The Conquest of America
Part 2 out of 4
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
[Illustration: THEN, FACING INEXORABLE NECESSITY, GENERAL WOOD ORDERED
HIS ENGINEERS TO BLOW UP THE BRIDGES AND FLOOD THE SUBWAYS THAT LED TO
MANHATTAN. IT WAS AS IF THE VAST STEEL STRUCTURE OF BROOKLYN BRIDGE HAD
BEEN A THING OF LACE. IN SHREDS IT FELL, A TORN, TRAGICALLY WRECKED PIECE
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.
I HAVE A FRIENDLY TALK WITH THE GERMAN CROWN PRINCE AND SECURE A
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
"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
"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!"
BOSTON OFFERS DESPERATE AND BLOODY RESISTANCE TO THE INVADERS
Our wing of the advancing German army remained in Hartford for four days,
at the end of which all signs of disorder had ceased; in fact, there was
little disorder at any time. The lesson of New Haven's resistance had
been taken to heart, and there was the discouraging knowledge that a row
of German six-inch siege-guns were trained on the city from the heights
of Elizabeth Park, their black muzzles commanding the grey towers and
golden dome of State House, the J. Pierpont Morgan Memorial, the gleaming
white new City Hall, the belching chimneys of the Underwood typewriter
works, and the brown pile of Trinity College.
There was the further restraining fact that leading citizens of Hartford
were held as hostages, their lives in peril, in James J. Goodwin's
palatial home, among these being ex-Governor Morgan G. Buckley, Mayor
Joseph H. Lawler, Bishop Chauncey B. Brewster, Dr. Flavel S. Luther,
Bishop John J. Nilan, Mrs. Richard M. Bissell, Mrs. Thomas N. Hepburn,
the Rev. Rockwell Harmon Potter, Charles Hopkins Clark, Rolland F.
Andrews, the Rev. Francis Goodwin, Thomas J. Spellacy, and Sol
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 Armee in Paris.
It was a perfect summer's day. The sun flashed from the golden dome of
the State House on the hill over Boston Common, and from the great white
Custom House tower that rose impressively in the distance above the green
of the Public Gardens. Boston looked on, dumb with shame and stifled
rage, as the invaders took possession of the city and ran up their flags,
red, white, and black, above the Old South Meeting House on Washington
Street, where Benjamin Franklin was baptised, and above the sacred, now
dishonoured, shaft of the Bunker Hill Monument.
Hostages were taken, as usual, these including Major Henry L. Higginson,
President A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvard University, Major James M.
Curley, Edward A. Filene, Margaret Deland, William A. Paine, Ellery
Sedgwick, Mrs. John L. Gardner, Charles W. Eliot, Louis D. Brandeis,
Bishop William Lawrence, Amy Lowell, T. Jefferson Coolidge, Thomas W.
Lawson, Guy Murchie, and Cardinal O'Connell.
A proclamation was made in the _Transcript_ (now forced to be the
official German organ and the only newspaper that was allowed to appear
in Boston) that these prominent persons would be held personally
responsible for any public disorder or for any failure of the city to
furnish the army of occupation with all necessary food and supplies.
On the night of occupation there were scenes of violence, with rioting
and looting in various parts of Boston, notably in Washington Street and
Tremont Street, where shops were wrecked by mobs from the South End,
several thousand of the unruly foreign element, crazed with drink and
carrying knives. Against this drunken rabble the American police, sullen
and disorganised, could do nothing or would do nothing; and the situation
was becoming desperate, when German troops advanced along Washington
Street, firing into the crowd and driving back the looters, who surged
through Winter Street, a frantic, terrified mass, and scattered over
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
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.
LORD KITCHENER VISITS AMERICA AND DISCUSSES OUR MILITARY PROBLEMS
I was standing with Count Zeppelin in the doorway of Mrs. John L.
Gardner's Fenway palace when the news of the great sea horror reached
Boston. The German submarine U-68, scouting off the coast of Maine,
had sunk the American liner _Manhattan_, the largest passenger vessel
in the world, as she raced toward Bar Harbor with her shipload of
non-combatants. Eighteen hundred and sixty-three men, women, and children
went down with the ship. No warning had been given. No chance had been
offered for women or children or neutral passengers to escape. The
disaster duplicated the wrecking of the _Lusitania_ in 1915, but it
exceeded it in loss of human life. The American captain and all his men
shared the fate of the passengers intrusted to their care.
In Boston the effect on the German officers and men was unbelievable.
Tremont and Boylston and Washington streets, echoing with cheers of the
exulting conquerors, resembled the night of a Harvard-Yale football game
when Brickley used to play for Cambridge University. The citizens of the
big town, their senses deadened by their own disaster, received the news,
and the ghastly celebration that followed it, without any real interest.
