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Title: By-Ways of War
The Story of the Filibusters
Author: James Jeffrey Roche
Release Date: September 3, 2013 [eBook #43634]
Character set encoding: UTF-8
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BY-WAYS OF WAR***
BY-WAYS OF WAR
JAMES JEFFREY ROCHE
HER MAJESTY THE KING, A ROMANCE OF THE HAREM, THE V-A-S-E, AND OTHER BRIC-A-BRAC
JAMES JEFFREY ROCHE
SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY
Copyright, 1891, 1901,
JAMES JEFFREY ROCHE
Riggs Printing and Publishing Co.
The rise and fall of the American Filibusters belong to the history of the Nineteenth Century. From time to time their deeds have been recounted by actors in the stirring scenes, by contemporary observers, and, incidentally, by travellers in Spanish America who lingered for a moment over the romantic legend of the modern Vikings.
Among the works consulted in the preparation of this volume are: "A History of Miranda's Attempt to Effect a Revolution in South America," by one of his officers; Yokum's "History of Texas"; Green's narrative of the Mier Expedition, and Kendall's of that to Santa Fe; Henri de la Madelaine's "Life of Raoussett-Boulbon"; Wells' account of Walker's expeditions to Sonora and Nicaragua; Walker's "History of the War in Nicaragua"; and the several works relating to the latter country of Squier, Scherzer, Stout, Captain Pim, Chevalier Belly, M. Nicaisse, and many other travellers.
From such sources, as well as from the periodicals and official documents of the day, and from the lips or pens of living comrades in the more recent of those tragedies, have been gathered the facts told in the following pages. It has been no easy task to sift the grains of truth from the mountain of myth, prejudice, and fiction under which the actual deeds of the Filibusters long lay buried.
Forty years ago it would have been well-nigh impossible, in the heated atmosphere of the slavery conflict, to view such a subject with philosophical impartiality. To-day we may study the Filibuster dispassionately, for he belongs to an extinct species. The speculator has supplanted him without perceptibly improving the morality of the world. Even the word "filibuster," transformed to a verb, is degraded to the base uses of politics. It is time to write the history and the epitaph of the brave, lawless, generous anomaly on civilization.
Boston, November, 1900. J. J. R.
|Etymology of the word Filibuster — Norse Adventurers — The Buccaneers — Miranda — Services under the Directory — First Expedition from the United States — Dr. Jenner and the King of Spain — Miranda's second expedition and death,||1|
|Aaron Burr — The McGregor and his kingdoms — Mina's expedition and fate — The Alamo massacre — Travis, Bowie, and Crockett — The tragedy of Goliad — Houston and Santa Ana — Victory of San Jacinto — The Santa Fe and Mier expeditions,||12|
|The Lopez Expedition — Landing at Cardenas — Pickett's Fight — An Exciting Chase — Last Expedition — Execution of Lopez and Crittenden,||34|
|The Count Raoussett-Boulbon — A father "de la vieille roche" — Raoussett's contract to garrison Sonora — Proclamations and pronunciamientos — Battle of Hermosillo — Negotiations with Santa Ana — Expedition to Guaymas — Engagement and defeat — Last words of a noble adventurer — Death of the Count,||42|
|William Walker — Boyhood and education — Doctor, Lawyer, Journalist — Goes to California — Personal appearance and characteristics — Departure of the Sonora Expedition — A government proclaimed — Stern discipline — Retreat from Sonora — Bad news at San Vincente — The adventurers cross the boundary — Walker resumes the pen,||56|
|Nicaragua — "Mahomet's Paradise" — Buccaneering visitors — Philip II. and Isthmian canal — Nelson defeated by a girl — The apocryphal heroine of San Carlos,||73|
|British intrigues on the Isthmus — Morazan and the Confederacy — The Mosquito Dynasty — Bombardment of San Juan — Castellon calls in the foreigner — Doubleday and his free lances — Cole's contract approved by Walker,||81|
|Purchase of the Vesta — May 4th, 1855, sailing of the "Immortal Fifty-six" — The American Phalanx — First battle of Rivas — Punishing a desperado — Trouble in Castellon's Cabinet — Battle at Virgin Bay — Death of Castellon.||93|
|A Servile victory in the North — Walker in the enemy's stronghold — Negotiations for peace — Execution of Mayorga — Rivas chosen Provisional Director — Corral's treason and punishment — Newspaper history,||108|
|Filibusterism abroad — Kinney's Expedition — The Filibusters and their allies — An aristocracy of leather — Pierce and Marcy — A rupture with the United States — Costa Rica declares war — Schlessinger's fiasco — Cosmopolitan adventurers — Steamers withdrawn — History of the Transit Company — Vanderbilt plans vengeance — The printing-press on the field,||117|
|The Costa Ricans invade Nicaragua — Second battle of Rivas — The enemy meet a new foe — Rivas orders an election — Walker a candidate — Treason of Rivas — Murder of Estrada — Coalition of the Northern States against Nicaragua — Walker chosen President — Inauguration and recognition by the United States minister — Tradition of the "Gray-eyed Man,"||133|
|Administration of President Walker — The Allies advance towards Granada — Naval victory — Review of the filibuster army — Filibusters and their allies — Assault on Masaya — Civil government — The slavery decree — Antiquated logic||146|
|Henningsen — Early service with Zumalacarregui — Campaigning with the Prophet of the Caucasus — Joins Kossuth — Arrival in America — Omotepe — A Gallant defence — Watters carries the barricades,||159|
|Vanderbilt joins issue — Titus outwitted — Siege of Rivas — Death in the Falange — Desertion — Captain Fayssoux and Sir Robert McClure — Battle of San Jorge — Allies assault Rivas — Famine and devotion — Commander Davis as a peacemaker,||170|
|Ultimatum of Commander Davis — Evacuation of Rivas — Statistics of the campaign — Henningsen's opinion of his men — Characteristic anecdotes — Frederick Ward — A filibuster's apotheosis,||185|
|Walker returns to the United States — Crabbe's expedition — Renewed attempts of Walker — The expedition to San Juan del Norte,||202|
|Walker's "History of the War" — Lands at Ruatan and takes Trujillo — Retreats before the English forces — Surrender — Trial and execution of the last of the Filibusters,||215|
|Character of Walker — A private's devotion — Anecdote — After fate of the filibusters — Henningsen's epitaph — Last Cuban expedition — The Virginius tragedy — An Englishman to the rescue — Finis,||227|
Etymology of the word Filibuster — Norse Adventurers — The Buccaneers — Miranda — Services under the Directory — First Expedition from the United States — Dr. Jenner and the King of Spain — Miranda's second expedition and death.
The difference between a filibuster and a freebooter is one of ends rather than of means. Some authorities say that the words have a common etymology; but others, including Charlevoix, maintain that the filibuster derived his name from his original occupation, that of a cruiser in a "flibote," or "Vly-boat," first used on the river Vly, in Holland. Yet another writer says that the name was first given to the gallant followers of Dominique de Gourgues, who sailed from Finisterre, or Finibuster, in France, on the famous expedition against Fort Caroline in 1567.
The name, whatever its origin, was long current in the Spanish as "filibustero" before it became adopted into the English. So adopted, it has been used to describe a type of adventurer who occupied a curious place in American history during the decade from 1850 to 1860.
The citizen or subject of any country, who makes war upon a state with which his own is at peace, with intent to overrun and occupy it, not merely for the piratical ends of rapine and plunder, is a filibuster in the true sense of the term. Such act of war is, by the law of nations, a crime against both countries. Its morality, before the meaner court of popular judgment, will rest upon the measure of its success alone. So judged, as all invaders are judged at last, the bold adventurer draws but few prizes in the lottery of fame. Cortez and Houston are among the few successful filibusters of modern times.
In the shadowy chronicles of the Norsemen we find the first trace of that adventurous spirit which, during twelve centuries, gave the dominion of the ocean to the seafaring people of Northern Europe. The bold Vikings who, without chart or compass, sailed over unknown and dangerous seas, crossed the Atlantic and swept the Mediterranean, were the worthy fathers of the Drakes and Ansons of later years. History bespeaks them cruel, rapacious, daring; pirates when, as Wheaton says, the occupation of a pirate was considered not only lawful, but honourable. But they were not wholly destructive. Borrowing a lesson in natural history from their own lemming, they solved the troublesome problem, how to get rid of a surplus population, by sending the superfluous members forth to seek a new field. The lemming eats his way to the sea, in which he finds his grave; but his human imitator more wisely found there a pathway to fortune. They went forth mainly to conquer, incidentally to colonize and settle. Among themselves they were primitive republicans, though harsh tyrants to their vanquished foes. "Who is your king or leader?" asked the herald of King Charles the Simple, before the decisive battle on the banks of the Eure in A.D. 898. "We have no king, no chief, no master; but 'Rolf, the Walker,' leads us in war and on the day of battle," was the proud answer of Rolf's comrades and peers. That this was no idle boast, Rolf's own descendant, King John of England, learned to his sorrow when the sons of the sturdy Norse filibusters met him face to face at Runnymede. The Magna Charta is the written code of that fierce democracy, dreaded alike by its serfs and its kings. The Vikings stand alone as a race of warriors whose hardihood overcame even their native superstition, in leading them to defy the gods themselves. They were sceptics, because they knew not fear. Love was as yet an unknown power in their religion.
