Part 3 out of 4
In the very first session the peace commissioners came straight to the
"I am instructed by the President of the United States," began General
Wood, "to ask your Excellency if the German Imperial Government will
agree to withdraw their armies from America in consideration of receiving
a money indemnity?"
"No, sir," replied General von Hindenburg. "That is quite out of the
[Illustration: GERMAN GUNS DESTROY THE HOTEL TAFT.]
"A large indemnity? I am empowered to offer three thousand million
dollars, which is three times as much, your Excellency will remember, as
the Imperial German Government accepted for withdrawing from France in
"Yes, and we always regretted it," snapped von Hindenburg. "We should
have kept that territory, or part of it. We are going to keep this
territory. That was our original intention in coming here. We need this
Atlantic seaboard for the extension of the German idea, for the spread of
German civilisation, for our inevitable expansion as the great world
"Suppose we agreed to pay four billion dollars?" suggested the American
Von Hindenburg shook his head and then in his rough, positive way: "No,
General. What we have taken by our victorious arms we shall hold for our
children and our grandchildren. I am instructed to say, however, that the
Imperial German Government will make one important concession to the
United States. We will withdraw our troops from the mouths of the
Mississippi which we now hold, as you know; we will withdraw from
Galveston, New Orleans, Pensacola, Tampa, Key West; in short, from all
ports in the Gulf of Mexico and in Florida. If you will allow me,
gentlemen, I will show you on this map what we propose to surrender to
you and what we propose to keep."
The venerable Field Marshal unrolled upon the broad surface of George
Washington's desk a beautifully shaded relief map of the United States,
and General Wood, ex-President Taft and Elihu Root bent over it with
tense faces and studied a heavy black line that indicated the proposed
boundary between the United States and the territory claimed by the
invaders. This latter included all of New England, about one-third of New
York and Pennsylvania (the southeastern portions), all of New Jersey and
Delaware, nearly all of Virginia and North Carolina and all of South
Carolina and Georgia.
"You observe, gentlemen," said von Hindenburg, "that our American
province is to bear the name New Germany. It is bounded on the north by
Canada, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Florida, and
on the west by Alabama and the Allegheny Mountains. It is a strip of
land; roughly speaking, a thousand miles long and two hundred miles
"About the area of the German Empire," said ex-President Taft.
"Possibly, but not one-tenth of the entire territory of the United
States, leaving out Alaska. We feel that as conquerors we are asking
little enough." He eyed the Americans keenly.
"You are asking us to give up New York, Philadelphia and Washington and
all of New England," said Elihu Root very quietly. "Does your Excellency
realise what that means to us? New England is the cradle of our
liberties. New York is the heart of the nation. Washington is our
"Washington _was_ your capital," broke in General von Kluck, with a
"I can assure your Excellency," said General Wood, keeping his composure
with an effort, "that the American people will never consent to such a
sacrifice of territory. You may drive us back to the deserts of Arizona,
you may drive us back to the Rocky Mountains, but we will fight on."
Von Hindenburg's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Ah, so!" he smiled grimly.
"Do you know what will happen if you refuse our terms? In the next few
months we shall land expeditions from Germany with a million more
soldiers. That will give us a million and a half men on American soil. We
shall then invade the Mississippi Valley from New Orleans, and our next
offer of terms will be made to you from St. Louis or Chicago, _and it
will be a very different offer_."
"If your Excellency will allow me," said Elihu Root in a conciliatory
tone, "may I ask if the Imperial German Government does not recognise
that there will be great difficulties in the way of permanently holding a
strip of land along our Atlantic seaboard?"
"What difficulties? England holds Canada, doesn't she? Spain held Mexico,
did she not?"
"But the Mexicans were willing to be held. Your Excellency must realise
that in New England, in New York, in New Jersey, you would be dealing
with irreconcilable hatred."
"Nothing is irreconcilable. Look at Belgium. They hated us in 1915, did
they not? But sixty-five percent of them accepted German citizenship when
we offered it to them after the peace in 1919, and they have been a
well-behaved German province ever since."
"You mean to say that New England would ever become a German province?"
protested William H. Taft. "Do you think that New York and Virginia will
ever take the oath of allegiance to the German Emperor?"
"Of course they will, just as most of the Spaniards you conquered in the
Philippine Islands took the oath of allegiance to America. They swore
they would not but they did. Men follow the laws of necessity. Half of
your population are of foreign descent. Millions of them are of German
descent. These people crowded over here from Europe because they were
starving and you have kept them starving. They will come to us because we
treat them better; we give them higher wages, cleaner homes, more
happiness. They _have_ come to us already; the figures prove it. Not ten
percent of the people of New York and New England have moved away since
the German occupation, although they were free to go. Why is that?
Because they like our form of government, they see that it insures to
them and their children the benefits of a higher civilisation."
My informant assured me that at this point ex-President Taft, in spite of
his even temper, almost exploded with indignation, while General Wood
rose abruptly from his seat.
For a time it looked as if this first Peace Conference session would
break up in a storm of angry recrimination; but Elihu Root, by tactful
appeals, finally smoothed things over and an adjournment was taken for
forty-eight hours, during which it was agreed that both sides, by
telegraph and cable, should lay the situation before their respective
governments in Chicago and Berlin.
I remained at Mount Vernon for two weeks while the truce lasted. Every
day the peace commissioners met for hours of argument and pleading, but
the deadlock of conflicting purposes was not broken. Both sides kept in
touch with their governments and both made concessions. America raised
her indemnity offer to five billion dollars, to six billion dollars, to
seven billion dollars, but declared she would never surrender one foot of
the Atlantic seaboard. Germany lessened her demands for territory, but
refused to withdraw from New York, New England and Philadelphia.
For some days this deadlock continued, then America began to weaken. She
felt herself overpowered. The consequences of continuing the war were too
frightful to contemplate and, on September 8, I cabled my paper that the
United States would probably cede to Germany within twenty-four hours the
whole of New England and a part of New York State, including New York
City and Long Island. This was the general opinion when, suddenly, out of
a clear sky came a dramatic happening destined to change the course of
events and draw me personally into a whirlpool of exciting adventures.
It was about three o'clock in the afternoon of September 9, a blazing hot
day, and I was seated on the lawn under one of the fine magnolia-trees
presented years before by Prince Henry of Prussia, wondering how much
longer I must swelter here before getting off my despatch to the _Times_,
when I heard the panting of a swiftly approaching automobile which
presently drew up outside the grounds. A moment later a coloured
chauffeur approached and asked if I was Mr. James Langston. I told him I
was, and he said a lady in the car wanted to speak to me.
"A lady?" I asked in surprise. "Did she give her name?"
The chauffeur broke into a beaming smile. "She didn't give no name, boss,
but she sure is a ve'hy handsome lady, an' she's powh'ful anxious to see
I lost no time in answering this mysterious summons, and a little later
found myself in the presence of a young woman whom I recognised, when she
drew aside her veil, as Miss Mary Ryerson, sister of Lieutenant Randolph
Ryerson. With her in the car were her brother and a tall, gaunt man with
deep-set eyes. They were all travel-stained, and the car showed the
battering of Virginia mountain roads.
"Oh, Mr. Langston," cried the girl eagerly, "we have such wonderful news!
The conference isn't over? They haven't yielded to Germany?"
"No," said I. "Not yet."
"They mustn't yield. We have news that changes everything. Oh, it's so
splendid! America is going to win."
Her lovely face was glowing with enthusiasm, but I shook my head.
"America's fleet is destroyed. Her army is beaten. How can she win?"
Miss Ryerson turned to her brother and to the other man. "Go with Mr.
Langston. Tell him everything. Explain everything. He will take you to
General Wood." She fixed her radiant eyes on me. "You will help us? I can
count on you? Remember, it's for America!"
"I'll do my best," I promised, yielding to the spell of her charm and
spirit. "May I ask--" I glanced at the tall man who was getting out of
"Ah! Now you will believe. You will see how God is guiding us. This is
the father of the brave little boy in Wanamaker's store. He has seen
Thomas A. Edison, and Mr. Edison says his plan to destroy the German
fleet is absolutely sound. Mr. Langston, Mr. Lemuel A. Widding. Now
THOMAS A. EDISON MAKES A SERIOUS MISTAKE IN ACCEPTING A DINNER INVITATION
As General Wood left the peace conference (in reply to our urgent
summons) and walked slowly across the Mount Vernon lawn to join us in the
summer house, he looked haggard and dejected.
"What is it?" he asked.
"Good news, General," I whispered, but he shook his head wearily.
"No, it's all over. They have worn us down. Our fleet is destroyed, our
army is beaten. We are on the point of ceding New England and New York to
Germany. There is nothing else to do."
"Wait! We have information that may change everything. Let me introduce
Lieutenant Ryerson and Mr. Widding--General Wood." They bowed politely.
"Mr. Widding has just seen Thomas A. Edison."
That was a name to conjure with, and the General's face brightened.
"I'm listening," he said.
We settled back in our chairs and Lemuel A. Widding, with awkward
movements, drew from his pockets some papers which he offered to the
"These speak for themselves, General," he began. "Here is a brief
description of my invention for destroying the German fleet. Here are
blueprints that make it clearer. Here is the written endorsement of
Thomas A. Edison."
For a long time General Wood studied these papers with close attention,
then he sat silent, looking out over the broad Potomac, his noble face
stern with care. I saw that his hair had whitened noticeably in the last
"If this is true, it's more important than you realise. It's so important
that--" He searched us with his kind but keen grey eyes.
"Thomas A. Edison says it's true," put in Widding. "That ought to be good
"And Lieutenant Ryerson tells me that Admiral Fletcher spoke favourably
of the matter," I added.
"He did, General," declared the lieutenant. "It was on the _Pennsylvania_
a few hours before we went into battle. The admiral had been looking over
Mr. Widding's specifications the night before and he said--I remember his
words: 'This is a great idea. If we had it in operation now we could
destroy the German fleet.'"
At this moment there came a fateful interruption in the form of an urgent
call for General Wood from the conference hall and he asked us to excuse
him until the next day when he would take the matter up seriously.
We returned at once to Washington and I spent that evening at the Cosmos
Club listening to a lecture by my oceanographical friend, Dr. Austin H.
Clark, on deep-sea lilies that eat meat. At about nine o'clock I was
called to the telephone, and presently recognised the agitated voice of
Miss Ryerson, who said that an extraordinary thing had happened and
begged me to come to her at once. She was stopping at the Shoreham, just
across the street, and five minutes later we were talking earnestly in
the spacious blue-and-white salon with its flowers and restful lights.
