbor, it was speedily re-established, with ships of all nations going and coming, undisturbed by the fact that it was now the German flag on German warships that they saluted.

I received instructions from my paper about this time to leave New England and join General Wood's forces, which had crossed the Delaware into Pennsylvania, where they were battling desperately with von Hindenburg's much stronger army. On the day following my arrival at the American headquarters, I learned that Lord Kitchener had come over from England to follow the fighting as an eye-witness; and I was fortunate enough to obtain an interview with his lordship, who remembered me in connection with his Egyptian campaigns.

"The United States is where England would have been in 1914 without her fleet," said Lord Kitchener.

"Where is that?"

"If England had been invaded by a German army in 1914," replied the great organiser gravely, "she would have been wiped off the map. It was England's fleet that saved her. And, even so, we had a hard time of it. Everything was lacking—officers, men, uniforms, ammunition, guns, horses, saddles, horse blankets, everything except our fleet."

A sudden light burned in Lord Kitchener's strange eyes, and he added earnestly: "There is something more than that. In 1914 Germany was wonderfully prepared in material things, but her greatest advantage over all other nations, except Japan, lay in her dogged devotion to her own ideals. She may have been wrong, as we think, but she believed in herself. There was nothing like it in England, and there is nothing like it in America. The German masses, to the last man, woman, and child, were inspired to give all that they had, their lives included, for the Empire. In England there was more selfishness and self-indulgence. We had labour troubles, strike troubles, drink troubles; and finally, as you know, in 1916 we were forced to adopt conscription. It will be the same story here in America."

"Don't you think that America will ultimately win?"

Lord Kitchener hesitated.

"I don't know. Germany holds New York and Boston and is marching on Philadelphia. Think what that means! New York is the business capital of the nation. It is hard to conceive of the United States without New York."

"The Americans will get New York back, won't they?"

"How? When? It is true you have a population of eighty millions west of the Allegheny Mountains, and somehow, some day, their American spirit and their American genius ought to conquer; but it's going to be a job. Patriotism is not enough. Money is not enough. Potential resources are not enough. It is a question of doing the essential thing before it is too late. We found that out in England in 1916. If America could have used her potential resources when the Germans landed on Long Island, she would have driven her enemies into the sea within a week; but the thing was not possible. You might as well expect a gold mine in Alaska to stop a Wall Street panic."

I found that Lord Kitchener had very definite ideas touching great social changes that must come in America following this long and exhausting war, assuming that we finally came out of it victorious.

"America will be a different land after this war," he said. "You will have to reckon as never before with the lowly but enlightened millions who have done the actual fighting. The United States of the future must be regarded as a vast-co-operative estate to be managed for the benefit of all who dwell in it, not for the benefit of a privileged few. And America may well follow the example of Germany, as England has since the end of the great war in 1919, in using the full power of state to lessen her present iniquitous extremes of poverty and wealth, which weaken patriotism, and in compelling a division of the products of toil that is really fair.

"I warn you that America will escape the gravest labour trouble with the possibility of actual revolution only by admitting, as England has admitted, that from now on labour has the whip hand over capital and must be placated by immense concessions. You must either establish state control in many industries that are now privately owned and managed and establish state ownership in all public utilities or you must expect to see your whole system of government swing definitely toward a socialistic regime. The day of the multi-millionaire is over."

I found another distinguished Englishman at General Wood's headquarters, Lord Northcliffe, owner of the London Times, and I had the unusual experience of interviewing my own employer for his own newspaper. As usual, Lord Northcliffe took sharp issue with Lord Kitchener on several points. His hatred of the Germans was so intense that he could see no good in them.

"The idea that Germany will be able to carry this invasion of America to a successful conclusion is preposterous," he declared. "Prussian supermen! What are they? Look at their square heads with no backs to them and their outstanding ears! Gluttons of food! Guzzlers of drink! A race of bullies who treat their women like squaws and drudges and then cringe to every policeman and strutting officer who makes them goose-step before him. Bismarck called them a nation of house-servants, and knew that in racial aptitude they are and always will be hopelessly inferior to Anglo-Saxons.

