| America First|
|by Lawton B. Evans|
|Collection of one hundred action-packed stories, covering the range of American history, from the first visit of Leif the Lucky to the exploits of Sergeant York in World War I. In relating the long, thrilling story of the trials and triumphs of the pioneers and patriots, the author aims to gratify the love of children for the dramatic and picturesque, to satisfy them with stories that are true, and to make them familiar with the great characters in the history of their own country. Ages 8-12 |
THE LAST RACE OF PRIVATE TREPTOW
THE American soldier felt individual responsibility in the Great War. He was ready, by himself and alone, to do
his part. Often he showed the spirit which meant, "It is for me to win this war, right here and now."
"Over there," it often happened that through a rain of fire the soldiers had to carry messages from the
company to the battalion. There was no way to get these messages through except by runners, and the man who
undertook the mission was racing with death as a companion.
It was like dodging fate every second. The bullets flew in every direction, the air was full of noise of men's
cries and of smoke and dust.
These messages were usually taken by word of mouth, for there was no time to write; besides
 which, writing is dangerous if it should fall into the hands of the enemy.
Some of these runners got through safely, and delivered their message. Others never got through. And there
were some who crawled on over the awful battlefield, and delivered their message with dying lips. But they all
On the day the Americans crossed the Ourcq, a terrible machine-gun fire opened up, and it was necessary to
send an important message to the battalion which was across the field. The noise was deafening, the danger
great, the need imperative. The officer in charge dreaded to order any man to go. He knew what it meant to be
sent into the open at that time. But it had to be done.
"Send for Private Treptow, of Iowa," he called, after much hesitation. Treptow came, saluted, and waited
attentively while the message was delivered to him.
"You understand that you are to go across the field, connect with the battalion, and deliver this message as I
have given it to you?" said the officer.
"I do, sir," replied the intrepid private, bowing.
"You know the importance of the message, and the great risk you run,—and are not afraid?" asked the
 "I shall not fail, sir," was the answer.
The private saluted; the officer returned the salute, and went to other duties, while Treptow made ready to
As he looked over the field, and measured the distance, it did not seem so far to that battalion. It was a
matter of a few minutes, if there were no snipers or machine-guns lying in wait for him.
"Here goes," he said to those around him. Putting his cap down over his eyes, and grasping his gun, he stepped
out of cover, and faced his fate. There were others to follow him with the same message, in case he failed;
for it had to be carried through at any cost.
He began his race against death. On he went, with the bullets tearing after him. Hiding as best he could
behind whatever cover the field afforded, dropping into pits when there were any, running boldly across the
open, he moved here and there, now up, now down—a very fury of fire about him all the time.
He ran, a prayer on his lips for his loved ones at home, and for the safety of the men dependent on his
message. A bullet tore through his clothes, and made a jagged wound in his side. But he ran on. Another wound,
and he was faint from loss of blood and from the exertion of the race.
 He was half-way over. He was running now with whatever spark of life there was left in him. Just as he was
nearing his goal, a German sniper took careful aim, and a deadly bullet crashed through the body of the brave
runner. Private Treptow fell and lay quite still. He thought for a moment of those across the seas, and then
he did not think at all. He had run his last race.
The battle raged for awhile, and then passed elsewhere. Over the broken, scarred field came the ambulances to
find the wounded, and with them were those to bury the dead. The searchers came to the place where the runner
"This is Private Treptow," said one. "He was sent across this field yesterday with a message."
They lifted him up, and carried him back of the lines. They searched his clothes before they buried him to see
if they could find anything to send to his family. In a pocket, there was a diary, on the first page of which
he had written these words:
"America shall win the war. Therefore, I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice, I will endure, I will fight
cheerfully, and do my utmost, as though the whole issue of the struggle depended on me alone. My pledge."
And to this he had signed his name.
 When these words were read to the men of his company, many a one had a new vision of courage, and that night
many a soldier wrote the same pledge on the flyleaf of his Bible.
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