Needless to say, I preferred a talk with this beautiful girl to the most
learned discussion of deep-sea lilies.
Her message was brief but important. She had just been telephoning in a
drug-store on Pennsylvania Avenue when she was surprised to hear the name
of Thomas A. Edison mentioned several times by a man in the next booth
who was speaking in German. Miss Ryerson understood German and, listening
attentively, she made out enough to be sure that an enemy's plot was on
foot to lay hold of the great inventor, to abduct him forcibly, so that
he could no longer help the work of American defence.
Greatly alarmed she had called me up and now urged me to warn the
military authorities, without wasting a moment, so that they would take
steps to protect Mr. Edison.
In this emergency I decided to appeal to General E.M. Weaver, Chief of
Coast Artillery, whom I knew from having played golf with him at Chevy
Chase, and, after telephoning, I hurried to his house in a taxicab. The
general looked grave when I repeated Miss Ryerson's story, and said that
this accorded with other reports of German underground activities that
had come to his knowledge. Of course, a guard must be furnished for Mr.
Edison, who was in Baltimore at the time, working out plans for the
scientific defences of Washington in the physical laboratories of the
Johns Hopkins University.
"I must talk with Edison," said the General. "Suppose you go to Baltimore
in the morning, Mr. Langston, with a note from me. It's only forty-five
minutes and--tell Mr. Edison that I will be greatly relieved if he will
return to Washington with you."
I had interviewed Thomas A. Edison on several occasions and gained his
confidence, so that he received me cordially the next morning in
Baltimore and, in deference to General Weaver's desire, agreed to run
down to Washington that afternoon, although he laughed at the idea of any
As we rode on the train the inventor talked freely of plans for defending
the national capital against General von Mackensen's army which, having
occupied Richmond, was moving up slowly through Virginia. It is a matter
of familiar history now that these plans provided for the use of liquid
chlorine against the invaders, this dangerous substance to be dropped
upon the advancing army from a fleet of powerful aeroplanes. Mr. Edison
seemed hopeful of the outcome.
He questioned me about Lemuel A. Widding and was interested to learn that
Widding was employed at the works of the Victor Talking Machine (Edison's
own invention) in Camden, N. J. His eyes brightened when I told him of
young Lemuel's thrilling act at Wanamaker's Philadelphia store which, as
I now explained, led to the meeting of the two inventors through the
efforts of Miss Ryerson.
"There's something queer about this," mused the famous electrician.
"Widding tells me he submitted his idea to the Navy Department over a
year ago. Think of that! An idea bigger than the submarine!"
"Is it possible?"
"No doubt of it. Widding's invention will change the condition of naval
warfare--it's bound to. I wouldn't give five cents for the German fleet
when we get this thing working. All we need is time.
"Mr. Langston, there are some big surprises ahead for the American people
and for the Germans," continued the inventor. "They say America is as
helpless as Belgium or China. I say nonsense. It's true that we have lost
our fleet and some of our big cities and that the Germans have three
armies on our soil, but the fine old qualities of American grit and
American resourcefulness are still here and we'll use 'em. If we can't
win battles in the old way, we'll find new ways.
"Listen to this, my friend. Have you heard of the Committee of
Twenty-one? No? Very few have. It's a body of rich and patriotic
Americans, big business men, who made up their minds, back in July, that
the government wasn't up to the job of saving this nation. So they
decided to save it themselves by business methods, efficiency methods.
There's a lot of nonsense talked about German efficiency. We'll show them
a few things about American efficiency. What made the United States the
greatest and richest country in the world? Was it German efficiency? What
gave the Standard Oil Company its world supremacy? Was it German
efficiency? It was the American brains of John D. Rockefeller, wasn't
"Is Mr. Rockefeller one of the Committee of Twenty-one?"
"Of course, he is, and so are Andrew Carnegie, James J. Hill, J. P.
Morgan, John Wanamaker, John H. Fahey, James B. Duke, Henry B. Joy,
Daniel B. Guggenheim, John D. Ryan, J. B. Widener, Emerson McMillin,
Philip D. Armour, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Elihu Root, George W. Perkins,
Asa G. Candler and two or three others, including myself.
"The Germans are getting over the idea that America is as helpless as
Belgium or China. Von Mackensen is going slow, holding back his army
because he doesn't know what we have up our sleeve at the Potomac. As
a matter of fact, we have mighty little except this liquid chlorine
and--well, we're having trouble with the steel containers and with the
"You mean the device that drops the containers from the aeroplanes?"
"That's it. We need time to perfect the thing. We've spread fake reports
about wonderful electric mines that will blow up a brigade, and that
helped some, and we delayed von Mackensen for two weeks south of
Fredericksburg by spreading lines of striped cheese-cloth, miles of it,
along a rugged valley. His aeroplane scouts couldn't make out what that
cheese-cloth was for; they thought it might be some new kind of
electrocution storage battery, so the whole army waited."
As we talked, the train stopped at Hyattsville, a few miles out of
Washington, and a well-set-up officer in uniform came aboard and
approached us with a pleasant smile.
"Mr. Edison? I am Captain Campbell of General Wood's staff," he said.
"General Wood is outside in his automobile and asks you to join him. The
General thought it would be pleasanter to motor down to Mount Vernon."
"That's very kind," said Edison, rising.
"And, Mr. Langston," continued Captain Campbell, addressing me, "General
Wood presents his compliments and hopes you will dine with Mr. Edison and
himself at seven this evening."
"With pleasure." I bowed and watched them as, they left the train and
entered a military-looking automobile that stood near the track with
curtains drawn. A moment later they rolled away and I settled back in my
seat, reflecting complacently on the high confidence that had been shown
in my discretion.
Two hours later I reached Mount Vernon and was surprised, as I left the
train, to find General Wood himself waiting on the platform.
"You got back quickly, General," I said.
He gave me a sharp glance. "Back from where?"
"Why, from where you met our train."
"Your train? What train? I came here to meet Mr. Edison."
"But you did meet him--two hours ago--in your automobile--at
The general stared in amazement. "I don't know what you are talking
about. I haven't left Mount Vernon. I haven't seen Mr. Edison. What has
happened? Tell me!"
"Wait!" I said, as the truth began to break on me. "Is there a Captain
Campbell on your staff?"
He shook his head. "No."
"Then--then--" I was trying to piece together the evidence.
"Well? Go on!" he urged impatiently, whereupon I related the events of
"Good Lord!" he cried. "It's an abduction--unquestionably. This Captain
Campbell was a German spy. You say the automobile curtains were drawn?
That made it dark inside, and no doubt the pretended General Wood wore
motor goggles. Before Edison discovered the trick they were off at full
speed and he was overpowered on the back seat. Think of that! Thomas A.
Edison abducted by the Germans!"
"Why would they do such a thing?"
"Why? Don't you see? That invention of Widding's will destroy the German
fleet. It's a matter of life and death to them and Edison knows all about
it--all the details--Widding told him."
"Yes," said I. "My friend Miss Ryerson brought Widding to Mr. Edison a
few days ago, but--how could the Germans have known that?"
The general's face darkened. "How do they know all sorts of things?
Somebody tells them. Somebody told them this."
"But Widding himself knows all about his own invention. It won't do the
Germans any good to abduct Edison unless--"
Our eyes met in sudden alarm.
"By George, you're right!" exclaimed Wood.
"Where is Widding? Is he stopping at your hotel?"
"Yes. We're all there, Miss Ryerson and her brother and Widding and I."
"Call up the hotel--quick. We must know about this."
A minute later I had Miss Ryerson on the 'phone and as soon as I heard
her voice I knew that something was wrong.
"What does she say?" asked the general anxiously, as I hung up the
"She is very much distressed. She says Widding and her brother
disappeared from the hotel last night and no one has any idea where they
Here were startling happenings and the developments were even more
startling, but, before following these threads of mystery (days passed
and they were still unravelled) I must set forth events that immediately
succeeded the rupture of peace negotiations. I have reason to know that
the Committee of Twenty-one brought pressure upon our peace
commissioners, through Washington and the public press, with the result
that their attitude stiffened towards the enemy and presently became
almost defiant, so that on October 2, 1921, all efforts towards peace
were abandoned. And on October 3 it was officially announced that the
United States and Germany were again at war.
I WITNESS THE BATTLE OF THE SUSQUEHANNA FROM VINCENT ASTOR'S AEROPLANE
During the next week, in the performance of my newspaper duties, I
visited Washington and Baltimore, both of these cities being now in
imminent danger of attack, the latter from von Hindenburg's army south of
Philadelphia, the former from the newly landed German expedition that was
encamped on the shores of Chesapeake Bay near Norfolk, Virginia, which
was already occupied by the enemy.
I found a striking contrast between the psychology of Washington and that
of Baltimore. The national capital, abandoned by its government, awaited
in dull despair the arrival of the conquerors with no thought of
resistance, but Baltimore was girding up her loins to fight. Washington,
burned by the British in 1812, had learned her lesson, but Baltimore had
never known the ravages of an invader. Proudest of southern cities, she
now made ready to stand against the Germans. Let New York and Boston and
Philadelphia surrender, if they pleased, Baltimore would not surrender.
On the night of my arrival in the Monumental City, September 15, I found
bonfires blazing and crowds thronging the streets. There was to be a
great mass meeting at the Fifth Regiment Armoury, and I shall never
forget the scene as I stood on Hoffman Street with my friend F. R. Kent,
Editor of the Baltimore _Sun_, and watched the multitude press within the
fortress-like walls. This huge grey building had seen excitement before,
as when Wilson and Bryan triumphed here at the Democratic convention of
1912, but nothing like this.
As far as I could see down Bolton Street and Hoffman Street were dense
crowds cheering frantically as troops of the Maryland National Guard
marched past with crashing bands, the famous "Fighting Fourth" (how the
crowd cheered them!), the "Dandy Fifth," Baltimore's particular pride,
then the First Regiment, then the First Separate Company, coloured
infantry and finally the crack cavalry "Troop A" on their black horses,
led by Captain John C. Cockey, of whom it was said that he could make his
big hunter, Belvedere, climb the side of a house.
The immense auditorium, gay with flags and national emblems, was packed
to its capacity of 20,000, and I felt a real thrill when, after a prayer
by Cardinal Gibbons, a thousand school girls, four abreast and all in
white, the little ones first, moved slowly up the three aisles to seats
in front, singing "Onward Christian Soldiers," with the Fifth Regiment
band leading them.
