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Title: The Conquest of America: A Romance of Disaster and Victory, U.S.A., 1921 A.D.
Author: Moffett, Cleveland
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                        THE CONQUEST OF AMERICA

            A Romance of Disaster and Victory: U.S.A., 1921 A. D.

                        OF THE “LONDON TIMES”

                            CLEVELAND MOFFETT


                      “CAREERS OF DANGER AND DARING,”
                                 ETC., ETC.


_Thus saith the Lord, Behold, a people cometh from the north country; and
a great nation shall be stirred up from the uttermost parts of the earth.
They lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their
voice roareth like the sea, and they ride upon horses; every one set in
array, as a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Zion_.

Jeremiah 6: 22, 23.

_They seemed as men that lifted up
Axes upon a thicket of trees.
And now all the carved work thereof together
They break down with hatchet and hammers.
They have set thy sanctuary on fire;
They have profaned the dwelling place of thy name even to the ground.
They said in their heart, Let us make havoc of them altogether:
They have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land_.

Psalms 74: 5-8.










































The purpose of this story is to give an idea of what might happen to
America, being defenceless as at present, if she should be attacked, say
at the close of the great European war, by a mighty and victorious power
like Germany. It is a plea for military preparedness in the United

As justifying this plea let us consider briefly and in a fair-minded
spirit the arguments of our pacifist friends who, being sincerely opposed
to military preparedness, would bring us to their way of thinking.

On June 10, 1915, in a statement to the American people, following his
resignation as Secretary of State, William Jennings Bryan said:

Some nation must lead the world out of the black night of war into the
light of that day when “swords shall be beaten into plow-shares.” Why not
make that honour ours? Some day--why not now?--the nations will learn
that enduring peace cannot be built upon fear--that good-will does not
grow upon the stalk of violence. Some day the nations will place their
trust in love, the weapon for which there is no shield; in love, that
suffereth long and is kind; in love, that is not easily provoked, that
beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all
things; in love, which, though despised as weakness by the worshippers of
Mars, abideth when all else fails.

These are noble words. They thrill and inspire us as they have thrilled
and inspired millions before us, yet how little the world has seen of the
actual carrying out of their beautiful message! The average individual in
America still clings to whatever he has of material possessions with all
the strength that law and custom give him. He keeps what he has and takes
what he can honourably get, unconcerned by the fact that millions of his
fellow men are in distress or by the knowledge that many of the rich whom
he envies or honours may have gained their fortunes, privilege or power
by unfair or dishonest means.

In every land there are similar extremes of poverty and riches, but these
could not exist in a world governed by the law of love or ready to be so
governed, since love would destroy the ugly train of hatreds, arrogances,
miseries, injustices and crimes that spread before us everywhere in the
existing social order and that only fail to shock us because we are
accustomed to a regime in which self-interest rather than love or justice
is paramount.

My point is that if individuals are thus universally, or almost
universally, selfish, nations must also be selfish, since nations are
only aggregations of individuals. If individuals all over the world
to-day place the laws of possession and privilege and power above the law
of love, then nations will inevitably do the same. If there is constant
jealousy and rivalry and disagreement among individuals there will surely
be the same among nations, and it is idle for Mr. Bryan to talk about
putting our trust in love collectively when we do nothing of the sort
individually. Would Mr. Bryan put his trust in love if he felt himself
the victim of injustice or dishonesty?

Once in a century some Tolstoy tries to practise literally the law of
love and non-resistance with results that are distressing to his family
and friends, and that are of doubtful value to the community. We may be
sure the nations of the world will never practise this beautiful law of
love until average citizens of the world practise it, and that time has
not come.

Of course, Mr. Bryan’s peace plan recognises the inevitability of
quarrels or disagreements among nations, but proposes to have these
settled by arbitration or by the decisions of an international tribunal,
which tribunal may be given adequate police power in the form of an
international army and navy.

It goes without saying that such a plan of world federation and world
arbitration involves universal disarmament, all armies and all navies
must be reduced to a merely nominal strength, to a force sufficient for
police protection, but does any one believe that this plan can really be
carried out? Is there the slightest chance that Russia or Germany will
disarm? Is there the slightest chance that England will send her fleet to
the scrap heap and leave her empire defenceless in order to join this
world federation? Is there the slightest chance that Japan, with her
dreams of Asiatic sovereignty, will disarm?

And if the thing were conceivable, what a grim federation this would be
of jealousies, grievances, treacheries, hatreds, conflicting patriotisms
and ambitions--Russia wanting Constantinople, France Alsace-Lorraine,
Germany Calais, Spain Gibraltar, Denmark her ravished provinces, Poland
her national integrity and so on. Who would keep order among the
international delegates? Who would decide when the international judges
disagreed? Who would force the international policemen to act against
their convictions? Could any world tribunal induce the United States to
limit her forces for the prevention of a yellow immigration from Asia?

General Homer Lea in “The Valour of Ignorance” says:

Only when arbitration is able to unravel the tangled skein of crime and
hypocrisy among individuals can it be extended to communities and
nations, as nations are only man in the aggregate, they are the aggregate
of his crimes and deception and depravity, and so long as these
constitute the basis of individual impulse, so long will they control the
acts of nations.

Dr. Charles W. Eliot, president emeritus of Harvard University and
trustee of the Carnegie Peace Foundation, makes this admission in _The
Army and Navy Journal:_

I regret to say that international or national disarmament is not taken
seriously by the leaders and thinking men of the more important peoples,
and I fear that for one reason or another neither the classes nor the
masses have much admiration for the idea or would be willing to do their
share to bring it about.

Here is the crux of the question, the earth has so much surface and
to-day this is divided up in a certain way by international frontiers.
Yesterday it was divided up in a different way. To-morrow it will again
be divided up in a new way, unless some world federation steps in and
says: “Stop! There are to be no more wars. The present frontiers of the
existing fifty-three nations are to be considered as righteously and
permanently established. After this no act of violence shall change

Think what that would mean! It would mean that nations like Russia, Great
Britain and the United States, which happened to possess vast dominions
when this world federation peace plan was adopted would continue to
possess vast dominions, while other nations like Italy, Greece, Turkey,
Holland, Sweden, France, Spain (all great empires once), Germany and
Japan, whose present share of the earth’s surface might be only one-tenth
or one-fiftieth or one-five-hundredth as great as Russia’s share or Great
Britain’s share, would be expected to remain content with that small

Impossible! These less fortunate, but not less aspiring nations would
never agree to such a policy of national stagnation, to such a stifling
of their legitimate longings for a “greater place in the sun.” They would
point to the pages of history and show how small nations have become
great and how empires have fallen. What was the mighty United States of
America but yesterday? A handful of feeble colonies far weaker than the
Balkan States to-day.

“Why should this particular moment be chosen,” they would protest, “to
render immovable international frontiers that have always been shifting?
Why should the maps of the world be now finally crystallised so as to
give England millions of square miles in every quarter of the globe,
Canada, Australia, India, Egypt, while we possess so little? Did God make
England so much better than he made us? Why should the Russian Empire
sweep across two continents while our territory is crowded into a corner
of one? Is Russia so supremely deserving? And why should the United
States possess as much of the earth’s surface as Germany, France, Italy,
Belgium, Holland, Austria-Hungary, Denmark, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria,
Roumania, Spain, Norway, Sweden and Japan all together and, besides that,
claim authority to say, through the Monroe Doctrine, what shall happen or
shall not happen in South America, Mexico, the West Indies and the
Pacific? How did the United States get this authority and this vast
territory? How did Russia get her vast territory? How did England get her
vast territory?”

The late Professor J. A. Cramb, an Englishman himself, gives us one
answer in his powerful and illuminating book, “Germany and England,” and
shows us how England, in the view of many, got _her_ possessions:

England! The successful burglar, who, an immense fortune amassed, has
retired from business, and having broken every law, human and divine,
violated every instinct of honour and fidelity on every sea and on every
continent, desires now the protection of the police!... So long as
England, the great robber-state, retains her booty, the spoils of a
world, what right has she to expect peace from the nations?

In reply to Mr. Bryan’s peace exhortations, some of the smaller but more
efficient world powers, certainly Germany and Japan, would recall similar
cynical teachings of history and would smilingly answer: “We approve of
your beautiful international peace plan, of your admirable world police
plan, but before putting it into execution, we prefer to wait a few
hundred years and see if we also, in the ups and downs of nations, cannot
win for ourselves, by conquest or cunning or other means not provided for
in the law of love, a great empire covering a vast portion of the earth’s

The force and justice of this argument will be appreciated, to use a
homely comparison, by those who have studied the psychology of poker
games and observed the unvarying willingness of heavy winners to end the
struggle after a certain time, while the losers insist upon playing

It will be the same in this international struggle for world supremacy,
the only nations willing to stop fighting will be the ones that are far
ahead of the game, like Great Britain, Russia and the United States.

We may be sure that wars will continue on the earth. War may be a
biological necessity in the development of the human race--God’s
housecleaning, as Ella Wheeler Wilcox calls it. War may be a great soul
stimulant meant to purge mankind of evils greater than itself, evils of
baseness and world degeneration. We know there are blighted forests that
must be swept clean by fire. Let us not scoff at such a theory until we
understand the immeasurable mysteries of life and death. We know that,
through the ages, two terrific and devastating racial impulses have made
themselves felt among men and have never been restrained, sex attraction
and war. Perhaps they were not meant to be restrained.

Listen to John Ruskin, apostle of art and spirituality:

All the pure and noble arts of peace are founded on war. No great art
ever rose on earth but among a nation of soldiers. There is no great art
possible to a nation but that which is based on battle. When I tell you
that war is the foundation of all the arts, I mean also that it is the
foundation of all the high virtues and faculties of men. It was very
strange for me to discover this, and very dreadful, but I saw it to be
quite an undeniable fact. The common notion that peace and the virtues of
civil life flourished together I found to be utterly untenable. We talk
of peace and learning, of peace and plenty, of peace and civilisation;
but I found that these are not the words that the Muse of History coupled
together; that on her lips the words were peace and sensuality, peace and
selfishness, peace and death. I found in brief that all great nations
learned their truth of word and strength of thought in war; that they
were nourished in war and wasted in peace; taught by war and deceived by
peace; trained by war and betrayed by peace; in a word, that they were
born in war and expired in peace.

We know Bernhardi’s remorseless views taken from Treitschke and adopted
by the whole German nation:

“War is a fiery crucible, a terrible training school through which the
world has grown better.”

In his impressive work, “The Game of Empires,” Edward S. Van Zile quotes
Major General von Disfurth, a distinguished retired officer of the German
army, who chants so fierce a glorification of war for the German idea,
war for German Kultur, war at all costs and with any consequences that
one reads with a shudder of amazement:

Germany stands as the supreme arbiter of her own methods. It is of no
consequence whatever if all the monuments ever created, all the pictures
ever painted, and all the buildings ever erected by the great architects
of the world be destroyed, if by their destruction we promote Germany’s
victory over her enemies. The commonest, ugliest stone that marks the
burial place of a German grenadier is a more glorious and venerable
monument than all the cathedrals of Europe put together. They call us
barbarians. What of it? We scorn them and their abuse. For my part, I
hope that in this war we have merited the title of barbarians. Let
neutral peoples and our enemies cease their empty chatter, which may well
be compared to the twitter of birds. Let them cease to talk of the
cathedral of Rheims and of all the churches and all the castles in France
which have shared its fate. These things do not interest us. Our troops
must achieve victory. What else matters?

Obviously there are cases where every noble sentiment would impel a
nation to go to war. A solemn promise broken, a deliberate insult
to the flag, an act of intolerable bullying, some wicked purpose of
self-aggrandisement at the expense of weaker nations, anything, in short,
that flaunted the national honour or imperilled the national integrity
would be a call to war that must be heeded by valiant and high-souled
citizens, in all lands. Nor can we have any surety against such wanton
international acts, so long as the fate of nations is left in the hands
of small autocracies or military and diplomatic cliques empowered to act
without either the knowledge or approval of the people. Wars will never
be abolished until the war-making power is taken from the few and
jealously guarded by the whole people, and only exercised after public
discussion of the matters at issue and a public understanding of
inevitable consequences. At present it is evident that the pride, greed,
madness of one irresponsible King, Emperor, Czar, Mikado or President may
plunge the whole world into war-misery that will last for generations.

There are other cases where war is not only inevitable, but actually
desirable from a standpoint of world advantage. Imagine a highly
civilised and progressive nation, a strong prosperous nation, wisely and
efficiently governed, as may be true, some day, of the United States of
America. Let us suppose this nation to be surrounded by a number of weak
and unenlightened states, always quarrelling, badly and corruptly
managed, like Mexico and some of the Central American republics. Would it
not be better for the world if this strong, enlightened nation took
possession of its backward neighbours, even by force of arms, and taught
them how to live and how to make the best of their neglected resources
and possibilities? Would not these weak nations be more prosperous and
happier after incorporation with the strong nation? Is not Egypt better
off and happier since the British occupation? Were not the wars that
created united Italy and united Germany justified? Does any one regret
our civil war? It was necessary, was it not?

Similarly it is better for the world that we fought and conquered the
American Indians and took their land to use it, in accordance with our
higher destiny, for greater and nobler purposes than they could either
conceive of or execute. It is better for the world that by a revolution
(even a disingenuous one) we took Panama from incompetent Colombians
and, by our intelligence, our courage and our vast resources, changed a
fever-ridden strip of jungle into a waterway that now joins two oceans
and will save untold billions for the commerce of the earth.

Carrying a step farther this idea of world efficiency through war, it is
probable that future generations will be grateful to some South American
nation, perhaps Brazil, or Chile or the Argentine Republic, that shall
one day be wise and strong enough to lay the foundations on the field of
battle (Mr. Bryan may think this could be accomplished by peaceful
negotiations, but he is mistaken) for the United States of South America.

And why not ultimately the United States of Europe, the United States of
Asia, the United States of Africa, all created by useful and progressive
wars? Consider the increased efficiency, prosperity and happiness that
must come through such unions of small nations now trying separately and
ineffectively to carry on multiple activities that could be far better
carried on collectively. Our American Union, born of war, proves this,
does it not?

“United we stand, divided we fall,” applies not merely to states,
counties and townships, but to nations, to empires, to continents.
Continents will be the last to join hands across the seas (having first
waged vast inter-continental wars) and then, after the rise and fall of
many sovereignties, there will be established on the earth the last great
government, the United States of the World!

That is the logical limit of human activities. Are we not all citizens of
the earth, descended from the same parents, born with the same needs and
capacities? Why should there be fifty-three barriers dividing men into
fifty-three nations? Why should there be any other patriotism than world
patriotism? Or any other government than one world government?

When this splendid ultimate consummation has been achieved, after ages of
painful evolution (we must remember that the human race is still in its
infancy) our remote descendants, united in language, religion and
customs, with a great world representative government finally established
and the law of love prevailing, may begin preparations for a grand world
celebration of the last war. Say, in the year A.D. 2921!

But not until then!

If this reasoning is sound, if war must be regarded, for centuries to
come, as an inevitable part of human existence, then let us, as loyal
Americans, realise that, hate war as we may, there is only way in which
the United States can be insured against the horrors of armed invasion,
with the shame of disastrous defeat and possible dismemberment, and that
is by developing the strength and valiance to meet all probable
assailants on land or sea.

Whether we like it or not we are a great world power, fated to become far
greater, unless we throw away our advantages; we must either accept the
average world standards, which call for military preparedness, or impose
new standards upon a world which concedes no rights to nations that have
not the might to guard and enforce those rights.

Why should we Americans hesitate to pay the trifling cost of insurance
against war? Trifling? Yes. The annual cost of providing and maintaining
an adequate army and navy would be far less than we spend every year on
tobacco and alcohol. Less than fifty cents a month from every citizen
would be sufficient. That amount, wisely expended, would enormously
lessen the probability of war and would allow the United States, if war
came, to face its enemies with absolute serenity. The Germans are willing
to pay the cost of preparedness. So are the French, the Italians, the
Japanese, the Swiss, the Balkan peoples, the Turks. Do we love our
country less than they do? Do we think our institutions, our freedom less
worthy than theirs of being guarded for posterity?

Why should we not adopt a system of military training something like the
one that has given such excellent results in Switzerland? Why not cease
to depend upon our absurd little standing army which, for its strength
and organisation, is frightfully expensive and absolutely inadequate, and
depend instead upon a citizenry trained and accustomed to arms, with a
permanent body of competent officers, at least 50,000, whose lives would
be spent in giving one year military training to the young men of this
nation, all of them, say between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three,
so that these young men could serve their country efficiently, if the
need arose? Why not accept the fact that it is neither courageous nor
democratic for us to depend upon hired soldiers to defend our country?

Does any one doubt that a year of such military training would be of
lasting benefit to the men of America? Would it not school them in
much-needed habits of discipline and self-control, habits which must be
learned sooner or later if a man is to succeed? Would not the open air
life, the physical exercise, the regularity of hours tend to improve
their health and make them better citizens?

Suppose that once every five years all American men up to fifty were
required to go into military camp and freshen up on their defence duties
for twenty or thirty days. Would that do them any harm? On the contrary,
it would do them immense good.

And even if war never came, is it not evident that America would benefit
in numberless ways by such a development of the general manhood spirit?
Who can say how much of Germany’s greatness in business and commerce, in
the arts and sciences, is due to the fact that _all_ her men, through
military schooling, have learned precious lessons in self-control and

The pacifists tell us that after the present European war, we shall have
nothing to fear for many years from exhausted Europe, but let us not be
too sure of that. History teaches that long and costly wars do not
necessarily exhaust a nation or lessen its readiness to undertake new
wars. On the contrary, the habit of fighting leads easily to more
fighting. The Napoleonic wars lasted over twenty years. At the close of
our civil war we had great generals and a formidable army of veteran
soldiers and would have been willing and able immediately to engage in a
fresh war against France had she not yielded to our demand and withdrawn
Maximilian from Mexico. Bulgaria recently fought two wars within a year,
the second leaving her exhausted and prostrate; yet within two years she
was able to enter upon a third war stronger than ever.

If Germany wins in the present great conflict she may quite conceivably
turn to America for the vast money indemnity that she will be unable to
exact from her depleted enemies in Europe; and if Germany loses or half
loses she may decide to retrieve her desperate fortunes in this tempting
and undefended field. With her African empire hopelessly lost to her,
where more naturally than to facile America will she turn for her coveted
place in the sun?

And if not Germany, it may well be some other great nation that will
attack us. Perhaps Great Britain! Especially if our growing merchant
marine threatens her commercial supremacy of the sea, which is her life.
Perhaps Japan! whose attack on Germany in 1914 shows plainly that she
merely awaits favourable opportunity to dispose of any of her rivals in
the Orient. Let us bear in mind that, in the opinion of the world’s
greatest authorities, we Americans are to-day totally unprepared to
defend ourselves against a first-class foreign power. My story aims to
show this, and high officers in our army and navy, who have assisted me
in the preparation of this book and to whom I am grateful, assure me that
I have set forth the main facts touching our military defencelessness
without exaggeration.        C. M.




In my thirty years’ service as war correspondent of the London _Times_ I
have looked behind the scenes of various world happenings, and have known
the thrill of personally facing some great historic crises; but there is
nothing in my experience so dramatic, so pregnant with human
consequences, as the catastrophe of April 27, 1921, when the Gatun Locks
of the Panama Canal were destroyed by dynamite.

At that moment I was seated on the shaded, palm-bordered piazza of the
Grand Hotel at Colon, discussing with Rear-Admiral Thomas Q. Allyn of the
United States Navy the increasing chances that America might find herself
plunged into war with Japan. For weeks the clouds had been darkening, and
it was now evident that the time had come when the United States must
either abandon the Monroe Doctrine and the open door in China, or fight
to maintain these doctrines.

“Mr. Langston,” the Admiral was saying, “the situation is extremely
grave. Japan intends to carry out her plans of expansion in Mexico and
China, and possibly in the Philippines; there is not a doubt of it. Her
fleet is cruising somewhere in the Pacific,--we don’t know where,--and
our Atlantic fleet passed through the Canal yesterday, as you know, to
make a demonstration of force in the Pacific and to be ready for--for
whatever may come.”

His hands closed nervously, and he studied the horizon with half-shut

In the course of our talk Admiral Allyn had admitted that the United
States was woefully unprepared for conflict with a great power, either on
sea or land.