The Norsemen were suppressed only by absorption. Owing no fealty to their native land, they took possession of the conquered countries, in which they proved to be the strongest barrier against further aggressions from the dreaded North. But before this degree of safety was gained, all Europe had felt the scourge of the terrible Vikings, who had burned or put in vassalage London, Cologne, Treves, Paris, Tours, and Marseilles; carried their victorious arms to Portugal, Spain, Sicily, and Constantinople; and given dynasties of Norse blood to England, Russia, and France. Rolf married a natural daughter of King Charles, whence came the Norman dukes and the royal line of England. In brief, the Vikings held the western world at their mercy, overturning thrones, founding kingdoms, stabling their horses in the palaces of princes, and upholding on their hireling spears the crown of the fallen Cæsars.
With the rise of the powerful maritime nations of Europe filibusterism slumbered for several centuries. The immortal expedition of Cortez being, in so far as it lacked the sanction of his king, wholly that of a filibuster, needs but passing mention here. Its success has lifted it into the realms of history and made it a household story. Filibusterism was to awake on a new field and lead the van in the long warfare which, in two hemispheres and during three centuries, has followed the meeting of Northman and Southron. England, and also France, looked with jealous eyes upon the grasping policy of Spain in the New World. The fortune of discovery had given to the two former the apparently barren lots of Canada and the British colonies. Spain had drawn the rich prize of El Dorado. Not content with the spoils of Mexico and Peru, she grudged to the hardy hunters of the West Indies their petty trade with her colonies. She claimed the Mississippi. The epitaph of Columbus was read as a veritable bequest by Spanish greed. But avarice over-reached itself. The persecutions heaped upon the "boucaniers" of the West Indies aroused a spirit of opposition, which success fanned into aggressive fires, and which the governments of England and France did nothing to extinguish. The cumbrous galleon with its golden freight was no match for the swift Vly-boat, manned by reckless adventurers in whom the appetite for gold was whetted by the memory of countless wrongs.
From unexpected successes by sea the Buccaneers made bold to attack the rich towns on the Spanish Main, which they held for heavy ransoms, or sacked with all the attendant cruelty of their ancestral Berserkers. Panama, Granada, Gibraltar, every town or fort of note, fell before the resistless buccaneers, until the names of Morgan, Portugues, Dampier, and Lolonois became words of terror to the Spanish colonists. Yet it must be borne in mind that the buccaneers were not pirates. They warred against one enemy, the same which had for years oppressed them and their brethren, while the countries to which they owed allegiance were too weak or too indifferent to protect their distant sons. When the buccaneer degenerated into the mere pirate, none were more prompt than his late comrades to follow up and punish the Ishmaelite. Buccaneer Morgan, knighted and made governor of Jamaica, was the terror of the West India pirates, though the virtue of his motives may fairly be questioned.
To her buccaneers England owes the birth of her great navy, whose first fame was won in the rout of the Spanish Armada. They were buccaneers who first sailed around the world; they founded the East India Company, and were Britain's sword and shield for the defence of her nascent colonies. Neglect and indifference rewarded their deeds, until they had grown strong enough to protect themselves. Spain had her paid servants in the very cabinets of England and France, a policy which she has not forgotten how to employ in other lands and later days.
Because of a growing respect for the law of nations, filibusterism, during the grave changes of the eighteenth century and the lull before the storm of the American revolutions, slumbered once again.
The American revolution meant the people defending its rights; the French revolution meant the people avenging its wrongs. Each was successful; both taught an undying lesson to humanity. Free America, with wise selfishness, aimed to assure and bequeath her liberty; Republican France, with loftier if less practical aims, sought to carry the gospel of freedom to all nations. She failed only when she yielded her dearly won liberty to the seduction of martial glory. Napoleon, the child of the people, became a parricide, and usurped the place of the fallen trinity—Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
Among the ardent friends of liberty who rallied around the flag of the Directory was Don Francisco Miranda, a native of Venezuela, of which province his grandfather had been governor. He was well educated, and owned a large private fortune. On account of his revolutionary sentiments he was forced to fly his native country and the military service of Spain, in which he had gained the rank of colonel. The bulk of his property was made forfeit. With what he could save from the wreck he fled to the United States in 1783. He afterwards visited several European countries. The French revolution found him in Russia, whence he at once set out to offer his sword to the Directory. He held a command under Dumourier in the Holland campaign of 1783, in which he won a brave name but no serviceable laurels. The campaign was a failure. Dumourier deserted the cause, and Miranda was arrested and tried for treason. Although undoubtedly innocent, his political intrigues had aroused against him powerful enemies who procured his banishment from France. He removed to England, a country whose ministry he interested in his lifelong scheme for the revolution of his native land. New York was chosen as the point of departure. With bills of exchange on London he bought there the ship Leander, with a formidable armament. On the 2nd of February, 1805, the first filibustering expedition from the United States, consisting of about two hundred men, "some of them gentlemen and persons of good standing in society, though mostly of crooked fortunes," set sail for Venezuela on a crusade of liberty. When eleven days at sea they were brought to by H.B.M. ship Cleopatre, and nineteen of the adventurers were impressed, in the ungracious fashion of the British navy of the period. The Leander was detained, notwithstanding her American clearance, until General Miranda produced some private papers, at sight of which the British captain not only allowed her to proceed unmolested, but also gave her a "protection paper," forbidding all other English cruisers to detain or search her. Apart from the Leander's questionable mission, this remarkable permit to travel on the high seas throws a striking light upon the construction of international law at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Miranda received material aid and comfort from Admiral Cochrane, commanding the British squadron on the West India station, but although his force was swelled by two small vessels, it was, from its first advent on the Spanish Main, a wretched failure. Differences among the invaders, aggravated by the wayward temper of the leader, together with a total apathy or active hostility on the part of the very Venezuelans whom the filibusters had come so far to deliver, brought all their fond hopes to nought. Such of the adventurers as were not captured by the Spaniards surrendered to an English frigate and were carried to the West Indies, whence they made the best of their way home.
Whilst lacking in the heroism and splendid audacity of kindred later crusades, Miranda's expedition was a painful prototype in its ill fortune for subsequent ventures. The inevitable defeat, with its ghastly epilogue of butchery or lingering captivity; the rescue of the wretched survivors by a pitying English or American vessel of war; the world's merciless verdict upon the failure: such has been the dismal tragedy as acted on different stages, from the days of Miranda to that "last appearance" in Santiago de Cuba.
Of the prisoners taken, ten were hanged; some fifty others were condemned to terms of imprisonment varying from eight to ten years. Among the latter was Major Jeremiah Powell, whose father visited Spain in a vain effort to procure his release. Returning, in despair, by way of London, he bethought him of a novel expedient. It was that of getting a letter of introduction to the Spanish monarch from the great Doctor Jenner. Armed with this he returned to Madrid and presented himself before the Court. The student of Spanish, and notably of Spanish-American history, will find few instances of generous or tender instinct in its bloody annals. Let it be written, as a bright line on the dark page of Spanish cruelty, that the appeal of humanity's benefactor was not made in vain. Major Powell was at once set free. The conquest of deadly pestilence was hardly a greater victory than that won over the heart of a merciless despot. Two half-pay officers of the British army, an ex-colonel of the United States service, a chevalier of the Austrian Empire, and several adventurous young men of good families in the United States formed the circle from which Miranda chose his officers. Among the latter was a youth named Smith, grandson of President Adams. It was rumoured that he was among the prisoners taken at Caracas. The Spanish minister at Washington, the Marquis de Casa Yrujo, fancying that he saw a good chance of serving his government, and, at the same time, getting credit for an humane act, wrote to a friend of young Smith's father at New York, offering to interest himself on behalf of the prisoner, who otherwise would probably be condemned to die with his companions. Respect for the exalted character of Mr. Adams, he said, prompted this step, but he must nevertheless stipulate that Colonel Smith should impart to him full and complete information about the plans of Miranda, and a list of the Spanish subjects who were concerned in them. The father, yet ignorant of the fact that his son was not among the unfortunate prisoners, at once replied thanking the noble Marquis for the interest he had shown, but adding with a dignity and fortitude worthy of a Roman: "Do me the favour, my friend, to inform the Marquis, that were I in my son's place I would not comply with his proposals to save my life; and I will not cast so great an indignity on that son, my family, and myself, as to shelter him under the shield of disgrace."