Gathered on the platform were the foremost citizens of Baltimore, the
ablest men in Maryland, including Mayor J. H. Preston, Douglas Thomas,
Frank A. Furst, U. S. Senator John Walter Smith, Hon. J. Charles
Linthicum, ex-Gov. Edwin Warfield, Col. Ral Parr, John W. Frick, John M.
Dennis, Douglas H. Gordon, John E. Hurst, Franklin P. Cator, Capt. I. E.
Emerson, Hon. Wm. Carter Page, Hon. Charles T. Crane, George C. Jenkins,
C. Wilbur Miller, Howell B. Griswold, Jr., George May, Edwin J. Farber,
Maurice H. Grape, Col. Washington Bowie, Jr., and Robert Garrett.
Announcement was made by General Alexander Brown that fifty thousand
volunteers from Baltimore and the vicinity had already joined the colours
and were in mobilisation camps at Halethrope and Pimlico and at the Glen
Burnie rifle range. Also that the Bessemer Steel Company of Baltimore,
the Maryland Steel Company, the great cotton mills and canneries, were
working night and day, turning out shrapnel, shell casings, uniforms,
belts, bandages and other munitions of war, all to be furnished without a
cent of profit. Furthermore, the banks and trust companies of Baltimore
had raised fifty million dollars for immediate needs of the defence with
more to come.
"That's the kind of indemnity Baltimore offers to the Germans," cried
Speeches attacking the plan of campaign and the competency of military
leaders were made by Charles J. Bonaparte, Leigh Bonsal and Henry W.
Williams, but their words availed nothing against the prevailing wild
"Baltimore has never been taken by an enemy," shouted ex-Governor
Goldsborough, "and she will not be taken now. Our army is massed and
entrenched along the south bank of the Susquehanna and, mark my words,
the Germans will never pass that line."
As these patriotic words rang out the thousand white-clad singers rose
and lifted their voices in "The Star Spangled Banner," dearest of
patriotic hymns in Baltimore because it was a Baltimore man, Francis
Scott Key, who wrote it.
While the great meeting was still in session, a large German airship
appeared over Baltimore's lower basin and, circling slowly at the height
of half a mile, proceeded to carry out its mission of frightfulness
against the helpless city. More than fifty bombs were dropped that night
with terrific explosions. The noble shaft of the Washington Monument was
shattered. The City Hall was destroyed, also the Custom House, the
Richmond Market, the Walters Art Gallery, one of the buildings of the
Johns Hopkins Hospital, with a score of killed and wounded, and the
cathedral with fifty killed and wounded.
The whole country was stirred to its depths by this outrage. Angry
orators appeared at every street corner, and volunteers stormed the
enlisting offices. Within twenty-four hours the business men of Baltimore
raised another hundred millions for the city's defence. Baltimore, never
conquered yet, was going to fight harder than ever.
The great question now was how soon the Germans would begin their drive.
We knew that the Virginia expedition under General von Mackensen had
advanced up the peninsula and had taken Richmond, but every day our
aeroplane scouts reported General von Hindenburg's forces as still
stationary south of Philadelphia. Their strategy seemed to be one of
waiting until the two armies could strike simultaneously against
Washington from the southeast and against Baltimore from the northeast.
On the ninth of October this moment seemed to have arrived, and we
learned that von Hindenburg, with a hundred thousand men, was advancing
towards the Susquehanna in a line that would take him straight to the
Maryland metropolis. A two days' march beyond the river would give the
enemy sight of the towers of Baltimore, and how the city had the
slightest chance of successful resistance was more than I could
I come now to the battle of the Susquehanna, which my lucky star allowed
me to witness in spite of positive orders that war correspondents should
not approach the American lines. This happened through the friendship of
Vincent Astor, who once more volunteered his machine and his own services
in the scouting aeroplane corps. I may add that Mr. Astor had offered his
entire fortune, if needed, to equip the nation with the mightiest air
force in the world; and that already four thousand craft of various types
were in process of construction. With some difficulty, Mr. Astor obtained
permission that I accompany him on the express condition that I publish
no word touching military operations until after the battle.
On the morning of October 10th we made our first flight, rising from the
aerodrome in Druid Hill Park and speeding to the northeast, skirting the
shores of Chesapeake Bay. Within half an hour the broad Susquehanna, with
its wrecked bridges, lay before us and to the left, on the heights of
Port Deposit, we made out the American artillery positions with the main
army encamped below. Along the southern bank of the river we saw
thousands of American soldiers deepening and widening trenches that had
been shallowed out by a score of trench digging machines, huge locomotive
ploughs that lumbered along, leaving yellow ditches behind them. There
were miles of these ditches cutting through farms and woods, past
windmills and red barns and rolling wheat fields, stretching away to the
northwest, parallel to the river.
"They've done a lot of work here," said I, impressed by the extent of
Astor answered with a smile that puzzled me. "They have done more than
you dream of, more than any one dreams of," he said.
"You don't imagine these trenches are going to stop the Germans, do you?"
He nodded slowly. "Perhaps."
"But we had trenches like these at Trenton and you know what happened," I
"I know, but--" again that mysterious smile, "those Trenton trenches were
not exactly like these trenches. Hello! They're signalling to us. They
want to know who we are."
In reply to orders wig-wagged up to us from headquarters in a white
farmhouse, we flung forth our identification streamers, blue, white and
red arranged in code to form an aerial passport, and received a wave of
approval in reply.
As we swung to the northwest, moving parallel to the river and about four
miles back of it, I studied with my binoculars the trenches that
stretched along beneath us in straight lines and zigzags as far as the
eye could see. I was familiar with such constructions, having studied
them on various fields; here was the firing trench, here the shelter
trench and there the communicating galleries that joined them, but what
were those groups of men working so busily farther down the line? And
those other groups swarming at many points in the wide area? They were
not digging or bracing side-wall timbers. What were they doing?
I had the wheel at this moment and, in my curiosity, I turned the machine
to the east, forgetting Mr. Astor's admonition that we were not allowed
to pass the rear line of trenches.
"Hold on! This is forbidden!" he cried. "We'll get in trouble."
Before I could act upon his warning, there came a puff of white smoke
from one of the batteries and a moment later a shell, bursting about two
hundred yards in front of us, made its message clear.
We turned at once and, after some further manoeuvring, sailed back to
We dined together that night and I tried to get from Mr. Astor a key to
the mystery that evidently lay behind this situation at the Susquehanna.
At first he was unwilling to speak, but, finally, in view of our
friendship and his confidence in my discretion, he gave me a forecast of
events to come.
"You mustn't breathe this to a soul," he said, "and, of course, you
mustn't write a word of it, but the fact is, dear boy, the wonderful fact
is we're going to win the battle of the Susquehanna."
I shook my head. "I'd give all I've got in the world to have that true,
Mr. Astor, but von Hindenburg is marching against us with 150,000 men,
first-class fighting men."
"I know, and we have only 60,000 men, most of them raw recruits. Just the
same, von Hindenburg hasn't a chance on earth." He paused and added
quickly: "Except one."
"If the enemy suspected the trap we have set for them, they could avoid
it, but they won't suspect it. It's absolutely new."
"How about their aeroplane scouts? Won't they see the trap?"
"They can't see it, at least not enough to understand it. General Wood
turned us back this afternoon as a precaution, but it wasn't necessary.
You might have circled over those trenches for hours and I don't believe
you would have known what's going on there. Besides, the work will be
finished and everything hidden in a couple of days."
I spurred my imagination, searching for agencies of destruction, and
mentioned hidden mines, powerful electric currents, deadly gases, but
Astor shook his head.
"It's worse than that, much worse. And it isn't one of those fantastic
things from Mars that H. G. Wells would put in a novel. This will work.
It's a practical, businesslike way of destroying an army."
"What? An entire army?"
"Yes. There's an area on this side of the Susquehanna about five miles
square that is ready for the Germans--plenty of room for a hundred
thousand of them--and, believe me, not one man in ten will get out of
that area alive."
I stared incredulously as my friend went on with increasing positiveness:
"I know what I'm saying. I'll tell you how I know it in a minute. This
thing has never been done before in the whole history of war and it will
never be done again, but it's going to be done now."
"Why will it never be done again?"
"Because the conditions will never be right again. Armies will be
suspicious after one has been wiped out, but the first time it's
"How can you be sure von Hindenburg's army will cross the Susquehanna at
the exact place where you want it to cross?"
"They will cross at the clearly indicated place for crossing, won't they?
That's where we have set our trap, five miles wide, on the direct line
between Philadelphia and Baltimore. They can't cross lower down because
the river swells into Chesapeake Bay, and if they cross higher up they
simply go out of their way. Why should they? They're not afraid to meet
Leonard Wood's little army, are they? They'll come straight across the
river and then--good-night."
This was as near as I could get to an understanding of the mystery. Astor
would tell me no more, although he knew I would die rather than betray
"You might talk in your sleep," he laughed. "I wish I didn't know the
thing myself. It's like going around with a million dollars in your
pocket." Then he added earnestly: "There are a lot of American cranks and
members of Bryan's peace party who wouldn't stand for this if they knew
"You mean they would tell the Germans?"
"They would tell everybody. They'd call it barbarous, wicked. Perhaps it
is, but--we're fighting for our lives, aren't we? For our country?"
"Sure we are," I agreed.
Later on Mr. Astor told me how he had come into possession of this
extraordinary military knowledge. He was one of the Committee of
The next day we flew out again to the battle front, taking care not to
advance over the proscribed area, and we scanned the northern banks of
the Susquehanna for signs of the enemy, but saw none. On the second day
we had the same experience, but on the third day, towards evening, three
Taubes approached swiftly at a great height and hovered over our lines,
taking observations, and an hour later we made out a body of German
cavalry on the distant hills.
"An advance guard of Saxons and Westphalians," said I, studying their
flashing helmets. "There will be something doing to-morrow."
There was. The battle of the Susquehanna began at daybreak, October 14th,
1921, with an artillery duel which grew in violence as the batteries on
either side of the river found the ranges. Aeroplanes skirmished for
positions over the opposing armies and dropped revealing smoke columns as
guides to the gunners. Hour after hour the Germans poured a terrific fire
of shells and shrapnel upon the American trenches and I wondered if they
would not destroy or disarrange our trap, but Astor said they would not.
