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In March, 1836, San Antonio de Bexar was besieged, and the Alamo was defended by a force of only 187 men, commanded by Colonel W. B. Travis. The garrison sustained the siege for two weeks, till they were all slain but seven, who surrendered; and, it is stated, they were afterwards put to death by the order of Santa Anna. Besides Colonel Travis, here fell Colonel David Crockett and Colonel James Bowie, the inventor of the Bowie knife. The loss of the Mexicans in storming the place is stated in some accounts to have been 1,000 in killed and wounded.
While Santa Anna was engaged at San Antonio, General Urrea marched upon Goliad. Before he reached this place, he came up with Colonel Fanning's troops, with whom a bloody action was fought. On the 20th of March, Colonel Fanning, with 520 Texans, surrendered as prisoners of war; and nine days afterwards all were shot down by the Mexicans, except six only, who escaped under cover of the smoke of their guns.
On the 21st of April, 1836, Santa Anna fell in with a body of 783 Texans, commanded by General Houston, near the banks of the San Jacinto. After some considerable skirmishing, the Mexicans retired to their camp. Being masked by the timber, the Texans marched into a valley in front of the Mexican camp, and at once rushed upon their line. When within about six hundred yards, the Mexicans opened their fire upon them. Nothing daunted by this, the Texans moved on till they were within about seventy yards of their foes, when they opened a terrible and destructive fire. As they were most of them armed with double-barreled
many with five or six pistols, besides knives and tomahawks, they did not stop to reload, but rushed on amid the smoke, and as soon as they could see the enemy, fired again, and thus swept orer them like wind. The Mexican artillery was taken already loaded and primed, and turned and fired upon the Mexicans as they retreated in total rout and confusion. The Texan loss was only 2 killed and 23 wounded, 6 mortally. The Mexican loss was stated to be 630 killed, 208 wounded, and 730 prisoners, among whom was Santa Anna and his principal officers.
In May, 1836, a convention or agreement was signed at Velasco, between D. G. Burnet, President of Texas, and Santa Anna, by which it was stipulated that hostilities between the Mexican and Texan troops should cease, and that Santa Anna should be sent to Vera Cruz. The Mexicans made repeated demonstrations, apparently with the view of recovering Texas: but owing to dissensions among themselves, and other causes, nothing of importance was eflected.
On the 1st of March, 1815, the joint resolutions for the annexation of Texas to the United States, which had previously passed both Houses of Congress, received the signature of President Tyler, and thus became a law. On the 18th of June following, joint resolutions passed both branches of the Texan Congress, by a unanimous vote, giving the consent of that body to the annexation of Texas to the United States.-(Incidents of History.)
In Europe, in Asia, in Africa, and even in South America, the primeval trees, how much soever their magnitude may arrest admiration, do not grow in the promiscuous style that prevails in the great general character of the North American woods.
Many varieties of the pine, intermingled with birch, maple, beech, oak, and numerous other tribes, branch luxuriantly over the banks of lakes and rivers, extend in stately grandeur along the plains, and stretch proudly up to the very summits of the mountains.
It is impossible to exaggerate the autumnal beauty of the forests; nothing under heaven can be compared to its effulgent grandeur.
Two or three frosty nights in the decline of autumn transform the boundless verdure of a whole empire into every possible tint of brilliant scarlet, rich violet, every shade of blue and brown, vivid crimson, and glittering yellow. The stern, inexorable fir-tribes alone maintain their eternal sombre green; all others, in mountains, and in valleys, burst into the most glorious vegetable beauty, and exhibit the most splendid and most enchanting panorama on earth.
Amidst the American wilderness, we have often ascended one of those heights, from which the scope of vision ranges over the surface of boundless forests, varying in shades from the funeral hue of the firs, to the bright verdure and golden tinges of the birch, the yellow and brown shades of the beech, and the red and violet of the maple; from whence the imagination alone penetrates underneath the silent indomitable covert, amidst the intricacies of which, the traveler might wander into bewildered labyrinths, and forever lose his way, in perplexing ignorance of the course which would lead him back to civilization and to the human throng-from the coverts where the moose, carriboo and the bear have safely fed and roved, until pursued to gratify the desires, and until ensnared by the wiles of man.
Michaux describes fourteen species of pine, and there are probably more varieties. Pines do not often grow on fertile soils, at least not in groves; low, sandy and poor, but not strong lands, are most congenial to their growth.
The yellow long-leaved pine (pinus strobus) is the most generally useful; and the great bulk of the timber of commerce exported from America is of this kind. It grows in extensive forests in Canada and New-Brunswick, and grew formerly in great plenty in the old provinces, and in Prince Edward's Island, Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton. It is a magnificent tree, frequently fifteen feet in circumference near the ground, free from branches for seventy or eighty feet, and often more than one hundred and twenty feet in height. Some trees, after being hewn square, and the limbs with twenty to thirty feet of the top cut off, have measured eight or nine tons, of fort y solid feet each.
The pitch pine (pinus Australis), also long-leaved, is valuable on account of its durability, but more so from its producing turpentine and tar of America. It delights in higher ground than the yellow pine, and seldom exceeds six feet in circumference.