What sympathy, if any, was given to the undertaking by the administration of President Jefferson, it is hard to determine. Miranda always claimed to have been in the confidence of the American Government, as he undoubtedly was in that of Great Britain. It is certain that the people of the United States already looked with brotherly feelings upon the misgoverned peoples of Spanish America. Some of the leaders were tried before the United States courts upon their return, but, defended with burning eloquence by Thomas Addis Emmett, himself an exiled patriot, they were promptly acquitted.
Failing in his attempt to free Venezuela from without, Miranda returned to the country in December, 1810, and was favourably received by the semi-independent colonial government. Obtaining a seat in the republican congress he soon rose to the vice-presidency of that body, and organized a more formidable scheme of revolution. On the 5th of July, 1811, he signed the act of independence, and was appointed commander-in-chief of the forces. On his staff was Simon Bolivar, who was destined to play a more fortunate part than that of his chief in the destinies of South America. For a time Miranda was successful in the field, but reverses were soon followed by treachery, and when, in pursuance of the authority of Congress, he signed the treaty of Victoria, restoring Venezuela to Spanish rule, on July 25, 1812, he was denounced as a traitor by his fellow revolutionists, who, with little consistency, delivered him up to the enemy in whose interest they pretended he had acted. His after fate sufficiently establishes his innocence of treason to the revolutionary cause. The Spaniards sent him a prisoner to Cadiz, where he lingered for four years, dying in a dungeon, with a chain around his neck.
Of all his deeds fame has preserved but one enduring memento, his name, carved with those of the other great soldiers of the Directory, on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
Aaron Burr — The McGregor and his kingdom — Mina's expedition and fate — The Alamo massacre — Travis, Bowie, and Crockett — The tragedy of Goliad — Houston and Santa Ana — Victory of San Jacinto — The Santa Fe and Mier expeditions.
While Miranda's ambitious schemes were drawing the notice of the State department towards the seaboard, a more serious filibustering scheme was quietly hatching in another quarter, in the brain of one of the boldest and ablest adventurers known to American history. The imperial crown of the Montezumas was the prize for which an ex-vice-president of the United States risked fame, fortune, everything—and lost! The story of Aaron Burr is a matter of familiar history. His demoralized forces surrendered at Bayou Pierre, on the Mississippi, on January 17, 1807. Acquitted of the charge of treason, for which he was tried, but condemned by the unanimous opinion of his contemporaries, the sober judgment of history must pause before endorsing either verdict. The relations of Spain and the United States were in a hopelessly tangled state. Burr proposed to settle the disputed question of territorial rights by conquering the whole of Spanish North America, a scheme which his countrymen might not have severely rebuked or discouraged; but, unfortunately for his fame, Burr's ambition was personal and selfish. He would conquer, but not for his country's sake—a distinction, even then, sufficient to constitute a grave offence against the sovereign people.
What are now known as the Gulf States—Florida, Louisiana, and Texas—were then held under the colonial sway of Spain. The first and second became absorbed by purchase. Texas, as early as 1812, had begun to invite the notice of the restless filibustering element, but its more immediate importance lay in its convenience as a field of operations for the Mexican revolutionists. Hidalgo and his compatriots unfurled the standard of independence in September, 1810. Their first attempt to enlist outside aid was made six months later, when Bernardo Guttierez de Lara, a native Mexican, was sent as a commissioner to Washington to invoke recognition for the new Republic. His mission failing, Guttierez went to New Orleans and began recruiting adventurers, with such success that he was able in February, 1812, to lead a force of 450 men across the border into Texas.
His success was brilliant from the outset; and, in spite of some serious reverses, he succeeded in making himself master of Leon and Texas. Then came into play the unfailing ally of tyranny, corruption. Alvarez de Toledo, who had been appointed the successor of Guttierez as commissioner to Washington, made use of his position to negotiate with the Spanish minister for the betrayal of his compatriot. Returning to Texas, he incited mutiny among the troops of Guttierez, who deposed their commander and appointed Alvarez to succeed him. Personal ambition, rather than treason to his country, must have been the motive influencing the latter; for when the Royalist general, Arredondo, marched with an overwhelming force against the patriots at San Antonio de Bexar, Alvarez boldly gave him battle. Guttierez, with noble patriotism, fought in the ranks of his late command and did not survive the defeat. His heroic devotion was imitated on the same spot by Barrett Travis, twenty-two years afterwards. The defeat and death of Guttierez occurred on March 15, 1814.
Among the Americans who took service under Guttierez was Augustus W. Magee, of Massachusetts, who laid down his commission as a lieutenant in the United States army to join the filibusters. His fate was peculiar. After several successes he found himself, as he supposed, so beset by Governor Salcedo that he made terms for the surrender of himself and followers and their transportation to the United States. But the men boldly refused to abide by the timid measures of their leader, disavowed the contract, and actually assailed and routed the enemy, who was awaiting their surrender. Magee, overcome with shame at the success of those whom he had proved himself unworthy to lead, blew out his brains on the night of the victory.
Reuben Kemper, of Virginia, was another of the American adventurers of a widely different type. He is described as a man of gigantic proportions, with a voice and a heart to match his stalwart frame, and a profanity that attracted attention even on that Homeric field. As early as 1808 he made an attempt to capture Baton Rouge, and was kidnapped for his pains by the Spaniards, who would have cut short his career summarily but for the intervention of the United States commander at Pointe Coupée. On attaining his liberty, Kemper vowed to devote his life to the extirpation of Spanish rule in America. In 1812 he led an abortive attempt to capture Mobile, but was more successful on receiving from Guttierez the command of six hundred Americans with whom he gained several victories. Dissensions in the patriot ranks at last sent him home in disgust. He afterwards served with distinction under Jackson at New Orleans, and survived to witness the final extinction of Spanish rule on the American continent.
About this time occurred, like a burlesque injected into a tragedy, the extraordinary episode of "Citizen Gregor McGregor", or Sir George McGregor, which is said to have been his legitimate title in his native Scotland, who claimed dominion over Florida, then a Spanish possession. McGregor was the wearer of many titles, among them those of "Brigadier General of the Armies of the United Provinces of New Granada and Venezuela, and General-in-Chief of the armies of the Two Floridas, Commissioned by the Supreme Directors of Mexico and South America, and Cacique of Poyais, the last-named having been conferred by His Majesty George Frederick Augustus, King of the Mosquito Coast." Incidentally he claimed to be chief of the clan Alpin, or Gregor, of Scotland. Mr. Alfred M. Williams, author of the admirable "Life of General Houston," says of The McGregor:
He had taken a part in the South American revolution, and married a woman who was, or professed to be, a sister of Simon Bolivar. Failing to win fortune in South America, "Gen." McGregor sailed away in a small schooner which he had obtained possession of, and appeared in Baltimore in the winter of 1817. There, without attracting any particular attention from the authorities, he enlisted a small number of men for the conquest of Florida, and landed on Amelia Island in June, where he issued a proclamation suitable to his titles of distinction, and promised "to plant the Green Cross of Florida on the proud walls of St. Augustine." Whatever is to be said of the other Filibusters, they were not blatherskites and charlatans, and of this class Gregor McGregor most distinctly was. Failing to gather any recruits to his standard, McGregor was persuaded by one Woodbine, an English adventurer, who figured a good deal in the troubles which led to Jackson's summary execution of Arbuthnot and Ambrister, to sail for New Providence, where a British regiment had recently been disbanded, and where, as in former years, there was abundance of material in the shape of broken men and the waifs and strays of adventure, in the hope of enlisting a force, to be joined by one of 1500 Indians under Woodbine for the conquest of Florida. McGregor sailed for New Providence, but probably impressed with the idea that the conquest of Florida would require something more than a proclamation, determined "to arrange his private affairs," which it will be seen, that he subsequently did to his great advantage. McGregor's Filibuster expedition in Florida did not quite end with the withdrawal of the leader to attend to his private affairs. One Commodore Aury of the Mexican Liberal forces, appeared on the scene with some small vessels and a motley crew of one hundred and fifty men, made up, as usual, of land and water pirates, refugees and adventurers of every shade of color and nationality, and set up a provisional Government, fortified Fernandina and endeavored, without success, to get together a Legislature representing the people of Florida. He was attacked at Fernandina by the miserable, half mulatto, Spanish troops from St. Augustine, and beat them off without much difficulty. But Aury's troubles were more internal than external. Part of the Filibusters were sincerely desirous of driving out the Spaniards and setting up a free Government in Florida, as was Aury himself, but the majority were simply desirous of making Fernandina a smuggling and piratical headquarters, as Barataria Bay was, and an entrepot for landing slave cargoes from Africa. They quarrelled and fought among themselves, and, in the meantime, had made themselves such a pest and nuisance to American commerce, by piracy and wrecking, and by stealing as well as selling slaves, that President Monroe, probably also foreseeing that Florida would soon fall into the lap of the United States, sent a land and naval force to demand the surrender of Fernandina, which was abandoned by the Filibusters early