Our inadequate artillery replied as vigorously as possible and was
supported by the old U. S. battleship _Montgomery_, manned by the
Baltimore naval brigade under Commander Ralph Robinson, which lay two
miles down the river and dropped twelve-inch shells within the enemy's
lines. Valuable service was also rendered by heavy mobile field artillery
improvised by placing heavy coast defence mortars on strongly reinforced
railroad trucks. None of this, however, prevented the Germans from
forcing through their work of pontoon building, which had been started in
the night. Five lines of pontoons were thrown across the Susquehanna in
two days, and very early on the morning of October 14th, the crossing of
All day from our aeroplane, circling at a height of a mile or rising to
two miles in case of danger, we looked down on fierce fighting in the
trenches and saw the Germans drive steadily forward, sweeping ahead in
close formation, mindless of heavy losses and victorious by reason of
By four o'clock in the afternoon they had dislodged the Americans from
their first lines of entrenchment and forced them to retreat in good
order to reserve lines five miles back of the river. Between these front
lines and the reserve lines there was a stretch of rolling farm land
lined and zigzagged with three-foot ditches used for shelter by our
troops as they fell back.
By six o'clock that evening the German army had occupied this entire area
and by half-past seven, in the glory of a gorgeous crimson sunset, we saw
the invaders capture our last lines of trenches and drive back the
Americans in full retreat, leaving the ground strewn with their own dead
"Now you'll see something," cried Astor with tightening lips as he
scanned the battlefield. "It may come at any moment. We've got them where
we want them. Thousands and thousands of them! Their whole army!"
He pointed to the pontoon bridges where the last companies of the German
host were crossing. On the heights beyond, their artillery fire was
slackening; and on our side the American fire had ceased. Night was
falling and the Germans were evidently planning to encamp where they
"There are a few thousand over there with the artillery who haven't
crossed yet," said I. "The Crown Prince must be there with his generals."
My friend nodded grimly. "We'll attend to them later. Ah! Now look! It's
I turned and saw a thick wall of grey and black smoke rolling in dense
billows over a section of the rear trenches, and out of this leaped
tongues of blue fire and red fire. And farther down the lines I saw
similar sections of smoke and flame with open spaces between, but these
spaces closed up swiftly until presently the fire wall was continuous
over the whole extent of the rear trenches.
We could see German soldiers by hundreds rushing back from this peril;
but, as they ran, fires started at dozens of points before them in the
network of ditches and, spreading with incredible rapidity, formed
flaming barriers that shut off the ways of escape. Within a few minutes
the whole area beneath us, miles in length and width, that had been
occupied by the victorious German army, was like a great gridiron of fire
or like a city with streets and avenues and broad diagonals of fire. All
the trenches and ditches suddenly belched forth waves of black smoke with
blue and red flames darting through them, and fiercest of all burned the
fire walls close to the river bank.
"Good God!" I cried, astounded at this vast conflagration. "What is it
"Oil," said Astor. "The whole supply from the Standard Oil pipe lines
diverted here, millions and millions of gallons. It's driven by big pumps
through mains and pipes and reservoirs, buried deep. It's spurting from a
hundred outlets. Nothing can put it out. Look! The river is on fire!"
I did look, but I will not tell what I saw nor describe the horrors of
the ensuing hour. By nine o'clock it was all over. The last word in
frightfulness had been spoken and the despoilers of Belgium were the
I learned later that the pipes which carried these floods of oil carried
also considerable quantities of arseniuretted hydrogen. The blue flames
that Mr. Astor and I noticed came from the fierce burning of this
arseniuretted hydrogen as it hissed from oil vents in the trenches under
the drive of powerful pumps.
Thousands of those that escaped from the fire area and tried to cross
back on the pontoons were caught and destroyed, a-midstream, by fire
floods that roared down the oil-spread Susquehanna. And about 7,000 that
escaped at the sides were made prisoners.
It was announced in subsequent estimates and not denied by the Germans
that 113,000 of the invaders lost their lives here. To all intents and
purposes von Hindenburg's army had ceased to exist.
GENERAL WOOD SCORES ANOTHER BRILLIANT SUCCESS AGAINST THE CROWN PRINCE
On the evening of October 14, 1921, Field Marshal von Kluck awaited final
news of the battle of the Susquehanna while enjoying an excellent meal
with his staff in the carved and gilded dining-room of the old S. B.
Chittenden mansion on Brooklyn Heights, headquarters of the army of
occupation. All the earlier despatches through the afternoon had been
favourable and, as the company finished their _Kartoffelsuppe_, von Kluck
had risen, amidst _hochs_ of applause, and read a telegram from his
Imperial master, the Crown Prince, who, with Field Marshal von
Hindenburg, was directing the battle from Perryville on the Northern
bank, announcing that the German army had crossed the river and driven
back Leonard Wood's forces for five miles and occupied a vast network of
The officers lingered over their _preisselbeeren compote_ and
_kaffeekuchen_ and, presently, the commander rose again, holding a
telegram just delivered by a red-faced lieutenant whose cheek was slashed
"Comrades, the great moment has come--I feel it. Our victory at the
Susquehanna means the end of American resistance, the capture of
Baltimore, Washington and the whole Atlantic seaboard. Let us drink to
the Fatherland and our place in the sun."
Up on their feet came the fire-eating company, with lifted glasses and
the gleam of conquerors in their eyes.
"_Hoch! Hoch!_" they cried and waited, fiercely joyful, while von Kluck
opened the despatch. His shaggy brows contracted ominously as he scanned
two yellow sheets crowded with closely written German script.
"_Gott in Himmel!_" he shouted, and threw the telegram on the table.
The blow had fallen, the incredible truth was there before them. Not only
had the redoubtable von Hindenburg, idol of a nation, hero of countless
Russian victories, suffered crushing defeat, but his proud battalions had
been almost annihilated. In the whole history of warfare there had never
been so complete a disaster to so powerful an army.
"Burned to death! Our brave soldiers! Was there ever so barbarous a
crime?" raved the Field Marshal. "But the American people will pay for
this, yes, ten times over. We still have two armies on their soil and a
fleet ready to transport from Germany another army of half a million. We
hold their greatest cities, their leading citizens at our mercy, and they
shall have none. Burned in oil! _Mein Gott!_ We will show them."
"Excellency," questioned the others anxiously, "what of his Imperial
Highness the Crown Prince?"
"Safe, thank God, and von Hindenburg is safe. They did not cross the
cursed river. They stayed on the Northern bank with the artillery and
three thousand men."
I learned later that these three thousand of the German rear guard,
together with seven thousand that escaped from the fire zone and were
made prisoners, were all that remained alive of the 120,000 Germans that
had crossed the Susquehanna that fatal morning with flying eagles.
Orders were immediately given by von Kluck that retaliatory steps be
taken to strike terror into the hearts of the American people, and the
wires throughout New England were kept humming that night with
instructions to the commanding officers of German forces of occupation in
Boston, Hartford, New Haven, Portland, Springfield, Worcester, Newport,
Fall River, Stamford; also in Newark, Jersey City, Trenton and
Philadelphia, calling upon them to issue proclamations that, in
punishment of an act of barbarous massacre committed by General Wood and
the American army, it was hereby ordered that one-half of the hostages
previously taken by the Germans in each of these cities (the same to be
chosen by lot) should be led forth at noon on October 15th and publicly
At half-past eleven, October 15th, on the Yale University campus, there
was a scene of excitement beyond words, although dumb in its tragic
expression, when William Howard Taft, who was one of the hostages drawn
for execution, finished his farewell address to the students.
"I call on you, my dear friends," he cried with an inspired light in his
eyes, "to follow the example of our glorious ancestors, to put aside
selfishness and all base motives and rise to your supreme duty as
American citizens. Defend this dear land! Save this nation! And, if it be
necessary to die, let us die gladly for our country and our children, as
those great patriots who fought under Washington and Lincoln were glad to
die for us."
With a noble gesture he turned to the guard of waiting German soldiers.
He was ready.
Deeply moved, but helpless, the great audience of students and professors
waited in a silence of rage and shame. They would fain have hurled
themselves, unarmed, upon the gleaming line of soldiers that walled the
quadrangle, but what would that have availed?
A Prussian colonel of infantry, with many decorations on his breast,
stepped to the edge of the platform, glanced at his wrist-watch and said
in a high-pitched voice: "Gentlemen of the University, I trust you have
carefully read the proclamation of Field Marshal von Kluck. Be sure that
any disorder during the execution of hostages that is now to take place
will bring swift and terrible punishment upon the city and citizens of
New Haven. Gentlemen, I salute you."
He turned to the guard of soldiers. "_Gehen!_"
"_Fertig! Hup!_" cried a stocky little Bavarian sergeant, and the grim
At the four corners of the public green were companies of German soldiers
with machine-guns trained upon dense crowds of citizens who had gathered
for this gruesome ceremony, high-spirited New Englanders whose faith and
courage were now to be crushed out of them, according to von Kluck, by
this stern example.
Down Chapel Street with muffled drums came the unflinching group of
American patriots, marching between double lines of cavalry and led by a
military band. At Osborn Hall they turned to the right and moved slowly
along College Street to the Battell Chapel, where they turned again and
advanced diagonally across the green, the band playing Beethoven's
In the centre of the dense throng, at a point between Trinity Church and
the old Centre Church, a firing squad of bearded Westphalians was making
ready for the last swift act of vengeance, when, suddenly, in the
direction of Elm Street near the Graduates' Club, there came a tumult of
shouts and voices with a violent pushing and struggling in the crowd. A
messenger on a motorcycle was trying to force his way to the commanding
"Stop! Stop!" he shouted. "I've got a telegram for the general. Let me
through! I _will_ get through!"
And at last, torn and breathless, the lad did get through and delivered
his message. It was a telegram from Field Marshal von Kluck, which read:
"Have just received a despatch from General Leonard Wood, stating that
his Imperial Highness the Crown Prince and Field Marshal von Hindenburg,
with their military staffs, have been made prisoners by an American army
north of the Susquehanna, and giving warning that if retaliatory measures
are taken against American citizens, his Imperial Highness will, within
twenty-four hours, be stood up before the statue of his Imperial ancestor
Frederick the Great, in the War College at Washington, and shot to death
by a firing squad from the Pennsylvania National Guard. In consequence of
this I hereby countermand all previous orders for the execution of
American hostages. (Signed) VON KLUCK."
Like lightning this wonderful news spread through the crowd, and in the
delirious joy that followed there was much disorder which the Germans
scarcely tried to suppress. They were stunned by the catastrophe. The
Crown Prince a prisoner! Von Hindenburg a prisoner! By what miracle of
strategy had General Wood achieved this brilliant coup?