“The blow will be struck suddenly,” he went on, “you may be sure of that.
Our military preparations are so utterly inadequate that we may suffer
irreparable harm before we can begin to use our vast resources. You know
when Prussia struck Austria in 1866 the war was over in three months.
When Germany struck France in 1870 the decisive battle, Sedan, was fought
forty-seven days later. When Japan struck Russia, the end was foreseen
within four or five months.”

“It wasn’t so in the great European war,” I remarked.

“Why not? Because England held the mastery of the sea. But we hold the
mastery of nothing. Our fleet is barely third among the nations and we
are frightfully handicapped by our enormous length of coast line and by
this canal.”

“The Canal gives us a great advantage, doesn’t it? I thought it doubled
the efficiency of our fleet?”

“It does nothing of the sort. The Canal may be seized. It may be put out
of commission for weeks or months by landslides or earthquakes. A few
hostile ships of the _Queen Elizabeth_ class lying ten miles off shore at
either end, with ranges exactly fixed, or a good shot from an aeroplane,
could not only destroy the Canal’s insufficient defences, but could
prevent our fleet from coming through, could hold it, useless, in the
Atlantic when it might be needed to save California or useless in the
Pacific when it might be needed to save New York. If it happened when war
began that one half of our fleet was in the Atlantic and the other half
in the Pacific, then the enemy could keep these two halves separated and
destroy them one by one.”

“I suppose you mean that we need two fleets?”

“Of course we do--a child can see it--if we are to guard our two
seaboards. We must have a fleet in the Atlantic strong enough to resist
any probable attack from the East, and another fleet in the Pacific
strong enough to resist any probable attack from the West.

“But listen to this, think of this,” the veteran warrior leaned towards
me, shaking an eager fore-finger. “At the present moment our entire
fleet, if massed off Long Island, would be inferior to a fleet that
Germany could send across the Atlantic against us by many ships, many
submarines and many aeroplanes. And hopelessly inferior in men and
ammunition, including torpedoes.”

As I listened I felt myself falling under the spell of the Admiral’s
eloquence. He was so sure of what he said. These dangers unquestionably
existed, but--were they about to descend upon America? Must we really
face the horrors of a war of invasion?

“Your arguments are very convincing, sir, and yet--” I hesitated.


“You speak as if these things were going to happen _right now,_ but there
are no signs of war, no clouds on the horizon.”

The Admiral waved this aside with an impatient gesture.

“I tell you the blow will come suddenly. Were there any clouds on the
European horizon in July, 1914? Yet a few persons knew, just as I have
known for months, that war was inevitable.”

“Known?” I repeated.

Very deliberately the grizzled sea fighter lighted a fresh cigar before

“Mr. Langston, I’ll tell you a little story that explains why I am posing
as a prophet. You can put it in your memoirs some day--if my prophecy
comes true. It’s the story of an American naval officer, a young
lieutenant, who--well, he went wrong about a year ago. He got into the
clutches of a woman spy in the employ of a foreign government. He met
this woman in Marseilles on our last Mediterranean cruise and fell in
love with her--hopelessly. She’s one of those devilish sirens that no
full-blooded man can resist and, the extraordinary part of it is, she
fell in love with him--genuinely in love.

“Well--it was a bad business. This officer gave the woman all he had,
told her all he knew, and finally he asked her to marry him. Yes. He
didn’t care what she was. He just wanted her. And she was so happy, so
crazy about him, that she almost yielded; she was ready to turn over a
new leaf, to settle down as his wife, but--”

“But she didn’t do it?” I smiled.

The Admiral shook his head.

“He was a poor man--just a lieutenant’s pay and she couldn’t give up her
grand life. But she loved him enough to try to save him, enough to leave
him. She wrote him a wonderful letter, poured her soul out to him, gave
him certain military secrets of the government she was working for--they
would have shot her in a minute, you understand, if they had known
it--and she told him to take this information as a proof of her love and
use it to save the United States.”

I was listening now with absorbed interest.

“What government was she working for?”

The Admiral paused to relight his cigar.

“Wait! The next thing was that this lieutenant came to me, as a friend of
his father and an admiral of the American fleet, and made a clean breast
of everything. He made his confession in confidence, but asked me to use
the knowledge as I saw fit without mentioning his name. I did use it
and”--the Admiral’s frown deepened--“the consequence was no one believed
me. They said the warning was too vague. You know the attitude of recent
administrations towards all questions of national defence. It’s always
politics before patriotism, always the fear of losing middle west
pacifist votes. It’s disgusting--horrible!”

“Was the warning really vague?”

“Vague. My God!” The old sea dog bounded from his chair. “I’ll tell you
how vague it was. A statement was definitely made that before May 1,
1921, a great foreign power would make war upon the United States and
would begin by destroying the Panama Canal. To-day is April 27, 1921. I
don’t say these things are going to happen within three days but, Mr.
Langston, as purely as the sun shines on that ocean, we Americans are
living in a fool’s paradise. We are drunk with prosperity. We are deaf
and blind to the truth which is known to other nations, known to our
enemies, known to the ablest officers in our army and navy.

“The truth is that, as a nation, we have learned nothing from our past
wars because we have never had to fight a first-class power that was
prepared. But the next war, and it is surely coming, will find us held in
the grip of an inexorable law which provides that nations imitating the
military policy of China must suffer the fate of China.”

The Admiral now explained why he had sent for me. It was to suggest that
I cable the London _Times_, urging my paper to use its influence, through
British diplomatic channels, to avert another great war. I pointed out
that the chances of such intervention were slight. Great Britain was
still smarting under the memory of Americans’ alleged indifference to
everything but money in 1918 when the United States stood by,
unprotesting, and saw England stripped of her mastery of the sea after
the loss of Gibraltar and the Suez Canal.

“There are two sides to that,” frowned the Admiral, “but one thing is
certain--it’s England or no one. We have nothing to hope for from Russia;
she has what she wants--Constantinople. Nothing to hope for from France;
she has her lost provinces back. And as for Germany--Germany is waiting,
recuperating, watching her chance for a place in the South American sun.”

“Germany managed well in the Geneva Peace Congress of 1919,” I said.

The veteran of Manila threw down his cigarette impatiently.

“Bismarck could have done no better. They bought off Europe, they
crippled England and--they isolated America.”

“By the way,” continued the Admiral, “I must show you some things in my
scrap book. You will be astonished. Wait a minute. I’ll get it.”

The old fellow hurried off and presently returned with a heavy volume
bound in red leather.

“Take it up to your room to-night and look it over. You will find the
most overwhelming mass of testimony to the effect that to-day, in spite
of all that has been said and written and all the money spent, the United
States is totally unprepared to defend its coasts or uphold its national
honour. Just open the book anywhere--you’ll see.”

I obeyed and came upon this statement by Theodore Roosevelt:

What befell Antwerp and Brussels will surely some day befall New York or
San Francisco, and may happen to many an inland city also, if we do not
shake off our supine folly, if we trust for safety to peace treaties
unbacked by force.

“Pretty strong words for an ex-President of the United States to be
using,” nodded the Admiral. “And true! Try another place.”

I did so and came upon this from the pen of Gerhard von
Schulze-Gaevernitz, professor of political economy at the University of
Freiburg and a member of the Reichstag:

Flattered and deftly lulled to sleep by British influence, public
opinion in the United States will not wake up until the ‘yellow New
England’ of the Orient, nurtured and deflected from Australia by England
herself, knocks at the gates of the new world. Not a patient and meek
China, but a warlike and conquest-bound Japan will be the aggressor when
that day comes. Then America will be forced to fight under unfavourable

The famous campaigner’s eyes flashed towards the Pacific.

“When that day comes! Ah! Speaking of Japan,” he turned over the pages in
nervous haste. “Here we are! You can see how much the Japanese love us!
Listen! This is an extract from the most popular book in Japan to-day. It
is issued by Japan’s powerful and official National Defence Association
with a view to inflaming the Japanese people against the United States
and preparing them for a war of invasion against this country. Listen to

“Let America beware! For our cry, ‘On to California! On to Hawaii!
On to the Philippines!’ is becoming only secondary to our imperial
anthem!... To arms! We must seize our standards, unfurl them to the winds
and advance without the least fear, as America has no army worthy the
name, and with the Panama Canal destroyed, its few battleships will be of
no use until too late.

“I tell you, Mr. Langston,” pursued the Admiral, “we Americans are to-day
the most hated nation on earth. The richest, the most arrogant, the most
hated nation on earth! And helpless! Defenceless! Believe me, that’s a
bad combination. Look at this! Read this! It’s a cablegram to the New
York _Tribune_, published on May 21, 1915, from Miss Constance Drexel, an
American delegate to the Woman’s Peace Conference at The Hague:

“I have just come out of Germany and perhaps the predominating impression
I bring with me is Germany’s hatred of America. Germany feels that war
with America is only a matter of time. Everywhere I went I found the same
sentiment, and the furthest distance away I found the war put was ten
years. It was said to me: ‘We must settle with England first, but then
will come America’s turn. If we don’t make war on you ourselves we will
get Japan into a war with you, and then we will supply arms and munitions
to Japan.’”

At this point, I remember, I had turned to order an orange liqueur, when
the crash came.

It was terrific. Every window in the hotel was shattered, and some scores
of labourers working near the Gatun Locks were killed instantly. Six
hundred tons of dynamite, secreted in the hold of a German merchantman,
had been exploded as the vessel passed through the locks, and ten
thousand tons of Portland cement had sunk in the tangled iron wreck, to
form a huge blockading mass of solid rock on the floor of the narrow

Needless to say, every man on the German ship thus sacrificed died at his

The Admiral stared in dismay when the news was brought to him.

“Germany!” he muttered. “And our fleet is in the Pacific!”

“Does it mean war?” I asked.

“Yes, of course. Unquestionably it means war. We have been misled. We
were thinking of one enemy, and we have been struck by another. We
thought we could send our fleet through the Canal and get it back easily;
but--now we cannot get it back for at least two months!”



A week later--or, to be exact, on May 4, 1921--I arrived in New York,
following instructions from my paper, and found the city in a state of
indescribable confusion and alarm.

War had been declared by Germany against the United States on the day
that the Canal was wrecked, and German transports, loaded with troops and
convoyed by a fleet of battleships, were known to be on the high seas,
headed for American shores. As the Atlantic fleet had been cut off in the
Pacific by that desperate piece of Panama strategy (the Canal would be
impassable for months), it was evident that those ships could be of no
service for at least eight weeks, the time necessary to make the trip
through the Straits of Magellan; and meanwhile the Atlantic seaboard from
Maine to Florida was practically unguarded.

No wonder the newspapers shrieked despairingly and bitterly upbraided
Congress for neglecting to provide the country with adequate naval

Theodore Roosevelt came out with a signed statement:

“Four years ago I warned this country that the United States must have
two great fleets--one for the Atlantic, one for the Pacific.”

Senator Smoot, in a sensational speech, referred to his vain efforts
to secure for the country a fleet of fifty sea-going submarines and
twenty-five coast-defence submarines. Now, he declared, the United States
would pay for its indifference to danger.

In the House of Representatives, Gardner and Hobson both declared that
our forts were antiquated, our coast-defence guns outranged, our
artillery ridiculously insufficient, and our supply of ammunition not
great enough to carry us through a single month of active warfare.

On the night of my arrival in Manhattan I walked through scenes of
delirious madness. The town seemed to reel in a sullen drunkenness.
Throngs filled the dark streets. The Gay White Way was no longer either
white or gay. The marvellous electrical display of upper Broadway had
disappeared--not even a street light was to be seen. And great hotels,
like the Plaza, the Biltmore, and the new Morgan, formerly so bright,
were scarcely discernible against the black skies. No one knew where the
German airships might be. Everybody shouted, but nobody made very much
noise. The city was hoarse. I remembered just how London acted the night
the first Zeppelin floated over the town.

At five o’clock the next morning, Mayor McAneny appointed a Committee of
Public Safety that went into permanent session in Madison Square Garden,
which was thronged day and night, while excited meetings, addressed by
men and women of all political parties, were held continuously in Union
Square, City Hall Park, Columbus Circle, at the Polo Grounds and in
various theatres and motion-picture houses.

Such a condition of excitement and terror necessarily led to disorder and
on May 11, 1921, General Leonard Wood, in command of the Eastern Army,
placed the city under martial law.

And now on every tongue were frantic questions. When would the Germans
land? To-day? To-morrow? Where would they strike first? What were we
going to do? Every one realised, when it was too late, the hopeless
inadequacy of our aeroplane scouting service. To guard our entire
Atlantic seaboard we had fifty military aeroplanes where we should have
had a thousand and we were wickedly lacking in pilots. Oh, the shame of
those days!

In this emergency Rodman Wanamaker put at the disposal of the government
his splendid air yacht the _America II_, built on the exact lines of the
_America I_, winner of across-the-Atlantic prizes in 1918, but of much
larger spread and greater engine power. The America II could carry a
useful load of five tons and in her scouting work during the next
fortnight she accommodated a dozen passengers, four officers, a crew of
six, and two newspaper men, Frederick Palmer, representing the Associated
Press, and myself for the London _Times._

What a tremendous thing it was, this scouting trip! Day after day, far
out over the ocean, searching for German battleships! Our easy jog trot
speed along the sky was sixty miles an hour and, under full engine
pressure, the _America II_ could make a hundred and twenty, which was
lucky for us as it saved us many a time when the slower German aircraft
came after us, spitting bullets from their machine guns.

On the morning of May 12, a perfect spring day, circling at a height of
half a mile, about fifty miles off the eastern end of Long Island, we had
our first view of the German fleet as it ploughed through smooth seas to
the south of Montauk Point.

We counted eight battle cruisers, twelve dreadnoughts, ten
pre-dreadnoughts, and about sixty destroyers, in addition to transports,
food-ships, hospital-ships, repair-ships, colliers, and smaller fighting
and scouting vessels, all with their full complement of men and
equipment, moving along there below us in the pleasant sunshine. Among
the troopships I made out the _Kaiserin Auguste Luise_ and the
_Deutschland,_ on both of which I had crossed the summer following the
Great Peace. I thought of the jolly old commander of the latter vessel
and of the capital times we had had together at the big round table in
the dining-saloon. It seemed impossible that this was war!

I subsequently learned that the original plan worked out by the German
general staff contemplated a landing in the sheltered harbour of Montauk
Point, but the lengthened range (21,000 yards) of mortars in the American
forts on Fisher’s Island and Plum Island, a dozen miles to the north, now
brought Montauk Point under fire, so the open shore south of East Hampton
was substituted as the point of invasion.

“There’s no trouble about landing troops from the open sea in smooth
weather like this,” said Palmer, speaking through his head-set. “We did
it at Santiago, and the Japs did it at Port Arthur.”

“And the English did it at Ostend,” I agreed. “Hello!”

As I swept the sea to the west with my binoculars I thought I caught the
dim shape of a submerged submarine moving slowly through the black
depths like a hungry shark; but it disappeared almost immediately, and I
was not sure. As a matter of fact, it was a submarine, one of six
American under-water craft that had been assigned to patrol the south
shore of Long Island.

The United States still had twenty-five submarines in Atlantic waters, in
addition to thirty that were with the absent fleet; but these twenty-five
had been divided between Boston Harbour, Narragansett Bay, Delaware
Bay, Chesapeake Bay, and other vulnerable points, so that only six were
left to defend the approaches to New York City. And, of these six, five
were twenty-four hours late, owing, I heard later, to inexcusable
delays at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where they had been undergoing repairs.
The consequence was that only the K-2 was here to meet the German
invasion--one lone submarine against a mighty fleet.

Still, under favourable conditions, one lone submarine is a force to be
reckoned with, as England learned in 1915.

The K-2 attacked immediately, revealing her periscope for a minute as she
took her observations. Then she launched a torpedo at a big German
supply-ship not more than a thousand yards away.

“Good-bye, ship!” said Palmer, and we watched with fascinated interest
the swift white line that marked the course of the torpedo. It struck the
vessel squarely amidships, and she sank within five minutes, most of the
men aboard being rescued by boats from the fleet.

It now went ill with the K-2, however; for, having revealed her presence,
she was pursued by the whole army of swift destroyers. She dived, and
came up again two miles to the east, bent on sinking a German
dreadnought; but, unfortunately, she rose to the surface almost under the
nose of one of the destroyers, which bombarded her with its rapid-fire
guns, and then, when she sank once more, dropped on her a small mine that
exploded under water with shattering effect, finishing her.

As I think it over, I feel sure that if those other five submarines had
been ready with the K-2, we might have had another story to tell.
Possibly the slowness of the Brooklyn Navy Yard--which is notorious, I
understand--may have spoiled the one chance that America had to resist
this invasion.

The next day the five tardy submarines arrived; but conditions were
now less favourable, since the invaders had had time to prepare their
defence against this under-water peril. As we flew over East Hampton on
the following afternoon, we were surprised to see five fully inflated
air-ships of the nonrigid Parseval type floating in the blue sky, like
grim sentinels guarding the German fleet. Down through the sun-lit ocean
they could see the shadowy underwater craft lurking in the depths, and
they carried high explosives to destroy them.

“How about our aeroplanes?” grumbled Palmer.

“Look!” I answered, pointing toward the Shinnecock Hills, where some tiny
specks appeared like soaring eagles. “They’re coming!”

The American aeroplanes, at least, were on time, and as they swept nearer
we counted ten of them, and our spirits rose; for ten swift aeroplanes
armed with explosive bombs can make a lot of trouble for slower and
clumsier aircraft.

But alas for our hopes! The invaders were prepared also, and, before the
American fliers had come within striking distance, they found themselves
opposed by a score of military hydroplanes that rose presently, with a
great whirring of propellers, from the decks of the German battle-ships.
Had the Americans been able to concentrate here their entire force of
fifty aeroplanes, the result might have been different; but the fifty had
been divided along the Atlantic coast--ten aeroplanes and five submarines
being assigned to each harbour that was to be defended.

Now came the battle. And for hours, until night fell, we watched a
strange and terrible conflict between these forces of air and water. With
admirable skill and daring the American aeronauts manoeuvred for
positions above the Parsevals, whence they could drop bombs; and so swift
and successful were they that two of the enemy’s air-ships were destroyed
before the German aeroplanes really came into the action. After that it
went badly for the American fliers, which were shot down, one by one,
until only three of the ten remained. Then these three, seeing
destruction inevitable, signalled for a last united effort, and, all
together, flew at full speed straight for the great yellow gas-bag of the
biggest Parseval and for certain death. As they tore into the flimsy
air-ship there came a blinding flash, an explosion that shook the hills,
and that brave deed was done.

There remained two Parsevals to aid the enemy’s fleet in its fight
against American submarines, and I wish I might describe this fight in
more detail. We saw a German transport torpedoed by the B-1; we saw
two submarines sunk by rapid-fire guns of the destroyers; we saw a
battle-cruiser crippled by the glancing blow of a torpedo; and we saw the
K-1 blown to pieces by bombs from the air-ships. Two American submarines
were still fighting, and of these one, after narrowly missing a
dreadnought, sent a troop-ship to the bottom, and was itself rammed and
sunk by a destroyer, the sea being spread with oil. The last submarine
took to flight, it seems, because her supply of torpedoes was exhausted.
And this left the invaders free to begin their landing operations.

During four wonderful days (the Germans were favoured by light northeast
breezes) Palmer and I hovered over these East Hampton shores, watching
the enemy construct their landing platforms of brick and timbers from
dynamited houses, watching the black transports as they disgorged from
lighters upon the gleaming sand dunes their swarms of soldiers, their
thousands of horses, their artillery, their food supplies. There seemed
no limit to what these mighty vessels could carry.

We agreed that the great 50,000-ton _Imperator_ alone brought at least
fifteen thousand men with all that they needed. And I counted twenty
other huge transports; so my conservative estimate, cabled to the paper
by way of Canada,--for the direct cables were cut,--was that in this
invading expedition Germany had successfully landed on the shores of Long
Island one hundred and fifty thousand fully equipped fighting-men. It
seemed incredible that the great United States, with its vast wealth and
resources, could be thus easily invaded; and I recalled with a pang what
a miserable showing England had made in 1915 from similar unpreparedness.


As the German landing operations proceeded, the news of the invasion
spread over the whole region with the speed of electricity, and in every
town and village on Long Island angry and excited and terrified crowds
cursed and shouted and wept in the streets.

The enemy was coming!

The enemy was here!

What was to be done?

Should they resist?

And many valorous speeches in the spirit of ‘76 were made by farmers and
clerks and wild-eyed women. What was to be done?

In the peaceful town of East Hampton some sniping was done, and afterward
bitterly repented of, the occasion being the arrival of a company of
Uhlans with gleaming helmets, who galloped down the elm-lined main street
with requisitions for food and supplies.