in the winter of 1818 and turned over to the Spanish authorities. But in the meantime Sir Gregor McGregor had conceived the safer and more profitable idea of founding a kingdom by colonization, rather than by conquest. In 1822 he made his appearance in Edinburgh and announced that he had become the proprietor, by a grant from His Majesty, the King of the Mosquitos, of an immense and valuable territory on the banks of the Black river, which possessed all the advantages of the Garden of Eden in the way of climate, soil and natural productiveness, and which only wanted settlers to add thereto the luxuries, with none of the labors, of civilization. This delectable country was named Poyais, and he himself was the Cacique thereof, a title, which, so to speak, reeked with barbaric richness and grandeur. He opened subscription books to the amount of two hundred thousand pounds, the greater proportion of which was actually paid in. In the meantime he transacted business in a regal fashion, occupying a town house in the fashionable quarter, besides a villa in the country, to which he occasionally retired when fatigued by the affairs of State. He appointed a full set of Government officers, including a Lord Chancellor, but himself, it is to be presumed, retaining the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer, and a military staff, clad in gorgeous green uniforms. He also established an order of knighthood, and, like other wise monarchs, had his historiographer and poet. The former produced a book dedicated to His Highness the Cacique of Poyais, entitled "Sketch of the Mosquito Shore, Including the Territory of Poyais; Description of the Country, with Some Information as to its Productions, the Best Mode of Culture, etc.; Chiefly Intended for the Use of Settlers. By Thomas Strangeways, K.G.C., Captain First Native Poyais Infantry, and Aid-de-Camp to His Highness Cacique of Poyais," in which the healthfulness and richness of the country were set forth with all the force of an untrammeled imagination; and the poet, a female relative of the Cacique, produced a popular song entitled "The Poyais Emigrant," in which love and lucre were attractively blended:
When everything had been concluded, His Royal Highness, the Cacique of Poyais, gave a regal reception to his court and faithful subjects, when they were admitted to the presence of the Cacique and Caciquess, who were seated on a dais, and graciously permitted to kiss their hands. A collation was served, and as this was the only substantial return obtained for their investments, it is to be hoped that they had better appetite than the Kentucky Colonel, who, after an unsuccessful night at the gaming table, was invited to stay and partake of some refreshments, and responded with a vigorous negative, and the query: "Do you suppose I can eat 1100 dollars worth of ham and get even?" A party of unfortunate emigrants actually went out to the kingdom of Poyais, where they found that the King of the Mosquitos did not recognize any grant as having been made to the Cacique; but they were graciously allowed to remain until the pestilential fevers carried off most of them, and the remainder were rescued by a relief party. As for Sir Gregor McGregor, he disappeared permanently from public view, taking with him, it is presumed, the treasure chest of his Government.
Another stormy petrel blown from Europe to Mexican seas was Don Francisco Javier Mina, who managed to compress a world of adventure into his brief life. Born at Idocin in Spain in 1789, he won fame while a mere youth by leading his hardy mountaineers in many a guerrilla fight against the French. In his twenty-first year he had gained the rank of colonel, and was on the high road to preferment when the blind policy of King Ferdinand drove him into rebellion, along with his uncle, the brave General Espoz y Mina. A well-planned scheme of revolution having failed, he fled the country and made his way to England, where he was warmly welcomed. His talents and courage inspired the government of that country, which for reasons of its own wished to foment insurrection in Spanish America, to equip him for a renewal of warfare against Ferdinand on his transatlantic territory. He arrived in the United States well supplied with money and letters to the friends of the Mexican revolutionists, and on April 15, 1817, he landed a force of 270 men from New Orleans at Soto la Marina. Defeating a superior force of Royalists in several engagements, he made a junction with the revolutionary army, and speedily drove the enemy out of the Northern provinces.
It was a far harder task, however, to overcome the jealousy and incompetence of Torres, then in chief command; and Mina, betrayed by his allies, fell into the hands of Viceroy Apodaca, who had him immediately executed, with twenty-five of his followers, on November 11, 1817. Mina was but twenty-eight years old when he ended his career, but he had given proofs of rare worth as a soldier and a patriot.
Among the Americans who shared his fortunes was Colonel Perry, of New Orleans. Despairing of success, as soon as he discovered the worthlessness of the native leaders, he abruptly withdrew from the army and undertook, with only fifty followers, to cut his way back to the United States by land. In this attempt they partially succeeded, but were soon overtaken and surrounded by an overwhelming force. Perry rejected all demands to surrender until, the last of his band having fallen by his side, he put a pistol to his head and blew out his brains.
When Mexico at last won her freedom, her most northerly state, Texas, held an anomalous position. A large proportion of its people was made up of Americans who had borne their share in the battle for liberty. By birth and associations they were more closely allied with their Northern than with their Southern neighbours. It did not take them long to learn that Mexico, in changing her government had not changed her nature. The intolerance of the new rulers differed little from that of the old, while civil government was far less stable under the Republic than it had been while swayed by the Spaniard.
Upon the declaration of Texan independence in September, 1835, General Cos marched a large army into the rebellious state, determined to drive the rash intruders out of the country. In the first engagement, at Gonzales, the Texans routed their foes, and General Cos was forced to take refuge behind the walls of the Alamo, in San Antonio de Bexar. But the Texan blood was now fairly up, and General Burlison, with only 216 men, laid siege to the fortress. The garrison numbered 1,700, but in spite of the fearful odds, the Texans stormed the place and sent General Cos under parole to his astonished brother-in-law, the redoubtable Santa Ana. Colonel James Bowie, who had just defeated another large Mexican force, at the Mission Concepcion, joined Colonel Travis at the Alamo.
Bowie was a Georgian, born in Burke County, about 1790. Not much is known of his career until the year 1827, when he became famous throughout the Southwest by his participation in a "difficulty" between two citizens of Natchez, Mississippi. Several friends of both combatants assisted at the duel and a general fight was the natural and welcome result. During the melée, Bowie was wounded, but killed one of his antagonists with a knife which a blacksmith had made for him out of a large file or rasp. The fame of the new weapon spread under the name of the "Bowie Knife", which still holds a high place in the affections of those who love close fighting. Oliver Wendell Holmes drily compares it to the short sword of the ancient Romans and says that "nations which shorten their weapons lengthen their boundaries". Bowie fought at San Saba in 1831 and at Nacogdoches and Concepcion in 1835 and commanded as Colonel at Grass Fight, on Oct. 25, 1835. There is no doubt that Bowie was one of the bravest and coolest men that ever lived, even in Texas. To the Alamo presently also came "Davy" Crockett, of Tennessee, hunter, soldier, Congressman, unique in history.
David Crockett was the fifth son of John Crockett, an Irish soldier of the Revolutionary War. He was born on August 17, 1786, at the mouth of Limestone on the Nolachuky River, Tennessee. The time and place were suitable for the development of a hardy character. The father and mother of John Crockett were murdered by the Creek Indians, a brother was wounded and another captured and held by the savages for seventeen years. Young "Davy" had slender opportunities of obtaining an education. Such as they were he sedulously avoided them. He was sent to school at the age of twelve, but spent only four days there, playing "hookey" until discovered by his father who did not neglect Solomon's advice. The youth thereupon ran away from home and had the usual unromantic experience attending such an escapade. He found employment with waggoners, farmers and others, some of whom cheated him and others paid him but scantily. The young prodigal returned home when he was fifteen years old and justified his forgiving welcome by working a whole year to pay off some of his father's debts. Then of his own accord and at his own expense he went to school for six months, learning to read a little, to write less and to master some of the first three rules of arithmetic. With that his book education was completed. Not so, however, his more practical tuition. He became a thorough woodsman, a mighty hunter and the crack rifle shot of the neighborhood. Then, at the mature age of eighteen, he determined to get married; the which he did by running away with a pretty Irish girl whose parents had the bad taste to object to him as a son-in-law. Then, as he says in his autobiography, "having gotten my wife, I thought I was completely made up, and needed nothing more in the whole world. But I soon found this was all a mistake—for now having a wife, I wanted everything else; and, worse than all, I had nothing to give for it."
However, the stern parents became reconciled to the situation; his wife was a true helpmeet and their married life began happily. But the country was too thickly populated, in Crockett's opinion, and so he moved further into the wilderness.
The Creek War broke out shortly afterwards and he served gallantly in that and in the Florida war under General Jackson, as also in the brilliant campaign of that General against the British, culminating in the victory of New Orleans. Politics next occupied his attention and he was elected first a magistrate, next a member of the State legislature and then to the national Congress, in which last he served three terms. Being defeated in his next attempt at re-election, he determined to abandon the ungrateful field of politics, and calling his late constituents together told them in language more forcible than elegant that they might all go to a warmer country and he would go to Texas. In this resolve he believed that he was following his own famous advice: "Be sure you're right, then go ahead."