"Conquer America? They can no more do it than they could conquer England. They can make you suffer, yes, as they made us suffer; they can fill you with rage and shame to find yourselves utterly unprepared in this hour of peril, eaten up with commercialism and pacifism just as we were. But conquer this great nation with its infinite resources and its splendid racial inheritance—never!

"The Germans despise America just as they despised England. John Bull was an effete old plutocrat whose sons and daughters were given up to sport and amusement. The Kaiser, in his famous Aix-la-Chapelle order, referred scornfully to our 'contemptible little army.' He was right, it was a contemptible little army, but by the end of 1917 we had five million fully equipped men in the field and in the summer of 1918 the Kaiser saw his broken armies flung back to the Rhine by these same contemptible Englishmen and their brave allies. There will be the same marvellous change here when the tortured American giant stirs from his sleep of indifference and selfishness. Then the Prussian superman will learn another lesson!"



CHAPTER XI

HEROIC ACT OF BARBARA WEBB SAVES AMERICAN ARMY AT THE BATTLE OF TRENTON

Coming now to the campaign in New Jersey, let me recall that on the evening of June 18, American scouting aeroplanes, under Squadron Commander Harry Payne Whitney, reported that a strong force of Germans, cavalry, infantry, and artillery, had occupied the heights above Bordentown, New Jersey, and were actively proceeding to build pontoons across the Delaware. It seemed clear that von Hindenburg was preparing to cross the river at the very point where Washington made his historic crossing in 1776; and General Wood proceeded to attack the enemy's position with his artillery, being assisted by four light-draught gunboats from the Philadelphia navy-yard, which lay in the deepened channel at the head of tide-water and dropped shells inside the enemy's lines. The Germans replied vigorously, and a smart engagement at long range ensued, lasting until darkness fell. We fully expected that the next day would see a fierce battle fought here for the command of the river. No one dreamed that this was a trap set by von Hindenburg.

As a matter of fact, the crossing movement from above Bordentown was a feint in which not more than 8,000 Germans were engaged, their main army being gathered twenty miles to the north, near Lambertville, for the real crossing. And only the prompt heroic action of three young Americans, two boys and a girl, saved our forces from immediate disaster.

The heroine of this adventure was Barbara Webb, a beautiful girl of sixteen, who, with her brother Dominick and their widowed mother, lived in a lonely farm-house on Goat Hill, back of Lambertville. They had a boy friend, Marshall Frissell, in Brownsburg, Pennsylvania, on the other side of the river, and Marshall and Dominick had learned to wigwag signals, in boy-scout fashion, back and forth across the Delaware.

It seems that, on this memorable night, the brother and sister discovered a great force of Germans building pontoons about a mile below the wrecked Lambertville bridge. Whereupon Dominick Webb, knowing that all telegraph and telephone wires were cut, leaped upon a horse and set out to carry the news to General Wood. But he was shot through the thigh by a Prussian sentry, and, hours later, fainting from loss of blood, he returned to the farm-house and told his sister that he had failed in his effort.

Then Barbara, as day was breaking, climbed to the crest of Goat Hill, and began to signal desperately toward Brownsburg, in the hope that Marshall Frissell might see and understand. For an hour she waved, but all in vain. Marshall was asleep. Still she waved; and finally, by a miracle of faith, the boy was roused from his slumbers, drawn to his window as the sun arose, and, looking out, saw Barbara's familiar flag wigwagging frantically on the heights of Lambertville three miles away. Then he answered, and Barbara cried out in her joy.

Just then a German rifle spoke from the riverbank below, a thousand yards away, where the enemy were watching, and a bullet pierced the Stars and Stripes as the flag fluttered over that slim girlish figure silhouetted against the glory of the eastern sky. Then another bullet came, and another. The enemy had seen Barbara's manoeuvre. She was betraying an important military secret, and she must die.