The fact that an ex-Mayor of Boston and the son of the present Governor
were among those that perished failed to rouse them. Boston, mentally as
well as physically, was in the grip of the enemy.
That this was just the effect the Germans planned to produce is shown by
General von Kluck's own words. In an interview that he gave me for the
London _Times_, after the occupation of Boston on July 2, 1921, General
von Kluck said:
"The way to end a war quickly is to make the burden of it oppressive upon
the people. It was on this principle that General Sherman acted in his
march from Atlanta to the sea. It was on this principle that General
Grant acted in his march from Washington to Richmond. Grant said he would
fight it out on those lines if it took all summer--meaning lines of
relentless oppression. In modern war a weak enemy like Belgium or like
New England, which is far weaker than Belgium was in 1914, must be
crushed immediately. Think of the bloodshed that would have stained the
soil of Connecticut and Massachusetts if we had not spread terror before
us. As it is, New England has suffered very little from the German
occupation, and in a very short time everything will be going on as
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
"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
"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
"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
HEROIC ACT OF BARBARA WEBB SAVES AMERICAN ARMY AT THE BATTLE OF TRENTON
Coming now to the campaign in New Jersey, let me recall that on the
evening of June 18, American scouting aeroplanes, under Squadron
Commander Harry Payne Whitney, reported that a strong force of Germans,
cavalry, infantry, and artillery, had occupied the heights above
Bordentown, New Jersey, and were actively proceeding to build pontoons
across the Delaware. It seemed clear that von Hindenburg was preparing to
cross the river at the very point where Washington made his historic
crossing in 1776; and General Wood proceeded to attack the enemy's
position with his artillery, being assisted by four light-draught
gunboats from the Philadelphia navy-yard, which lay in the deepened
channel at the head of tide-water and dropped shells inside the enemy's
lines. The Germans replied vigorously, and a smart engagement at long
range ensued, lasting until darkness fell. We fully expected that the
next day would see a fierce battle fought here for the command of the
river. No one dreamed that this was a trap set by von Hindenburg.
As a matter of fact, the crossing movement from above Bordentown was a
feint in which not more than 8,000 Germans were engaged, their main army
being gathered twenty miles to the north, near Lambertville, for the real
crossing. And only the prompt heroic action of three young Americans, two
boys and a girl, saved our forces from immediate disaster.
The heroine of this adventure was Barbara Webb, a beautiful girl of
sixteen, who, with her brother Dominick and their widowed mother, lived
in a lonely farm-house on Goat Hill, back of Lambertville. They had a boy
friend, Marshall Frissell, in Brownsburg, Pennsylvania, on the other side
of the river, and Marshall and Dominick had learned to wigwag signals, in
boy-scout fashion, back and forth across the Delaware.
It seems that, on this memorable night, the brother and sister discovered
a great force of Germans building pontoons about a mile below the wrecked
Lambertville bridge. Whereupon Dominick Webb, knowing that all telegraph
and telephone wires were cut, leaped upon a horse and set out to carry
the news to General Wood. But he was shot through the thigh by a Prussian
sentry, and, hours later, fainting from loss of blood, he returned to the
farm-house and told his sister that he had failed in his effort.
Then Barbara, as day was breaking, climbed to the crest of Goat Hill, and
began to signal desperately toward Brownsburg, in the hope that Marshall
Frissell might see and understand. For an hour she waved, but all in
vain. Marshall was asleep. Still she waved; and finally, by a miracle of
faith, the boy was roused from his slumbers, drawn to his window as the
sun arose, and, looking out, saw Barbara's familiar flag wigwagging
frantically on the heights of Lambertville three miles away. Then he
answered, and Barbara cried out in her joy.
Just then a German rifle spoke from the riverbank below, a thousand yards
away, where the enemy were watching, and a bullet pierced the Stars and
Stripes as the flag fluttered over that slim girlish figure silhouetted
against the glory of the eastern sky. Then another bullet came, and
another. The enemy had seen Barbara's manoeuvre. She was betraying an
important military secret, and she must die.
Wait! With a hostile army below her, not a mile distant, this fearless
American girl went on wigwagging her message--letter by letter, slowly,
painstakingly, for she was imperfect in the code. As she swept the flag
from side to side, signalling, a rain of bullets sang past her. Some cut
her dress and some snipped her flowing hair; and finally one shattered
the flag-staff in her hands. Whereupon, like Barbara Frietchie of old,
this fine young Barbara caught up the banner she loved, and went on
waving the news that might save her country, while a hundred German
soldiers fired at her.
And presently a wonderful thing happened. The power of her devotion
touched the hearts of these rough men,--for they were brave
themselves,--and, lowering their guns, with one accord, they cheered this
little grey-eyed, dimpled farmer's girl with her hair blowing in the
breeze, until the Jersey hills rang.
