[from Alta Letter 41]
    At Large in Palestine, September, 1867.

[doubting the Bible]

Gideon had only 32,000 men, mostly Home Guard material, no doubt, because when he proclaimed that all those who were cowardly and wanted to go home might go, 22,000 packed their trunks and left. Gideon was instructed that even a further sifting would help the army in the same way, and he made his remaining 10,000 step up to the pool and drink. He had a keen eye for a man without enterprise, and every one that got down on his knees to drink, he paid off and discharged. Those that dipped up the water in their hands and drank, he retained. This reduced his army to 300 men! He stopped then. He judged that it was not best to go on sifting any more. (The present inhabitants of the country must be a more soldierly-style of people than their ancestors, for they always scoop up the water in their paws and "lap it like a dog.")

Then at dead of night Gideon placed a trumpet in each man's right hand, and a pitcher with a lamp in it in his left, and dividing the little army into three companies of a hundred men each, went softly and surrounded the vast camp of the Children of the East. It is likely that they would have to stand pretty wide apart to do it. At a given signal every man broke his pitcher and tooted his horn; the crash of the crockery dazzled and bewildered them, the chorus of the trumpets made them think a great host had surprised them (they kept no scouts, perhaps, and did not know whether there were armies in their neighborhood or not,) and in the excitement of the time they fell to work and slaughtered each other, while Gideon's band stood still and said never a word. A hundred and twenty thousand of the enemy perished on the field, and Gideon chased the other fifteen thousand out of the country. Your readers will regard these statements as extravagant, but they are attested in the official reports of the battle.

Of all the unheard-of military strategems ever invented, this of Gideon's was probably the wildest the world has any knowledge of. Considering the astonishing success which distinguished it, it is amazing that no General has ever been shrewd enough to try it since. The commonest sagacity, it would seem, ought to have caused it to be adopted into all codes of military tactics long ago

[Daily Alta California, 23 February 1868]

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