Wait! With a hostile army below her, not a mile distant, this fearless American girl went on wigwagging her message—letter by letter, slowly, painstakingly, for she was imperfect in the code. As she swept the flag from side to side, signalling, a rain of bullets sang past her. Some cut her dress and some snipped her flowing hair; and finally one shattered the flag-staff in her hands. Whereupon, like Barbara Frietchie of old, this fine young Barbara caught up the banner she loved, and went on waving the news that might save her country, while a hundred German soldiers fired at her.

And presently a wonderful thing happened. The power of her devotion touched the hearts of these rough men,—for they were brave themselves,—and, lowering their guns, with one accord, they cheered this little grey-eyed, dimpled farmer's girl with her hair blowing in the breeze, until the Jersey hills rang.

And now the lad in Brownsburg rose to the situation. There were Germans on the opposite bank, a great host of them, making ready to cross the Delaware. General Wood must know this at once—he must come at once. They say that freckle-faced Marshall Frissell, fifteen years old, on a mad motorcycle, covered the twenty miles to Ft. Hill, Pa., where General Wood had his headquarters, in fifteen minutes, and that by seven o'clock troop trains and artillery trains were moving toward the north, winding along the Delaware like enormous snakes, as Leonard Wood, answering the children's call, hastened to the rescue.

I dwell upon these minor happenings because they came to my knowledge, and because the main events of the four days' battle of Trenton are familiar to all. In spite of the overwhelming superiority of the Germans in men and artillery, the American army, spread along a twelve-mile front on the hills opposite Lambertville, made good use of their defensive position, and for three days held back the enemy from crossing the river. In fact, it was only on the evening of the third day, June 21, that von Hindenburg's engineers succeeded in completing their pontoon line to the Pennsylvania shore. Again and again the floating bridge was destroyed by a concentrated shell fire from American batteries on the ridge a mile and a half back from the river.

American aeroplanes contributed effectively to this work of resistance by dropping explosive bombs upon the pontoons; but, unfortunately, German aeroplanes outnumbered the defenders at least four to one, and soon achieved a mastery of the sky.

A brilliant air victory was gained by Jess Willard, volunteer pilot of a swift and powerful Burgess machine, over three Taubes, the latter attacking fiercely while the champion prize-fighter circled higher and higher, manoeuvring for a position of advantage. I shall never forget the thrill I felt when Willard swooped down suddenly from a height of eight thousand feet, and, by a dangerous turn, brought his machine directly over the nearest German flier, at the same time dropping a fire bomb that destroyed this aeroplane and hurled the wreck of it straight down upon the two Taubes underneath, striking one and capsizing the other with the rush of air. So the great Jess, by his daring strategy, hurled three of the enemy down to destruction, and escaped safely from the swarm of pursuers.

On the fourth day, the Germans—thanks to an advantage of three to one in artillery pieces—succeeded in crossing the Delaware; and after that the issue of the battle was never in doubt, the American forces being outnumbered and outclassed. Two-thirds of General Wood's army were either militia, insufficiently equipped and half trained, or raw recruits. There were fifteen thousand of the latter who had volunteered within a fortnight, loyal patriots ready to die for their country, but without the slightest ability to render efficient military service. These volunteers included clerks, business men, professional men from the cities of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, thousands of workmen from great factories like the Roebling wire works, thousands of villagers and farmers, all blazing with zeal, but none of them able to handle a high-power Springfield rifle or operate a range-finder or make the adjustments for the time-fuse of a shell.



"They shot away tons of ammunition without hitting anything," said one of the American officers to me. "They didn't know how to use wind-gauges or elevation-sights. They couldn't even pull a trigger properly."

And yet, the Germans suffered heavily in that desperate battle of the fourth day—partly because they attacked again and again in close formation and were mowed down by American machine-guns; partly because General Wood had fortified his position with miles of wire entanglements through which high-voltage electric currents were sent from the power-house of the Newtown and Trenton trolley systems in Newtown, Pennsylvania; and, finally, because the American commander, in an address to his troops, read at sunset on the eve of battle, had called upon them in inspiring words to fight for their wives and children, for the integrity of the nation, for the glory of the old flag.