Here were the facts, as I subsequently learned. So confident of complete
success was the American commander, that by twelve o'clock on the day of
battle he had diverted half of his forces, about 30,000 men, in a rapid
movement to the north, his purpose being to cross the Susquehanna higher
up and envelop the rear guard of the enemy, with their artillery and
commanding generals, in an overwhelming night attack. Hour after hour
through the night of October 14th a flotilla of ferry-boats, cargo-boats,
tugs, lighters, river craft of all sorts, assembled days before, had
ferried the American army across the Susquehanna as George Washington
ferried his army across the Delaware a hundred and fifty years before.
All night the Americans pressed forward in a forced march, and by
daybreak the Crown Prince and his 3,000 men were caught beyond hope of
rescue, hemmed in between the Susquehanna River and the projecting arms
of Chesapeake Bay. The surprise was complete, the disaster irretrievable,
and at seven o'clock on the morning of October 15th the heir to the
German throne and six of his generals, including Field Marshal von
Hindenburg, surrendered to the Americans the last of their forces with
all their flags and artillery and an immense quantity of supplies and
By General Wood's orders the mass of German prisoners were moved to
concentration camps at Gettysburg, but the Crown Prince was taken to
Washington, where he and his staff were confined with suitable honours in
the Hotel Bellevue, taken over by the government for this purpose. Here,
during the subsequent fortnight, I had the honour of seeing the
illustrious prisoner on several occasions. It seems that he remembered me
pleasantly from the New England campaign and was glad to call upon my
knowledge of American men and affairs for his own information.
[Illustration: "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
As to von Hindenburg's defeat (leaving aside the question of military
ethics which he denounced scathingly) the Crown Prince said this had been
accomplished by a mere accident that could never occur again and that
could not interfere with Germany's ultimate conquest of America.
"This will be a short-lived triumph," declared His Imperial Highness,
when he received me in his quarters at the Bellevue, "and the American
people will pay dearly for it. The world stands aghast at the horror of
this barbarous act."
"America is fighting for her existence," said I.
"Let her fight with the methods of civilised warfare. Germany would scorn
to gain an advantage at the expense of her national honour."
"If Your Imperial Highness will allow me to speak of Belgium in 1914--" I
began, but he cut me short with an impatient gesture.
"Our course in Belgium was justified by special reasons--that is the calm
verdict of history."
I refrained from arguing this point and was patient while the prince
turned the conversation on his favourite theme, the inferiority of a
democratic to an autocratic form of government.
"I have been studying the lives of your presidents," he said,
"and--really, how can one expect them to get good results with no
training for their work and only a few years in office? Take men like
Johnson, Tyler, Polk, Hayes, Buchanan, Pierce, Filmore, Harrison,
McKinley. Mediocre figures, are they not? What do they stand for?"
"What does the average king or emperor stand for?" I ventured, whereupon
His Imperial Highness pointed proudly to the line of Hohenzollern rulers,
and I had to admit that these were exceptional men.
"The big men of America go into commercial and industrial pursuits rather
than into politics," I explained.
"Exactly," agreed the prince, "and the republic loses their services."
"No, the republic benefits by the general prosperity which they build
up," I insisted.
With this the Imperial prisoner discussed the American Committee of
Twenty-one and I was astonished to find what full knowledge he had
touching their individual lives and achievements. He even knew the
details of Asa G. Candler's soda water activities. And he told me several
amusing stories of Edison's boyhood.
"By the way," he said abruptly, "I suppose you know that Thomas A. Edison
is a prisoner in our hands?"
"So we concluded," said I. "Also Lemuel A. Widding."
"Also Lemuel A. Widding," the prince admitted. "You know why we took them
prisoners? It was on account of Widding's invention. He thinks he has
found a way to destroy our fleet and we do not want our fleet destroyed."
"You had a talk with Edison on the train last week. He knows all the
details of Widding's invention?"
"And he believes it will do what the inventor claims? He believes it will
destroy our fleet? Did he tell you that?"
"He certainly did. He said he wouldn't give five cents for the German
fleet after Widding's plan is put into operation."
"Ah!" reflected the Crown Prince.
"Would Your Imperial Highness allow me to ask a question?" I ventured.
His eyes met mine frankly. "Why, yes--certainly."
"I have no authority to ask this, but I suppose there might be an
exchange of prisoners. Edison and Widding are important to America
"You mean they might be exchanged for me?" his face grew stern. "I would
not hear of it. Those two Americans alone have the secret of this Widding
invention, I am sure of that, and it is better for the Fatherland to get
along without a Crown Prince than without a fleet. No. We shall keep Mr.
Edison and Mr. Widding prisoners."
He said this with all the dignity of his Hohenzollern ancestry; then he
rose to end the interview.
THIRD BATTLE OF BULL RUN WITH AEROPLANES CARRYING LIQUID CHLORINE
I now come to those memorable weeks of November, 1921, which rank among
the most important in American history. There was first the battle that
had been preparing south of the Potomac between von Mackensen's advancing
battalions and General Wood's valiant little army. This might be called
the third battle of Bull Run, since it was fought near Manassas where
Beauregard and Lee won their famous victories.
Although General Wood's forces numbered only 60,000 men, more than half
of them militia, and although they were matched against an army of
150,000 Germans, the American commander had two points of advantage, his
ten miles of entrenchments stretching from Remington to Warrenton along
the steep slopes of the Blue Ridge mountains, and his untried but
formidable preparations for dropping liquid chlorine from a fleet of
aeroplanes upon an attacking army.
In order to reach Washington the Germans must traverse the neck of land
that lies between the mountains and the Potomac's broad arms. Here clouds
of greenish death from heaven might or might not overwhelm them. That was
the question to be settled. It was a new experiment in warfare.
I should explain that during previous months, thanks to the efficiency of
the Committee of Twenty-one, great quantities of liquid chlorine had been
manufactured at Niagara Falls, where the Niagara Alkali Company, the
National Electrolytic Company, the Oldburg Electro-Chemical Company, the
Castner Electrolytic Alkali Company, the Hooker Electro-Chemical Company
and several others, working night and day and using 60,000 horsepower
from the Niagara power plants and immense quantities of salt from the
salt-beds in Western New York, had been able to produce 30,000 tons of
liquid chlorine. And the Lackawanna Steel Company at Buffalo, in its
immense tube plant, finished in 1920, had turned out half a million thin
steel containers, torpedo-shaped, each holding 150 pounds of the deadly
liquid. This was done under the supervision of a committee of leading
chemists, including: Milton C. Whitaker, Arthur D. Little, Dr. L. H.
Baekeland, Charles F. McKenna, John E. Temple and Dr. Henry Washington.
And a fleet of military aeroplanes had been made ready at the immense
Wright and Curtiss factories on Grand Island in the Niagara River and at
the Packard, Sturtevant, Thomas and Gallaudet factories, where a force of
20,000 men had been working night and day for weeks under government
supervision. There were a hundred huge tractors with double fuselage and
a wing spread of 200 feet, driven by four 500 horse-power motors. Each
one of these, besides its crew, could carry three tons of chlorine from
Grand Island to Washington (their normal rate of flying was 120 miles an
hour) in three hours against a moderate wind.
I visited aviation centers where these machines were delivered for tests,
and found the places swarming with armies of men training and inspecting
and testing the aeroplanes.
Among aviators busy at this work were: Charles F. Willard, J. A. D.
McCurdy, Walter R. Brookins, Frank T. Coffyn, Harry N. Atwood, Oscar
Allen Brindley, Leonard Warren Bonney, Charles C. Witmer, Harold H.
Brown, John D. Cooper, Harold Kantner, Clifford L. Webster, John H.
Worden, Anthony Jannus, Roy Knabenshue, Earl S. Dougherty, J. L. Callan,
T. T. Maroney, R. E. McMillen, Beckwith Havens, DeLloyd Thompson, Sidney
F. Beckwith, George A. Gray, Victor Carlstrom, Chauncey M. Vought, W. C.
Robinson, Charles F. Niles, Frank H. Burnside, Theodore C. Macaulay, Art
Smith, Howard M. Rinehart, Albert Sigmund Heinrich, P. C. Millman, Robert
In the balloon training camps, I noticed some old-time balloonists,
including: J. C. McCoy, A. Leo Stevens, Frank P. Lahm, Thomas S. Baldwin,
A. Holland Forbes, Charles J. Glidden, Charles Walsh, Carl G. Fisher, Wm.
F. Whitehouse, George B. Harrison, Jay B. Benton, J. Walter Flagg, John
Watts, Roy F. Donaldson, Ralph H. Upson, R. A. D. Preston and Warren
Five days before the battle the hundred great carriers began delivering
their deadly loads on the heights of Arlington, south of the Potomac,
each aeroplane making three trips from Niagara Falls every twenty-four
hours, which meant that on the morning of November 5, 1921, when the
German legions came within range of Leonard Wood's field artillery, there
were 5,000 tons of liquid chlorine ready to be hurled down from the
aerial fleet. And it was estimated that the carriers would continue to
deliver a thousand tons a day from Grand Island as long as the deadly
stuff was needed.
The actual work of dropping these chlorine bombs upon the enemy was
entrusted to another fleet of smaller aeroplanes gathered from all parts
of the country, most of them belonging to members of the Aero Club of
America who not only gave their machines but, in many cases, offered
their services as pilots or gunners for the impending air battle.
"What is the prospect?" I asked Henry Woodhouse, chief organiser of these
aeroplane forces, on the day before the fight.
He was white and worn after days of overwork, but he spoke hopefully.
"We have chlorine enough," he said, "but we need more attacking
aeroplanes. We've only about forty squadrons with twelve aeroplanes to a
squadron and most of our pilots have never worked in big air manoeuvres.
It's a great pity. Ah, look there! If they were all like Bolling's
He pointed toward the heights back of Remington where a dozen bird
machines were sweeping through the sky in graceful evolutions.
"What Bolling is that?"
"Raynal C.--the chap that organised the first aviation section of the New
York National Guard. Ah! See those boys turn! That's Boiling at the head
of the 'V,' with James E. Miller, George von Utassy, Fairman Dick, Jerome
Kingsbury, William Boulding, 3rd, and Lorbert Carolin. They've got
Sturtevant steel battle planes--given by Mrs. Bliss--yes, Mrs. William H.
Bliss. She's one of the patron saints of the Aero Club."