Suddenly a shot was fired from Bert Osborne’s livery stable, then another
from White’s drug store, then several others, and one of the Uhlans
reeled in his saddle, slightly wounded. Whereupon, to avenge this attack
and teach Long Islanders to respect their masters, the German fleet was
ordered to shell the village.

Half an hour later George Edwards, who was beating up the coast in his
trim fishing schooner, after a two weeks’ absence in Barnegat Bay (he
had heard nothing about the war with Germany), was astonished to see a
German soldier in formidable helmet silhouetted against the sky on the
eleventh tee of the Easthampton golf course, one of the three that rise
above the sand dunes along the surging ocean, wigwagging signals to the
warships off shore. And, presently, Edwards saw an ominous puff of white
smoke break out from one of the dreadnoughts and heard the boom of a
twelve-inch gun.

The first shell struck the stone tower of the Episcopal church and hurled
fragments of it against the vine-covered cottage next door, which had
been the home a hundred and twenty years before of John Howard Payne, the
original “home sweet home.”

The second shell struck John Drew’s summer home and set it on fire; the
third wrecked the Casino; the fourth destroyed Albert Herter’s studio and
slightly injured Edward T. Cockcroft and Peter Finley Dunne, who were
playing tennis on the lawn. That night scarcely a dozen buildings in this
beautiful old town remained standing. And the dead numbered more than
three hundred, half of them being women and children.



The next week was one of deep humiliation for the American people. Our
great fleet and our great Canal, which had cost so many hundreds of
millions and were supposed to guarantee the safety of our coasts, had
failed us in this hour of peril.

Secretary Alger, in the Spanish War, never received half the punishment
that the press now heaped on the luckless officials of the War and the
Navy Departments.

The New York _Tribune_, in a scathing attack upon the administration,

The blow has fallen and the United States is totally unprepared to meet
it. Why? Because the Democratic party, during its eight years’ tenure of
office, has obstinately, stupidly and wickedly refused to do what was
necessary to make this country safe against invasion by a foreign power.
There has been a surfeit of talking, of explaining and of promising, but
of definite accomplishment very little, and to-day, in our extreme peril,
we find ourselves without an army or a navy that can cope with the
invaders and protect our shores and our homes.

Richard Harding Davis, in the _Evening Sun_, denounced unsparingly those
Senators and Congressmen who, in 1916, had voted against national

For our present helpless condition and all that results from it, let the
responsibility rest upon these Senators and Congressmen, who, for their
own selfish ends, have betrayed the country. They are as guilty of
treason as was ever Benedict Arnold. Were some of them hanged, the sight
of them with their toes dancing on air might inspire other Congressmen to
consider the safety of this country rather than their own re-election.

The New York _World_ published a memorable letter written by Samuel J.
Tilden in December, 1885, to Speaker Carlisle of the Forty-ninth Congress
on the subject of national defence and pointed out that Mr. Tilden was a
man of far vision, intellectually the foremost democrat of his day. In
this letter Mr. Tilden said:

The property exposed to destruction in the twelve seaports, Portland,
Portsmouth, Boston, Newport, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore,
Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans, Galveston and San Francisco, cannot be
less in value than five thousand millions of dollars.... While we may
afford to be deficient in the means of offence we cannot afford to be
defenceless. The notoriety of the fact that we have neglected the
ordinary precautions of defence invites want of consideration in our
diplomacy, injustice, arrogance and insult at the hands of foreign

To add to the general indignation, it transpired that the American
reserve fleet, consisting of ten predreadnoughts, was tied up in the
docks of Philadelphia, unable to move for lack of officers and men to
handle them. After frantic orders from Washington and the loss of
precious days, some two thousand members of the newly organised naval
reserve were rushed to Philadelphia; but eight thousand men were needed
to move this secondary fleet, and, even if the eight thousand had been
forthcoming, it would have been too late; for by this time a German
dreadnought was guarding the mouth of Delaware Bay, and these inferior
ships would never have braved its guns. So here were seventy-five million
dollars’ worth of American fighting-ships rendered absolutely useless and
condemned to be idle during the whole war because of bad organisation.

Meantime, the Germans were marching along the Motor Parkway toward New
York City with an army of a hundred and fifty thousand, against which
General Wood, by incredible efforts, was able to oppose a badly
organised, inharmonious force of thirty thousand, including Federals and
militia that had never once drilled together in large manoeuvres. Of
Federal troops there was one regiment of infantry from Governor’s Island,
and this was short of men. There were two infantry regiments from Forts
Niagara and Porter, in New York State. Also a regiment of colored cavalry
from Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, a battalion of field artillery from Fort
Myer, Virginia, a battalion of engineers from Washington, D. C., a
battalion of coast artillery organised as siege artillery from Fort
Dupont, Delaware, a regiment of cavalry from Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia,
two regiments of infantry from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, one regiment of
field artillery from Fort Sheridan, Illinois, one regiment of horse
artillery from Fort Riley, Kansas, one regiment of infantry and one
regiment of mountain guns from Fort D. A. Russell, Wyoming.

I may add that at this time the United States army, in spite of many
efforts to increase its size, numbered fewer than 70,000 men; and so many
of these were tied up as Coast Artillery or absent in the Philippines,
Honolulu, and the Canal Zone, that only about 30,000 were available as
mobile forces for the national defence.

As these various bodies of troops arrived in New York City and marched
down Fifth Avenue with bands playing “Dixie” and colours flying, the
excitement of cheering multitudes passed all description, especially when
Theodore Roosevelt, in familiar slouch hat, appeared on a big black horse
at the head of a hastily recruited regiment of Rough Riders, many of them
veterans who had served under him in the Spanish War.

Governor Malone reviewed the troops from the steps of the new Court House
and the crowd went wild when the cadets from West Point marched past, in
splendid order. At first I shared the enthusiasm of the moment; but
suddenly I realised how pathetic it all was and Palmer seemed to see that
side of it, too, though naturally he and I avoided all discussion of the
future. In addition to such portions of the regular army as General Wood
could gather together, his forces were supplemented by infantry and
cavalry brigades of militia from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey,
Connecticut, and Massachusetts, these troops being more or less
unprepared for battle, more or less lacking in the accessories of
battles, notably in field artillery and in artillery equipment of men and
horses. One of the aides on General Wood’s staff told me that the
combined American forces went into action with only one hundred and fifty
pieces of artillery against four hundred pieces that the Germans brought.

“And the wicked part of it is,” he added, “that there were two hundred
other pieces of artillery we might have used if we had had men and horses
to operate them; but--you can’t make an artillery horse overnight.”

“Nor a gun crew,” said I.



To meet this desperate situation and the enemy’s greatly superior forces,
General Wood decided not to advance against the Germans, but to intrench
his army across the western end of Long Island, with his left flank
resting on Fort Totten, near Bayside, and his nine-mile front extending
through Creedmore, Rosedale, and Valley Stream, where his right flank
would be guarded from sea attack by the big guns of Fort Hancock on Sandy
Hook, which would hold the German fleet at a distance.

Any military strategist will agree that this was the only course for the
American commander to pursue under the circumstances; but unfortunately
popular clamour will often have its way in republics, and in this case a
violent three days’ gale--which arrived providentially, according to some
of the newspapers--gave an appearance of reason to the general demand.

This gale interfered seriously with the German landing operations,--in
fact, it wrecked one of their supply-ships,--and, in consequence, such
strong political pressure was brought to bear upon the President that
orders came from Washington to General Wood that he advance his army
against the invaders and drive them into the sea. The General made a few
remarks not for publication, and obeyed. As he told me afterward, it is
doubtful whether the result would have been different in any event.

In throwing forward his forces, General Wood used the three lines of
railroad that cross Long Island from west to east; and on May 17 his
battleline reached from Patchogue through Holtsville to Port Jefferson.
Meantime, the Germans had advanced to a line that extended from East
Moriches to Manorville; and on May 18 the first clash came at daybreak in
a fierce cavalry engagement fought at Yaphank, in which the enemy were
driven back in confusion. It was first blood for the Americans.

This initial success, however, was soon changed to disaster. On May 19
the invaders advanced again, with strengthened lines, under the support
of the big guns of their fleet, which stood offshore and, guided by
aeroplane observers, rained explosive shells upon General Wood’s right
flank with such accuracy that the Americans were forced to withdraw.
Whereupon the Germans, using the famous hook formation that served them
so well in their drive across northern France in the summer of 1914,
pressed forward relentlessly, the fleet supporting them in a deadly
flanking attack upon the American right wing.

On May 20 von Hindenburg established his headquarters at Forest Hills,
where, less than a year before, his gallant countryman, the great
Fraitzheim, had made an unsuccessful effort to wrest the Davis cup from
the American champion and ex-champion, Murray and McLoughlin.

But that was a year ago!

In the morning General Wood’s forces continued to retreat, fighting with
dogged courage in a costly rear-guard action, and destroying railroads
and bridges as they went. The carnage wrought by the German six- and
eleven-inch explosive shells with delayed-action fuses was frightful
beyond anything I have ever known. Ten feet into the ground these
projectiles would bury themselves before exploding, and then--well, no
army could stand against them.

On May 22 General Wood was driven back to his original line of defences
from Fort Totten to Valley Stream, where he now prepared to make a last
stand to save Brooklyn, which stretched behind him with its peaceful
spires and its miles of comfortable homes. Here the Americans were safe
from the hideous pounding of the German fleet, and, although their losses
in five days amounted to more than six thousand men, these had been
replaced by reinforcements of militia from the West and South. There was
still hope, especially as the Germans, once they advanced beyond Westbury
and its famous polo fields, would come within range of the heavy mortars
of Fort Totten and Fort Hamilton, which carried thirteen miles.

That night the German commander, General von Hindenburg, under a flag of
truce, called upon the Americans to surrender in order to save the
Borough of Brooklyn from destruction.

General Wood refused this demand; and on May 23, at dawn, under cover of
his heavy siege-guns, von Hindenburg threw forward his veterans in
terrific massed attack, striking simultaneously at three points with
three army divisions--one in a drive to the right toward Fort Totten, one
in a drive to the left toward Fort Hamilton, and one in a drive straight
ahead against General Wood’s centre and the heart of Brooklyn.

All day the battle lasted--the battle of Brooklyn--with house-to-house
fighting and repeated bayonet charges. And at night the invaders,
outnumbering the American troops five to one, were everywhere victorious.
The defender’s line broke first at Valley Stream, where the Germans, led
by the famous Black Hussars, flung themselves furiously with cold steel
upon the militiamen and put them to flight. By sundown the Uhlans were
galloping, unopposed, along the broad sweep of the Eastern Parkway and
parallel streets towards Prospect Park, where the high land offered an
admirable site for the German artillery, since it commanded Fort Hamilton
from the rear and the entire spread of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

It was now that Field Marshal von Hindenburg and his staff, speeding
along the Parkway in dark grey military automobiles, witnessed a famous
act of youthful heroism. As they swung across the Plaza to turn into
Flatbush Avenue von Hindenburg ordered his chauffeur to slow up so that
he might view the Memorial Arch and the MacMonnies statues of our Civil
War heroes, and at this moment a sharp burst of rifle fire sounded across
Prospect Park.

“What is that?” asked the commander, then he ordered a staff officer to

It appears that on this fateful morning five thousand American High
School lads, from fifteen to eighteen years of age, members of the
Athletic League of New York Public Schools, who had been trained in these
schools to shoot accurately, had answered the call for volunteers and
rallied to the defence of their city. By trolley, subway and ferry they
came from all parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan, Harlem, Staten Island and the
Bronx, eager to show what their months of work with subtarget gun
machines, practice rods and gallery shooting, also their annual match on
the Peekskill Rifle Range, would now avail against the enemy. But when
they assembled on the Prospect Parade Ground, ready to do or die, they
found that the entire supply of rifles for their use was one hundred and
twenty-five! Seventy-five Krags, thirty Springfields and one hundred and
twenty Winchesters, 22-calibre muskets--toys fit for shooting squirrels,
and only a small supply of cartridges. The rifles available were issued
to such of the boys as had won their badges of sharpshooter and marksman,
two boys being assigned to each gun, so that if one was shot the other
could go on fighting.

“It was pitiful,” said General George W. Wingate, President of the
League, who was directing their movements, “to see the grief of those
brave boys as they heard the German guns approaching and realised that
they had nothing to fight with. Five thousand trained riflemen and no

Nearer and nearer came the flanking force of the invading host and
presently it reached the outskirts of this beautiful park, which with
hill and lake and greensward covers five hundred acres in the heart of
Brooklyn. A few boys were deployed as skirmishers along the eastern edge
of the Park, but the mass occupied hastily dug trenches near the monument
to the Maryland troops on Lookout Hill and the brass tablet that
commemorate the battle of Long Island. At these historic points for half
an hour they made a stand against a Bavarian regiment that advanced
slowly under cover of artillery fire, not realising that they were
sweeping to death a crowd of almost unarmed schoolboys.

Even so the Americans did deadly execution until their ammunition was
practically exhausted. Then, seeing the situation hopeless, the head
coaches, Emanuel Haug, John A. C. Collins, Donald D. Smith and Paul
B. Mann, called for volunteers to hold the monument with the few remaining
cartridges, while the rest of the boys retreated. Hundreds clamoured for
this desperate honour, and finally the coaches selected seventy of those
who had qualified as sharpshooters to remain and face almost certain
death, among these being: Jack Condon of the Morris High School, J.
Vernet (Manual Training), Lynn Briggs (Erasmus), Isaac Smith (Curtis),
Charles Mason (Commercial), C. Anthony (Bryant), J. Rosenfeld
(Stuyvesant), V. Doran (Flushing), M. Marnash (Eastern District), F.
Scanlon (Bushwick), Winthrop F. Foskett (De Witt Clinton), and Richard
Humphries (Jamaica).

Such was the situation when Field Marshal von Hindenburg dashed up in his
motor car. Seventy young American patriots on top of Lookout Hill, with
their last rounds of toy ammunition, were holding back a German regiment
while their comrades fled for their lives. And surely they would have
been a martyred seventy, since the Bavarians were about to charge in full
force, had not von Hindenburg taken in the situation at a glance and

“Halt! It is not fitting that a German regiment shall use its strength
against a handful of boys. Let them guard their monument! March on!”

Meantime, to the east and north of the city the battle raged and terror
spread among the populace. All eyes were fixed on New York as a haven of
refuge and, by the bridge, ferry and tunnel, hundreds of thousands made
their escape from Brooklyn.

The three great bridges stretching their giant black arms across the
river were literally packed with people--fathers, mothers, children, all
on foot, for the trolleys were hopelessly blocked. A man told me
afterwards that it took him seven hours to cross with his wife and their
two little girls.

Other swarms hovered about the tunnel entrances and stormed the
ferry-boats at their slips. Every raft in the harbour carried its load.
The Pennsylvania and Erie ferries from the other side of Manhattan, the
Staten Island boats, the Coney Island and other excursion steamers,
struggled through the press of sea traffic and I heard that three of
these vessels sank of their own weight. Here and there, hardly
discernible among the larger craft, were the small boats, life-boats,
canoes, anything and everything that would float, each bearing its little
group to a precarious safety on Manhattan Island.

Meantime, Fort Totten and Fort Hamilton had been taken from the rear by
overwhelming forces, and their mortars had been used to silence the guns
of Fort Schuyler and Fort Wadsworth. In this emergency, seeing the
situation hopeless, General Wood withdrew his forces in good order under
cover of a rear-guard action between the Uhlans and the United States
colored cavalry, and, hurrying before him the crowds of fleeing
civilians, marched his troops in three divisions across the Brooklyn
Bridge, leaving Brooklyn in flames behind him. Then facing inexorable
necessity, he ordered his engineers to blow up these three beautiful
spans that had cost hundreds of millions, and to flood the subways
between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Seen through the darkness at the moment of its ruin the vast steel
structure of the Brooklyn Bridge, with its dim arches and filaments, was
like a thing of exquisite lace. In shreds it fell, a tangled, twisted,
tragically wrecked piece of magnificence.



On May 24, 1921, the situation of New York City was seen to be desperate,
and most of the newspapers, even those that had clamoured loudest for
resistance and boasted of American valour and resourcefulness, now
admitted that the metropolis must submit to a German occupation.

Even the women among the public officials and political leaders were
inclined to a policy of nonresistance. General Wood was urged to
surrender the city and avoid the horrors of bombardment; but the
commander replied that his first duty was to defend the territory of the
United States, and that every day he could keep the enemy isolated on
Long Island was a day gained for the permanent defences that were
frantically organising all over the country.

It was vital, too, that the immense stores of gold and specie in the
vaults of the Federal Reserve and other great New York banks should be
safely transported to Chicago.

All day and all night, automobile trucks, operated under orders from
William G. McAdoo, Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank, loaded with
millions and millions of gold, passed unprotected and almost unheeded
through the crowded section between Wall Street and the Grand Central
Station. The people stared at them dumbly. They knew what was going on.
They knew they could have a fortune by reaching out their hands. But at
this moment, with their eternities in their eyes, they had no thought of
gold. Hour after hour the work went on. Finally, subway trains and street
cars were pressed into service as treasure-carriers.

By night $800,000,000 had started West and the next morning Chicago was
the financial capital of America.

At midnight General Wood gave final orders for resistance to the last gun
and the last man; and, when early the next morning the German general
again sent officers with a flag of truce demanding the surrender of
Manhattan Island, Wood’s reply was a firm refusal. He tried, however, to
gain time in negotiations; and a few hours later I accompanied a
delegation of American staff officers with counter-proposals across the
East River in a launch. I can see von Hindenburg now, in his high boots
and military coat, as he received the American officers at the foot of
the shattered Brooklyn Bridge. A square massive head with close-cropped
white hair, brushed straight back from a broad forehead. And sad
searching eyes--wonderful eyes.

“Then you refuse to surrender? You think you can fight?” the Field
Marshal demanded.

At which the ranking American officer, stung by his arrogance, declared
that they certainly did think they could fight, and would prove it.

“Ah! So!” said von Hindenburg, and he glanced at a gun crew who were
loading a half-ton projectile into an 11.1-inch siege-gun that stood on
the pavement. “Which is the Woolworth Building?” he asked, pointing
across the river.

“The tallest one, Excellency--the one with the Gothic lines and gilded
cornices,” replied one of his officers.

“Ah, yes, of course. I recognise it from the pictures. It’s beautiful.
Gentlemen,”--he addressed the American officers,--“I am offering
twenty-dollar gold pieces to this gun crew if they bring down
that tower with a single shot. Now, then, careful!...


We covered our ears as the shot crashed forth, and a moment later the
most costly and graceful tower in the world seemed to stagger on its
base. Then, as the thousand-pound shell, striking at the twenty-seventh
story, exploded deep inside, clouds of yellow smoke poured out through
the crumbling walls, and the huge length of twenty-four stories above the
jagged wound swayed slowly toward the east, and fell as one piece,
flinging its thousands of tons of stone and steel straight across the
width of Broadway, and down upon the grimy old Post Office Building

_“Sehr gut!”_ nodded von Hindenburg. “It’s amusing to see them fall.
Suppose we try another? What’s that one to the left?”

“The Singer Building, Excellency,” answered the officer.

“Good! Are you ready?”

Then the tragedy was repeated, and six hundred more were added to the
death toll, as the great tower crumbled to earth.

“Now, gentlemen,”--von Hindenburg turned again to the American officers
with a tiger gleam in his eyes,--“you see what we have done with
two shots to two of your tallest and finest buildings. At this time
to-morrow, with God’s help, we shall have a dozen guns along this bank of
the river, ready for whatever may be necessary. And two of our
_Parsevals_, each carrying a ton of dynamite, will float over New York
City. I give you until twelve o’clock to-morrow to decide whether you
will resist or capitulate. At twelve o’clock we begin firing.”

Our instructions were to return at once in the launch by the shortest
route to the Battery, where automobiles were waiting to take us to
General Wood’s headquarters in the Metropolitan Tower. I can close my
eyes to-day and see once more those pictures of terror and despair that
were spread before us as we whirled through the crowded streets behind
the crashing hoofs of a cavalry escort. The people knew who we were,
where we had been, and they feared what our message might be.

Broadway, of course, was impassable where the mass of red brick from the
Singer Building filled the great canyon as if a glacier had spread over
the region, or as if the lava from a man-made Aetna had choked this great

Through the side streets we snatched hasty impressions of unforgetable
scenes. Into the densely populated regions around Grand and Houston
Streets the evicted people of Brooklyn had poured. And into the homes of
these miserably poor people, where you can walk for blocks without
hearing a word in the English tongue, Brooklyn’s derelicts had been
absorbed by tens of thousands.

