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Seeing Stars The Battle of Fort McHenry, Part 3



Seeing Stars The Battle of Fort McHenry, Part 3
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   2.17

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    bolting, BOOOOM, evans, gunnery, instantly, muck, Ooof, parcel, quartermaster, reared, reload, shrapnel, skittishly, thrust, Yahoooo, upright
     content words:    Sergeant Ames, Quartermaster Corps, Sergeant Clemm, As Thomas, Soon Col, Major Armistead, Yankee Doodle


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Seeing Stars The Battle of Fort McHenry, Part 3
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     The gunnery officer waved wildly. Thomas ran to him, sliding through the mud. Rain had turned the grounds into a slippery muck. "More powder!" the officer said. "Quick!"
 
2     Thomas felt a little dizzy. The air shook with the rumble of cannon fire. The noise went on and on. He shook his head. He was suddenly very tired. Then he saw a welcome face. "Caleb!" Thomas tugged on his brother's jacket. "They're out of powder on Bastion 3."
 
3     Caleb looked around. He waved a man over. "This is Sergeant Ames. Quartermaster Corps. Tell him what you need, Tommy. I've got to get back to my gun. You watch out, Sprout!" He slapped Thomas on the shoulder. Thomas told Ames about Bastion 3.
 
4     As he looked up, a mess officer beckoned. Thomas ran to the door of the mess. "Here, boy! Take this cart around. Make sure everyone has biscuits and cheese." A bomb exploded right above them. The cart horse jumped at the noise. A soldier helped load bundles of food in the wagon. He boosted Thomas up and the boy grasped the reins.
 
5     He went around to each of the cannon crews. The men grabbed the bundles he pulled from the cart. They gulped their first food of the day standing at their stations. The rain was streaming down. Thunder added its noise to the sounds of the British guns. "Ooof!" Thomas thought his arms might be yanked off as he tried to keep the horse from bolting.
 
6     He moved on to Bastion 3. The crew had gotten their powder. The cannons were loaded and ready. The hungry crew tore into their lunch. "Thanks, boy! You're a good man!" Sergeant Clemm saluted Thomas. Wearily, the boy smiled. He flicked the reins.
 
7     The horse hopped skittishly. The cart clattered out of the bastion. Just as they turned the corner, a mortar shell blasted behind them. The horse screamed and reared. Thomas fought to keep the cart upright. Finally, the horse stood, trembling. The boy jumped down. He tied the horse to a rail on the wall and ran around the corner. There he stopped in horror. The cannon was upside down next to its base. Most of the crew lay on the ground. Many were hurt. Two men lay completely still. One was Sergeant Clemm.
 
8     As others rushed to the scene, Thomas walked slowly back to the cart. His legs felt like lead. He tried to untie the horse but his fingers wouldn't work. A mist closed over his eyes. A roaring filled his head and he slipped to the ground.

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