We strolled among the hangars and Mr. Woodhouse presented me to several
aeroplane squadron commanders, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Robert Bacon,
Godfrey Lowell Cabot, Russell A. Alger, Robert Glendinning, George
Brokaw, Clarke Thomson, Cortlandt F. Bishop; also to Rear Admiral Robert
E. Peary, Archer M. Huntington, J. Stuart Blackton, and Albert B.
Lambert, who had just come in from a scouting and map-making flight over
the German lines. These gentlemen agreed that America's chances the next
day would be excellent if we only had more attacking aeroplanes, about
twice as many, so that we could overwhelm the enemy with a rain of
"I believe three hundred more aeroplanes would give us the victory,"
declared Alan R. Hawley, ex-president of the Aero Club.
"Think of it," mourned August Belmont. "We could have had a thousand
aeroplanes so easily--two thousand for the price of one battleship. And
now--to-morrow--three hundred aeroplanes might save this nation."
Cornelius Vanderbilt nodded gloomily. "The lack of three hundred
aeroplanes may cost us the Atlantic seaboard. These aeroplanes would be
worth a million dollars apiece to us and we can't get 'em."
"The fifty aeroplanes of the Post Office are mighty useful," observed
Ex-Postmaster-General Frank H. Hitchcock to Postmaster-General Burleson.
"It isn't the fault of you gentlemen," said Emerson McMillin, "if we did
not have five thousand aeroplanes in use for mail carrying, and coast
guard and life-saving services."
This remark was appreciated by some of the men in the group, including
Alexander Graham Bell, Admiral Peary, Henry A. Wise Wood, Henry
Woodhouse, Albert B. Lambert, and Byron R. Newton, head of the Coast
Guard and Life Saving Service. For years they had all made supreme but
unavailing efforts to make Congress realize the value of an aeroplane
reserve which could be employed every day for peaceful purposes and would
be available in case of need.
"Five thousand aeroplanes could have been put in use for carrying mail
and express matter and in the Coast Guard," said Mr. McMillin, "and with
them we could have been in the position of the porcupine, which goes
about its peaceful pursuits, harms no one, but is ever ready to defend
itself. Had we had them in use, this war would probably never have taken
A little later, as we were supping in a farmhouse, there came a great
shouting outside and, rushing to doors and windows, we witnessed a
miracle, if ever there was one. There, spread across the heavens from
west and south, sweeping toward us, in proud alignment, squadron by
squadron--there was the answer to our prayers, a great body of aeroplanes
waving the stars and stripes in the glory of the setting sun.
"Who are they? Where do they come from?" we marvelled, and, presently, as
the sky strangers came to earth like weary birds, a great cry arose:
"Santos Dumont! Santos Dumont!"
It was indeed the great Santos, the famous Brazilian sportsman, and
president of the Aeronautical Federation of the Western Hemisphere, who
had come thus opportunely to cast his fortunes with tortured America and
fight for the maintenance of the Monroe Doctrine. With him came the
Peruvian aviator, Bielovucci, first to fly across the Alps (1914), and
Senor Anassagasti, president of the Aero Club Argentino, and also four
hundred aeroplanes with picked crews from all parts of South America.
There was great rejoicing that evening at General Wood's headquarters
over this splendid support given to America by her sister republics.
"It looks now as if we have a chance," said Brigadier General Robert K.
Evans. "The Germans will attack at daybreak and--by the way, what's the
matter with our wireless reports?" He peered out into the night which was
heavily overcast--not a star in sight. He was looking toward the radio
station a mile back on the crest of a hill where the lone pine tree stood
that supported the transmission wires.
"Looks like rain," decided the general. "Hello! What's that?"
Plainly through purplish black clouds we caught the shrill buzz of
"Good lord!" cried Roy D. Chapin, chief inspector of aircraft. "The
Germans! I know their engine sounds. Searchlights! Quick!"
Alas! Our searchlights proved useless against the thick haze that had now
spread about us; they only revealed distant dim shapes that shot through
the darkness and were gone.
"We must go after those fellows," muttered General Evans, and he detailed
William Thaw, Norman Prince and Elliot Cowdin, veterans of many sky
battles in France and Belgium, to go aloft and challenge the intruders.
This incident kept the camp in an uproar half the night. It turned out
that the strange aeroplanes had indeed been sent out by the Germans, but
for hours we did not discover what their mission was. They dropped no
bombs, they made no effort to attack us, but simply circled around and
around through the impenetrable night, accomplishing nothing, so far as
we could see, except that they were incredibly clever in avoiding the
pursuit of our airmen.
"They are flying at great speed," calculated A. F. Zahm, the aerodynamic
expert of the Smithsonian Institution, "but I don't see what their
"I've got it," suddenly exclaimed John Hays Hammond, Jr. "They've sprung
a new trick. Their machines carry powerful radio apparatus and they're
cutting off our wireless."
"By wave interference?" asked Dr. Zahm.
"Of course. It's perfectly simple. I've done it at Gloucester." He turned
to General Evans. "Now, sir, you see why we've had no wireless reports
from our captive balloon."
This mention of the captive balloon brought to mind the peril of Payne
Whitney, who was on lookout duty in the balloon near the German lines,
and who might now be cut off by enemy aircraft, since he could not use
his wireless to call for help. I can only state briefly that this danger
was averted and Whitney's life saved by the courage and prompt action of
Robert J. Collier and Larry Waterbury, who flew through the night to the
rescue of their friend with a supporting air squadron and arrived just in
time to fight off a band of German raiders.
I deeply regret that I must record these thrilling happenings in such
bald and inadequate words and especially that my pen is quite unequal to
describing that strangest of battles which I witnessed the next day from
the heights back of Remington. Never was there a more thrilling sight
than the advance of this splendid body of American and South American
aeroplanes, flying by squadrons in long V's like flocks of huge birds,
with a terrifying snarling of propellers. To right and left they
manoeuvred, following wireless orders from headquarters that were
executed by the various squadron commanders whose aeroplanes would break
out bunting from time to time for particular signals.
So overwhelming was the force of American flyers, all armed with machine
guns, that the Germans scarcely disputed the mastery of the air, and
about seventy of their old-fashioned eagle type biplanes were soon
destroyed. Our total losses here were only eleven machines, but these
carried precious lives, some of our bravest and most skilful amateur
airmen, Norman Cabot, Charles Jerome Edwards, Harold F. McCormick, James
A. Blair, Jr., B. B. Lewis, Percy Pyne, 2nd, Eliot Cross, Roy D. Chapin,
Logan A. Vilas and Bartlett Arkell.
I turned to my friend Hart O. Berg, the European aeroplane expert, and
remarked that we seemed to be winning, but he said little, simply frowned
through his binoculars.
"Don't you think so?" I persisted.
"Wait!" he answered. "There's something queer about this. Why should the
Germans have such an inferior aircraft force? Where are all their
wonderful Fokker machines?"
"I mean that this battle isn't over yet. Ah! Look! We're getting our work
in with that chlorine."
It was indeed true. With the control of the skies assured us, our fleet
of liquid gas carriers had now gone into action and at many points we saw
the heavy poison clouds spreading over the enemy hosts like a yellow
green sea. The battle of chlorine had begun. The war of chemistry was
raining down out of the skies. It is certain that nothing like this had
ever been seen before. There had been chlorine fighting in the trenches
out of squirt gun apparatus--plenty of that in 1915, with a few score
killed or injured, but here it came down by tons over a whole army, this
devilish stuff one breath of which deep into the lungs smote a man down
as if dead.
The havoc thus wrought in the German ranks was terrific; especially as
General Wood took advantage of the enemy's distress to sweep their lines
with fierce artillery fire from his batteries on the heights.
"We've got them going," said I.
Berg shook his head.
If General Wood had been able to hurl his army forward in a desperate
charge at this moment of German demoralisation it is possible we might
have gained a victory, but the risks were too heavy. The American forces
were greatly outnumbered and to send them into those chlorine-swept areas
was to bring the enemy's fate upon them. Wood must hold his men upon the
heights until our artillery and poison gas attack had practically won the
day. Then a final charge might clinch matters--that was the plan, but it
worked out differently, for, after their first demoralisation, the enemy
learned to avoid the descending danger by running from it. They could
avoid the slowly spreading chlorine clouds by seeking higher ground and,
presently, they regained a great measure of their confidence and courage
and swept forward in furious fresh attacks.
Even so the Americans fought for hours with every advantage and our
artillery did frightful execution. At three o'clock I sent off a cable
to the _Times_ that General Wood's prospects were excellent, but at
half-past four our supply of liquid chlorine was exhausted and news came
from Niagara Falls that a German spy on Grand Island had blown up the
great chlorine supply tank containing 20,000 tons. And the Niagara
power-plants had been wrecked by dynamite.
Still the Americans fought on gallantly, desperately, knowing that
everything was at stake, and our aeroplanes, with their batteries of
machine guns, gave effective assistance. Superiority in numbers, however,
soon made itself felt and at five o'clock the Germans, relieved from the
chlorine menace, advanced their heavy artillery and began a terrific
bombardment of our trenches.
"Hello!" exclaimed Berg suddenly. "What's that coming?"
He pointed to the northeast, where we made out a group of swiftly
approaching aeroplanes, flying in irregular order. We watched them alight
safely near General Wood's headquarters, all but one marked "Women of
1915," which was hit by an anti-aircraft gun, as it came to earth, and
settled down with a broken wing and some injuries to the pilot, Miss
Ethel Barrymore, and the observer, Mrs. Charles S. Whitman, wife of
This was but one demonstration of the heroism of our women. Thousands had
volunteered their services as soon as the war broke out and many, finding
that public sentiment was against having women in the ranks, learned to
fly and to operate radio apparatus and were admitted in these branches of
the service. Among the women who volunteered were hundreds of members of
the Women's Section of the Movement for National Preparedness, including
members of the Council of Women, Daughters of American Revolution, Ladies
of the G. A. R. (National and Empire State), United Daughters of the
Confederacy, Association Opposed to Woman's Suffrage, Civic Federation
Woman's Department, Society United States Daughters of 1812, Woman's
Rivers and Harbors Congress, Congress of Mothers, Daughters of
Cincinnati, Daughters of the Union, Daughters of the Revolution, and
National Special Aid Society.
These organisations of American women not only supplied a number of
skilled aeroplane pilots, but they were of material help in strengthening
the fighting forces, as well as in general relief work.