Here came men and women from all parts of Manhattan, the rich in their
automobiles, the poor on foot, bearing bundles of food and eager to help
in the work of humanity. And some, alas, were busy with the sinister
business of looting.

Above Fourteenth Street we had glimpses of similar scenes and I learned
later that almost every family in Manhattan received some Brooklyn
homeless ones into their care. New York--for once--was hospitable.

In Madison Square the people waited in silence as we approached the great
white tower from which the Commander of the Army of the East, unmindful
of the fate of the Woolworth and the Singer buildings, watched for
further moves from the fortified shores of Brooklyn. Not a shout greeted
our arrival at the marble entrance facing the square, not even that
murmur of expectancy which sweeps over a tense gathering. The people knew
the answer of von Hindenburg. They had read it, as had all the world for
miles around, in the cataclysm of the plunging towers.

New York must surrender or perish!

Scarcely three blocks away, the Committee of Public Safety, numbering one
hundred, sat in agitated council at the Madison Square Garden, while
enormous crowds, shouting and murmuring, surged outside, where five
hundred armed policemen tried vainly to quell the spirit of riot that was
in the air. Far into the night the discussion lasted, while overhead in
the purple-black sky floated the two _Parsevals_, ominous visitors, their
search-lights playing over the helpless city that was to feel their wrath
on the morrow unless it yielded.

Meantime, on the square platform within the great Moorish building, a
hundred leading citizens of Manhattan, including the ablest and the
richest and a few of the most radical, spoke their minds, while thousands
of men and women, packed in the galleries and the aisles, listened
heart-sick for some gleam of comfort.

And there was none.

Among the Committee of Public Safety I recognised J. P. Morgan, Jacob H.
Sehiff, John D. Rockefeller, Charles F. Murphy, Andrew Carnegie, Vincent
Astor, Cardinal Farley, Colonel Jacob Ruppert, Nicholas Murray Butler, S.
Stanwood Menken, Paul M. Warburg, John Finley, Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont,
James E. Gaffney, Ida Tarbell, Norman Hapgood, William Randolph Hearst,
Senator Whitman, Bernard Ridder, Frank A. Munsey, Henry Morgenthau, Elihu
Root, Henry L. Stimson, Franklin Q. Brown, John Mitchell, John Wanamaker,
Dr. Parkhurst, Thomas A. Edison, Colonel George Harvey, Douglas Robinson,
John Hays Hammond, Theodore Shonts, William Dean Howells, Alan R. Hawley,
Samuel Gompers, August Belmont, Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, the Rev. Percy
Stickney Grant, Judge E. H. Gary, Emerson McMillin, Cornelius Vanderbilt,
and ex-Mayor Mitchel.

Former President Wilson motored over from Princeton, accompanied by
Professor McClellan, and was greeted with cheers. Ex-President Taft was
speaking at the time, advocating a dignified appeal to the Hague Tribunal
for an adjudication of the matter according to international law. Nearly
all of the speakers favoured non-resistance, so far as New York City was
concerned. With scarcely a dissenting voice, the great financial and
business interests represented here demanded that New York City
capitulate immediately.

Whereupon Theodore Roosevelt, who had just entered the Garden with his
uniform still smeared with Long Island mud, sprang to his feet and cried
out that he would rather see Manhattan Island sunk in the Bay than
disgraced by so cowardly a surrender. There was still hope, he declared.
The East River was impassable for the enemy. All shipping had been
withdrawn from Brooklyn shores, and the German fleet dared not enter the
Ambrose Channel and the lower bay so long as the Sandy Hook guns held

“We are a great nation,” Roosevelt shouted, “full of courage and
resourcefulness. Let us stand together against these invaders, as our
forefathers stood at Lexington and Bunker Hill!”

During the cheers that followed this harangue, my attention was drawn to
an agitated group on the platform, the central figure being Bernard
Ridder, recognised leader of the large German-American population of New
York City that had remained staunchly loyal in the crisis. Presently a
clamour from the crowd outside, sharper and fiercer than any that had
preceded it, announced some new and unexpected danger close at hand.

White-faced, Mr. Ridder stepped to the edge of the platform and lifted
his hand impressively.

“Let me speak,” he said. “I must speak in justice to myself and to half a
million German-Americans of this city, who are placed in a terrible
position by news that I have just received. I wish to say that we are
Americans first, not Germans! We are loyal to the city, loyal to this
country, and whatever happens here tonight--”

At this moment a tumult of shouts was heard at the Madison Avenue
entrance, and above it a shrill purring sound that seemed to strike
consternation into an army officer who sat beside me.

“My God!” he cried. “The machine-guns! The Germans are in the streets!”



I shall never forget the horror of that hoarse cry:

“The Germans are in the streets!”

What followed was still more terrifying. Somewhere at the back of the
Garden, a piercing whistle cut the air--evidently a signal--and suddenly
we found ourselves facing a ghastly tragedy, and were made to realise the
resistless superiority of a small body of disciplined troops over a
disorganised multitude.

“_Fertig! Los! Hup!_” shouted a loud voice (it was a man with a
megaphone) in the first gallery opposite the platform. Every face in that
tremendous throng turned at once in the direction of the stranger’s
voice. And before the immense audience knew what was happening, five
hundred German soldiers, armed with pistols and repeating rifles, had
sprung to life, alert and formidable, at vantage-points all over the
Garden. Two hundred, with weapons ready, guarded the platform and the
Committee of Public Safety. And, in little groups of threes and fives,
back to back, around the iron columns that rose through the galleries,
stood three hundred more with flashing barrels levelled at the crowds.

I counted fifteen of these dominating groups of soldiers in the northern
half of the lower gallery, and it was the same in the southern half and
the same on both sides of the upper gallery, which made sixty armed
groups in sixty strategic positions. There was nothing for the crowd to
do but yield.

“Pass out, everybody!” screamed the megaphone man. “We fire at the first

“Out, everybody!” roared the soldiers. “We fire at the first disorder.”

As if to emphasise this, an automatic pistol crackled at the far end of
the Garden, and frantic crowds pushed for the doors in abject terror.
There was no thought of resistance.

“Use all the exits,” yelled the megaphone man; and the order was passed
on by the soldiers from group to group. And presently there rolled out
into the streets and avenues through the thirty great doors and down the
six outside stairways that zigzag across the building such streams of
white-faced, staggering, fainting humanity as never had been seen on
Manhattan Island.

I was driven out with the others (except the Committee of Public Safety),
and was happy to find myself with a whole skin in Twenty-sixth Street
opposite the Manhattan Club. As I passed a group of German soldiers near
the door, I observed that they wore grey uniforms. I wondered at this
until I saw overcoats at their feet, and realised that they had entered
the Garden like spies with the audience of citizens, their uniforms and
weapons being concealed under ordinary outer garments, which they had
thrown off at the word of command.

We stumbled into the street, and were driven roughly by other German
soldiers toward the open space of Madison Square. We fled over red and
slippery pavements, strewn with the bodies of dead and wounded policemen
and civilians--the hideous harvest of the machine-guns. At the corner of
Madison Avenue and Twenty-fifth Street I saw an immense coal-carrying
motor-truck with plates of iron covering its four sides, and through
loopholes in the plates I saw murderous muzzles protruding.

It appears that shortly after midnight, at the height of the debate, four
of these armoured cars came lumbering toward the Garden from west and
east, north and south; and, as they neared the four corners of the
immense yellow building, without warning they opened fire upon the
police, which meant inevitably upon the crowd also. In each truck were a
dozen soldiers and six machine-guns, each one capable of firing six
hundred shots a minute. There was no chance for resistance, and within a
quarter of an hour the streets surrounding the Garden were a shambles. On
Madison Avenue, just in front of the main entrance, I saw bodies lying
three deep, many of them hideously mutilated by the explosive effects of
these bullets at short range. As I stepped across the curb in front of
the S.P.C.A. building, I cried out in horror; for there on the sidewalk
lay a young mother--But why describe the horror of that scene?

With difficulty I succeeded in hiring a taxicab and set out to find
General Wood or some officer of his staff from whom I might get an
understanding of these tragic events. Who were those German soldiers at
the Garden? Where did they come from? Were they German-Americans?

It was four o’clock in the morning before I located General Wood at the
plaza of the Queensborough Bridge, where he was overseeing the placing of
some artillery pieces. He was too busy to talk to me, but from one of his
aides I learned that the soldiers at the Madison Square Garden were not
German-Americans and were not von Hindenburg’s men, but were part of that
invisible army of German spies that invariably precedes the invading
forces of the Kaiser. Arriving a few hundred at a time for a period of
more than three years, 50,000 of these German spies, fully armed and
equipped, now held New York at their mercy. More than that, they had in
their actual physical possession the men who owned half the wealth of the
nation. That New York would capitulate was a foregone conclusion.

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

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

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

“The _Sun_ says they have been taken over to Brooklyn where the German
army is, and they’ve got to raise a billion dollars in gold.”

“A billion dollars in gold!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The editor stared at him, not understanding. “Well, what’s the answer?”

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

“Never mind the Imperial Highness,” he said. “Just ask some
questions--any question about Hartford.”

“The insurance companies?” I suggested.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your Imperial Highness does not think much of American efficiency?”

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

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

“I beg your pardon,” I protested.

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

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

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

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

These words hurt.

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

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

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

“We may win back our lost territory,” said I.

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

“Our population is over a hundred million.”

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

“We can build other munition factories in the West.”

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

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

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

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

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

“You mean that one of your super-dreadnoughts--”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What does Your Imperial Highness mean by a John D. Rockefeller system of

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

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

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

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

Here I challenged him angrily.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where is that?”

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

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

“Don’t you think that America will ultimately win?”

Lord Kitchener hesitated.

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

“The Americans will get New York back, won’t they?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

It was of the most desperate importance now that word be sent to
Harrisburg and to the mobilisation camp at Gettysburg and to other
recruiting points in the West and South, demanding that all possible
reinforcements be rushed to Philadelphia. As communication by telegraph
and telephone was cut off, General Wood despatched Colonel Horace M.
Reading and Captain William E. Pedrick, officers of the National Guard,
in a swift automobile, with instructions that these calls for help be
flashed _without fail_ from the wireless station in the lofty granite
shaft of the Trenton monument that commemorates Washington’s victory over
the Hessians.

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

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

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

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

“Just got ‘em,” answered the operator. “I need five minutes to get this
message through.”

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

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

“Is that message gone?” gasped Reading.

“Half of it. I need two minutes.”

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

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

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

“Hi! Yi!” shouted Colonel Reading. “It’s gone!”

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His face darkened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But it will fight?”

“Of course our fleet will fight; but--we can’t get to our base at
Guantánamo--the German fleet blocks the way. For years we have begged
that Guantánamo be fortified; but our request was always refused.”


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

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

“A scout from the enemy’s fleet,” said Admiral Allyn.

“That means they are not far away?”

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

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

The Admiral nodded grimly.

“The hour has struck. The German and American fleets will meet in these
waters somewhere between Guantánamo and Jamaica.”



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

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

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

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

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

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

“Look!” cried Astor. “Our ships are beginning a manoeuvre.”

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s that? What are they doing?” asked Astor.

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

“How do they know which way to manoeuvre? I don’t see any signals.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I explained this manoeuvre to Mr. Astor he asked the natural
question why Admiral Fletcher had not foreseen this unfortunate issue and
left his burdensome submarines at Panama. I pointed out that these thirty
vessels had cost half a million dollars apiece and it was the admiral’s
duty to take care of them. It naturally was not his fault if Congress had
failed to give him submarines that were large enough and swift enough for
efficient fighting with the fleet.

Meantime the battle was booming on in two widely separated areas, the
battleships in one, the destroyers in the other.

Mr. Astor had held the wheel for five hours and, at my suggestion, he
retired to the comfortable little cabin and lay down for fifteen minutes,
leaving the aeroboat to soar in great slow circles under its admirable
automatic controls over the main battle area. When he returned he brought
hot coffee in a silver thermos bottle and some sandwiches, and we ate
these with keen relish, in spite of the battle beneath us.

The dreadnoughts had now closed in to eight thousand yards and the battle
was at the height of its fury, making a continuous roar, and forming five
miles of flaming tongues in a double line, darting out their messages of
hate and death.

As the afternoon wore on the wind strengthened from the northeast and I
realised the disadvantage of the American ships indicated by Admiral
Allyn, namely, that, being light of coal, they rode high in the sea and
rolled heavily. Unfortunately, the Germans had thirty battleships to
seventeen and this disparity was presently increased when the flotilla of
German destroyers, about eighty, after vanquishing their opponents,
swarmed against the hardpressed American line, attacking from the port
quarter under the lead of the four battle-cruisers so that the valiant
seventeen were practically surrounded.

In this storm of shells every ship was struck again and again and the
huge Pennsylvania, at the head of the column, seemed to be the target of
the whole German column. About three o’clock, as the flagship rolled far
over to port and exposed her starboard side, a twelve-inch shell caught
her below the armoured belt and smashed through into the engine-room,
where it exploded with terrific violence. The flagship immediately fell
behind, helpless, and Admiral Fletcher, badly wounded and realising that
his vessel was doomed, signalled to Admiral Mayo, on the _Arizona_,
second in line, to assume command of the fleet.

“Look!” cried Astor, suddenly, pointing to two black spots in the sea
about a thousand yards away.

“Periscopes,” said I.

At the same moment we saw two white trails swiftly moving along the
surface and converging on the _Pennsylvania_ with deadly precision.

“Torpedoes! They’re going to finish her!” murmured Astor, his hands
clenched tight, his eyes sick with pain.

There was a smothered explosion, then a thick column of water shot high
into the air, and a moment later there came another explosion as the
second torpedo found its target.

And now the great super-dreadnought _Pennsylvania_ was sinking into the
Caribbean with Admiral Fletcher aboard and seventeen hundred men. She
listed more and more, and, suddenly, sinking lower at the bows, she
submerged her great shoulders in the ocean and rolled her vast bulk
slowly to starboard until her dark keel line rose above the surface with
a green Niagara pouring over it.

For a long time the _Pennsylvania_ lay awash while the battle thundered
about her and scores of blue-jackets clambered over her rails from her
perpendicular decks and clung to her slippery sides. We could hear them
singing “Nancy Lee” as the waves broke over them.

“Are we afraid to die?” shouted one of the men, and I thrilled at the
answering chorus of voices, “No!”

Just before the final plunge we turned away. It was too horrible, and
Astor swung the aeroplane in a great curve so that we might not see the
last agonies of those brave men. When we looked back the flagship had

As we circled again over the spot where the _Pennsylvania_ went down we
were able to make out a few men clinging to fragments of wreckage and
calling for help.

“Do you see them? Do you hear them?” cried Astor, his face like chalk.
“We must save one of them. She’ll carry three if we throw over some of
our oil.”

This explains why we did not see the end of the battle of the Caribbean
and the complete destruction of the American fleet. We threw overboard a
hundred pounds of oil and started back to Kingston with a crippled engine
and a half-drowned lieutenant of the _Pennsylvania_ stretched on the
cabin floor. How we saved him is a miracle. One of our wings buckled when
we struck the water and I got a nasty clip from the propeller as I
dragged the man aboard; but, somehow, we did the thing and got home hours
later with one of the few survivors of Admiral Fletcher’s ill-fated

I have no idea how I wrote my story that night; my head was throbbing
with pain and I was so weak I could scarcely hold my pencil, but somehow,
I cabled two columns to the London _Times_, and it went around the world
as the first description of a naval battle seen from an aeroplane. I did
not know until afterwards how much the Germans suffered. They really lost
about half their battleships, but the Americans lost everything.



I come now to the point in my narrative where I ceased to be merely a
reporter of stirring events, and began to play a small part that Fate had
reserved for me in this great international drama. Thank God, I was able
to be of service to stricken America, my own country that I have loved so
much, although, as correspondent of the London _Times_, it has been my
lot to spend years in foreign lands.

Obeying instructions from my paper, I hastened back to the United States,
where important events were pending. Von Hindenburg, after his Trenton
victory, had strangely delayed his advance against Philadelphia--we were
to learn the reason for this shortly--but, as we passed through Savannah,
we had news that the invading army was moving southward against General
Wood’s reconstructed line of defence that spread from Bristol on the
Delaware to Jenkintown to a point three miles below Norristown on the

The next morning we reached Richmond and here, I should explain, I said
good-bye to the rescued lieutenant, an attractive young fellow, Randolph
Ryerson, whose home was in Richmond, and whose sister, Miss Mary Ryerson,
a strikingly beautiful girl, had met us at Charleston the night before in
response to a telegram that her brother was coming and was ill. She
nursed him through the night in an uncomfortable stateroom and came to me
in the morning greatly disturbed about his condition. The young man had a
high fever, she said, and had raved for hours calling out a name, a
rather peculiar name--Widding--Widding--Lemuel A. Widding--over and over
again in his delirium.

I tried to reassure her and said laughingly that, as long as it was not a
woman’s name he was raving about, there was no ground for anxiety. She
gave me her address in Richmond and thanked me very sweetly for what I
had done. I must admit that for days I was haunted by that girl’s face
and by the glorious beauty of her eyes.

When we reached Washington we found that city in a panic over news of
another American defeat. Philadelphia had fallen and all communications
were cut off. Furthermore, a third force of Germans had landed in
Chesapeake Bay, which meant that the national capital was threatened by
two German armies. We now understood von Hindenburg’s deliberation.

In this emergency, Marshall Reid, brother-in-law of Lieutenant Dustin,
the crack aviator of the navy, who had been aboard the _Pennsylvania_,
volunteered to carry messages from the President to Philadelphia and to
bring back news. Reid himself was one of the best amateur flying men in
the country and he did me the honour to choose me as his companion.

We started late in the afternoon of August 17 in Mr. Reid’s swift Burgess
machine and made the distance in two hours. I shall never forget our
feelings as we circled over the City of Brotherly Love and looked down
upon wrecks of railroad bridges that lay across the Schuylkill. Shots
were fired at us from the aerodrome of the League Island Navy Yard; so we
flew on, searching for a safer landing place.

We tried to make the roof landing on the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel, but
the wind was too high and we finally chanced it among the maples of
Rittenhouse Square, after narrowly missing the sharp steeple of St.
Mark’s Church. Here, with a few bruises, we came to earth just in front
of the Rittenhouse Club and were assisted by Dr. J. William White, who
rushed out and did what he could to help us.

Five hours later, Reid started back to Washington with details of
reverses sent by military and city authorities that decided the
administration to move the seat of government to Chicago without delay.
He also carried from me (I remained in Philadelphia) a hastily written
despatch to be transmitted from Washington via Kingston to the London
_Times_, in which I summed up the situation on the basis of facts given
me by my friend, Richard J. Beamish, owner of the Philadelphia _Press_,
my conclusion being that the American cause was lost. And I included
other valuable information gleaned from reporter friends of mine on the
_North American_ and the _Bulletin_. I even ventured a prophecy that the
United States would sue for peace within ten days.

“What were General Wood’s losses in the battle of Philadelphia?” I asked

“Terribly heavy--nearly half of his army in killed, wounded and
prisoners. What could we do? Von Hindenburg outnumbered us from two to
one and we were short of ammunition, artillery, horses, aeroplanes,

“Who blew up those railroad bridges and cut the wires?”

“German spies--there are a lot of them here. They sank a barge loaded
with bricks in the Schuylkill just above its joining with the Delaware
and blocked the channel so that ten battleships in the naval basin at
League Island couldn’t get out.”

“What became of the battleships?”

“Commandant Price opened their valves and sank them in the basin.”

“And the American army, where is it now?” I asked.

“They’ve retreated south of the Brandywine--what’s left of them. Our new
line is entrenching from Chester to Upland to Westchester with our right
flank on the Delaware; but what’s the use?”

So crushing was the supremacy of the invaders that there was no further
thought of resistance in Philadelphia. The German army was encamped in
Fairmount Park and it was known that, at the first sign of revolt, German
siege-guns on the historic heights of Wissahickon and Chestnut Hill would
destroy the City Hall with its great tower bearing the statue of William
Penn and the massive grey pile of Drexel and Company’s banking house at
the corner of Fifth and Chestnut streets. Von Hindenburg had announced
this, also that he did not consider it necessary to take hostages.

There was one act of resistance, however, when the enemy entered
Philadelphia that must live among deeds of desperate heroism.