And now the lad in Brownsburg rose to the situation. There were Germans
on the opposite bank, a great host of them, making ready to cross the
Delaware. General Wood must know this at once--he must come at once. They
say that freckle-faced Marshall Frissell, fifteen years old, on a mad
motorcycle, covered the twenty miles to Ft. Hill, Pa., where General Wood
had his headquarters, in fifteen minutes, and that by seven o'clock troop
trains and artillery trains were moving toward the north, winding along
the Delaware like enormous snakes, as Leonard Wood, answering the
children's call, hastened to the rescue.
I dwell upon these minor happenings because they came to my knowledge,
and because the main events of the four days' battle of Trenton are
familiar to all. In spite of the overwhelming superiority of the Germans
in men and artillery, the American army, spread along a twelve-mile front
on the hills opposite Lambertville, made good use of their defensive
position, and for three days held back the enemy from crossing the river.
In fact, it was only on the evening of the third day, June 21, that von
Hindenburg's engineers succeeded in completing their pontoon line to the
Pennsylvania shore. Again and again the floating bridge was destroyed by
a concentrated shell fire from American batteries on the ridge a mile and
a half back from the river.
American aeroplanes contributed effectively to this work of resistance by
dropping explosive bombs upon the pontoons; but, unfortunately, German
aeroplanes outnumbered the defenders at least four to one, and soon
achieved a mastery of the sky.
A brilliant air victory was gained by Jess Willard, volunteer pilot of a
swift and powerful Burgess machine, over three Taubes, the latter
attacking fiercely while the champion prize-fighter circled higher and
higher, manoeuvring for a position of advantage. I shall never forget the
thrill I felt when Willard swooped down suddenly from a height of eight
thousand feet, and, by a dangerous turn, brought his machine directly
over the nearest German flier, at the same time dropping a fire bomb that
destroyed this aeroplane and hurled the wreck of it straight down upon
the two Taubes underneath, striking one and capsizing the other with the
rush of air. So the great Jess, by his daring strategy, hurled three of
the enemy down to destruction, and escaped safely from the swarm of
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
[Illustration: 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!]
"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
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
"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
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
REAR-ADMIRAL THOMAS Q. ALLYN WEIGHS CHANCES OF THE AMERICAN FLEET IN
IMPENDING NAVAL BATTLE
While the main German army pressed on in pursuit of General Wood's
fleeing forces, a body of ten thousand of the invaders was left behind at
various points in northern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania to pacify
this region and organise its industries and activities. The Picatinny
arsenal was now running night and day, under the direction of a force of
chemists brought from Germany, turning out shells and cartridges for the
invading army. The great Roebling plant in Trenton was commandeered for
the production of field telephone and telegraph wire, and the Mercer
automobile factory for military motor-trucks and ambulances.
I was astonished at the rapidity with which German engineers repaired
bridges and railroads that had been wrecked by the retreating Americans,
and was assured that the invaders had brought with them from their own
country a full supply of steel spans, beams, girders, trusses, and other
parts necessary for such repairs, down to the individual bolts and pins
for each separate construction. It was an amazing illustration of their
preparedness, and of their detailed knowledge of conditions in America.
Trains were soon running regularly between Jersey City and Trenton, their
operations being put in the hands of two Pennsylvania Railroad officials,
J.B. Fisher, superintendent of the New York division, and Victor Wierman,
superintendent of the Trenton division--these two, with their operating
staffs, being held personally responsible, under pain of death, for the
safe and prompt arrival of troops and supplies.
For the pacification of Trenton the Germans left a force of three
thousand men with artillery encamped in the State Fair grounds near the
capital, and it was announced in the Trenton _Times_ (made the official
German organ) that at the first disorder shells would be fired at the
white marble City Hall, at the State House, with its precious collection
of flags and banners from the Civil and Revolutionary wars, at the Broad
Street National Bank, and at the Public Service building, which stands
where the Hessians surrendered in 1776.
Among hostages taken here by the Germans were R.V. Kuser, head of the
Trenton Brewing Company; General Wilbur F. Sadler, president of the Broad
Street Trust Company; Colonel E. C. Stahl, a Civil War veteran and the
father of Rose Stahl; also the Roman Catholic Bishop James F. McFaul and
the Episcopal Bishop Paul Matthews.
Many Trenton women, including Mrs. Karl G. Roebling, Mrs. Oliphant, wife
of the General, Miss Mabel Hayter, and Mrs. Charles Howell Cook, were
devoted in nursing the wounded who were brought by thousands to the
historic churches of Trenton, used as hospitals, and to the vast Second
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
"I am horribly anxious, Mr. Langston," said the veteran of Manila. "We
are facing a great crisis. Our ships are going into battle, and within a
few hours we shall know whether the civilian policy at Washington that
has controlled our naval development--the policy that forced me to resign
rather than assume the responsibility for consequences--we shall know
whether that policy was wise or foolish."