As the shadows of night approached we were startled by the sudden sweep
across the sky of a broad yellow searchlight beam, lifted and lowered
repeatedly, while a shower of Roman candles added vehemence to the
"Something has happened. They've brought important news," cried my
friend, whereupon we hurried to headquarters and identified most of the
machines as separate units in Rear Admiral Peary's aero-radio system of
coast defence, while two of them, piloted by Ralph Pulitzer (wounded) and
W. K. Vanderbilt, belonged to Emerson McMillin's reefing-wings scouting
We listened eagerly to the reports of pilots and gunners from these
machines, Marion McMillin, W. Redmond Cross, Harry Payne Whitney
(wounded), William Ziegler, Jr., Alexander Blair Thaw, W. Averill
Harriman, Edwin Gould, Jr. (wounded), and learned that a powerful fleet
of enemy aircraft, at least 500, had been sighted over Chesapeake Bay and
were flying swiftly to the support of the Germans. These aeroplanes had
started from a base near Atlantic City and would arrive within half an
A council of war was held immediately and, acting on the advice of
aeroplane experts, General Wood ordered the withdrawal of our land and
air forces. It would be madness to attempt further resistance. Our army
was hopelessly outnumbered, our chlorine supply was gone, our air fleet,
after flying all day, was running short of gasoline and its weary pilots
were in no condition to withstand the attack of a fresh German fleet. At
all costs we must save our aeroplanes, for without them the little
remnant of our army would be blind.
This was the beginning of the end. We had done our best and failed. At
six o'clock orders were given that the whole American army prepare
for a night retreat into the remote fastnesses of the Blue Ridge
Mountains. We had made our last stand east of the Alleghenies and fell
back heavy-hearted, leaving the invaders in full possession of our
THE AWAKENING OF AMERICA
There followed dark days for America. Washington was taken by the enemy,
but not until our important prisoners, the Crown Prince and von
Hindenburg, had been hurried to Chicago. Baltimore was taken. Everything
from Maine to Florida and all the Gulf ports were taken.
Add to this a widespread spirit of disorder and disunion, strikes and
rioting in many cities, dynamite outrages, violent addresses of
demagogues and labour leaders, pleas for peace at any price by misguided
fanatics who were ready to reap the whirlwind they had sown. These were
days when men of brain and courage, patriots of the nation with the
spirit of '76 in them, almost despaired of the future.
Through all this storm and darkness, amid dissension and violence, one
man stood firm for the right, one wise big-souled man, the President of
the United States. In a clamour of tongues he heard the still small voice
within and laboured prodigiously to build up unity and save the nation.
Like Lincoln, he was loved and honoured even by his enemies.
It was my privilege to hear the great speech which the President of the
United States delivered in Chicago, November 29, 1921, a date which
Theodore Roosevelt has called the most memorable in American history. The
immense auditorium on the lake front, where once were the Michigan
Central tracks, was packed to suffocation. It is estimated that 40,000
men and women, representing every state and organisation in the Union,
heard this impassioned appeal for the nation, that will live in American
history along with Lincoln's Gettysburg address.
The President spoke first and did not remain to hear the other orators,
as he was leaving for Milwaukee, where he hoped to relieve a dangerous,
almost a revolutionary situation. He had been urged not to set foot in
this breeding place of sedition, but he replied that the citizens of
Milwaukee were his fellow countrymen, his brothers. They were dear to
him. They needed him. And he would not fail them.
In spite of this stirring cry from the heart, the audience seemed but
mildly affected and allowed the President to depart with only perfunctory
applause. There was no sign of success for his plea that the nation rouse
itself from its lethargy and send its sons unselfishly in voluntary
enlistment to drive the enemy from our shores. And there were resentful
murmurs when the President warned his hearers that compulsory military
service might be inevitable.
"Why shall the poor give their lives to save the rich?" answered Charles
Edward Russell, speaking for the socialists. "What have the rich ever
done for the poor except to exploit them and oppress them? Why should the
proletariat worry about the frontiers between nations? It's only a
question which tyrant has his heel on our necks. No! The labouring men of
America ask you to settle for them and for their children the frontiers
between poverty and riches. That's what they're ready to fight for, a
fair division of the products of toil, and, by God, they're going to have
One feature of the evening was a stirring address by the beautiful
Countess of Warwick, prominent in the feminist movement, who had come
over from England to speak for the Women's World Peace Federation.
"Women of America," said the Countess, "I appeal to you to save this
nation from further horrors of bloodshed. Rise up in the might of your
love and your womanhood and end this wholesale murder. Remember the great
war in Europe! What did it accomplish? Nothing except to fill millions of
graves with brave sons and beloved husbands. Nothing except to darken
millions of homes with sorrow. Nothing except to spread ruin and
desolation everywhere. Are you going to allow this ghastly business to be
"Women of America, I bring you greetings from the women of England, the
women of France, the women of Germany, who have joined this great
pacifist movement and whose voices sounding by millions can no longer be
stifled. Let the men hear and heed our cry. We say to them: 'Stop! Our
rights on this earth equal yours. We gave you birth, we fed you at the
breast, we guarded your tender years, and we notify you now that you
shall no longer kill and maim our husbands, our sons, our fathers, our
brothers, our lovers. It is in the power of women to drive war's hell
from the earth and, whatever the cost, we are going to do it.'"
"No! No!" came a tumult of cries from all parts of the hall.
"We believe in fighting to the last for our national existence,"
cried Mrs. John A. Logan, waving her hand, whereupon hundreds of
women patriots, Daughters of the American Revolution, suffrage and
anti-suffrage leaders, members of the Navy League, Red Cross workers,
sprang to their feet and screamed their enthusiasm for righteous war.
Among these I recognised Mrs. John A. Logan, Miss Mabel Boardman, Mrs.
Lindon Bates, Mrs. Mary S. Lockwood, Mrs. Seymour L. Cromwell, Miss Alice
Hill Chittenden, Mrs. Oliver Herford, Mrs. Hobart Chatfield-Taylor, Mrs.
John Temple Graves, Mrs. Edwin Gould, Mrs. George Dewey, Mrs. William
Cumming Story, Mrs. George Harvey, Mrs. Thomas A. Edison, Mrs. William C.
Potter, Miss Marie Van Vorst, Mrs. Arthur M. Dodge, Mrs. George J. Gould,
Mrs. T. J. Oakley Rhinelander, Mrs. W. K. Vanderbilt, Mrs. John Jacob
Astor, Mrs. Peter Cooper Hewitt, Mrs. M. Orme Wilson, Mrs. Simon Baruch,
Mrs. Oliver Herford, Mrs. Wm. Reynolds Brown, and Mrs. Douglas Robinson.
When this storm had subsided, Henry Ford rose to renew the pacifist
"It shocks and grieves me," he began, "to find American women openly
advocating the killing of human beings."
"Where would your business be," yelled a voice in the gallery, "if George
Washington hadn't fought the War of the Revolution?"
This sally called forth such frantic cheers that Mr. Ford was unable to
make himself heard and sat down in confusion.
Other speakers were Jane Addams, Hudson Maxim, Bernard Ridder and William
Jennings Bryan. The audience sat listless as the old arguments and
recriminations, the old facts and fallacies, were laid before them. Like
the nation, they seemed plunged in a stupor of indifference. They were
Then suddenly fell the bomb from heaven. It was during the mild applause
following Mr. Bryan's pacifist appeal, that I had a premonition of some
momentous happening. I was in the press gallery quite near to Theodore
Roosevelt, the next speaker, who was seated at the end of the platform,
busy with his notes, when a messenger came out from behind the stage and
handed the Colonel a telegram. As he read it I saw a startling change.
Roosevelt put aside his notes and a strange tense look came into his eyes
and, presently, when he rose to speak, I saw that his usually ruddy face
was ashen grey.
As Roosevelt rose, another messenger thrust a wet, ink-stained newspaper
into his hand.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he began, and in his first words there was a
sense of impending danger, "for reasons of the utmost importance I shall
not deliver the speech that I have prepared. I have a brief message, a
very grave message, that will reach your hearts more surely than any
words of mine. The deliberations of this great gathering have been taken
out of our hands. We have nothing more to discuss, for Almighty God has
"My friends, the great man who was with us but now, the President of the
United States, has been assassinated."
No words can describe the scene that followed. A moment of smiting
silence, then madness, hysteria, women fainting, men clamouring and
cursing, and finally a vast upsurging of quickened souls, as the organ
pealed forth: "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," and forty thousand Americans
rose and sang their hearts out.
Then, in a silence of death, Roosevelt spoke again:
"Listen to the last words of the President of the United States: '_The
Union! The Flag!_' That is what he lived for and died for, that is what
he loved. '_The Union! The Flag!_'
"My friends, they say patriotism is dead in this land. They say we are
eaten up with love of money, tainted with a yellow streak that makes us
afraid to fight. It's a lie! I am ready to give every dollar I have in
the world to help save this nation and it's the same with you men. Am I
A roar of shouts and hysterical yells shook the building.
"I am sixty years old, but I'll fight in the trenches with my four sons
beside me and you men will do the same. Am I right?"
Again came a roar that could be heard across Chicago.
"We all make mistakes. I do nothing but make mistakes, but I'm sorry.
I have said hard things about public men, especially about
German-Americans, but I'm sorry."
With a noble gesture he turned to Bernard Ridder, who sprang to meet him,
his eyes blazing with loyalty.
"There are no German-Americans!" shouted Ridder. "We're all Americans!
He clasped Roosevelt's hand while the audience shouted its delight.
Quick on his feet came Charles Edward Russell, fired with the same
"There are no more socialists!" he cried. "No more proletariat! We're all
Americans! We'll all fight for the Union and the old flag! _You too!_"
He turned to William Jennings Bryan, who rose slowly and with
outstretched hands faced his adversaries.
"I, too, have made mistakes and I am sorry. I, too, feel the grandeur of
those noble words spoken by that great patriot who has sent us his last
message. I, too, will stand by the flag in this time of peril and will
spare neither my life nor my fortune so long as the invader's foot rests
on the soil of free America."
"Americans!" shouted Roosevelt, the sweat streaming from his face.
"Look!" He caught Bryan by one arm and Russell by the other. "See how we
stand together. All the rest is forgotten. Americans! Brothers! On your
feet everybody! Yell it out to the whole land, to the whole world,
America is awake! Thank God, America is awake!"
ON CHRISTMAS EVE BOSTON THEILLS THE NATION WITH AN ACT OF MAGNIFICENT
Now all over America came a marvellous spiritual awakening. The sacrifice
of the President's noble life, and his wife's thrilling effort to shield
her husband, was not in vain. Once more the world knew the resistless
power of a martyr's death. Women and men alike were stirred to warlike
zeal and a joy in national sacrifice and service. The enlistment officers
were swamped with a crush of young and old, eager to join the colours;
and within three days following the President's assassination a million
soldiers were added to the army of defence and a million more were turned
away. It was no longer a question how to raise a great American army, but
how to train and equip it, and how to provide it with officers.