And they fought until they died. When the battle was over, the Americans had lost 15,000 out of 70,000, while the Germans lost 12,000 out of 125,000. Von Hindenburg himself admitted that he had never seen such mad, hopeless, magnificent courage.

Again General Wood faced defeat and the necessity of falling back to a stronger position. For weeks thousands of labourers had been digging trenches north of Philadelphia; and now the American army, beaten but defiant, retreated rapidly and in some disorder through Jenkintown and Bristol to this new line of intrenchments that spread in fan shape from the Schuylkill to the Delaware.

It was of the most desperate importance now that word be sent to Harrisburg and to the mobilisation camp at Gettysburg and to other recruiting points in the West and South, demanding that all possible reinforcements be rushed to Philadelphia. As communication by telegraph and telephone was cut off, General Wood despatched Colonel Horace M. Reading and Captain William E. Pedrick, officers of the National Guard, in a swift automobile, with instructions that these calls for help be flashed without fail from the wireless station in the lofty granite shaft of the Trenton monument that commemorates Washington's victory over the Hessians.

Unfortunately, owing to bad roads and wrecked bridges, these officers suffered great delay, and only reached the Trenton monument as the German host, with rolling drums, was marching into the New Jersey capital along Pennington Avenue, the triumphant way that Washington had followed after his great victory.

As the invaders reached the little park where the monument stands, they saw that a wireless station was in operation there, and demanded its surrender.

Colonel Reading, wishing to gain time (for every minute counted), opened a glass door and stepped out on the little balcony at the top of the monument one hundred and fifty feet above the ground. He tried to speak, but a German officer cut him short. He must surrender instantly or they would fire.

"Fire and be damned!" shouted the Colonel, and turned to the white-faced wireless operator inside. "Have you got Harrisburg yet?" he asked. "For God's sake, hustle!"

"Just got 'em," answered the operator. "I need five minutes to get this message through."

Five minutes! The German officer below, red with anger, was calling out sharp orders. A six-inch gun was set up under the Carolina poplars not a hundred yards from the monument.

"We'll show them!" roared the Prussian, as the gun crew drove home a hundred-pound shell. "Ready!"

"Is that message gone?" gasped Reading.

"Half of it. I need two minutes."

Two minutes! The officer was aiming the big gun at the base of the monument, and was just giving the word to fire when the heavy bronze door swung open, and between the two bronze soldiers appeared Elias A. Smith, a white-haired veteran, over ninety years old, with a bronze medal on his breast and the Stars and Stripes wound around his waist.

"I fought in the Civil War!" he cried, in a shrill voice. "Here's my medal. Here's my flag. I've been the guardian of the monument for sixteen years. George Washington's up there on top, and if you're going to shoot him, you can shoot me, too."

The Germans were so surprised by this venerable apparition that they stood like stones.

"Hi! Yi!" shouted Colonel Reading. "It's gone!"

"Hurrah!" echoed the old man. "I was with Grant at Appomattox when Lee surrendered. Why don't you fire?"

Then they did fire, and the proud shaft bearing the statue of George Washington crumbled to earth; and in the ruin of it four brave Americans perished.



CHAPTER XII

REAR-ADMIRAL THOMAS Q. ALLYN WEIGHS CHANCES OF THE AMERICAN FLEET IN IMPENDING NAVAL BATTLE

While the main German army pressed on in pursuit of General Wood's fleeing forces, a body of ten thousand of the invaders was left behind at various points in northern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania to pacify this region and organise its industries and activities. The Picatinny arsenal was now running night and day, under the direction of a force of chemists brought from Germany, turning out shells and cartridges for the invading army. The great Roebling plant in Trenton was commandeered for the production of field telephone and telegraph wire, and the Mercer automobile factory for military motor-trucks and ambulances.

I was astonished at the rapidity with which German engineers repaired bridges and railroads that had been wrecked by the retreating Americans, and was assured that the invaders had brought with them from their own country a full supply of steel spans, beams, girders, trusses, and other parts necessary for such repairs, down to the individual bolts and pins for each separate construction. It was an amazing illustration of their preparedness, and of their detailed knowledge of conditions in America.