The red pine (pinus Sylvestris) is often a tall tree, but seldom more than four or five feet in girth. It is nearly the same in kind and quality as the fir imported into the United Kingdom from Norway, in square logs. Until this tree be sufficiently matured, or if it be in a situation where it grows rapidly, it contains a great proportion of sap wood; and it is only when this part is hewn away, that the red pine is durable. It is much used in ship building and many other purposes, but it is much more rare than
any of the other pines. In many parts of Canada, and along some branches of the St. John, it has lately been discovered in extensive groves.
Hemlock spruce (abies Canadensis). There are two varieties of the hemlock, the red and white; both are very durable. The lath wood exported in billets from America, is principally hemlock. The red splits too freely, and is remarkably full of cracks, or, as Americans term it, shakey. The white is often apt to splinter, but it is close grained, hard, holds nails or tree nails well, and is used in colonial ship building. Its bark is used very generally in America for tanning. There is no wood better adapted for mining purposes or piles; and it is remarkable that iron driven into it, will not corrode either in or out of the water. Hemlock trees generally grow in dry hollows, in groves, and from two to three feet in diameter, and sixty to eighty feet high.
Five varieties of the spruce firs are abundant in all except the northmost regions; and the dwarf spruce creeps as far north as any tree. The black, gray, and white, and red spruce firs, called so from the color of their barks, are the same as those of Norway, imported into England for masts, yards, &c. These trees grow to a great height.
The black spruce (pinus abies) is frequently observed in the distance, like a black minaret, or spire, towering twenty or thirty feet above all other trees.
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The spruce firs of rapid growth are not durable, but those growing in bleak situations, or near the sea coast, are hard and durable. The wood of the species is white.
The American silver fir (abies balsamiferæ) is that from which the transparent resin, known as the Canada balsam, is procured. This balsam is the best possible application to fresh wounds.
The Indians use it also for a remedy for several internal complaints.
The timber of this tree is seldom used in America, except for fencing rails.
The celebrated essence of spruce is extracted from the black spruce.
When the branches are used to make beer, so common in America, merely by boiling them in water, and adding a few hops, and a certain portion of molasses, those of the dwarf trees are preferred.
The hacmatack or larch, (pinus laryr,) called also in America the tamarac and juniper, is considered the most durable of the pine family. In some parts, but not generally, it is very plentiful. It attains frequently a great height, but rarely more than two feet in thickness. Its wood is heavy, tough, and becomes hard by seasoning. It burns with difficulty, and does not readily absorb water. In these respects hemlock resembles it most.
Both red cedar (juniperus Virginiana) and white cedar (cupressus thyoides) are met with in the north of Virginia and in New York, but not in abundance.
The former is found in Upper Canada, the latter in the lower provinces. The largest trees that we have seen, about three feet in diameter, were on the banks of the Buonaventura river, in the district of Gaspé, at which place the Arcadian French use the white cedar, in preference to other wood, for house and ship building, There are two or more varieties of it, one of which is called Canada cyprus: it is a beautiful ornamental tree. It has been successfully transplanted from Canada to France; and in the garden of the Petit Trianon, Versailles, there are two or three fine trees of this species.
The common juniper, which yields the berry used in the arts, and which takes two years in ripening, is found in most cold situations, where other trees seldom grow, A creeping variety of fir, called in America ground spruce, producing a delicious red berry, and on which cattle delight to browse, grows in many places in great plenty. It differs in its nature from all other varieties of firs, inasmuch as it thrives only in fertile soils.
The sugar maple (acer saccharinum) differs from the great maple, in its fibres being generally straight and coarser, its wood not being so hard or compact, and its sap granulating more perfectly. From
its juice, principally, is made the maple sugar; although all the varieties we know of, if we class them agreeably to the saccharine matter contained in their saps, might be called sugar maples.
The process of obtaining sugar from the sap of the maple, is simple. In the early part of March, at which time sharp frosty nights are usually followed by bright sunshiny days, the sap begins to run.
A small notch or incision, making an angle across the grain, is cut in the tree, out of which the juice oozes, and is conveyed by a thin slip of wood, let in at the lower end of the cut, to a wooden trough or dish, made of bark or wood, placed below on the ground.
The quantity of sap thus obtained from each tree varies from one pint to two gallons per day. Those who follow the business, fix on some spot where maples are most numerous, and erect a temporary camp or lodging. When they have as many trees tapped as can be attended to, the sap is collected once or twice a day, and carried to a large pot or boiler hung over a wood fire near the camp. It is then reduced, by boiling, until it granulates; and the sugar thus obtained is rich and pleasant to the taste.
An agreeable syrup is also made of maple sap.
THE DEPTH AND SALTNESS OF THE OCEAN.
At the last annual meeting of the American Association of Geologists and Naturalists, held at Boston in September last, a statement was presented, on the subject heading this notice, by Captain Wilkes, U. S. N., to whom the questions were referred at the last previous meeting of the Association.
The communication of Capt. Wilkes is given at length in the January number of Silliman's Journal. He said that with the depth of the ocean there were connected many interesting subjects of inquiry-among them, its actual depth, its mean temperature and density, the penetration of solar light, submarine currents, and the saitness and specific gravity of sea-water.
Although experiments to ascertain the depth of the ocean have been frequently made, we are as yet ignorant of its maximum depth, and continue to be satisfied with the conjectures and the results obtained from theory. These, as is well known, vary in the limit of depth from five to eight miles. The greatest depth to which the ocean has been penetrated is 4,600 fathoms, or 27,600 feet, [about five miles and a quarter;] no bottom was obtained. This was the result of an experiment by Captain Ross in lat. 15 deg. S. and 23