Colonel Barrett Travis had 144 men with him in the Alamo when Santa Ana and 4,000 Mexicans sat down before it, demanding an unconditional surrender, on February 23, 1836. Cos, heedless of his parole, was with the besiegers. Travis answered with a cannon shot, and the enemy hoisted the red flag, signifying "no quarter." In no spirit of bravado, but with a sincerity which the event only too fully confirmed, the Texan commander issued the following proclamation:—
"To the People of Texas and all Americans in the World.
"Commandancy of the Alamo, Bexar,
"February 24, 1836.
"Fellow Citizens and Compatriots,—I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Ana. I have sustained a continual bombardment and cannonade for twenty-four hours and have not lost a man. The enemy have demanded a surrender at discretion; otherwise the garrison is to be put to the sword if the fort is taken. I have answered the summons with a cannon shot, and our flag still waves proudly from the walls. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then I call on you in the name of liberty, patriotism, and everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all despatch. The enemy are receiving reinforcements daily, and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. Though this call may be neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible, and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honour and that of his country. Victory or death!
"W. Barrett Travis,
Houston, to whom Travis addressed an urgent call for reinforcements, could do nothing. On the 3rd of March, with death staring the little garrison in the face, Travis sent a despatch to the Revolutionary committee, calmly stating his position, reiterating his determination never to surrender, and dwelling with almost impersonal interest on the beneficial effect to follow such determined resistance as he and his men were making. "I will do the best I can under the circumstances," he says, "and I feel confident that the determined valour and desperate courage heretofore evinced by my men will not fail them in the last struggle; and although they may be sacrificed to the vengeance of a Gothic enemy, the victory will cost the enemy so dear that it will be worse for him than a defeat."
Day by day the toils were drawn closer around the doomed walls. Day by day the little garrison was thinned by wounds and sickness. Vainly they gazed northward across the plain for the invoked aid. The hungry eye beheld only a long train of Mexican recruits hastening like vultures to the feast of blood. Once they were gladdened by the sight of a little band of countrymen spurring towards the walls. But they were no forerunners of a relieving army. Thirty-two gallant Texans threw themselves into the fort, cutting their way through the besiegers, simply and solely that they might fight with their comrades; that they might be found, living or dead, by the side of David Crockett and Barrett Travis. Each morning a dwindling garrison answered to the roll-call, and the thin ranks were stretched a little wider apart along the crumbling ramparts which it had needed thrice their numbers to defend. They husbanded their scanty stores. They never wasted a shot. During that long and terrible fortnight it is said that nearly ten victims fell to each American rifle. With a thousand of his men shot down, and trembling in baffled wrath, Santa Ana on the fourteenth day, ordered another general assault. His officers drove their men to the breach at the sword's point.
When the smoke of battle had rolled away there was silence in the Alamo. The dead and dying strewed the ground. Santa Ana entered the fort. On the rampart, dead at his post, lay the commander, Travis, shot through the head. Beside him was the body of a Mexican officer, pierced to the heart by the sword still clutched in the dead hero's hand. They found Bowie in his own room. He was sick in bed when they broke into it, but his trusty rifle was with him, and four Mexicans died before he was reached. A fifth fell across his dead body, pierced through and through by the terrible knife. At the door of the magazine they shot Evans, ere he could touch a match and wreak a Samson vengeance on the foe.
Santa Ana stepped into the court-yard. There were six prisoners. His orders were that none should be taken. Nevertheless, David Crockett and five others had stoutly resisted, until his clubbed rifle broken in his sinewy hands, the dauntless backwoodsman listened to the promise of quarter. Santa Ana paused a moment before his unmoved captives. It was but for a moment. The next his hand sought the hilt of his sword. Crockett, divining his purpose, sprang at the traitor, but he was too late; a dozen blades had flashed at the sign and the hapless prisoners fell dead, the last of all the garrison.
These men of the Alamo were volunteers, simple citizens, bound by no tie save that of fealty to cause and comrades. Unsung of poet, all but unnamed in history, the brave men of the Alamo went to their certain death, with a sublime fortitude, beside which the obedient immolation of Balaklava's Six Hundred is but the triumph of disciplined machines. A monument raised to their memory bears the magnificent inscription:—
"Thermopylæ had its messenger of defeat; the Alamo had none."
It needs more than judicial impartiality to question the right of the Texan revolution while telling the story of the Alamo. Right and wrong are barred from consideration in recalling the tragedy of Goliad. Colonel Fannin and 330 of his men, who had surrendered to Santa Ana as prisoners of war, under a solemn promise that they should be returned to the United States, were marched out of the fort, on the morning of Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, and, without a moment's warning, fired upon and murdered in cold blood. The outlaws to whom this fearful penalty was dealt out, without even the mockery of a Spanish trial, were all young men or lads, "the oldest not over thirty years of age." The world, freely as its soil is saturated with human blood, stood aghast at this horrible slaughter. Texas trembled at the Mexican's vengeance. Houston alone, husbanding his scanty means, animating his raw levies, working, planning, providing for all, laid his trap with such shrewd forethought, that in less than two months he had sprung it upon Santa Ana and all his army, and on the banks of the San Jacinto, dictated terms of peace to his captive, the butcher of the Alamo and Goliad. The victory was unstained by a single act of revenge. Thenceforth the world knew that Texas was free. The men who could use success with such forbearance were men worthy of self-government.
Texas striving for independence was to the nations of the world an object of keener interest than Texas sending her heroic filibusters to nameless graves. Lord Palmerston, anticipating with literal exactness the policy of a later administration dealing with Central America, threatened to send a ship of war to Texas "to demand payment of certain claims against the republic." The United States, with a similar foreshadowing of its future policy, at once took measures to insure the independence of Texas against all European meddlers. As usual, the people were in advance of their government, and Texas became a state of the American union, Mexico's attempt to hold it costing her the fairest part of her domain.
Before this happy end was reached, more than one bloody tragedy had been added to the gloomy history of Texas. In June, 1841, General McLeod led from Austin a party of 320 men, bound for Santa Fe, New Mexico, upon the ostensibly peaceful mission of opening up trade with that place. His real aim was to foment insurrection against the Mexican Government and annex the territory to Texas. After a long and painful journey through woods and desert, being attacked by Indians, and lost on the then mysterious waste of the "Llanos Estacados," the expedition reached the frontier in scattered parties which were promptly captured by Governor Armijo. It was not, however, until after they had given up their arms, under the false representations of a traitorous comrade and the promise of friendly treatment from Armijo, that they found out how grievous had been their error in trusting to the word of the Mexican. The whole party, with the exception of three or four who had been put to death in pure wantonness, were sent under a strong guard to the city of Mexico, making the long and painful journey on foot, exposed to the grossest outrages from their brutal guard. Many died on the way, and the survivors were thrown into prison, where they lingered for months, until the miserable remnant were at last set free at the motion of the British and American ministers.
Liberty was granted at the same time to the survivors of the Mier Expedition—an ill-starred band who, in December, 1842, had crossed the Rio Grande in pursuit of Mexican raiders. Colonel William Fisher headed the party, numbering about five hundred, their general, Somerville, having declined to lead them over the border. At the town of Mier they met and repulsed over two thousand Mexicans under General Ampudia, but their leader was wounded in the fight, and, against the protests of his chief officers, agreed to a conditional surrender. The terms, of course, were broken by the victor, and the unfortunate prisoners were hurried into the interior and buried in dungeons with the lowest convicts. Captain Ewin Cameron, one of the boldest in the band, foreseeing the fate before them, organized an attack on the guard before reaching their prison. They overpowered their armed escort, and made their way to the mountains, whence a few managed to reach Texas, but the greater part were recaptured, including their courageous leader. Santa Ana ordered them to be decimated. Cameron was lucky enough to draw a white bean in the fatal lottery, but it did not avail him. He was shot the next day. Few men would be found willing to increase the risks against them in such a terrible game of hazard; but there was one, a youth named George Bibb Crittenden, who, drawing a white bean, gave it to a comrade, with the self-sacrificing words, "You have a wife and children; I haven't, and I can afford to risk another chance." He did so, and fortunately again drew a safe lot. Crittenden survived to participate gallantly in the Mexican War, and attained the rank of brigadier-general on the Southern side in the Civil War. He was a son of the Kentucky statesman, John J. Crittenden.
The prisoners were scattered amongst various strongholds, where many sank under disease, starvation, and cruelty. The survivors when freed were turned adrift, penniless, to make the best of their way home to the United States. General Thomas J. Green was one of those who escaped by tunnelling the walls of the castle of Perote; the story of which exploit, with his subsequent adventures, he has told in a book little known but of vast interest.