Trains were soon running regularly between Jersey City and Trenton, their operations being put in the hands of two Pennsylvania Railroad officials, J.B. Fisher, superintendent of the New York division, and Victor Wierman, superintendent of the Trenton division—these two, with their operating staffs, being held personally responsible, under pain of death, for the safe and prompt arrival of troops and supplies.

For the pacification of Trenton the Germans left a force of three thousand men with artillery encamped in the State Fair grounds near the capital, and it was announced in the Trenton Times (made the official German organ) that at the first disorder shells would be fired at the white marble City Hall, at the State House, with its precious collection of flags and banners from the Civil and Revolutionary wars, at the Broad Street National Bank, and at the Public Service building, which stands where the Hessians surrendered in 1776.

Among hostages taken here by the Germans were R.V. Kuser, head of the Trenton Brewing Company; General Wilbur F. Sadler, president of the Broad Street Trust Company; Colonel E. C. Stahl, a Civil War veteran and the father of Rose Stahl; also the Roman Catholic Bishop James F. McFaul and the Episcopal Bishop Paul Matthews.

Many Trenton women, including Mrs. Karl G. Roebling, Mrs. Oliphant, wife of the General, Miss Mabel Hayter, and Mrs. Charles Howell Cook, were devoted in nursing the wounded who were brought by thousands to the historic churches of Trenton, used as hospitals, and to the vast Second Regiment armory.

Several American nurses came into possession of diaries found on wounded German soldiers, and some of these recorded excesses similar to those committed in Belgium in 1914.

"On the main street of the town of Dover, New Jersey," wrote Private Karmenz, 178th Saxon Regiment, "I saw about fifty citizens shot for having fired from ambush on our soldiers."

"Glorious victories in Pennsylvania," rejoiced Lieutenant A. Aberlein of the Eighth Bavarian Army Corps. "Our men of softer spirit give the wounded a bullet of deliverance; the others hack and stab as they may."

The tribute levied upon Trenton was four million dollars in gold, recently realised by the State Treasurer from an issue of State bonds to supply State deficiencies.

German officers made themselves comfortable in the Trenton Club, the Lotus Club, the Carteret Club, and the Elk Home; also in the Windsor House, the Trenton House, and the Sterling House. Printed schedules of rates for food and rooms were posted up, and the proprietors were notified that they would be punished if they refused to give service at these rates, just as the German soldiers would be punished if they tried to evade payment.

Officers of the German headquarters staff occupied Karl G. Roebling's show place, with its fine stables, lawns, and greenhouses.

A few days after the battle of Trenton, I received a cable to the effect that the American fleet had nearly completed its voyage around South America and had been sighted off Cape St. Roque, the northeastern corner of Brazil, headed toward the Caribbean Sea. It was known that the German fleet had been cruising in these waters for weeks, awaiting the enemy's arrival, and cutting off their colliers and supply ships from all ports in Europe and America; and it was now evident that a great naval battle must occur in the near future.

I took steamer at once for Kingston, Jamaica; and on the evening of my arrival, July 10, I called on my friend, Rear-Admiral Thomas Q. Allyn of the United States Navy (now retired), whom I had not seen since our dramatic meeting at Colon when the Panama Canal was wrecked by the Germans. I had many questions to ask the Admiral, and we talked until after midnight.

"I am horribly anxious, Mr. Langston," said the veteran of Manila. "We are facing a great crisis. Our ships are going into battle, and within a few hours we shall know whether the civilian policy at Washington that has controlled our naval development—the policy that forced me to resign rather than assume the responsibility for consequences—we shall know whether that policy was wise or foolish."

"I did not suspect that you resigned for that reason," said I.

His face darkened.

