Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/169

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163
LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

with fatigue, want of sleep, and intense privation and excitement; still Roberts urged them on, and led the way. His person was always the most exposed; his voice ever cheering and encouraging. Immediately commanding the springs are two hills, both high and difficult of ascent. One is to the east, and the other over looks them from the south. On these heights the Apaches had built rude but efficient breastworks by piling rocks one upon the other so as to form crenelle holes between the interstices. From these fortifications they kept up a rapid and scathing fire, which could not be returned with effect by musketry from three to four hundred feet below. The howitzers were got into position, but one of them was so badly managed that the gunners were brought immediately under the fire from the hills without being able to make even a decent response. In a few moments it was overturned by some unaccountable piece of stupidity, and the artillerists driven off by the sharp fire of the savages. At that juncture, Sergeant Mitchell with his six associates of my company, made a rush to bring off the howitzer and place it in a better position. Upon reaching the guns, they determined not to turn it down hill, but up, so as to keep their fronts to the fire. While performing this gallant act, they were assailed with a storm of balls, but escaped untouched; after having righted the gun, brought it away, and placed it in a position best calculated to perform effective service. So soon as this feat had been happily accomplished, the exact range was obtained and shell after shell hurled upon the hills, bursting just when they should. The Apaches, wholly unused to such formidable engines, precipitately abandoned their rock works and fled in all directions. It was nearly night. To remain under those death-dealing heights during the night,