As the German hosts marched down Chestnut Street they came to
Independence Hall and here, blocking the way on their sorrel horses with
two white mounted trumpeters, was the First City Troop, sixty-five men
under Captain J. Franklin McFadden, in their black coats and white
doeskin riding-breeches, in the black helmets with raccoon skin plumes,
in their odd-shaped riding boots high over the knee, all as in
Revolutionary days--here they were drawn up before the statue of George
Washington and the home of the Liberty Bell, resolved to die here,
fighting as well as they could for these things that were sacred. And
they did die, most of them, or fell wounded before a single one of the
enemy set foot inside of Independence Hall.

Here is the list of heroes who offered their lives for the cause of

Captain J. Franklin McFadden, First Lieutenant George C. Thayer, Second
Lieutenant John Conyngham Stevens, First Sergeant Thomas Cadwalader,
Second Sergeant (Quartermaster) Benjamin West Frazier, Third Sergeant
George Joyce Sewell, William B. Churchman, Richard M. Philler, F. Wilson
Prichett, Clarence H. Clark, Joseph W. Lewis, Edward D. Page, Richard
Tilghman, Edward D. Toland, Jr., McCall Keating, Robert P. Frazier,
Alexander Cadwalader, Morris W. Stroud, George Brooke, 3d, Charles
Poultney Davis, Saunders L. Meade, Cooper Howell, C. W. Henry, Edmund
Thayer, Harry C. Yarrow, Jr., Alexander C. Yarnall, Louis Rodman Page,
Jr., George Gordon Meade, Pierson Pierce, Andrew Porter, Richard H.
R. Toland, John B. Thayer, West Frazier, John Frazer, P. P. Chrystie,
Albert L. Smith, William W. Bodine, Henry D. Beylard, Effingham Buckley
Morris, Austin G. Maury, John P. Hollingsworth, Rulon Miller, Harold M.
Willcox, Charles Wharton, Howard York, Robert Gilpin Irvin, J. Keating
Willcox, William Watkins, Jr., Harry Ingersoll, Russell Thayer, Fitz
Eugene Dixon, Percy C. Madeira, Jr., Marmaduke Tilden, Jr., H. Harrison
Smith, C. Howard Clark, Jr., Richard McCall Elliot, Jr., George Harrison
Frazier, Jr., Oliver Eton Cromwell, Richard Harte, D. Reeves Henry, Henry
H. Houston, Charles J. Ingersoll.

It grieved me when I visited the quaint little house on Arch Street with
its gabled window and wooden blinds, where Betsey Ross made the first
flag of the United States of America, to find a German banner in place of
the accustomed thirteen white stars on their square of blue. And again,
when I stood beside Benjamin Franklin’s grave in Christ Church Cemetery,
I was shocked to see a German flag marking this honoured resting-place.
“Benjamin and Deborah, 1790,” was the deeply graven words and, beside
them under a kindly elm, the battered headstone of their little
four-year-old son, “Francis F.--A delight to all who knew him.” Then a
German flag!

I began to wonder why we had not learned a lesson from England’s
lamentable showing in 1915. What good did all our wealth do us now? It
would be taken from us--had not the Germans already levied an indemnity
of four hundred millions upon Philadelphia? And seized the Baldwin
locomotive works, the greatest in the world, employing 16,000 men? And
the Cramp shipbuilding yards? And the terminus at Point Breeze down the
river of the great Standard Oil Company’s pipe line with enormous oil

Philadelphians realised all this when it was too late. They knew
that ten thousand American soldiers, killed in battle, were lying in
fresh-made graves. They knew that the Philadelphia Hospital and the
University of Pennsylvania Hospital and the commercial museum buildings
nearby that had been changed into hospitals could scarcely provide beds
and nurses for wounded American soldiers. And yet, “What can we do?” said
Mayor George H. Earle, Jr., to me. “New York City resisted, and you know
what happened. Boston rioted, and she had her lesson. No! Philadelphia
will not resist. Besides, read this.”

He showed me a message just arrived from Washington saying that the
United States was about to sue for peace.

The next day we had news that a truce had been declared and immediately
negotiations began between Chicago and Berlin, regarding a peace
conference, it being finally decided that this should take place at Mt.
Vernon, in the historic home of George Washington, sessions to begin
early in September, in order to allow time for the arrival of delegates
from Germany.



During these peace preliminaries Philadelphia accepted her fate with
cheerful philosophy. In 1777 she had entertained British conquerors, now
she entertained the Germans. An up-to-date _meschianza_ was organised, as
in Revolutionary days, at the magnificent estate “Druim Moir” of Samuel
F. Houston in Chestnut Hill, with all the old features reproduced, the
pageant, the tournament of Knights Templars and the games, German
officers competing in the latter.

In polo an American team composed of William H. T. Huhn, Victor C.
Mather, Alexander Brown and Mitchell Rosengarten played against a crack
team of German cavalry officers and beat them easily.

In lawn tennis the American champion, Richard Norris Williams, beat
Lieutenant Froitzheim, a famous German player and a friend of the Crown
Prince, in straight sets, the lieutenant being penalised for foot
faulting by the referee, Eddie von Friesen, a wearer of the iron cross,
although his mother was a Philadelphia woman.

Thirty thousand German soldiers crowded Shibe Park daily to watch the
series of exhibition contests between the Athletics and the Cincinnati
Reds, both teams being among the first civilians captured on the victors’
entrance into Philadelphia. The Reds, composed almost entirely of
Germans, owned by Garry Hermann and managed by Herzog, were of course the
favourites over the Irish-American cohorts of Cornelius McGillicuddy; but
the Athletics won the series in a deciding game that will never be
forgotten. The dramatic moment came in the ninth inning, with the bases
full, when the famous Frenchman, Napoleon Lajoie, pinch-hitting for
Baker, advanced to the plate and knocked the ball far over Von Kolnitz’s
head for a home run and the game.

Another interesting affair was a dinner given to German officers by
editors of the _Saturday Evening Post_, on the tenth floor of the Curtis
Building, the menu comprising characteristic Philadelphia dishes, such as
pepper pot soup with a dash of sherry, and scrapple with fishhouse punch.
Various writers were present, and there were dramatic meetings between
American war correspondents and Prussian generals who had put them in
jail in the 1915 campaign. I noticed a certain coldness on the part of
Richard Harding Davis toward a young Bavarian lieutenant who, in Northern
France, had conceived the amiable purpose of running Mr. Davis through
the ribs with a bayonet; but Irvin S. Cobb was more forgiving and drank
clover club cocktails to the health of a burly colonel who had ordered
him shot as a spy and graciously explained the proper way of eating
catfish and waffles.

The Crown Prince was greatly interested when informed by Owen Wister that
these excellent dishes were of German origin, having been brought to
America by the Hessians in Revolutionary days and preserved by their
descendants, such families as the Fows and the Faunces, who still
occupied a part of Northeastern Philadelphia known as Fishtown. His
Imperial Highness also had an animated discussion with Joseph A.
Steinmetz, President of the Aero Club of Pennsylvania, as to the
effectiveness of the Steinmetz pendant hook bomb Zeppelin destroyer.

The German officers enjoyed these days immensely and made themselves at
home in the principal hotels, paying scrupulously for their
accommodations. General von Hindenburg stopped at the Ritz-Carlton,
Admiral von Tirpitz at the Bellevue-Stratford and others at the Walton
and the Adelphia. Several Prussian generals established themselves at the
Continental Hotel because of their interest in the fact that Edward VII
of England stopped there when he was Prince of Wales, and they drew lots
for the privilege of sleeping in the historic bed that had been occupied
by an English sovereign.

The Crown Prince himself was domiciled with his staff in E. T.
Stotesbury’s fine mansion on Walnut Street. Every day he lunched at the
Racquet Club, now occupied by German officers, and played court tennis
with Dr. Alvin C. Kraenzlein, the famous University of Pennsylvania
athlete, whom he had met in Berlin when Kraenzlein was coaching the
German Olympic team for the 1916 contests that were postponed, owing to
the war, until 1920. He also had a game with Jay Gould, champion of the
world, and being hopelessly outclassed, declared laughingly (the Crown
Prince loves American slang) that this young millionaire was “some

A few days after the _meschiama_ fêtes, his Imperial Highness gave a
dinner and reception to some of the leading men in Philadelphia and,
despite prejudice, was voted a remarkable figure like his father,
combining versatile knowledge with personal charm. He talked politics
with Boies Penrose, and reform with Rudolph Blankenburg. He was
interested in A. J. Drexel Biddle’s impartial enthusiasm for Bible
classes and boxing matches. He questioned Dr. D. J. McCarthy, famous
neurologist of the University of Pennsylvania, about mental diseases
caused by war. He laughed heartily on hearing a limerick by Oliver
Herford beginning: “There was a young prince Hohenzollern,” which was
said to have delighted the British ambassador. Finally, he listened while
Ned Atherton and Morris L. Parrish explained the fascination of _sniff_,
a gambling game played with dominoes much in vogue at the Racquet Club.
His Imperial Highness said he preferred the German game of _skat_, played
with cards, and James P. McNichol, the Republican boss, made a note of
this fact.

As I passed through a gallery containing the magnificent Stotesbury
collection of paintings I heard a resounding voice saying with a harsh
German accent: “Ach! I told you! Your form of government is a failure.
People need a benevolent paternalism. There is no chance for military
efficiency under a republic.”

Turning, I recognised the stocky form of Commandant Price of the League
Island navy yard, who was listening to a tirade from Admiral von Tirpitz.
The latter, it seems, was marvelling that the United States naval
authorities had lacked the intelligence to cut a 1,700-yard canal from
the naval basin to the Delaware which would have made it impossible for
the Germans to tie up the American reserve fleet by blocking the
Schuylkill. This canal would also have furnished an ideal fresh-water

Commandant Price had informed the admiral that this very plan, with an
estimated cost of only three million dollars, had been repeatedly brought
before Congress, but always unsuccessfully. In other words, it was no
fault of the navy if these battleships were rendered useless. Whereupon
von Tirpitz had burst forth with his attack upon representative

I was told that the Crown Prince had intended to invite to this gathering
some of the prominent women of Philadelphia, particularly one famous
beauty, whom he desired to meet, but he was dissuaded from this purpose
by a tactful hint that the ladies would not accept his invitation. The
men might go, for reasons of expediency, but American women had no place
at the feast of an invader.

It happened, however, a few days later, that the Imperial wish was
gratified, the occasion being an auction for the benefit of the
American Red Cross Fund held one afternoon in the gold ballroom of the
Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Tea was served with music by the Philadelphia
orchestra under Leopold Stokowski and the tickets were five dollars.

In a great crush (the gallery was reserved for German officers, including
the Crown Prince) the most distinguished society women in Philadelphia
stepped forth smilingly as manikins and displayed on their fair persons
the hats, gowns, furs, laces or jewels that they had contributed to the
sale. E. T. Stotesbury proved a very efficient auctioneer and large
prices were realised.

Mrs. G. G. Meade Large sold baskets of roses at twenty dollars each. Mrs.
W. J. Clothier sold three hats for fifty dollars each. Mrs. Walter S.
Thomson, said to be pro-German, sold a ball-gown for three hundred
dollars. Mrs. E. T. Stotesbury sold one of her diamond tiaras for twenty
thousand dollars. Mrs. Edward Crozer, Mrs. Horatio Gates Lloyd and Mrs.
Norman MacLeod sold gowns for three hundred dollars each. Mrs. Harry Wain
Harrison and Mrs. Robert von Moschzisker sold pieces of lace for a
hundred dollars each.

Mrs. A. J. Antelo Devereux, in smart riding costume, sold her fine
hunter, led in amid great applause, for two thousand dollars. Mrs. George
Q. Horwitz and Mrs. Robert L. Montgomery sold sets of furs for a thousand
dollars each. Mrs. Barclay H. Warburton sold her imported touring-car for
five thousand dollars. Mrs. Joseph E. Widener sold a set of four
bracelets, one of diamonds, one of rubies, one of sapphires, one of
emeralds, for fifteen thousand dollars.

The sensation of the afternoon came at the close when Admiral von Tirpitz
bought a coat of Russian sables offered by Mrs. John R. Fell for ten
thousand dollars, this being followed by a purchase of the Crown Prince,
who gave thirty thousand dollars for a rope of pearls belonging to Mrs.
J. Kearsley Mitchell.

All of this was briefly recorded in the Philadelphia _Press_, which had
been made the official German organ with daily editions in German and
English. The Crown Prince himself selected this paper, I was told, on
learning that the author of one of his favourite stories, “The Lady or
the Tiger,” by Frank R. Stockton, was once a reporter on the _Press_.

A few days later at the Wanamaker store on Chestnut Street the Crown
Prince figured in an incident that became the subject of international
comment and that throws a strange light upon the German character.

It appears that the Crown Prince had become interested in an announcement
of the Wanamaker store that half of its profits for one week, amounting
to many thousands of dollars, would go to the relief of American soldiers
wounded in battle. His Imperial Highness expressed a desire to visit the
Wanamaker establishment, and arrived one afternoon at the hour of a
widely advertised organ concert that had drawn great crowds. A special
feature was to be the Lohengrin wedding march, during the playing of
which seven prominent society women, acting on a charitable impulse, had
consented to appear arrayed as bridesmaids and one of them as a bride.

The Crown Prince and his staff, in brilliant uniforms, entered the vast
rotunda packed with men and women, just as this interesting ceremony was
beginning and took places reserved for them as conquerors, near the great
bronze eagle on its granite pedestal that faces the spot where William H.
Taft dedicated the building in December, 1911.

A hush fell over the assembly as Dr. Irvin J. Morgan at his gilded height
struck the inspiring chords, and a moment later the wedding procession
entered, led by two white-clad pages, and moved slowly across the white
gallery, Mrs. Angier B. Duke (dressed as the bride), Mrs. Victor C.
Mather, Mrs. A. J. Drexel Biddle, Jr., Mrs. Gurnee Munn, Mrs. Oliver E.
Cromwell, Miss Eleanor B. Hopkins and Mrs. George Wharton Pepper, Jr., a
tall and willowy auburn beauty and a bride herself only a few months
before, while Wagner’s immortal tones pealed through the marble arches.

As the music ceased one of the German officers, in accordance with a
prearranged plan, nodded to his aides, who stepped forward and spread a
German flag over the American eagle. At the same moment the officer waved
his hand towards the organ loft, as a signal for Dr. Morgan to obey his
instructions and play “The Watch on the Rhine.”

The crowd knew what was coming and waited in sickening silence, then
gasped in amazement and joy as the organ gloriously sounded forth, “My
Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

“Stop!” shouted the Prussian, purple with rage. “Stop!”

But Irvin Morgan played on like a good American, thrilling the great
audience with the treasured message:

“Sweet land of Liberty,
Of Thee I sing.”

At this moment a little fellow seven years old, from Caniden, N. J., in
boy-scout uniform, did a thing that will live in American history. He had
been taught to rise when he heard that music and sing the dear words that
his mother had taught him, and he could not understand why all these
Americans were silent. Why didn’t they sing? He looked about him
anxiously. He had seen those Prussian officers spread the German flag
over the American eagle, and it suddenly flashed into his mind that it
was his business to do something. He must tear down that hateful flag. He
must do it if he died and, springing forward before any one could divine
his purpose, he dragged the German banner to the floor and, standing on
it, waved a little American flag drawn from his pocket.

“Land where my fathers died,
Land of the Pilgrims’ pride!”

He shrilled out, singing all alone while the proud organ thundered forth
its accompaniment.

As a match starts the powder train so this boyish act fired the whole
gathering of dumb patriots and straightway, Germans or no Germans, ten
thousand American voices took up the words while the youthful leader,
with eyes flashing, held up the Stars and Stripes there by the eagle.

A German officer, furious at this defiance, sprang toward the boy with
lifted sword and would have struck him down had not his Imperial master
intervened and with his own weapon caught the descending blow.

“Shame! Coward!” cried the Crown Prince. “We do not fight with children.”

And the end of it was that no one was punished, although concerts were
forbidden after this in the Wanamaker store.

I have related this incident not only for its own sake, but because of
its bearing on subsequent events.

“I’m going to write a story about that boy”, I said to W. Barran Lewis,
who stood near me. “Do you know his name?”

“Yes,” said the editor. “He is Lemuel A. Widding, Jr. Makes a good story,
doesn’t it?”

Lemuel A. Widding! Where had I heard that name? Suddenly I
remembered--Kingston, Jamaica, and Lieutenant Ryerson and the lovely girl
who had told me about her brother’s ravings. That was the name he had
called out again and again in his delirium. Lemuel A. Widding!

In spite of my interest in this puzzling circumstance I was unable to
investigate it, owing to the fact that I was hurried off to Mount Vernon
for the Peace Conference, but I wired Miss Ryerson in Richmond of my
discovery and gave her the boy’s address in Camden, N. J. Then I thought
no more about the matter, being absorbed in my duties.



The sessions of the Mount Vernon Peace Congress were held in a large room
of the historic mansion that was George Washington’s business office. The
United States was represented by General Leonard Wood, William H. Taft
and Elihu Root; Germany by General von Hindenburg, General von Kluck and
Count von Bernstoff.

Although I was not personally present at these discussions I am able,
thanks to the standing of the London _Times_, to set forth the main
points on the highest authority.

In the very first session the peace commissioners came straight to the
main question.

“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


“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
the car.

“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



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
American commander.

“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
two months.

“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
enough evidence.”

“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
releasing device.”

“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
the morning.

“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.



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
General Brown.

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
these operations.

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
the secret.

“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
troops began.

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
overwhelming numbers.

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
and wounded.

“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
that’s burning?”

“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.



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
American trenches.

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
with scars.

“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
procession started.

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
funeral march.

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.


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.”

“Naturally not.”

“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.



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
chlorine shells.

“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
Señor 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
swift-moving aeroplanes.

“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
purpose is.”

“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?”

“You mean--”

“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.

“Not yet.”

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
Senator Whitman.

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
Atlantic seaboard.



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
repeated here?

“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
resistless patriotism.

“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!”



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.”



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.

“Mr. Langston!”

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.
“Sit down.”

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.”

“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

“Go on.”

“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.

“Why?” He flashed a straightforward look out of his handsome eyes.
“Because I’m sick of the whole rotten game. I’ve played my cards and
lost. I’m sure to be found out--some navy man will recognise me, in spite
of this moustache, and--you know what will happen then. I’ll be glad of
it, but--before I quit the game I want to do one decent thing. I’m going
to tell you where they’ve taken Edison.”

“You know where Edison is?”

“Yes. Don’t speak so loud.”

Ryerson leaned closer and whispered: “He’s in Richmond, Virginia.”

Silently I studied this unhappy man, wondering if he was telling the
truth. He must have felt my doubts.

“Langston, you don’t believe me! Why should I lie to you? I tell you I
want to make amends. These German officers trust me. I know their plans
and--Oh, my God, aren’t you going to believe me?”

“Go on,” I said, impressed by the genuineness of his despair. “What plans
do you know?”

“I know the Germans are disturbed by this patriotic spirit in America.
They’re afraid of it. They don’t know where hell may break loose
next--after Boston. They’re going to leave Boston alone, everything alone
for the present--until they get their new army.”

“New army?”

“Yes--from Germany. They have sent for half a million more men. They’ll
have ‘em here in a month and--that’s why I want to do something--before
it’s too late.”

As I watched him I began to believe in his sincerity. Handsome fellow! I
can see him now with his flushed cheeks and pleading eyes. A spy! It
would break his sister’s heart.

“What can you do?” I asked sceptically.

He looked about him cautiously and lowered his voice.

“I can get Edison away from the Germans, and Edison can destroy their

“Perhaps,” said I.

“He says he can.”

“I know, but--you say Edison is in Richmond.”

“We can rescue him. If you’ll only help me, Langston, we can rescue
Edison. I’ll go to Richmond with papers to the commanding German general
that will get me anything.”

“Papers as a German spy?”


“You can’t get to Richmond. You’re a prisoner yourself.”

“That’s where you’re going to help me. You must do it--for the
country--for my sister.”


“Does your sister know--what you are?”

He looked away, and I saw his lips tighten and his hands clench.


“Do you want me to tell her?”

He thought a moment.

“What’s the use of hiding it? She’s bound to know some day, and--she’ll
be glad I’ve had this little flicker of--decency. Besides, she may have
an idea. Mary’s got a good head on her. Poor kid!”

I told Ryerson that I would think the matter over and find some way to
communicate with him later. Then I left him.