"I did not suspect that you resigned for that reason," said I.
His face darkened.
"Yes. There had been tension for months. The whole service was
demoralised. Discipline and efficiency were destroyed. As far back as
1914, I testified before the House Committee on Naval Affairs that it
would take five years to make our fleet ready to fight the fleet of any
first-class naval power, and to get our personnel into proper condition.
I said that we were not able to defend the Monroe Doctrine in the
Atlantic, or to force the Open Door of trade in the Pacific. I might as
well have spoken to the winds, and when the order came last April,
against the best naval advice, to take our fleet into the Pacific, I
handed in my resignation."
"You must be glad you did, in view of what happened."
"Yes; but--I am thinking of my country. I am thinking of those
unfortunate ships that have come around South America without sufficient
coal or provisions."
I asked Admiral Allyn how the American fleet compared with the Germans in
number of ships. He shook his head.
"We are far behind them. Nine years ago, in 1912, we stood next to Great
Britain in naval strength; but since then we have steadily fallen back.
Germany has a dozen super-dreadnoughts, ships of over 30,000 tons, while
we have six. Germany has twenty dreadnoughts of from 20,000 to 30,000
tons to our ten. She has four battle-cruisers, while we have none. She
has a hundred destroyers to our twenty-five."
"I understand that these figures refer to the fleets that are actually
going into battle?"
"Yes. Germany's entire naval strength is a third more than that. I have
accurate information. You see, our fleet is outclassed."
"But it will fight?"
"Of course our fleet will fight; but--we can't get to our base at
Guantanamo--the German fleet blocks the way. For years we have begged
that Guantanamo be fortified; but our request was always refused."
"Ah, why? Why, in 1915, were we refused eighteen thousand men on the
active list that were absolutely necessary to man our ships? Why have we
practically no naval reserves? Why, in 1916, were the President's
reasonable demands for naval preparedness refused by Congress? I will
tell you why! Because politics has been considered more than efficiency
in the handling of our navy. Vital needs have been neglected, so that a
show of economy could be made to the people and get their votes. Economy!
Good heavens! you see where it has brought us!"
On the morning of July 11, as I was breakfasting in the hotel with
Admiral Allyn, there was great excitement outside, and, going to the
piazza, we saw a large airship approaching rapidly from the northwest at
the height of about a mile. It was one of the non-rigid Parseval type,
evidently a German.
"A scout from the enemy's fleet," said Admiral Allyn.
"That means they are not far away?"
"Yes. They came through the Windward Passage three weeks ago, and have
been lying off Guantanamo ever since. We ought to have wireless reports
of them soon."
As a matter of fact, before noon the wireless station at Santiago de Cuba
flashed the news that coasting steamers had reported German battleships
steaming slowly to the south, and a few hours later other wireless
reports informed us that the American fleet had been sighted off the
southern coast of Haiti.
The Admiral nodded grimly.
"The hour has struck. The German and American fleets will meet in these
waters somewhere between Guantanamo and Jamaica."
THE GREAT NAVAL BATTLE OF THE CARIBBEAN SEA
In a flash my newspaper sense made me realise that this was an
extraordinary opportunity. The greatest naval battle in history was about
to be fought so near us that we might almost hear the big guns booming.
It would be worth thousands of pounds to the London _Times_ to have an
eye-witness account of this battle, and I resolved to turn the island of
Jamaica upside down in search of an aeroplane that would take me out to
The fates were certainly kind to me--or rather the British Consul
was efficient; and before night I had secured the use of a powerful
Burgess-Dunne aeroboat, the property of Vincent Astor; also Mr. Astor's
skilful services as pilot, which he generously offered through his
interest in naval affairs and because of his desire to give the world
this first account of a sea battle observed from the sky.
We started the next morning, an hour after sunrise, flying to the north
straight across the island of Jamaica, and then out over the open sea. I
shall never forget the beauty of the scene that we looked down upon--the
tropical flowers and verdure of the rugged island, and the calmly smiling
purple waters surrounding it. We flew swiftly through the delicious air
at a height of half a mile, and in two hours we had covered a third of
the distance to Guantanamo and were out of sight of land.
At ten o'clock we turned to the right and steered for a column of smoke
that had appeared on the far horizon; and at half-past ten we were
circling over the American fleet as it steamed ahead slowly with fires
under all boilers and everything ready for full speed at an instant's
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
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.
PHILADELPHIA'S FIRST CITY TROOPS DIE IN DEFENCE OF THE LIBERTY BELL
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
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
THRILLING INCIDENT AT WANAMAKER'S STORE WHEN GERMANS DISHONOUR AMERICAN
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_ fetes, 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
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
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,
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.
AN AMERICAN GIRL BRINGS NEWS THAT CHANGES THE COURSE OF THE MOUNT VERNON
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.
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