"Yes. There had been tension for months. The whole service was demoralised. Discipline and efficiency were destroyed. As far back as 1914, I testified before the House Committee on Naval Affairs that it would take five years to make our fleet ready to fight the fleet of any first-class naval power, and to get our personnel into proper condition. I said that we were not able to defend the Monroe Doctrine in the Atlantic, or to force the Open Door of trade in the Pacific. I might as well have spoken to the winds, and when the order came last April, against the best naval advice, to take our fleet into the Pacific, I handed in my resignation."

"You must be glad you did, in view of what happened."

"Yes; but—I am thinking of my country. I am thinking of those unfortunate ships that have come around South America without sufficient coal or provisions."

I asked Admiral Allyn how the American fleet compared with the Germans in number of ships. He shook his head.

"We are far behind them. Nine years ago, in 1912, we stood next to Great Britain in naval strength; but since then we have steadily fallen back. Germany has a dozen super-dreadnoughts, ships of over 30,000 tons, while we have six. Germany has twenty dreadnoughts of from 20,000 to 30,000 tons to our ten. She has four battle-cruisers, while we have none. She has a hundred destroyers to our twenty-five."

"I understand that these figures refer to the fleets that are actually going into battle?"

"Yes. Germany's entire naval strength is a third more than that. I have accurate information. You see, our fleet is outclassed."

"But it will fight?"

"Of course our fleet will fight; but—we can't get to our base at Guantanamo—the German fleet blocks the way. For years we have begged that Guantanamo be fortified; but our request was always refused."

"Why?"

"Ah, why? Why, in 1915, were we refused eighteen thousand men on the active list that were absolutely necessary to man our ships? Why have we practically no naval reserves? Why, in 1916, were the President's reasonable demands for naval preparedness refused by Congress? I will tell you why! Because politics has been considered more than efficiency in the handling of our navy. Vital needs have been neglected, so that a show of economy could be made to the people and get their votes. Economy! Good heavens! you see where it has brought us!"

On the morning of July 11, as I was breakfasting in the hotel with Admiral Allyn, there was great excitement outside, and, going to the piazza, we saw a large airship approaching rapidly from the northwest at the height of about a mile. It was one of the non-rigid Parseval type, evidently a German.

"A scout from the enemy's fleet," said Admiral Allyn.

"That means they are not far away?"

"Yes. They came through the Windward Passage three weeks ago, and have been lying off Guantanamo ever since. We ought to have wireless reports of them soon."

As a matter of fact, before noon the wireless station at Santiago de Cuba flashed the news that coasting steamers had reported German battleships steaming slowly to the south, and a few hours later other wireless reports informed us that the American fleet had been sighted off the southern coast of Haiti.

The Admiral nodded grimly.

"The hour has struck. The German and American fleets will meet in these waters somewhere between Guantanamo and Jamaica."



CHAPTER XIII

THE GREAT NAVAL BATTLE OF THE CARIBBEAN SEA

In a flash my newspaper sense made me realise that this was an extraordinary opportunity. The greatest naval battle in history was about to be fought so near us that we might almost hear the big guns booming. It would be worth thousands of pounds to the London Times to have an eye-witness account of this battle, and I resolved to turn the island of Jamaica upside down in search of an aeroplane that would take me out to sea.

The fates were certainly kind to me—or rather the British Consul was efficient; and before night I had secured the use of a powerful Burgess-Dunne aeroboat, the property of Vincent Astor; also Mr. Astor's skilful services as pilot, which he generously offered through his interest in naval affairs and because of his desire to give the world this first account of a sea battle observed from the sky.

We started the next morning, an hour after sunrise, flying to the north straight across the island of Jamaica, and then out over the open sea. I shall never forget the beauty of the scene that we looked down upon—the tropical flowers and verdure of the rugged island, and the calmly smiling purple waters surrounding it. We flew swiftly through the delicious air at a height of half a mile, and in two hours we had covered a third of the distance to Guantanamo and were out of sight of land.

At ten o'clock we turned to the right and steered for a column of smoke that had appeared on the far horizon; and at half-past ten we were circling over the American fleet as it steamed ahead slowly with fires under all boilers and everything ready for full speed at an instant's notice.