I telegraphed at once to Miss Ryerson, who hurried to Chicago, arriving
the next morning, and we spent most of that day together, discussing the
hard problem before us. The girl was wonderfully brave when I told her
the truth about her brother. She said there were circumstances in his
early life that lessened the heinousness of his wrong doing. And she
rejoiced that he was going to make amends. She knew he was absolutely

I suggested that we go to General Wood, who was friendly to both of us,
and tell him the whole truth, but Miss Ryerson would not hear to this.
She would not place Randolph’s life in jeopardy by revealing the fact
that he had been a German spy. Her brother must make good before he could
hope to be trusted or forgiven.

“But he’s a prisoner; he can do nothing unless he has his liberty,” I

“We will get him his liberty; we _must_ get it, but not that way.”

“Then how?”

For a long time we studied this question in all its phases. How could
Lieutenant Ryerson gain his liberty? How could he get a chance to make
amends for his treachery? And, finally, seeing no other way, we fell back
upon the desperate expedient of an exchange. I would obtain permission
for Miss Ryerson to visit her brother, and they would change clothes, she
remaining as a prisoner in his place while he went forth to undo if
possible the harm that he had done.

The details of this plan we arranged immediately. I saw Ryerson the next
day, and when I told him what his sister was resolved to do in the hope
of saving his honour, he cried like a child and I felt more than ever
convinced of his honest repentance.

We decided upon December 28th for the attempt, and two days before this
Randolph found a plausible excuse for cutting off his moustache. He told
General Langhorne that he had become a convert to the American fashion of
a clean shaven face.

As to the escape itself, I need only say that on December 28th, in the
late afternoon, I escorted Miss Ryerson, carefully veiled, to the Hotel
Blackstone; and an hour later I left the hotel with a person in women’s
garments, also carefully veiled. And that night Randolph Ryerson and I
started for Richmond. I may add that I should never have found the
courage to leave that lovely girl in such perilous surroundings had she
not literally commanded me to go.

“We may be saving the nation,” she begged. “Go! Go! And--I’ll be thinking
of you--praying for you--for you both.”

My heart leaped before the wonder of her eyes as she looked at me and
repeated these last words: _“For you both!”_

We left the express at Pittsburg, intending to proceed by automobile
across Pennsylvania, then by night through the mountains of West Virginia
and Virginia; for, of course, we had to use the utmost caution to avoid
the sentries of both armies which were spread over this region.

In Pittsburg we lunched at the Hotel Duquesne, after which Ryerson left
me for a few hours, saying that he wished to look over the ground and
also to procure the services of a high-powered touring car.

“Don’t take any chances,” I said anxiously.

“I’ll be careful. I’ll be back inside of two hours,” he promised.

But two hours, four hours, six hours passed and he did not come. I dined
alone, sick at heart, wondering if I had made a ghastly mistake.

It was nearly ten o’clock that night when Ryerson came back after seven
hours’ absence. We went to our room immediately, and he told me what had
happened, the gist of it being that he had discovered important news that
might change our plans.

“These people trust me absolutely,” he said. “They tell me everything.”

“You mean--German spies?”

“Yes. Pittsburg is full of ‘em. They’re plotting to wreck the big steel
plants and factories here that are making war munitions. I’ll know more
about that later, but the immediate thing is Niagara Falls.”

Then Ryerson gave me my first hint of a brilliant coup that had been
preparing for months by the Committee of Twenty-one and the American high
command, its purpose being to strike a deadly and spectacular blow at the
German fleet.

“This is the closest kind of a secret, it’s the great American hope; but
the Germans know all about it,” he declared.

“Go on.”

“It’s a big air-ship, the America, a super-Zeppelin, six hundred feet
long, with apparatus for steering small submarines by radio control--no
men aboard. Understand?”

“You mean no men aboard the submarine?”

“Of course. There will be a whole crew on the air-ship. Nicola Tesla and
John Hays Hammond, Jr., worked out the idea, and Edison was to give the
last touches; but as Edison is a German prisoner, they can’t wait for
him. They are going to try the thing on New Year’s night against the
German dreadnought _Wilhelm II_ in Boston Harbour.”

“Blow up the _Wilhelm II_?”

“Yes, but the Germans are warned in advance. You can’t beat their
underground information bureau. They’re going to strike first.”

“Where is this air-ship?”

“On Grand Island, in the Niagara River, all inflated, ready to sail, but
she never will sail unless we get busy. After tomorrow night there won’t
be any _America_.”

In the face of this critical situation, I saw that we must postpone our
trip to Richmond and, having obtained from Ryerson full details of the
German plot to destroy the _America_, I took the first train for Niagara
Falls--after arranging with my friend to rejoin him in Pittsburg a few
days later--and was able to give warning to Colonel Charles D. Kilbourne
of Fort Niagara in time to avert this catastrophe.

The Germans knew that Grand Island was guarded by United States troops
and that the river surrounding it was patrolled by sentry launches; but
the island was large, sixteen miles long and seven miles wide, and under
cover of darkness it was a simple matter for swimmers to pass unobserved
from shore to shore.

On the night of December 30th, 1921, in spite of the cold, five hundred
German spies had volunteered to risk their lives in this adventure. They
were to swim silently from the American and Canadian shores, each man
pushing before him a powerful fire bomb protected in a water-proof case;
then, having reached the island, these five hundred were to advance
stealthily upon the hangar where the great air-ship, fully inflated, was
straining at her moorings. When the rush came, at a pre-arranged signal,
many would be killed by American soldiers surrounding the building, but
some would get through and accomplish their mission. One successful fire
bomb would do the work.

Against this danger Colonel Kilbourne provided in a simple way. Instead
of sending more troops to guard the island, which might have aroused
German suspicions, he arranged to have two hundred boys, members of the
Athletic League of the Buffalo Public Schools, go to Grand Island
apparently for skating and coasting parties. It was brisk vacation
weather and no one thought it strange that the little ferry boat from
Buffalo carried bands of lively youngsters across the river for these
seasonable pleasures. It was not observed that the boat also carried
rifles and ammunition which the boys had learned to use, in months of
drill and strenuous target practice, with the skill of regulars.

There followed busy hours on Grand Island as we made ready for the
crisis. About midnight, five hundred Germans, true to their vow, landed
at various points, and crept forward through the darkness, carrying their
bombs. As they reached a circle a thousand yards from the huge hangar
shed they passed unwittingly two hundred youthful riflemen who had dug
themselves in under snow and branches and were waiting, thrilling for the
word that would show what American boys can do for their country. Two
hundred American boys on the thousand yard circle! A hundred American
soldiers with rifles and machine guns at the hangar! And the Germans

We had learned from Ryerson that the enemy would make their rush at two
o’clock in the morning, the signal being a siren shriek from the Canadian
shore, so at a quarter before two, knowing that the Germans were surely
in the trap, Colonel Kilbourne gave the word, and, suddenly, a dozen
search-lights swept the darkness with pitiless glare. American rifles
spoke from behind log shelters, Maxims rattled their deadly blast, and
the Germans, caught between two fires, fled in confusion, dropping their
bombs. As they approached the thousand-yard line they found new enemies
blocking their way, keen-eyed youths whose bullets went true to the mark.
And the end of it was, leaving aside dead and wounded, that _two hundred
Buffalo schoolboys made prisoners of the three hundred and fifty German

And the great seven-million dollar air-ship _America_, with all her radio
mysteries, was left unharmed, ready to sail forth the next night, New
Year’s Eve, and make her attack upon the superdreadnought Wilhelm II, on
January 1, 1922. I prayed that this would be a happier year for the
United States than 1921 had been.



I come now to the period of my great adventures beginning on New Year’s
Day, 1922, when I sailed from Buffalo aboard the airship _America_ on her
expedition against the German fleet. For the first time in my modest
career I found myself a figure of nation-wide interest, not through any
particular merit or bravery of my own, but by reason of a series of
fortunate accidents. I may say that I became a hero in spite of myself.

In recognition of the service I had rendered in helping to save the great
airship from German spies, I had been granted permission, at General
Wood’s recommendation, to sail as a passenger aboard this dreadnought of
the skies and to personally witness her novel attack with torpedoes
lowered from the airship and steered from the height of a mile or two by
radio control. Never before had a newspaper correspondent received such a
privilege and I was greatly elated, not realising what extraordinary
perils I was to face in this discharge of my duty.

I was furthermore privileged to be present at a meeting of the Committee
of Twenty-one held on the morning of January 1st, 1922, at the Hotel
Lenox in Buffalo. Various details of our airship expedition were
discussed and there was revealed to me an important change in the
_America’s_ strategy which I will come to presently.

Surveying the general military situation, John Wanamaker read reports
showing extraordinary progress in military preparedness all over the
country, especially in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, where the
women, recently victorious in their suffrage fight, were able to make
their patriotic zeal felt in aggressive legislation. Strange to say,
American wives and mothers were the leaders in urging compulsory physical
and military training, a year of it, on the Swiss plan, for all American
young men of twenty and a month of it every five years afterwards for all
men up to fifty.

The Committee were in the midst of a discussion of Charles M. Schwab’s
plan providing that American soldiers carry armour, a helmet, breastplate
and abdominal covering of light but highly tempered steel, when there
came a dramatic interruption. A guard at the door of the Council Room
entered to say that Mr. Henry A. Wise Wood, President of the Aero Club of
America, was outside with an urgent communication for the Committee. Mr.
Wise Wood was at once received and informed us that he had journeyed from
Pittsburg bearing news that might have an important bearing upon the
airship expedition.

“As you know, gentlemen,” he said, “we have a wireless station in the
tower of our new Aero Club building in Pittsburg. Yesterday afternoon at
three o’clock the operator received a message addressed to me. It was
very faint, almost a whisper through the air, but he filially got it down
and he is positive it is correct. This message, gentlemen, is from Thomas
A. Edison.”

“Edison!” exclaimed Andrew Carnegie, “but he is a prisoner of the

“Undoubtedly,” agreed Mr. Wise Wood, “but it has occurred to me that the
Germans may have allowed Mr. Edison to fit up a laboratory for his
experiments. They would treat such a man with every consideration.”

“They would not allow him to communicate with his friends,” objected
Cornelius Vanderbilt.

“He may not have asked permission,” laughed George W. Perkins. “He may
have rigged up some secret contrivance for sending wireless messages.”

“Why don’t you read what he says?” put in J.P. Morgan.

Mr. Wise Wood drew a folded yellow paper from his pocket and continued:
“This message is unquestionably from Mr. Edison, in spite of the fact
that it is signed _Thaled_. You will agree with me, gentlemen, that
Thaled is a code word formed by putting together the first two letters of
the three names, Thomas Alva Edison.”

“Very clever!” nodded Asa G. Candler.

“I don’t see that,” frowned John D. Rockefeller. “If Mr. Edison wished to
send Mr. Wise Wood a message why should he use a misleading signature?”

“It’s perfectly clear,” explained James J. Hill. “Mr. Edison has
disguised his signature sufficiently to throw off the track any German
wireless operator who might catch the message, while leaving it
understandable to us.”

“Read the message,” repeated J.P. Morgan. Whereupon Mr. Wise Wood opened
the yellow sheet and read:

“Strongly disapprove attack against German fleet by airship _America_.
Satisfied method radio control not sufficiently perfected and effort
doomed to failure. Have worked out sure and simple way to destroy fleet.
Details shortly or deliver personally.     THALED”.

This message provoked fresh discussion and there were some, including
Elihu Root, who thought that Mr. Edison had never sent this message. It
was a shrewd trick of the Germans to prevent the _America_ from sailing.
If Mr. Edison could tell us so much why did he not tell us more? Why did
he not say where he was a prisoner? And explain on what he rested his
hopes of communicating with us in person.

“Gentlemen,” concluded Mr. Root, “we know that Germany is actually
embarking a new army of half a million men to continue her invasion of
America. Already she holds our Atlantic seaboard, our proudest cities,
and within a fortnight she will strike again. I say we must strike first.
We have a chance in Boston Harbour and we must take it. This single coup
may decide the war by showing the invader that at last we are ready.
Gentlemen, I move that the airship _America_ sail to-night for Boston
Harbour, as arranged.”

I longed to step forward to tell what I knew about Edison, how he was a
prisoner in Richmond, Virginia, and how an effort was actually on foot to
rescue him, but I had promised Miss Ryerson not to betray her brother’s
shame and was forced to hold my tongue. Besides, I could not be sure
whether this wireless message did or did not come from Edison.

The Committee finally decided that the _America_ should sail that
evening, but should change her point of attack so as to take the enemy
unprepared, if possible; in other words, we were to strike not at the
German warships in Boston Harbour, but at the great super-dreadnought
_Bismarck_, flagship of the hostile fleet, which was lying in the upper
bay off New York City.

I pass over the incidents of our flight to Manhattan and come to the
historic aerial struggle over New York harbour in which I nearly lost my
life. The _America_ was convoyed by a fleet of a hundred swift and
powerful battle aeroplanes and we felt sure that these would be more than
able to cope with any aeroplane force that the Germans could send against
us. And to avoid danger from anti-aircraft guns we made a wide detour to
the south, crossing New Jersey on about the line of Asbury Park and then
sailing to the north above the open sea, so that we approached New York
harbour from the Atlantic side. At this time (it was a little after
midnight) we were sailing at a height of two miles with our aeroplanes
ten miles behind us so that their roaring propellers might not betray us
and, for a time, as we drifted silently off Rockaway Beach it seemed that
we would be successful in our purpose to strike without warning.

There, just outside the Narrows, lay the _Bismarck_, blazing with the
lights of some New Year’s festivity and resounding with music. I remember
a shrinking of unprofessional regret at the thought of suddenly
destroying so fair and happy a thing.

I was presently drawn from these meditations by quick movements of the
airship crew and a shrill voice of command.

“Ready to lower! Let her go!” shouted Captain Nicola Tesla, who had
volunteered for this service.

“Bzzz!” sang the deck winches as they swiftly unrolled twin lengths of
piano wire that supported a pendant torpedo with its radio appliances and
its red, white and green control lights shining far below us in the void.

“Easy! Throw on your winch brakes,” ordered Tesla, studying his dials for

A strong southeast wind set the wires twisting dangerously, but, by
skillful manoeuvring, we launched the first torpedo safely from the
height of half a mile and, with a thrill of joy, I followed her lights
(masked from the enemy) as they moved swiftly over the bay straight
towards the flagship. The torpedo was running under perfect wireless
control. Tesla smiled at his keyboard.

Alas! Our joy was soon changed to disappointment. Our first torpedo
missed the Bismarck by a few yards, went astern of her because at the
last moment she got her engines going and moved ahead. Somehow the
Germans had received warning of their danger.

Our second torpedo wandered vainly over the ocean because we could not
follow her guide lights, the enemy blinding us with the concentrated
glare of about twenty of their million-candle power searchlights.

And our third torpedo was cut off from radio control because we suddenly
found ourselves surrounded y the two fleets of battling aeroplanes,
caught between two fires, ours and the enemy’s, and were obliged to run
for our lives with an electric generator shattered by shrapnel. I was so
busy caring for two of our crew who were wounded that I had no time to
observe this thrilling battle in the air.

It was over quickly, I remember, and our American aeroplanes, vastly
superior to the opposing fleet, had gained a decisive victory, so that we
were just beginning to breathe freely when an extraordinary thing
happened, a rare act of heroism, though I say it for the Germans.

There came a signal, the dropping of a fire bomb with many colours, and
instantly the remnant of the enemy’s air strength, four biplanes and a
little yellow-striped monoplane, started at us, in a last desperate
effort, with all the speed of their engines. Our aerial fleet saw the
manouver and swept towards the biplanes, intercepting them, one by one,
and tearing them to pieces with sweeping volleys of our machine guns, but
the little monoplane, swifter than the rest, dodged and circled and
finally found an opening towards the airship and came through it at two
miles a minute, straight for us and for death, throwing fire bombs and
yelling for the Kaiser.

“Save yourselves!” shouted Tesla as the enemy craft ripped into our great
yellow gas bag.

Bombs were exploding all about us and in an instant the _America_ was in
flames. We knew that our effort had failed.

As the stricken airship, burning fiercely, sank rapidly through the
night, I realised that I must fight for my life in the ice cold waters of
the bay. I hate cold water and, being but an indifferent swimmer, I
hesitated whether to throw off my coat and shoes, and, having finally
decided, I had only time to rid myself of one shoe and my coat when I saw
the surging swells directly beneath me and leapt overside just in time to
escape the crash of blazing wreckage.

Dazed by the blow of a heavy spar and the shock of immersion, I remember
nothing more until I found myself on dry land, hours later, with kind
friends ministering to me. It seems that a party of motor boat rescuers
from Brooklyn worked over me for hours before I returned to consciousness
and I lay for days afterward in a state of languid-weakness, indifferent
to everything.



I wish I might detail my experiences during the next fortnight, how I was
guarded from the Germans (they had put a price on my head) by kind
friends in Brooklyn, notably Mrs. Anne P. L. Field, the Sing-Sing angel,
who contrived my escape through the German lines of occupation with the
help of a swift motor boat and two of her convict protégés.

We landed in Newark one dark night after taking desperate chances on the
bay and running a gauntlet of German sentries who fired at us repeatedly.
Then, thanks to my old friend, Francis J. Swayze of the United States
Supreme Court, I was passed along across northern New Jersey, through
Dover, where “Pop” Losee, the eloquent ice man evangelist, saved me from
Prussians guarding the Picatinny arsenal, then through Allentown, Pa.,
where Editor Roth swore to a suspicious German colonel that I was one of
his reporters, and, finally, by way of Harrisburg to Pittsburg, where at
last I was safe.

To my delight I found Randolph Ryerson anxiously awaiting my arrival and
eager to proceed with our plan to rescue Edison. We set forth for
Richmond the next day, January 16th, 1922, in a racing automobile and
proceeded with the utmost caution, crossing the mountains of West
Virginia and Virginia by night to avoid the sentries of both armies.
Twice, being challenged, we drove on unheeding at furious speed and
escaped in the darkness, although shots were fired after us.

As morning broke on January 20th we had our first view of the
seven-hilled city on the James, with its green islands and its tumbling
muddy waters. We knew that Richmond was held by the Germans, and as we
approached their lines I realised the difficulty of my position, for I
was now obliged to trust Ryerson absolutely and let him make use of his
credentials from the Crown Prince which presented him as an American spy
in the German service. He introduced me as his friend and a person to be
absolutely trusted, which practically made me out a spy also. It was
evident that, unless we succeeded in our mission, I had compromised
myself gravely. Ryerson was reassuring, however, and declared that
everything would be all right.

We took a fine suite at the Hotel Jefferson, where we found German
officers in brilliant uniforms strolling about the great rotunda or
refreshing themselves with pipes and beer in the palm room nearthe white
marble statue of Thomas Jefferson.

“If you’ll excuse me now for a few hours,” said Ryerson, who seemed
rather nervous, “I will get the information we need from some of these
fellows. Let us meet here at dinner.”

During the afternoon I drove about this peaceful old city with its
gardens and charming homes and was allowed to approach the threatening
siege guns which the Germans had set up on the broad esplanade of
Monument Avenue between the equestrian statue of Robert E. Lee and the
tall white shaft that bears the heroic figure of Jefferson Davis. These
guns were trained upon the gothic tower of the city hall and upon the
cherished grey pile of the Capitol, with its massive columns and its
shaded park where grey squirrels play about the famous statue of George

My driver told me thrilling stories of the fighting here when Field
Marshal von Mackensen marched his army into Richmond. Alas for this proud
Southern city! What could she hope to do against 150,000 German
soldiers? For the sake of her women and children she decided to do
nothing officially, but the Richmond “Blues” had their own ideas and a
crowd of Irish patriots from Murphy’s Hotel had theirs, and when the
German army, with bands playing and eagles flying, came tramping down
Broad Street, they were halted presently by four companies of eighty men
each in blue uniforms and white plumed hats drawn up in front of the
statues of Stonewall Jackson and Henry Clay ready to die here on this
pleasant autumn morning rather than have this most sacred spot in the
South desecrated by an invader. And die here they did or fell wounded,
the whole body of Richmond “Blues,” under Colonel W. J. Kemp, while their
band played “Dixie” and the old Confederate flags waved over them.

As for the Irishmen, it seems that they marched in a wild and cursing mob
to the churchyard of old St. John’s where Patrick Henry hurled his famous
defiance at the British and in the same spirit--“Give me liberty or give
me death”--they fought until they could fight no longer.

As we drove through East Franklin Street I was startled to see a German
flag flying over the honoured home of Robert E. Lee and a German sentry
on guard before the door. I was told that prominent citizens of Richmond
were held here as hostages, among these being Governor Richard Evelyn
Byrd, John K. Branch, Oliver J. Sands, William H. White, Bishop R. A.
Gibson, Bishop O’Connell, Samuel Cohen and Mayor Jacob Umlauf who, in
spite of his German descent, had proved himself a loyal American.