Most admirable was the behaviour of the great body of German-Americans;
in fact it was a German-American branch of the American Defence Society,
financed in America, that started the beautiful custom, which became
universal, of wearing patriotic buttons bearing the sacred words: _"The
Union! The Flag!"_
"It was one thing," wrote Bernard Ridder in the Chicago _Staats-Zeitung_,
"for German-Americans to side with Germany in the great European war
(1914-1919) when only our sympathies were involved. It is quite a
different thing for us now in a war that involves our homes and our
property, all that we have in the world. When Germany attacks America,
she attacks German-Americans, she attacks us in our material interests,
in our fondest associations; and we will resist her just as in 1776 the
American colonists, who were really English, resisted England, the mother
country, when she attacked them in the same way."
I was impressed by the truth of this statement during a visit that I
made to Milwaukee, where I found greatly improved conditions. In fact,
German-Americans themselves were bringing to light the activities of
German spies and vigorously opposing German propaganda.
In Allentown, Pennsylvania, which has a large German population, I heard
of a German-American mother named Roth, who was so zealous in her loyalty
to the United States that she rose at five o'clock on the day following
the President's assassination and enlisted her three sons before they
were out of bed.
In Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland and other cities women
volunteered by thousands as postmen, street-car conductors, elevator
operators and for service in factories and business houses, so as to
release the men for military service. Chicago newspapers printed pictures
of Mrs. Harold F. McCormick, Mrs. J. Ogden Armour, Mrs. J. Clarence
Webster and other prominent society women in blue caps and improvised
uniforms, ringing up fares on the Wabash Avenue cars for the sake of the
example they would set to others.
In San Francisco, Denver, Portland, Oregon, Omaha, and Salt Lake City a
hundred thousand women, at gatherings of women's clubs and organisations,
formally joined the Women's National War Economy League and pledged
themselves as follows:
"We, the undersigned American women, in this time of national need and
peril, do hereby promise:
"(1) To buy no jewelry or useless ornaments for one year and to
contribute the amount thus saved (from an average estimated allowance) to
the Women's National War Fund.
"(2) To buy only two hats a year, the value of said hats not to exceed
ten dollars, and to contribute the amount thus saved (from an average
estimated allowance) to the Women's National War Fund.
"(3) To buy only two dresses a year, the value of said dresses not to
exceed sixty dollars, and to contribute the amount thus saved (from an
average estimated allowance) to the Women's National War Fund.
"(4) To forego all entertaining at restaurants, all formal dinner and
luncheon parties and to contribute the amount thus saved (from an average
estimated allowance) to the Women's National War Fund.
"(5) To abstain from cocktails, highballs and all expensive wines, also
from cigarettes, to influence husbands, fathers, brothers, sons and men
friends to do the same, and to contribute the amount thus saved to the
Women's National War Fund.
"(6) To keep this pledge until the invader has been driven from the soil
of free America."
I may mention that Mrs. Harriot Stanton Blatch, in urging her sister
women at various mass meetings to sign this pledge, made the impressive
estimate that, by practising these economies during a two years' war, a
hundred thousand well-to-do American women might save a _thousand million
Other American women, under the leadership of Mrs. Mary Logan Tucker,
daughter of General John A. Logan, prepared themselves for active field
service at women's military camps, in several states, where they were
instructed in bandage making, first-aid service, signalling and the use
of small arms.
As weeks passed the national spirit grew stronger, stimulated by rousing
speeches of Roosevelt, Russell and Bryan and fanned into full flame by
Boston's immortal achievement on December 24, 1921. On that day, by
authorisation of General von Beseler, commanding the German force of
occupation, a great crowd had gathered on Boston Common for a Christmas
tree celebration with a distribution of food and toys for the poor of the
city. In the Public Gardens near the statue of George Washington, Billy
Sunday was making an address when suddenly, on the stroke of five, the
bell in the old Park Street church and then the bells in all the churches
of Boston began to toll.
It was a signal for an uprising of the people and was answered in a way
that will fill a proud page of American history so long as human courage
and love of liberty are honoured upon earth. In an instant every
telephone wire in the city went dead, leaving the Germans cut off from
communication among themselves. All traffic and business ceased as if by
magic, all customary activities were put aside and, with the first
clangour of the bells, the whole population poured into the streets and
surged towards Boston Common by converging avenues, singing as they went.
Already a hundred thousand citizens were packed within this great
enclosure, and guarding them were three thousand German, foot soldiers
and a thousand horsemen in formidable groups, with rifles and machine
guns ready--before the State House, before the Soldiers' Monument, along
Tremont Street and Boylston Street and at other strategic points. Never
in the history of the world had an unarmed, untrained mob prevailed over
such a body of disciplined troops. The very thought was madness. And
Hark! That roar of voices in the Public Gardens! What is it? A band
playing in the distance? Who ordered a band to play? German officers
shout harsh commands. "Back!" "Stand back!" "Stop this pushing of the
crowd!" "_Mein Gott!_ Those women and children will be trampled by the
Alas, that is true! Once more the cause of American liberty requires that
Boston Common be hallowed by American blood. The people of this New
England city are tired of German rule. They want their city for
themselves and are going to take it. Guns or not, soldiers or not, they
are going to take their city.
Listen! They are coming! Six hundred thousand strong in dense masses that
choke every thoroughfare from wall to wall the citizens of Boston, women
and children with the men, are coming! And singing!
"Hurrah! Hurrah! We sound the jubilee!
Hurrah! Hurrah! The flag that set us free."
They are practically unarmed, although some of the men carry shot-guns,
pistols, rifles, clubs, stones; but they know these will avail little
against murderous machine guns. They know they must find strength in
their weakness and overwhelm the enemy by the sheer weight of their
bodies. They must stun the invaders by their willingness to die. That is
the only real power of this Boston host, their sublime willingness to
It is estimated that five thousand of them did die, and ten thousand were
wounded, in the first half hour after the German machine guns opened
fire. And still the Americans came on in a shouting, surging multitude, a
solid sea of bodies with endless rivers of bodies pouring in behind them.
It is not so easy to kill forty acres of human bodies, even with machine
Endlessly the Americans came on, hundreds falling, thousands replacing
them, until presently the Germans ceased firing, either in horror at this
incredible sacrifice of life or because their ammunition was exhausted.
What chance was there for German ammunition carts to force their way
through that struggling human wall? What chance for the fifteen hundred
German reserves in Franklin Park to bring relief to their comrades?
At eight o'clock that night Boston began her real Christmas eve
celebration. Over the land, over the world the joyful tidings were
flashed. Boston had heard the call of the martyred President and answered
it. The capital of Massachusetts was free. The Stars and Stripes were
once more waving over the Bunker Hill Monument. Four thousand German
soldiers were prisoners in Mechanics Hall on Commonwealth Avenue. _The
citizens of Boston had taken them prisoners with their bare hands!_
This news made an enormous sensation not only in America but throughout
Europe, where Boston's heroism and scorn of death aroused unmeasured
admiration and led military experts in France and England to make new
prophecies regarding the outcome of the German-American war.
"All things are possible," declared a writer in the Paris _Temps_, "for a
nation fired with a supreme spiritual zeal like that of the Japanese
Samurai. It is simply a question how widely this sacred fire has spread
among the American people."
CONFESSIONS OF AN AMERICAN SPY AND BRAVERY OF BUFFALO SCHOOLBOYS
On December 26th I received a cable from the London _Times_ instructing
me to try for another interview with the Crown Prince and to question him
on the effect that this Boston victory might have upon the German
campaign in America. Would there be retaliatory measures? Would German
warships bombard Boston from the sea?
I journeyed at once to Chicago and made my appeal to Brigadier General
George T. Langhorne, who had been military attache at Berlin in 1915 and
was now in charge of the Imperial prisoner. The Crown Prince and his
staff occupied the seventh floor of the Hotel Blackstone.
"I'm sorry," said General Langhorne, after he had presented my request.
"The Crown Prince has no statement to make at present. But there is
another German prisoner who wishes to speak to you. I suppose it's all
right as you have General Wood's permission. He says he has met you
before--Colonel von Dusenberg."
"Colonel von Dusenberg?"
"He is on the Crown Prince's staff. In here." I opened a heavy door and
found myself in a large dimly lighted room.
The voice was familiar and, turning, I stared in amazement; for there,
dressed as an officer of the Prussian guard, stood the man I had rescued
in the Caribbean Sea, the brother of the girl I had seen in Washington,
Lieutenant Randolph Ryerson of the United States navy. He had let his
moustache grow, but I recognised him at once.
"You?" I stood looking at him and saw that his face was deathly white.
"Yes. I--I'm in trouble and--I have things to tell you," he stammered.
I sat down and lighted a cigarette. I kept thinking how much he looked
like his sister.
"Ryerson, what the devil are you doing in that Prussian uniform?"
He turned away miserably, then he forced himself to face me.
"I'll get the worst over first. I don't care what happens to me
and--anyway I--I'm a spy."
He nodded. "In the service of the Germans. It was through me they knew
about Widding's invention to destroy their fleet. It was through me that
Edison and Widding were abducted. I meant to disappear--that's why I
joined von Hindenburg's army, but--we were captured and--here I am."
He looked at me helplessly as I blew out a cloud of smoke.
"How is this possible? How did it happen? How, Ryerson?" I gasped in
He shook his head. "What's the use? It was money and--there's a woman in
"That's all. I fell for one of their damnable schemes to get information.
It was three years ago on the Mediterranean cruise of our Atlantic
squadron. I met this woman in Marseilles."
"She called herself the Countess de Matignon, and--I was a young
lieutenant and--I couldn't resist her. Nobody could. She wanted money and
I gave her all I had; then I gambled to get more. She wanted information
about the American fleet, about our guns and coast defences; unimportant
things at first, but pretty soon they were important and--I was crazy
about her and--swamped with debts and--I yielded. Within six months she
owned me. I was a German spy, mighty well paid, too. God!"
I stared at him in dismay. I could not speak.
"Well, after the war broke out between Germany and America last April,
this woman came to New York and got her clutches on me deeper than ever.
I gave her some naval secrets, and six weeks ago I told her all I knew
about Widding's invention. You see what kind of a dog I am," he concluded
"Ryerson, why have you told me this?" I asked searchingly.