It needs a Scott to tell to the world the story of our border romance, though no fiction ever surpassed the thrilling facts which were then of almost daily occurrence. Fame is a curious gift of the gods. Colonel Crockett, the daring soldier, is all but forgotten, while the whimsical, semi-fabulous "Davy" Crockett, hero of a hundred wild stories, seems likely to live for ever. Few remember how heroically he "went ahead," to the last extremity, after first making sure of what was "right" and fit in a patriot. Knightly scutcheon never bore a nobler device than that of the simple backwoodsman, nor lived there ever a preux chevalier who set a higher value upon his plighted word.
There were brave men, too, before Agamemnon. Mexier and Perry and Nolan, names well known on the border, lived and fought, and died, alas in vain, before the adopted son of an Indian, sturdy Sam Houston, crowned the long struggle with victory. Filibusters all, if you will, but every one a man, in an age when manliness is none too highly prized, and a country which is belied as the chosen home of dollar worshippers merely.
The Lopez Expedition — Landing at Cardenas — Pickett's Fight — An Exciting Chase — Last Expedition — Execution of Lopez and Crittenden.
Filibusterism under that name, however, was unknown to the people of the United States, until the famous descents of Lopez upon Cuba in 1850 and 1851. Narciso Lopez was a countryman of Miranda, and, like him, an officer in the Spanish service. Born at Caracas in 1799, he entered the royal army at an early age, attained the rank of colonel in his twenty-first year, and distinguished himself so well in the first Carlist war that he was promoted to the rank of major-general, and made Governor of Valencia. He went to Cuba in 1843 with Governor-General Valdes, who took him into high favour, and loaded him with honours. But O'Donnell, the successor of Valdes, did not continue the vice-regal favours, and Lopez consequently retired to private life, and ere long was discovered to be conspiring against the Government. He fled to the United States, where he found hundreds of adventurous spirits ready and eager for any undertaking that bade fair to be spiced with danger.
His first attempt at invasion, in August, 1849, was checked at the outset by President Taylor, whose marshals captured the whole expedition as it was on the point of departure from New York. Nothing daunted by this mishap, Lopez travelled throughout the Southern and South-Western States, secretly enlisting men and making provision for their transportation to Cuba. At New Orleans he chartered a steamer and two barks and assembled his forces. From the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi and the Gulf States they came, a hardy band of adventurers, three-fourths of whom had served in the Mexican War, the officers being men of known courage and ability. Colonel Theodore O'Hara commanded the first detachment, numbering 250, which sailed on the bark Georgiana, on the 25th of April, 1850, under orders to rendezvous at the island of Mujeres. Their colonel had won an honourable fame in the Mexican War and was not without greater distinction in the world of letters. He wrote the "Bivouac of the Dead," a lyric which will live at least as long as the memory of those whom it celebrated. Three weeks after their departure they were joined at the island of Contoy (for the Georgiana had not been able to make the rendezvous) by the steamer Creole, carrying Lopez and his fortunes and 450 followers. The whole command was then transferred to the Creole and sailed away for the shores of Cuba.
The little army was reviewed by their general, who made them a stirring harangue in Spanish (for he did not speak the tongue of his motley followers) promising them the co-operation of the Cubans the moment they should unfurl the Lone Star flag on the island, and the undying gratitude of a liberated people. More substantial rewards were also held out, in a bounty of four thousand dollars to every private soldier at the end of the first year's service, or sooner if the revolution should succeed within that time. In the meanwhile they were to receive the same pay, according to rank, as that of the army of the United States. It is not extravagant to say that hardly a man in the expedition gave a second thought to the money advantages contingent on success. The reckless dare-devils were content to enjoy a vagabond campaign seasoned with danger and hard fighting, while those of higher aims thirsted for the fame of Liberators. Among the men of education and lofty sentiments were Colonels O'Hara and John T. Pickett; the latter a bold and fertile organizer, who enjoyed the distinction of having a reward of 25,000 dollars offered for his head by the Captain-General of Cuba. The Adjutant-General, Gonzales, was a native Cuban, who had forsaken a promising career in the university to join the revolutionists. Many there were, too, of whom we shall hear again in Central America—Wheat, Titus, Kewen, Allen, and others.
Matanzas had been chosen as the first point of attack, but as they rightly judged that the Spaniards had been advised of their movements, it was decided to land at Cardenas, whither the Creole's bow was pointed, every eye turning to catch the first sight of the promised land. They entered the harbour about midnight, unchallenged by the over-confident enemy. So little were they expected by the good people of Cardenas, that not a boatman nor wharf watchman could be seen to take a line ashore, and the steamer lay a few yards from the pier until the first officer, Fayssoux, leaped overboard with a rope between his teeth and made her fast.
Pickett, upon landing, marched rapidly with fifty men of the Kentucky battalion through the city and seized the station of the railroad which connected Cardenas and Matanzas. The main body, consisting of four companies, formed upon the pier and marched towards the plaza, intending to surprise the garrison. Before reaching the plaza they were challenged and fired upon by a patrol. Instantly the alarm was sounded in the garrison, and volleys of musketry began to play about the ears of the invaders. Colonel O'Hara was wounded at the first discharge, but his men fought with cool bravery under the leadership of Lopez, who was constantly in the foremost rank, seeking to make himself known to the defenders. He was sure that upon recognizing him they would at once fraternize with the invaders. But the garrison made a stubborn resistance until their quarters were carried by assault, when they threw down their arms and shouted "Vivas!" for Lopez and Liberty. The governor, whose house was opposite the barracks, held out until it was in flames, when he surrendered, and the filibusters, after a three hours' battle, had won Cardenas.
Now was the time for the legions of revolutionists to fall in beside their liberators, and Lopez issued a strong appeal for volunteers. Not one native responded! Whether from apathy or cowardice, they showed no desire to risk their lives in the cause of liberty. The situation was becoming grave. Already the alarm had gone forth and the lancers of the enemy were beginning to appear in formidable numbers in the streets. Lopez saw that the capture of Cardenas was a barren victory. To carry out his intention of proceeding by rail to Matanzas in the face of the whole Spanish army, and without a single native adherent to welcome his appearance, would have been madness. Reluctantly he gave orders to embark, and recalled the detachment which had been guarding the railroad. The enemy seeing them retreat grew bolder, and made several determined efforts to prevent the embarkation, but the filibusters threw up a barricade of empty hogsheads and easily repelled the attack. After a final attempt to cut off the detachment from the railroad, in which Pickett drove them back with heavy loss, they offered no further opposition to the retreat. Cardenas had been won and lost within twelve hours. The Creole steamed out of the harbour at nine o'clock in the evening, but stuck fast on a sand-bank and lay there for five hours, until sufficiently lightened of her cargo to float again.
A council of war was held, and it was declared that no further attempts at a landing on the island were practicable, owing to the indecision of the native population. Lopez strove in vain to gainsay this determination, and even begged to be put ashore alone, or with the thirty Spanish soldiers who had just joined his cause. His mad request being refused he resigned command, and the steamer was headed for Key West, coming to anchor at nightfall within forty miles of that port.
In the meantime, the authorities of Cuba had despatched a war steamer in search of the filibusters, and offered a reward of 50,000 dollars for the capture of Lopez. The Pizarro sped into Key West while the Creole was lying at anchor, and set out again in quest of her at daybreak. The people of the town were apprised of her mission and thronged the piers and hills to behold the issue. Soon they descried on the horizon the smoke of a steamer, which, as it drew near, was recognized as the Creole. Not far in her wake they also saw the huge Pizarro throwing out volumes of smoke and rapidly closing with her prey. As the pursued steamer approached the coast it was seen that her fuel was giving out, while the Pizarro was crowding on every pound of steam that her boilers could carry. A few minutes more and the guns of the Spaniard would have opened upon the devoted vessel, but at the critical moment the funnel of the Creole began to belch forth clouds of smoke and her wheels to revolve as the wheels of a steamboat can when her Mississippi river captain begins to levy contributions on his cargo. The filibusters rolled barrels of bacon into the furnace-room, tore up the dry wood-work of the boat, and pulled the red shirts off their backs to feed the flames. Better a magnificent explosion and sudden death than capture and torture by the merciless Spaniard. The device succeeded. The Creole gallantly rounded the point, a few hundred yards ahead of her pursuer, and dropped anchor under the guns of Key West as the Pizarro, without even saluting the fort, came ploughing behind her and halted a few rods away, with port-holes open and broadsides grinning like the fangs of a bloodhound baulked of his prey. Her gunners stood by their pieces, match in hand, and ready at a word to blow the Creole to destruction. For a time it looked as though the word would be spoken; but, if such was the Spaniard's desire, he prudently forbore its gratification when he saw the United States officers take possession of the steamer, and a grim-looking array of filibusters swarm in the embrasures of the fort and sight the huge guns which were trained upon his deck.