I finished the afternoon at a Red Cross bazaar held in the large
auditorium on Gary Street under the patronage of Mrs. Norman B. Randolph,
Mrs. B. B. Valentine, Miss Jane Rutherford and other prominent Richmond
ladies. I made several purchases, including a cane made from a plank of
Libby prison and a stone paper weight from Edgar Allan Poe’s boyhood home
on Fifth Street.

Leaving the bazaar, I turned aimlessly into a quiet shaded avenue and was
wondering what progress Ryerson might be making with his investigations,
when I suddenly saw the man himself on the other side of the way, talking
earnestly with a young woman of striking beauty and of foreign
appearance. She might have been a Russian or an Austrian.

There was something in this unexpected meeting that filled me with a
vague alarm. Who was this woman? Why was Ryerson spending time with her
that was needed for our urgent business? I felt indignant at this lack of
seriousness on his part and, unobserved, I followed the couple as they
climbed a hill leading to a little park overlooking the river, where they
seated themselves on a bench and continued their conversation.

Presently I passed so close to them that Ryerson could not fail to see me
and, pausing at a short distance, I looked back at him. He immediately
excused himself to his fair companion and joined me. He was evidently

“Wait here,” he whispered. “I’ll be back.”

With that he rejoined the lady and immediately escorted her down the
hill. It was fully an hour before he returned and I saw he had regained
his composure.

“I suppose you are wondering who that lady was?” he began lightly.

“Well, yes, just a little. Is she the woman you told me about--the

“No, no! But she’s a very remarkable person,” he explained. “She is known
in every capital of Europe. They say the German government pays her fifty
thousand dollars a year.”

“She’s quite a beauty,” said I.

He looked at me sharply. “I suppose she is, but that’s not the point.
She’s at the head of the German secret service work in America. She knows
all about Edison.”


“She has told me where he is. That’s why we came up here. Do you see that

I followed his gesture across the valley and on a hill opposite saw a
massive brick structure with many small windows, and around it a high
white painted wall.


“That’s the state penitentiary. Edison is there in the cell that was once
occupied by Aaron Burr--you remember--when he was tried for treason?”

All this was said in so straightforward a manner that I felt ashamed of
my doubts and congratulated my friend warmly on his zeal and success.

“Just the same, you didn’t like it when you saw me with that woman--did
you?” he laughed.

I acknowledged my uneasiness and, as we walked back to the hotel, spoke
earnestly with Ryerson about the grave responsibility that rested upon
us, upon me equally with him. I begged him to justify his sister’s faith
and love and to rise now with all his might to this supreme duty and

He seemed moved by my words and assured me that he would do the right
thing, but when I pressed him to outline our immediate course of action,
he became evasive and irritable and declared that he was tired and needed
a night’s rest before going into these details.

As I left him at the door of his bedroom I noticed a bulky and strongly
corded package on the table and asked what it was, whereupon, in a flash
of anger, he burst into a tirade of reproach, saying that I did not trust
him and was prying into his personal affairs, all of which increased my

“I must insist on knowing what is in that package,” I said quietly. “You
needn’t tell me now, because you’re not yourself, but in the morning we
will take up this whole affair. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight,” he answered sullenly.

Here was a bad situation, and for hours I did not sleep, asking myself if
I had made a ghastly mistake in trusting Ryerson. Was his sister’s
sacrifice to be in vain? Was the man a traitor still, in spite of

Towards three o’clock I fell into fear-haunted dreams, but was presently
awakened by a quick knocking at my door and, opening, I came face to face
with my companion, who stood there fully dressed.

“For God’s sake let me come in.” He looked about the room nervously.
“Have you anything to drink?”

I produced a flask of Scotch whiskey and he filled half a glass and
gulped it down. Then he drew a massive iron key from his pocket and threw
it on the bed.

“Whatever happens, keep that. Don’t let me have it.”

I picked up the key and looked at it curiously. It was about four inches
long and very heavy.

“Why don’t you want me to let you have it?”

“Because it unlocks a door that would lead me to--hell,” he cried
fiercely. Then he reached for the flask.

“No, no! You’ve had enough,” I said, and drew the bottle out of his
reach. “Randolph, you know I’m your friend, don’t you? Look at me! Now
what’s the matter? What door are you talking about?”

“The door to a wing of the prison where Edison is.”

“You said he was in Aaron Burr’s cell.”

“He’s been moved to another part of the building. That woman arranged


He looked at me in a silence of shame, then he forced himself to speak.

“So I could carry out my orders”

“Orders? Not--not German orders?”

He nodded stolidly.

“I’m under her orders--it’s the same thing. I can’t help it. I can’t
stand against her.”

“Then she _is_ the countess?”

He bowed his head slowly.

“Yes. I meant to play fair. I would have played fair, but--the
Germans put this woman on our trail when we left Chicago--they
mistrusted something and--” with a gesture of despair, “she found me
in Pittsburg--she--she’s got me. I don’t care for anything in the world
but that woman.”


“It’s true. I don’t want to live--without her. You needn’t cock up your
eyes like that. I’d go back to her now--yes, by God, I’d do this thing
now, if I could.”

He had worked himself into a frenzy of rage and pain, and I sat still
until he grew calm again.

“What thing? What is it she wants you to do?”

“Get rid of you to begin with,” he snapped out. “It’s easy enough. We go
to the prison--this key lets us in. I leave you in the cell with Edison
and--you saw that package in my room? It’s a bomb. I explode it under the
cell and--there you are!”

“You promised to do this?”

“Yes! I’m to get five thousand dollars.”

“But you didn’t do it, you stopped in time,” I said soothingly. “You’ve
told me the truth now and--we’ll see what we can do about it.”

He scowled at me.

“You’re crazy. We can’t do anything about it. The Germans are in control
of Richmond. They’re watching this hotel.”

Ryerson glanced at his watch.

“Half-past three. I have four hours to live.”


“They’ll come for me at seven o’clock when they find I haven’t carried
out my orders, and I’ll be taken to the prison yard and--shot or--hanged.
It’s the best thing that can happen to me, but--I’m sorry for you.”

“See here, Ryerson,” I broke in. “If you’re such a rotten coward and liar
and sneak as you say you are, what are you doing here? Why didn’t you go
ahead with your bomb business?”

He sat rocking back and forth on the side of the bed, with his head bent
forward, his eyes closed and his lips moving in a sort of thick mumbling.

“I’ve tried to, but--it’s my sister. God! She won’t leave me alone. She
said she’d be praying for me and--all night I’ve seen her face. I’ve seen
her when we were kids together, playing around in the old home--with
Mother there and--oh, Christ!”

I pass over a desperate hour that followed. Ryerson tried to kill himself
and, when I took the weapon from him, he begged me to put an end to his
sufferings. Never until now had I realised how hard is the way of the

I have often wondered how this terrible night would have ended had not
Providence suddenly intervened. The city hall clock had just tolled five
when there came a volley of shots from the direction of Monument Avenue.

“What’s that?” cried my poor friend, his haggard face lighting.

We rushed to the window, where the pink and purple lights of dawn were
spreading over the spires and gardens of the sleeping city.

The shots grew in volume and presently we heard the dull boom of a siege
gun, then another and another.

“It’s a battle! They’re bombarding the city. Look!” He pointed towards
Capitol Square. “They’ve struck the tower of the city hall. And over
there! The gas works!” He swept his arm towards an angry red glow that
showed where another shell had found its target.

I shall not attempt to describe the burning of Richmond (for the third
time in its history) on this fateful day, January 20th, 1922, nor to
detail the horrors that attended the destruction of the enemy’s force of
occupation. Historians are agreed that the Germans must be held blameless
for firing on the city, since they naturally supposed this daybreak
attack upon their own lines to be an effort of the American army and
retaliated, as best they could, with their heavy guns.

It was days before the whole truth was known, although I cabled the
London _Times_ that night, explaining that the American army had nothing
to do with this attack, which was the work of an unorganised and
irresponsible band of ten or twelve thousand mountaineers gathered from
the wilds of Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky and Tennessee.
They were moon-shiners, feudists, hilly-billies, small farmers and
basket-makers, men of lean and saturnine appearance, some of them horse
thieves, pirates of the forest who cared little for the laws of God or
man and fought as naturally as they breathed.

These men came without flags, without officers, without uniforms. They
crawled on their bellies and carried logs as shields. They knew and cared
nothing for military tactics and their strategy was that of the wild
Indian. They fought to kill and they took no prisoners. It seems that a
Virginia mountain girl had been wronged by a German officer and that was

For weeks the mountaineers had been advancing stealthily through the
wilderness, pushing on by night, hiding in the hills and forests by day;
and they had come the last fifty miles on foot, leaving their horses back
in the hills. They were armed with Winchester rifles, with old-time
squirrel rifles, with muzzle loaders having long octagonal barrels and
fired by cups. Some carried shot guns and cartridges stuffed with
buckshot and some poured in buckshot by the handful. They had no
artillery and they needed none.

The skill in marksmanship of these men is beyond belief, there is nothing
like it in the world. With a rifle they will shoot off a turkey’s head at
a hundred yards (this is a common amusement) and as boys, when they go
after squirrels, they are taught to hit the animals’ noses only so as not
to spoil the skins. It was such natural fighters as these that George
Washington led against the French and the Indians, when he saved the
wreck of Braddock’s army.

The Germans were beaten before they began to fight. They were surrounded
on two sides before they had the least idea that an enemy was near. Their
sentries were shot down before they could give the alarm and the first
warning of danger to the sleeping Teutons was the furious rush of ten
thousand wild men who came on and came on and came on, never asking
quarter and never giving it.

When the Germans tried to charge, the mountaineers threw themselves flat
on the ground and fought with the craft of Indians, dodging from tree to
tree, from rock to rock, but always advancing. When the Germans sent up
two of their scouting aeroplanes to report the number of the enemy’s
forces, the enemy picked off the German pilots before the machines were
over the tree tops. Here was a mixture of native savagery and efficiency,
plus the lynching spirit, plus the pre-revolutionary American spirit and
against which, with unequal numbers and complete surprise, no
mathematically trained European force had the slightest chance.

The attack began at five o’clock and at eight everything was over; the
Germans had been driven into the slough of Chickahominy swamp to the
northeast of Richmond (where McClellan lost an army) and slaughtered here
to the last man; whereupon the mountaineers, having done what they came
to do, started back to their mountains.

Meantime Richmond was burning, and my poor friend Ryerson and I were
facing new dangers.

“Come on!” he cried with new hope in his eyes. “We’ve got a chance, half
a chance.”

Our one thought now was to reach the prison before it was too late, and
we ran as fast as we could through streets that were filled with
terrified and scantily clad citizens who were as ignorant as we were of
what was really happening. A German guard at the prison gates recognised
Ryerson, and we passed inside just as a shell struck one of the tobacco
factories along the river below us with a violent explosion. A moment
later another shell struck the railway station and set fire to it.

Screams of terror arose from all parts of the prison, many of the inmates
being negroes, and in the general confusion, we were able to reach the
unused wing where Edison was confined.

“Give me that big key--quick,” whispered Ryerson. “Wait here.”

I obeyed and a few minutes later he beckoned to me excitedly from a
passageway that led into a central court yard, and I saw a white-faced
figure bundled in a long coat hurrying after him. It was Thomas A.

Just then there came a rush of footsteps behind us with German shouts and

“They’re after us,” panted Randolph. “I’ve got two guns and I’ll hold ‘em
while you two make a break for it. Take this key. It opens a red door at
the end of this passage after you turn to the right. Run and--tell my
sister I--made good--at the last.”

I clasped his hand with a hurried “God bless you” and darted ahead. It
was our only chance and, even as we turned the corner of the passage,
Ryerson began to fire at our pursuers. I heard afterwards that he wounded
five and killed two of them. I don’t know whether that was the count, but
I know he held them until we made our escape out into the blazing city.
And I know he gave his life there with a fierce joy, realising that the
end of it, at least, was brave and useful.



The first weeks of January, 1922, brought increasing difficulties and
perplexities for the German forces of occupation in America. With
comparative ease the enemy had conquered our Atlantic seaboard, but now
they faced the harder problem of holding it against a large and
intelligent and totally unreconciled population. What was to be done with
ten million people who, having been deprived of their arms, their cities
and their liberties, had kept their hatred?

The Germans had suffered heavy losses. The disaster to von Hindenburg’s
army in the battle of the Susquehanna had cost them over a hundred
thousand men. The revolt of Boston, the massacre of Richmond, had
weakened the Teuton prestige and had set American patriotism boiling,
seething, from Maine to Texas, from Long Island to the Golden Gate. There
were rumours of strange plots and counter-plots, also of a new great army
of invasion that was about to set sail from Kiel. Evidently the Germans
must have more men if they were to ride safely on this furious American
avalanche that they had set in motion, if they were to tame the fiery
American volcano that was smouldering beneath them.

In this connection I must speak of the famous woman’s plot that resulted
in the death of several hundred German officers and soldiers and that
would have caused the death of thousands but for unforeseen developments.
This plot was originated by women leaders of the militant suffrage party
in New York and Pennsylvania (the faction led by Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont
not approving) and soon grew to nation-wide importance with an enrolled
body of twenty thousand militant young women, each one of whom was
pledged to accomplish the destruction of one of the enemy on a certain
Saturday night between the hours of sunset and sunrise.

By a miracle these women kept their vow of secrecy until the fatal
evening, but at eight o’clock the plot was revealed to Germans in
Philadelphia through the confession of a young Quakeress who, after
playing her part for weeks, had fallen genuinely in love with a Prussian
lieutenant and simply could not bring herself to kill him when the time

I come now to a sensational happening that I witnessed in Chicago, to
which city I had journeyed after the Richmond affair for very personal
reasons. If this were a romance and not a plain recital of facts I should
dwell upon my meeting with Mary Ryerson and our mutual joy in each
finding that the other had escaped unharmed from the perils of our recent

Miss Ryerson, it appeared, after the discovery of her daring disguise had
been released on parole by order of General Langthorne, who believed her
story that she had taken this desperate chance as the only means of
saving Thomas A. Edison. Mary had heard the story of her brother’s heroic
death and to still her grief, had thrown herself into work for the Red
Cross fund under Miss Boardman and Mrs. C.C. Rumsey. She had hit upon a
charming way of raising money by having little girls dressed in white
with American flags for sashes, lead white lambs through the streets, the
lambs bearing Red Cross contribution boxes on their backs. By this means
thousands of dollars had been secured.

On the evening following my arrival in Chicago, I had arranged to take
Miss Ryerson to a great recruiting rally in the huge lake-front
auditorium building, but when I called at her boarding-house on Wabash
Avenue, I found her much disturbed over a strange warning that she had
just received.

“Something terrible is going to happen tonight,” she said. “There will be
riots all over Chicago.”

I asked how she knew this and she explained that a deaf and dumb man
named Stephen, who took care of the furnace, a man in whose rather
pathetic case she had interested herself, had told her. It seems he also
took care of the furnace in a neighbouring house which was occupied by a
queer German club, really a gathering place of German spies.

“He overheard things there and told me,” she said seriously, whereupon I
burst out laughing.

“What? A deaf and dumb man?”

“You know what I mean. He reads the lips and I know the sign language.”

The main point was that this furnace man had begged Miss Ryerson not to
leave her boardinghouse until he returned. He had gone back to the German
club, where he hoped to get definite information of an impending

“It’s some big coup they are planning for tonight,” she said. “We must
wait here.”

So we waited and presently, along Wabash Avenue, with crashing bands and
a roar of angry voices, came an anti-militarist socialist parade with
floats and banners presenting fire-brand sentiments that called forth
jeers and hisses from crowds along the sidewalks or again enthusiastic
cheers from other crowds of contrary mind.

“You see, there’s going to be trouble,” trembled the girl, clutching my
arm. “Read that!”

A huge float was rolling past bearing this pledge in great red letters:

“I refuse to kill your father. I refuse to slay your mother’s son. I
refuse to plunge a bayonet into the breast of your sweetheart’s brother.
I refuse to assassinate you and then hide my stained fists in the folds
of any flag. I refuse to be flattered into hell’s nightmare by a class of
well-fed snobs, crooks and cowards who despise our class socially, rob
our class economically and betray our class politically.”

At this the hostile crowds roared their approval and disapproval. Also at
another float that paraded these words:

“What is war? For working-class wives--heartache. For working-class
mothers--loneliness. For working-class children--orphanage. For
peace--defeat. For death--a harvest. For nations--debts. For
bankers--bonds, interest. For preachers on both sides--ferocious prayers
for victory. For big manufacturers--business profits. For ‘Thou Shalt
Not Kill’--boisterous laughter. For Christ--contempt.”

I saw that my companion was deeply moved.

“It’s all true, what they say, isn’t it?” she murmured.

“Yes, it’s true, but--we can’t change the world, we can’t give up our
country, our independence. Hello!”

A white-faced man had rushed into the parlour, gesticulating violently
and making distressing guttural sounds. It was Stephen.

Uncomprehending, I watched his swift signs.

“What is it? What is he trying to say?”


Her hands flew in eager questions and the man answered her.

“Oh!” she cried. “The riots are a blind to draw away the police and the
troops. They’re marching against the Blackstone Hotel now--a thousand
German spies--with rifles.”

The Blackstone Hotel! I realised in a moment what that meant. The German
Crown Prince was still a prisoner at the Blackstone, in charge of General
Langhorne. It was a serious handicap to the enemy that we held in our
power the heir to the German throne. They dared not resort to reprisals
against America lest Frederick William suffer.

“They mean to rescue the Crown Prince?”


I rushed to the telephone to call up police headquarters, but the wires
were dead--German spies had seen to that.

“Come!” I said, seizing her arm. “We must hustle over to the auditorium.”

Fortunately the great recruiting hall was only a few blocks distant and
as we hurried there Miss Ryerson explained that the furnace man, Stephen,
before coming to us, had run to McCormick College, the Chicago home for
deaf students, and given the alarm.

“What good will that do?”

“What good! These McCormick boys have military drill. They are splendid
shots. Stephen says fifty of them will hold the Germans until our troops
get there.”

“I hope so.”

I need not detail our experiences in the enormous and rather disorderly
crowd that packed the auditorium building except to say that ten minutes
later we left there followed by eighty members of the Camp Fire Club
(they had organised this appeal for recruits), formidable hunters of big
game who came on the run carrying the high power rifles that they had
used against elephants and tigers in India and against moose and
grizzlies in this country. Among them were Ernest Thompson Seton, Dan
Beard, Edward Seymour, Belmore Brown, Edward H. Litchfield and his son,

Under the command of their president, George D. Pratt, these splendid
shots proceeded with all speed to the Blackstone Hotel, where they found
a company of deaf riflemen, under the command of J. Frederick Meagher,
about seventy in all, guarding the doors and windows. Not a moment too
soon did they arrive for, as they entered the hotel, hoarse cries were
heard outside and presently a bomb exploded at the main entrance,
shattering the heavy doors and killing nine of the defenders, including
Melvin Davidson, Jack Seipp and John Clarke, the Blackfoot Indian, famous
for his wood carvings and his unerring marksmanship.

Meantime messengers had been sent in all directions, through the rioting
city, calling for troops and police and in twenty minutes, with the
arrival of strong reinforcements, the danger passed.

But those twenty minutes! Again and again the Germans came forward in
furious assaults with rifles and machine guns. The Crown Prince must be
rescued. At any cost he must be rescued.

No! The Crown Prince was not rescued. The defenders of the Hotel
Blackstone had their way, a hundred and fifty against a thousand, but
they paid the price. Before help came forty members of the Camp Fire Club
and fifty of those brave deaf American students gave up their lives, as
is recorded on a bronze tablet in the hotel corridor that bears witness
to their heroism.

I must now make my last contribution to this chapter of our history,
which has to do with motives that presently influenced the Crown Prince
towards a startling decision. I came into possession of this knowledge as
a consequence of the part I played in rescuing Thomas A. Edison after his
abduction by the Germans.

One of the first questions Mr. Edison asked me as we escaped in a swift
automobile from the burning and shell-wrecked Virginia capital, had a
direct bearing on the ending of the war.

“Mr. Langston,” he asked, “did the Committee of Twenty-one receive my
wireless about the airship expedition?”

“Yes, sir, they got it,” I replied, and then explained the line of
reasoning that had led the Committee to, disregard Mr. Edison’s warning.


