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The Revolutionary Alarm

( Originally Published 1927 )


DARKNESS closed upon the country and upon the town, but it was no night for sleep. Heralds on swift relays of horses transmitted the war-message from hand to hand, till village repeated it to village ; the sea to the backwoods ; the plains to the highlands; and it was never suffered to droop till it had been borne North and South, and East and West, through-out the land.

It spread over the bays that receive the Saco and the Penobscot. Its loud reveille broke the rest of the trappers of New Hampshire, and, ringing like bugle-notes from peak to peak, overleapt the Green Mountains, swept onward to Montreal, and descended the ocean river, till the responses were echoed from the cliffs of Quebec. The hills along the Hudson told to one another the tale.

As the summons hurried to the south, it was one day at New York ; in one more at Philadelphia ; the next it lighted a watchfire at Baltimore; thence it waked an answer at Annapolis. Crossing the Potomac near Mount Vernon, it was sent forward without a halt to Williamsburg. It traversed the Dismal Swamp to Nansemond, along the route of the first emigrants to North Carolina. It moved onwards and still onwards, through boundless groves of evergreen, to New-Berne and to Wilmington.

" For God's sake, forward it by night and by day," wrote Cornelius Harnett, by the express which sped for Brunswick. Patriots of South Carolina caught up its tones at the border and despatched it to Charleston, and through pines and palmettos and moss-clad live-oaks, farther to the south, till it resounded among the New England settlements beyond Savannah.

The Blue Ridge took up the voice, and made it heard from one end to the other of the valley of Virginia. The Alleghanies, as they listened, opened their barriers, that the " loud call " might pass through to the hardy riflemen on the Holston, the Watauga, and the French Broad. Ever renewing its strength, powerful enough even to create a commonwealth, it breathed its inspiring word to the first settlers of Kentucky; so that hunters who made their halt in the matchless valley of the Elkhorn commemorated the 19th day 0f April, 1775, by naming their encampment Lexington.

With one impulse the colonies sprung to arms ; with one spirit they pledged themselves to each 0ther "to be ready for the extreme event." With one heart the continent cried, " Liberty or Death ! "

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