Lopez and his followers made the best of their way from Key West; they to their homes and he to the custody of a United States marshal. The expedition had suffered a loss of fourteen killed and thirty wounded. Among the killed was their chaplain! The list of the enemy's loss was not officially published, but is supposed to have reached a hundred killed and as many wounded. Lopez was tried for his violation of the neutrality laws, but escaped conviction, and immediately set about preparing another expedition. His faith in the devotion of his American friends was better founded than the reliance which he placed on the promises of his native adherents.
In the following year, Aug. 12, 1851, he landed a force of 450 men at Bahia Honda, with the greater part of which he marched into the country, where he had been led to expect a general uprising the moment he should appear among the Creoles. Colonel W. S. Crittenden, a brave young soldier of the Mexican War, remained with the smaller body, awaiting reinforcements. But Lopez, as usual, had misjudged the spirit of his countrymen, who were not yet ripe for revolt. With his little band of 323 men he repulsed 1,300 of the enemy, killing their general, Enna; but being forced to retreat into the interior, his forces dwindled away and the leader was at last captured and carried in chains to Havana. Fifty of his followers were shot at once. Lopez was strangled by the garrote on Sept. 1st. It pleased his enemies to add this pang of an ignominious death. The old hero met it without flinching. Spain had honoured him for facing death upon many a bloody field, and she could not dishonour him while dying for the adopted country which was not worthy of his love.
Meanwhile Crittenden and his detachment had been captured at sea and conveyed to Havana, where they were allowed the merest mockery of a trial. But one verdict was possible, where sentence had been already passed. Only a few hours elapsed between the trial and execution. The crowds of Havanese who flocked to the show, as to a national bull-baiting, saw them die with stoical fortitude. They saw Crittenden, with but twenty-eight years of life behind him, stand and face death with unflinching mien. They bade him kneel in the customary attitude, with his back to the firing party. "An American kneels only to his God," he answered, and so met his death.
The Count Raoussett-Boulbon — A father "de la vieille roche" — Raoussett's contract to garrison Sonora — Proclamations and pronunciamientos — Battle of Hermosillo — Negotiations with Santa Ana — Expedition to Guaymas — Engagement and defeat — Last words of a noble adventurer — Death of the Count.
To Mexico the gift of liberty was as the boon of eternal life to the wandering Jew. Freed from the exactions of a despotic master, absolved by the bounty of nature from the stern, ceaseless struggle for physical life, stirred no longer by the warlike spirit of the conquerors, the Latin races in America seemed for a time to have fallen into a condition of hopeless lethargy.
To redeem this fair land, with its boundless mineral and agricultural wealth, from the hands of its slothful owners, was a dream which fired the ambition and, it may be added, the cupidity of many daring minds. With the decline and final overthrow of Spanish power the richest mines of Northern Mexico were abandoned for lack of strength to repel the never-subdued and ever-hostile Indian tribes. Mexico was weak, torn by strife, and disorganized. In her feeble hands the mines of Sonora and Arizona were literally "treasure hoarded in the ground."
There was in California, in 1852, a man of high birth and humble calling, a day labourer, with the proudest French ancestral blood in his veins—a soldier of Algiers, a count by birth and rank. Raousset-Boulbon, or, to give him his full name and title, Count Gaston Raoulx de Raousset-Boulbon, was a prodigal. He had squandered his substance in the riotous living of Paris and come to the land of gold to mend his fortunes. Unhappily for his peaceful aspirations, California, in 1852, offered a poor field to the man whose only gifts were education, the use of arms, nobility of soul, and a patrician title. Such endowments were neither rare nor deemed precious in that primitive community. The poet has sung, and the novelist painted, the wild contrasts of that marvellous period, but no flight of fancy could exaggerate the picture. San Francisco, the sea-port, was a truly cosmopolitan city. There were two French newspapers published daily, so great were the attractions of El Dorado to the rarely migrating Gaul. Among the hundreds of his countrymen who, like himself, had failed to find a fortune in the golden state, Gaston judged that he might easily enroll a band of adventurers for any bold undertaking. He was not mistaken when the occasion offered itself. In the indescribable human medley of California the Count Raousset-Boulbon cannot be said to have been out of place. Nobody, nothing was that. He was discontented with a career hitherto fruitful only in misfortune.
He was the son of an émigré of the old stamp, a self-willed fantastic old man, who carried the sternest rules of obedience into the most trifling domestic affairs, and might have adopted the motto, "L'état, c'est moi." His scheme of government may be inferred from a brief anecdote recounted by the biographer of Gaston. The latter, returning from Paris, appeared at home with two things distasteful to his sire—a beard and a cigar. "Madam," said the father to his wife, the stepmother of Gaston, "it would give me pain to argue with my son, and I could not brook opposition. The cigar I can overlook; but pray tell him that it pleases me not to see one of his age wear a beard like a 'moujik,' and that I shall be obliged to request its sacrifice." Gaston grudgingly obeyed the royal edict, for which he was formally thanked. Some days after the sire spoke again, "Madam, I authorize you to say to my son that he may let his beard grow again. Upon second thoughts I do not find it unbecoming." Compliance followed as before; but the tardy efforts of nature did not satisfy the old count, who gravely decided that "a beard does not become Gaston. Madam, I beg you to tell him once more that he must shave." Gaston, instead of obeying, packed his portmanteau and fled to Paris, and was forthwith disowned by his irate parent.
His life in Paris was that of a Bohemian, until the death of his father, in 1845, enabled him to carry out a dear ambition, that of founding a colony in Algiers; but the revolution of 1848 recalled him to France and to a political career. He conducted a newspaper, La Liberté, and was twice elected to the Assembly. Beaten in a third candidacy he forsook politics in disgust, and turned his eyes towards California. Paris in 1850 counted as many as twenty Californian societies for organized emigration. Gaston, restless, weary, and yet fired with the longing for some great deed, was almost penniless when, in his thirty-second year, he took a third-class passage for California, along with a dozen compatriots of various ranks.
Reaching the wondrous city, which his biographer aptly calls "the modern Babel, with the confusion of tongues," Gaston, with a manliness little to be expected in one of his training, betook himself to the stern duty of earning a livelihood by hard labour. He tried fishing, which barely earned him bread. As a lighterman he did better, until the building of a wharf ruined his business. A speculative enterprise for importing cattle from Lower California proved "more picturesque than profitable." At this juncture when, in his own words, "a gendarme would have charged on me at full gallop," so wretched was his appearance, his friend, M. Dillon, the French Consul at San Francisco, procured him letters of introduction to Señor Arista, President of Mexico, and Gaston repaired to the capital of that country, full of enthusiasm. The banking-house of Jecker, Torre and Co. acting as agents of the Government, signed a contract with Gaston, whereby the latter pledged himself to land at Guaymas, in Lower California, a company of five hundred French immigrants, armed and equipped for military duty, ostensibly and immediately for the protection of the Restauradora Mining Company against the incursions of the Arizona Indians, but really intended to serve as the nucleus of an extensive French colony, to be used as a barrier against the supposed encroachments of their American neighbours. Already the expansion of the United States in the direction of Mexico and the Pacific coast had aroused the jealousy of Europe. There is no doubt that Gaston's scheme for the protection of Mexico, befriended as it was by the representative of France in California and the French minister in Mexico, M. Levasseur, was not without substantial aid from the home government. The banker Jecker played a leading part, years afterwards, in the ill-starred attempt of Napoleon III. to found an empire in Mexico.
As a present reward for his services in protecting the Arizona mines, Gaston was to have a share in all their profits. He was yet to learn, as the royal Maximilian did later, that a bargain needs more than two parties to ensure its fulfilment, in Mexico. Arista was President of Mexico, but Governor Blanco ruled in Arizona. Arizona is a state of boundless mineral wealth, and little else. "Ruins of houses, ruins of churches, ruins of towns, and, above all, ruins of crouching men and of weeping women," is Gaston's graphic summary of Sonora and Arizona as he found them in 1852. Two hundred and sixty gallant Frenchmen landed at Guaymas on the 1st of June, and were warmly hailed as deliverers by the fickle populace. Governor Blanco, however, showed himself strangely lukewarm towards his new allies, whom he peremptorily forbade to leave Guaymas. The reason of his opposition was simple. He was interested in a rival company to the Restauradora. Vexatious delays followed. The recruits lost heart and hope. Gaston, chafing at the delay, had gone forward to Hermosillo, whither he brought his followers, after vainly awaiting the governor's leave to set out for Arizona. Blanco thereupon decided to offer these alternatives: "The Frenchmen shall renounce their nationality, or I shall compel them to leave the country." Gaston protested vainly in a letter to the French minister, and kept on his march to Arispe. He wrote also to Governor Blanco, who temporized and offered new conditions, denationalization of the company, their reduction to a maximum force of fifty, or a guaranty that they should not violate an ancient Mexican law forbidding foreigners to own real estate, mines, or other such property. These propositions were laid before the company by Gaston, who, at the same time, offered the means of departure to any who wished to avail themselves of them. Not a man was found willing to accept the opportunity. Gaston then, in a firm but temperate note, declined to accede to Blanco's terms, claiming for himself and his followers the fulfilment of their contract with the government of Mexico. Blanco threatened to treat the strangers as pirates and outlaws. To some of them he made secret offers of rich rewards if they would betray their comrades.
