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HUNDRED FIRES The Rising Of Red Star Episode 2 ... 2021

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HUNDRED FIRES The rising of red star Episode 2 ...

On the morning of the 9th of October, 1871, the telegraphic wires flashed to every part of this nation, and to nearly every portion of the civilized world, the shocking intelligence that Chicago was in flames, hundreds of lives had been destroyed, and ten thousand families were homeless, shelterless, scantily clad, and suffering intensely with cold, hunger, fatigue and fright. The whole world was appalled. The thrilling horror chilled every heart, and for a moment paralyzed every hand. Men stood aghast at the startling and terrific announcement, that acres of buildings were in embers and men, women and children terror-stricken, were fleeing for life, from what, but yesterday were comfortable and happy homes. It was difficult to realize the awful calamity. It seemed to be an exaggeration, and all hoped, at first, that it would prove such. But later dispatches more than confirmed the previous intelligence; and, ere mid-day, Mayor Mason of the doomed city, had telegraphed to the Mayors of the principal cities in the country, the fact of the utter destitution of the people, and appealing for food, clothing and other necessaries of life.

It is now conceded by scientists that the Chicago fire, and the fires in Michigan and Wisconsin, were produced by natural causes beyond human foresight or control, and the startling theory that "they resulted from the passage of a great atmospheric stream, which arose in longitude sixty-two degrees, swept with a cyclone Antigua and the Virgin Isles on 21st August, the Bahamas on 23d, and then moved slowly to the Northwest, striking Chicago and the forests," is believed by scores of intelligent people.

About half a mile beyond Schwartz's, on the right, and about two hundred yards from the road, are the remains of a dwelling which was occupied by a family named Hill. The family were all in the house at evening prayers, when they were suddenly startled by a loud noise, much resembling continuous thunder. On going to the door they found themselves entirely surrounded by fire, and as the only means of escape, the whole of them, eight in number, went down into the well. Here they remained in safety, until the wooden house covering the well caught fire, fell in, and burned the entire party to death. Another case exactly similar to the last was that of the Davis family, in Peshtigo, who were all smothered to death in their well, into which they had descended in the vain hope of saving their lives. I have heard of quite a number of such cases, but as the facts were not definitely given, I make no mention of them.

Night was coming on, and since noon we had had nothing to eat. I did not feel hungry, but was tormented with thoughts of what might happen if we should not soon reach some place of safety, for I feared that Louis would give out, and that was one of the reasons which made me carry him. My arms ached, and my limbs were scratched, bruised and bleeding. Still I made good headway, and soon came to a natural clearing, on the thither side of which we sat down to rest. By this time night had come on, and what a night! No moon, no stars, but the cloudy heavens lighted up afar with the horrible fire of the burning woods. The clearing in which we sat was the dried up bed of a stream, which for some unaccountable reason had not thickly wooded shores, and we were at least two hundred feet from the forest in flame. All this time, Louis, manly little fellow, that he was, had not even asked for food, nor had he cried since I myself foolishly frightened him.

Among the great conflagrations of the past, that of London, in September 1666, will always stand pre-eminent for its terrible destructiveness. It followed upon the great plague, which had carried off one-third of the population in the previous year, and swept over nearly five-sixths of the space included within the city walls at that date. It lasted four days, and the ruins covered four hundred and thirty-six acres. It destroyed eighty-nine churches (including St. Paul's), the Royal Exchange, the Custom-House, Guildhall, Zion College, and many other public buildings, besides 13,200 private houses. Four hundred streets were entirely laid waste, and about 200,000 of the inhabitants of the city were obliged to encamp for some time in the open fields of Islington and Highgate. The most disastrous fire since that date occurred on the 26th of March, 1748, when 200 houses in the Cornhill Ward were destroyed. Many destructive fires have occurred in the British metropolis at later dates, the most recent worthy of special note being the burning of the cotton and other wharves of Tooley street in June and July, 1861. The fire continued raging with greater or less fury nearly a month. Several persons were killed, and property was destroyed to the value of Å2,000,000.

Philadelphia has been fortunate in having few great fires, but one occurred in that city on the 9th of July, 1850, which destroyed 350 buildings. These were of inferior value, and the whole loss was but $1,500,000, though twenty-five persons were burned to death, nine drowned, and one hundred and twenty injured.

The evening came, and the greyish lightof the setting sun paled away in a westernsky, leaden-hued and dull. The dead menlying out in the open became indistinguishablein the gathering darkness. A deepsilence settled over the village, the roadway[163]and trench, and with the quiet came fear.I held my breath. What menace did thedark world contain? What threat did theghostly star-shells, rising in air behind theTwin Towers, breathe of? Men, like ghosts,stood on the banquettes waiting, it seemed,for something to take place. There was notalking, no laughter. The braziers were stillunlit, and the men had not eaten for manyhours. But none set about to prepare ameal. It seemed as if all were afraid to movelest the least noise should awake the slumberingFuries. The gods were asleep andit was unwise to disturb them.... 041b061a72


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