As we approached the huge super-dreadnought Pennsylvania, flag-ship of the American squadron, Mr. Astor unfurled the Stars and Stripes, and we could hear the crews cheering as they waved back their greetings.

I should explain that we were able to converse easily, above the roar of our propellers, by talking into telephone head-pieces.

"Look!" cried Astor. "Our ships are beginning a manoeuvre."

The Pennsylvania, with red-and-white flags on her foremast, was signalling to the fleet: "Prepare to engage the enemy." We watched eagerly as the great ships, stretching away for miles, turned slightly to starboard and, with quickened engines, advanced in one long line of battle.

At half-past eleven another smoke column appeared on our port bow, and within half an hour we could make out enemy vessels on either hand.

"They're coming on in two divisions, miles apart," said Astor, studying the two smoke columns with his glasses. "We're headed right between them."

We flew ahead rapidly, and presently could clearly discern that the vessels to starboard were large battleships and those to port were destroyers.

At one o'clock the two fleets were about nineteen thousand yards apart and were jockeying for positions. Suddenly four vessels detached themselves from the German battleship line and steamed at high speed across the head of the American column.

"What's that? What are they doing?" asked Astor.

"Trying to cap our line and torpedo it. Admiral Togo did the same thing against the Russians in the Yellow Sea. Admiral Fletcher is swinging his line to port to block that move."

"How do they know which way to manoeuvre? I don't see any signals."

"It's done by radio from ship to ship. Look! They are forcing us to head more to port. That gives them the advantage of sunlight. Ah!"

I pointed to the German line, where several puffs of smoke showed that they had begun firing. Ten seconds later great geyser splashes rose from the sea five hundred yards beyond the Pennsylvania, and then we heard the dull booming of the discharge. The battle had begun. I glanced at my watch. It was half-past one.

Boom! Boom! Boom! spoke the big German guns eight miles away; but we always saw the splashes before we heard the sounds. Sometimes we could see the twelve-inch shells curving through the air—big, black, clumsy fellows.

Awe-struck, from our aeroplane, Astor and I looked down upon the American dreadnoughts as they answered the enemy in kind, a whole line thundering forth salvos that made the big guns flame out like monster torches, dull red in rolling white clouds of smokeless powder. We could see the tense faces of those brave men in the fire-control tops.

"See that!" I cried, as a shell struck so close to the Arizona, second in line, that the "spotting" officers on the fire-control platform high on her foremast were drenched with salt water.

I can give here only the main features of this great battle of the Caribbean, which lasted five hours and a quarter and covered a water area about thirty miles long and twenty miles wide. My plan of it, drawn with red and black lines to represent movements of rival fleets, is a tangle of loops and curves.

"Do you think there is any chance that it will be a drawn game?" said Astor, pale with excitement.

"No," I answered. "A battle like this is never a drawn game. It's always a fight to a finish."

Our aeroboat behaved splendidly, in spite of a freshening trade-wind breeze, and we circled lower for a better view of the battle which now grew in fierceness as the fleets came to closer quarters. At one time we dropped to within two thousand feet of the sea before Astor remembered that our American flag made a tempting target for the German guns and steered to a higher level.

"They don't seem to fire at us, do they? I suppose they think we aren't worth bothering with," he laughed.

As a matter of fact, not a single shot was fired at us during the entire engagement.

I must say a word here regarding an adroit German manoeuvre early in the battle by which the invaders turned an apparent inferiority in submarines into a distinct advantage. The American fleet had thirty submarines (these had been towed painfully around South America) while the Germans had only five, but these five were large and speedy, built to travel with the fleet under their own power and not fall behind. The thirty American submarines, on the other hand, could not make over twelve knots an hour. Consequently, when the German line suddenly quickened its pace to twenty-five knots, Admiral Fletcher had to choose between abandoning his underwater craft and allowing his fleet to be capped by the enemy; that is, exposed to a raking fire with great danger from torpedoes. He decided to abandon his submarines (all but one that had the necessary speed) and thus he lost whatever assistance these vessels might have rendered, and was obliged to fight with a single submarine against five, instead of with thirty against five.

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