He listened, frowning.

“Huh! That sounds like Elihu Root.”

“It was,” I admitted.

For hours as we rushed along, my distinguished companion sat silent and I
did not venture to break in upon his meditations, although there were
questions that I longed to ask him. I wondered if it was Widding’s sudden
death in the Richmond prison that had saddened him.

It was not until late that afternoon, when we were far back in the Blue
Ridge Mountains, that Mr. Edison’s face cleared and he spoke with some
freedom of his plans for helping the military situation.

“There’s one thing that troubles me,” he reflected as we finished an
excellent meal at the Allegheny Hotel in Staunton, Virginia. “I wonder
if--let’s see! You have met the Crown Prince, you interviewed him, didn’t

“Twice,” said I.

“Is he intelligent--_really _intelligent? A big open-minded man or--is he
only a prince?”

“He’s more than a prince,” I said, “he’s brilliant, but--I don’t know how
open-minded he is.”

Edison drummed nervously on the table.

“If we were only dealing with a Bismarck or a von Moltke! Anyhow, unless
he’s absolutely narrow and obstinate--”

“Oh, no.”

“Good! Where are the Committee of Twenty-one? In Chicago?”


“And the Crown Prince too?”


“We’ll be there to-morrow and--listen! We can destroy the German fleet.
Widding’s invention will do it. Poor Widding! It broke his heart to see
America conquered when he knew that he could save the nation if somebody
would only listen to him. But nobody would.” Edison’s deep eyes burned
with anger. “Thank God, I listened.”

It seemed like presumption to question Mr. Edison’s statement, yet I
ventured to remind him that several distinguished scientists had declared
that the airship _America_ could not fail to destroy the German fleet.

“Pooh!” he answered. “I said the _America_ expedition would fail. The
radio-control of torpedoes is uncertain at the best because of
difficulties in following the guide lights. They may be miles away, shut
off by fog or waves; but this thing of Widding’s is sure.”

“Has it been tried?”

“Heavens! No! If it had been tried the whole world would be using it.
After we destroy the German fleet the whole world will use it.”

“Is it some new principle? Some unknown agency?”

He shook his head. “There’s nothing new about it. It’s just a sure way to
make an ordinary Whitehead torpedo hit a battleship.”

Although I was consumed with curiosity I did not press for details at
this time and my companion presently relapsed into one of his long

We reached Chicago the next afternoon and, as the great inventor left me
to lay his plans before the Committee of Twenty-one, he thanked me
earnestly for what I had done and asked if he could serve me in any way.

“I suppose you know what I would like?” I laughed.

He smiled encouragingly.

“Still game? Well, Mr. Langston, if the Committee approves my plan, and I
think they will, you can get ready for another big experience. Take a
comfortable room at the University Club and wait.”



I did as he bade me and was rewarded a week later for my faith and
patience. I subsequently learned that this week (the time of my wonderful
experience with Mary Ryerson) was spent by the Committee of Twenty-one in
explaining to the Crown Prince exactly what the Widding-Edison invention
was. Models and blue prints were shown and American and German experts
were called in to explain and discuss all debatable points. And the
conclusion, established beyond reasonable doubt, was that German warships
could not hope to defend themselves against the Widding-Edison method of
torpedo attack. This was admitted by Field Marshal von Hindenburg and by
Professor Hugo Münsterberg, who were allowed to bring scientists of their
own choosing for an absolutely impartial opinion. Unless terms were made
the German fleet faced almost certain destruction.

The Crown Prince was torn by the hazards of this emergency. He could not
disregard such a weight of evidence. He knew that, without the support of
her fleet, Germany must abandon her whole campaign in the United States
and withdraw her forces from the soil of America. This meant failure and
humiliation, perhaps revolution at home. The fate of the Hohenzollern
dynasty might hang upon his decision.

“Gentlemen,” he concluded haughtily, “I refuse to yield. If I cable the
Imperial Government in Berlin it will be a strong expression of my wish
that our new army of invasion, under convoy of the German fleet, sail
from Kiel, as arranged, and join in the invasion of America at the
earliest possible moment.”

And so it befell. On January 24th a first section of the new German
expedition, numbering 150,000 men, sailed for America. On January 29th
our advance fleet of swift scouting aeroplanes, equipped with wireless
and provisioned for a three days’ cruise, flew forth from Grand Island in
the Niagara River, and, following the St. Lawrence, swept out over the
Atlantic in search of the advancing Teutons.

Two days later wireless messages received in Buffalo informed us that
German transports, with accompanying battleships, had been located off
the banks of Newfoundland and on February 1st our main fleet of
aeroboats, a hundred huge seaplanes, equipped with Widding-Edison
torpedoes, sailed away over Lake Erie in line of battle, flying towards
the northeast at the height of half a mile, ready for the struggle that
was to settle the fate of the United States. The prayers of a hundred
million Americans went with them.

And now Mr. Edison kept his promise generously by securing for me the
privilege of accompanying him in a great 900-horse-power seaplane from
which, with General Wood, he proposed to witness our attack upon the

“We may have another passenger,” said the General mysteriously as we
stamped about in our heavy coats on the departure field, for it was a
cold morning.

“All aboard,” called out the pilot presently from his glass-sheltered
seat and I had just taken my place in the right hand cabin when the sound
of several swiftly arriving motors drew my attention and, looking out, I
was surprised to see the Crown Prince alighting from a yellow car about
which stood a formal military escort. General Wood stepped forward
quickly to receive His Imperial Highness, who was clad in aviator

“Our fourth passenger!” whispered Edison.

“You don’t mean that the Crown Prince is going with us?”

The inventor nodded.

I learned afterwards that only at the eleventh hour did the imperial
prisoner decide to accept General Wood’s invitation to join this
memorable expedition.

“I have come, General,” said the Prince, saluting gravely, “because I
feel that my presence here with you may enable me to serve my country.”

“I am convinced Your Imperial Highness has decided wisely,” answered the
commander-in-chief, returning the salute.

An hour later, at the head of one of the aerial squadrons that stretched
behind us in a great V, we were flying over snow-covered fields at eighty
miles an hour, headed for the Atlantic and the German fleet. Our
seaplanes, the most powerful yet built of the Curtiss-Wright 1922 model,
carried eight men, including three that I have not mentioned, a wireless
operator, an assistant pilot and a general utility man who also served as
cook. Two cabins offered surprisingly comfortable accommodations,
considering the limited space, and we ate our first meal with keen

“We have provisions for how many days?” asked the Crown Prince.

“For six days,” said General Wood.

“But, surely not oil for six days!”

“We have oil for only forty-eight hours of continuous flying, but Your
Imperial Highness must understand that our seaplanes float perfectly on
the ocean, so we can wait for the German fleet as long as is necessary
and then rise again.”

The Prince frowned at this and twisted his sandy moustache into sharper
upright points.

“When do you expect to sight the German fleet?”

“About noon the day after to-morrow. We shall go out to sea sometime in
the night and most of to-morrow we will spend in ocean manoeuvres. Your
Imperial Highness will be interested.”

In spite of roaring propellers and my cramped bunk I slept excellently
that night and did not waken until a sudden stopping of the two engines
and a new motion of the seaplane brought me to consciousness. The day was
breaking over a waste of white-capped ocean and we learned that Commodore
Tower, who was in command of our main air squadron, fearing a storm, had
ordered manoeuvres to begin at once so as to anticipate the gale. We were
planing down in great circles, preparing to rest on the water, and, as I
looked to right and left, I saw the sea strangely covered with the great
winged creatures of our fleet, mottle-coloured, that rose and fell as the
green waves tossed them.

I should explain that these seaplanes were constructed like catamarans
with twin bodies, enabling them to ride on any sea, and between these
bodies the torpedoes were swung, one for each seaplane, with a simple
lowering and releasing device that could be made to function by the touch
of a lever. The torpedo could be fired from the seaplane either as it
rested on the water or as it skimmed over the water, say at a height of
ten feet, and the released projectile darted straight ahead in the line
of the seaplane’s flight.

With great interest we watched the manoeuvres which consisted chiefly in
the practice of signals, in rising from the ocean and alighting again and
in flying in various formations.

“From how great a distance do you propose to fire your torpedoes?” the
Crown Prince asked Mr. Edison, speaking through a head-piece to overcome
the noise.

“We’ll run our seaplanes pretty close up,” answered the inventor, “so as
to take no chance of missing. I guess we’ll begin discharging torpedoes
at about 1,200 yards.”

“But your seaplanes will be shot to pieces by the fire of our

“Some will be, but not many. Our attack will be too swift and sudden.
It’s hard to hit an aeroplane going a mile in a minute and, before your
gunners can get the ranges, the thing will be over.”

“Besides,” put in General Wood, “every man in our fleet is an American
who has volunteered for duty involving extreme risk. Every man will give
his life gladly.”

About ten o’clock in the morning on February 3rd our front line flyers,
miles ahead of us, wirelessed back word that they had sighted the German
fleet, and, a few minutes later, we saw smoke columns rising on the far
eastern horizon. I shall never forget the air of quiet authority with
which General Wood addressed his prisoner at this critical moment.

“I must inform Your Imperial Highness that I have sent a wireless message
to the admiral of the German fleet informing him of your presence here as
a voluntary passenger. This seaplane is identified by its signal flags
and by the fact that it carries no torpedo. We shall do everything to
protect Your Imperial Highness from danger.”

“I thank you, sir,” the prince answered stiffly.

General Wood withdrew to his place in the observation chamber beside Mr.

Swiftly we flew nearer to the enemy’s battleships, which were advancing
in two columns, led by two super-dreadnoughts, the _Kaiser Friedrich_ and
the _Moltke_, with the admiral’s flag at her forepeak and flanked by
lines of destroyers that belched black smoke from their squat funnels.
With our binoculars we saw that there was much confusion on the German
decks as they hastily cleared for action. Our attack had evidently taken
them completely by surprise and they had no flyers ready to dispute our
mastery of the air.

Presently General Wood re-entered the cabin.

“I have a wireless from Commodore Tower saying that everything is ready.
Before it is too late I appeal to Your Imperial Highness to prevent the
destruction of these splendid ships and a horrible loss of life. Will
Your Highness say the word?”

“No!” answered the Crown Prince harshly.

General Wood turned to the cabin window and nodded to the assistant
pilot, who dropped overboard a signal smoke ball that left behind, as it
fell, a greenish spiral trail. Straightway, the Commodore’s seaplane, a
mile distant, broke out a line of flags whereupon six flyers from six
different points leaped ahead like sky hounds on the scent, shooting
forward and downward towards their mighty prey. The remainder of the sky
fleet circled away at safe distances of three, four or five miles,
waiting the result of this first blow, confident that the _Moltke_ was

Doomed she was. In vain the great battleship turned her guns, big and
little, against these snarling, swooping creatures of the air that came
at her like darting vultures all at once from many sides, but swerved at
the twelve hundred yard line and took her broadside on with their
torpedoes, fired them and were gone.

Six white paths streaked the ocean beneath us marking the course of six
torpedoes and three of them found their target. Three of them missed, but
that was because the gunners were excited. There is no more excuse for a
torpedo missing a dreadnought at a thousand yards than there is for a
pistol missing a barn door at twenty feet!

The _Moltke_ began to sink almost immediately. Through our glasses we
watched her putting off life boats and we saw that scarcely half of them
had been launched when she lurched violently to starboard and went down
by the head. Her boats, led by one flying the admiral’s flag, made for
the sister dreadnought, but had not covered a hundred yards when
Commodore Tower signalled again and six other seaplanes darted into
action and, by the same swift manosuvres, sank the _Kaiser Friedrich_.

In this action we lost two seaplanes.

Now General Wood, white-faced, re-entered the cabin.

“Has Your Imperial Highness anything to say?” asked the American

Silent and rigid sat the heir to the German throne, his hands clenched,
his nostrils dilating, his lips hard shut.

“If not,” continued General Wood, “I shall, with great regret, signal
Commodore Tower to sink that transport, which means, I fear, the loss of
many thousands of German lives.” He pointed to an immense dark grey
vessel of about the tonnage of the _Vaterland_.

The Crown Prince neither answered nor stirred and again the American
Commander nodded to the assistant pilot. Once more the smoke ball fell,
the signal of attack was given and a third group of seaplanes sped
forward on their deadly mission. The men aboard this enormous transport
equalled in numbers the entire male population of fighting age in a city
like New Haven and of these not twenty were saved. And we lost two more

We had now used eighteen of our hundred available torpedoes and had sunk
three ships of the enemy.

At this moment the sun’s glory burst through a rift in the dull sky,
whereupon our fleet, welcoming the omen, threw forth the stars and
stripes from every flyer and sailed nearer the stricken fleet hungry for
further victories. I counted twenty transports and half a dozen
battleships. Proudly we circled over them, knowing that our power of
destruction meant safety and honour for America.

In the observation chamber General Wood watched, frowning while the
wireless crackled out another message from Commodore Tower. Where should
we strike next?

In the cabin sat the Crown Prince, his face like marble and the anguish
of death in his heart.

Suddenly, a little thing happened that turned Frederick William towards a
decision which practically ended the war. The little thing was a burst of
music from the _Koenig Albert_, steaming at the head of the nearer
battleship column two miles distant. On she came, shouldering great waves
from her bows while hundreds of blue-jackets lined her rails as if to
salute or defy the tragic fate hanging over them.

As General Wood appeared once more before his tortured prisoner, there
floated over the sea the strains of “Die Wacht Am Rhein,” whereupon up on
his feet came the Crown Prince and, head bared, stood listening to this
great hymn of the Fatherland, while tears streamed down his face.

“I yield,” he said in broken tones. “I cannot stand out any longer. I
will do as you wish, sir.”

“My terms are unconditional surrender,” said the American commander, “to
be followed by a truce for peace negotiations. Does Your Imperial
Highness agree to unconditional surrender?”

“Those are harsh terms. In our talk at Chicago Your Excellency only asked
that I prevent this expedition from sailing. I am ready to order the
expedition back to Germany.”

General Wood shook his head.

“Conditions are different now. Your Imperial Highness refused my Chicago
suggestion and chose the issue of battle which has turned in our favour.
To the victors belong the spoils. These battleships are our prizes of
war. These German soldiers in the troopships are our prisoners.”

“Impossible!” protested the Prince. “Do you think five hundred men in
aeroplanes can make prisoners of a hundred and fifty thousand in

“I do, sir,” declared General Wood with grim finality. “There’s a
perfectly safe prison--down below.” He glanced into the green abyss above
which we were soaring. “I must ask Your Imperial Highness to decide
quickly. The Commodore is waiting.”

Every schoolboy knows what happened then, how the Prince, in this crisis,
turned from grief to defiance, how he dared General Wood to do his worst,
how the American commander sank the _Koenig Albert_ and two more
transports in the next half hour with a loss of five seaplanes, and how,
finally, Frederick William, seeing that the entire German expedition
would be annihilated, surrendered absolutely and ran up the stars and
stripes above German dreadnoughts, transports and destroyers. For the
first time in history an insignificant air force had conquered a great
fleet. The Widding-Edison invention had made good.

       *       *       *       *       *

I need not dwell upon details of the German-American Peace Conference
which occupied the month of February, 1922. These are matters of familiar
record. The country went from one surprise to another as Germany yielded
point after point of her original demands. Under no circumstances would
she withdraw her armies from the soil of America unless she received a
huge indemnity, but at the end of a week she agreed to withdraw without
any indemnity. Firmly she insisted that the United States must abrogate
the Monroe Doctrine, but she presently waived this demand and agreed that
the Monroe Doctrine might stand. Above all she stood out for the
neutralisation of the Panama Canal. Here she would not yield, but at the
close of the conference she did yield and on February 22nd, 1922, Germany
signed the treaty of Pittsburg which gave her only one advantage, namely,
the repossession of her captured fleet.

It was not until a fortnight later, after the invading transports had
sailed for home and the last German soldier had left America, that we
understood why the enemy had dealt with us so graciously. On March 4th,
1922, the news burst upon the world that France and Russia, smarting
under the inconclusive results of the Great War, had struck again at the
Central Empires, and we saw that Germany had abandoned her invasion of
America not because of our air victory, but because she found herself
involved in another European war. She was glad to leave the United States
on any terms.

A few weeks later in Washington (now happily restored as the national
capital) I was privileged to hear General Wood’s great speech before a
joint committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The
discussion was on national preparedness and I thrilled as the general
rose to answer various Western statesmen who opposed a defence plan
calling for large appropriations on the ground that, in the present war
with Germany and in her previous wars, America had always managed to get
through creditably without a great military establishment and always

“Gentlemen,” replied General Wood, “let us be honest with ourselves in
regard to these American wars that we speak of so complacently, these
wars that are presented in our school books as great and glorious. How
great were they? How glorious were they? Let us have the truth.

“Take our War of the Revolution. Does any one seriously maintain that
this was a great war? It was not a war at all. It was a series of
skirmishes. It was the blunder of a stupid English king, who never had
the support of the English people. Our revolutionary armies decreased
each year and, but for the interposition of the French, our cause, in all
probability, would have been lost.

“And the war of 1812? Was that great and glorious? Why did we win?
Because we were isolated by the Atlantic Ocean (which in these days of
steam no longer isolates us) and because England was occupied in a death
struggle with Napoleon.

“In our Civil War both North and South were totally unprepared. If either
side at the start had had an efficient army of 100,000 men that side
would have won overwhelmingly in the first six months.

“Our war with Spain in 1898 was a joke, a pitiful exhibition of
incompetency and unreadiness in every department. We only won because
Spain was more unprepared than we were. And as to our great naval
victory, the truth is that the Spanish fleet destroyed itself.

“Gentlemen, we have never had a real war in America. This invasion by
Germany was the beginning of a real war, but that has now been
marvellously averted. Through extraordinary good fortune we have been
delivered from this peril, just as, by extraordinary good fortune, we
gained some successes over the Germans, like the battle of the
Susquehanna and our recent seaplane victory, successes that were largely
accidental and could never be repeated.

“I assure you, gentlemen, it is madness for us to count upon continued
deliverance from the war peril because in the past we have been lucky,
because in the past wide seas have guarded us, because in the past our
enemies have quarrelled among themselves, or because American
resourcefulness and ingenuity have been equal to sudden emergencies. To
permanently base our hopes of national safety and integrity upon such
grounds is to choose the course adopted by China and to invite for our
descendants the humiliating fate that finally overwhelmed China, which
nation has now had a practical suzerainty forced upon her by a much
smaller power.

“There is only one way for America to be safe from invasion and that is
for America to be ready for it. We are not ready today, we never have
been ready, yet war may smite us at any time with all its hideous
slaughter and devastation. Our vast possessions constitute the richest,
the most tempting prize on earth, and no words can measure the envy and
hatred that less rich and less favoured nations feel against us.”

“Gentlemen, our duty is plain and urgent. We must be prepared against
aggression. We must save from danger this land that we love, this great
nation built by our fathers. We must have, what we now notoriously lack,
a sufficient army, a satisfactory system of military training,
battleships, aeroplanes, submarines, munition plants, all that is
necessary to uphold the national honour so that when an unscrupulous
enemy strikes at us and our children he will find us ready. If we are
strong we shall, in all probability, avoid war, since the choice between
war and arbitration will then be ours.”

Scenes of wild enthusiasm followed this appeal of the veteran commander,
not only at the Capitol, but all over the land when his words were made
public. At last America had learned her bitter lesson touching the folly
of unpreparedness, the iron had entered her soul and now, in 1922, the
people’s representatives were quick to perform a sacred duty that had
been vainly urged upon them in 1916. Almost unanimously (even Senators
William Jennings Bryan and Henry Ford refused to vote against
preparedness) both houses of Congress declared for the fullest measure of
national defence. It was voted that we have a strong and fully manned
navy with 48 dreadnoughts and battle cruisers in proportion. It was voted
that we have scout destroyers and sea-going submarines in numbers
sufficient to balance the capital fleet. It was voted that we have an
aerial fleet second to none in the world. It was voted that we have a
standing army of 200,000 men with 45,000 officers, backed by a national
force of citizens trained in arms under a universal and obligatory
one-year military system. It was voted, finally, that we have adequate
munition plants in various parts of the country, all under government
control and partly subsidised under conditions assuring ample munitions
at any time, but absolutely preventing private monopolies or excessive
profits in the munition manufacturing business.

This was declared to be--and God grant it prove to be--America’s
insurance against future wars of invasion, against alien arrogance and
injustice, against a foreign flag over this land.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Conquest of America: A Romance of Disaster and Victory, U.S.A., 1921 A.D." ***

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