In these straits, harassed also by the savage Apaches, Gaston took up the line of march back to Hermosillo. On the 30th of September they encamped at the pueblo of La Madelaine. Here, as elsewhere in Mexico, the national gallantry of the adventurers, "half-heroes, half-bandits," as they were, won them immense favour with the fair Sonoriennes, though it is doubtful if the latter's graver brethren took so kind a view of "fenêtres escaladeés, des maris infortunés, des duels, des processions, des bals, des representations theatrales," and the other exploits faithfully chronicled by the light-hearted chief.
A sterner welcome met them in another summons from Blanco: "Surrender your arms, or prepare to be treated as outlaws." Gaston, feeling that either choice promised little of mercy, proceeded to force the issue at once by hastening his march upon Hermosillo. By striking there a decisive blow he expected to rally around his standard the always numerous body of disaffected citizens, and so prepare the way for the independence of Sonora. Despatching an emissary to California for recruits, he set out, on the 6th of October, by the southerly road for Hermosillo. Fifty leagues from that city Blanco lay at Arispe, uncertain of his enemy's plans. Gaston's force numbered two hundred and fifty-three men, including forty-two horsemen and twenty-six marine veterans detailed to serve the four small cannon of the little army. Among them were many old soldiers of Africa and barricade veterans of Paris. Four or five months of sojourn in the Arizona deserts had not improved their looks. But with a good-natured patience truly French they made light of their troubles, jested at their sorry attire, and when their boots gave out made sandals of hides, or trudged along barefoot. In such guise and manner they marched to Hermosillo, but a few hours too late, for Blanco had distanced them by forced journeys, and thrown a body of twelve hundred men into the town. Gaston, without waiting to rest his weary followers, gave orders to attack. In less than an hour he was master of the place, and General Blanco was flying with the remnant of his command to Ures. Yet the latter could better spare his two hundred killed and wounded than the little band of adventurers could afford their loss of forty-two. To the filibuster there are no reserves.
But a greater calamity awaited the expedition. Gaston was stricken down with sickness in the hour of victory, and, feeling the insecurity of his position, gave reluctant orders to march to Guaymas. His malady, dysentery, grew worse as they advanced. Within three leagues of Guaymas they halted at the rancho Jesus Maria. Envoys from Blanco met them there and treated for a parley between the two commanders, of which nothing came but a short-lived truce. That evening Gaston was delirious, nor were suspicions of poison wanting. The French camp became panic-stricken, so that M. Calvo, Vice-Consul of France at Guaymas, and himself a partner in Blanco's rival mining company, easily persuaded the subordinates to sign a treaty resigning the contract and agreeing to leave the country. Gaston awoke from a three-weeks' stupor to find himself without an army. He was permitted to leave the country, and returned to San Francisco with his ambition only whetted by his late trials.
There was to be no mistaking the nature of his future operations. The next expedition should be made up solely of Frenchmen and soldiers, its avowed end the independence of Sonora. "These men shall be fully warned that they go to Sonora to fight; that their fortunes rest on the points of their bayonets; that if they be conquered they shall infallibly perish as pirates; that it is for them a matter of victory or death."
His friend, President Arista, had resigned his office, in the face of civil war, on the 6th of January, 1853. Mexico was in worse than its normal state of anarchy. A dictatorship was proclaimed, and Santa Ana recalled to govern the wretched country. One of his first acts was to send for De Boulbon, who, upon promise of a safe conduct, visited the capital.
The interview was dramatic between the old, crafty, and cold-blooded butcher of the Alamo, and the young, romantic, hot-headed conqueror of Hermosillo. The latter was in the prime of manhood, of medium size, well-proportioned and graceful, erect, broad-browed, with open, frank eyes, and fair hair and beard. Santa Ana, versed in the thousand wiles of Mexican diplomacy, and rightly appreciating the skilled courage of his guest, would have enlisted his talents in the dictator's personal service. Gaston steadily besought a confirmation of the original contract. Four months were spent with all the tardiness of Spanish negotiation in realizing that object. At last a treaty was prepared, binding the Count to garrison Arizona with five hundred French soldiers, who were to receive a total compensation of 90,000 francs, the Government advancing 250,000 francs for outfit and other expenses. The treaty was solemnly signed, attested, and annulled within a fortnight! Gaston was furious. The dictator blandly repeated his offer of a regiment and personal service at the capital, an offer which the Count spurned as an insult. "You offer me," he said, "a favour that is personal, when I ask for justice to myself and my brave men. Should I accept, what would be your opinion of me? what the opinion of those whom I should command? General, I have the honour to be a Frenchman. When I pledge my word I keep it." So the two adventurers parted in the halls of Montezuma.
Gaston, burning with indignation, easily fell into sympathy with some of the every-ready malcontents conspiring against the new government. The plot was found out, but Gaston received warning in time to put fifty miles of hard riding between him and the fatal anger of Santa Ana.
He returned to San Francisco, his old sense of wrong aggravated by this new grievance. With singular inconsistency we find him writing to a correspondent in France, in bitter complaint of the apathy shown towards his scheme by the "intelligent and rich" Americans, at the same time that he warns his compatriots against the designs of the United States on the territory of Mexico and the world at large. His gloomy forebodings must awaken a smile, in view of the actual results, yet they speak a sentiment which was powerful enough, ten years later, to work out the imperial tragedy of Maximilian.
"Europeans," he says, "are disturbed by the growth of the United States, and rightly so. Unless she be dismembered, unless a powerful rival be built up beside her, America will become, through her commerce, her trade, her population her geographical position upon two oceans the inevitable mistress of the world. In ten years Europe dare not fire a shot without her permission. As I write, fifty Americans prepare to sail for Lower California, and go perhaps to victory. Voila les Etats-Unis!"
On the 2nd of April, 1854, three hundred French military colonists sailed from San Francisco, upon a formal invitation from the Mexican consul, to perform the duty formerly allotted to De Boulbon; the latter had been declared an outlaw by the Government. Nevertheless he resolved to hazard a descent upon Arizona, counting on the fidelity of those colonists and the moral support of the French Government, still uneasy over the ambitious designs of the United States. On the 24th of May he sailed from San Francisco on the little schooner Belle. His departure was hurried, as the United States authorities, warned of his purpose, had taken steps for his arrest and detention. In his haste he was forced to leave behind a small battery which he had bought for the expedition. The captain of the Belle, an American, hesitated to put to sea, but Gaston (so says his biographer) promptly put him in irons and took command of the vessel himself. His avowed object was the carrying out of the original contract of 1852, namely, the protection of the mines of Arizona; but Arizona had meanwhile become American territory, under the Gadsden treaty of 1853. Hence the present attempt of Gaston was filibustering, pure and simple, if not something worse.
The voyage was long and tedious, lasting thirty-five days. On the 27th of June they came in sight of Guaymas. Landing at Cape San José, he sent two of his men to the city to prepare the three hundred Frenchmen there for his coming, and to concert a plan of action. The envoys were recognized and thrown into prison by General Yanes, who had succeeded Blanco in the governorship of Sonora. An amicable but fruitless parley followed between the commandant and Gaston. They arranged a sort of armed truce, which lasted until the 8th of July; but it needed only a small spark to explode magazines of such fiery material as formed the two rival garrisons of Guaymas. The French company, overweening, vain, and quick-tempered, met and jostled the dark-browed peons, jealous, revengeful, and proud. Both were armed, both quarrelsome as gamecocks. The French put faith in their national valour, the Mexicans in their national odds of eight to one. At the first outbreak, some petty street brawl, the native soldiers sounded the general alarm. The French rushed to their quarters, whence they sallied, fully armed, and met the irregular attack of the enemy with a resistance as unmethodical as intrepid. For three hours the battle raged on the rocky streets of Guaymas. Gaston, always a gentleman by instinct, refused the proffered leadership, as that honour belonged to Desmarais, the commissioned chief of the three hundred. He commanded a company, however, and fought with splendid courage, until, twice wounded, his men in retreat and everything lost, he broke his sword over his knee, and led the remnant of his force to the French Consulate, where they formally surrendered to their country's representative. An hour later they gave up their arms, upon the pledge of M. Calvo, backed by the promise of General Yanes, that their lives should be spared. Gaston was thrown into prison. Ten days later he was taken before a court-martial, tried, and condemned to death as a traitor and rebel. "Mark that they did not name me once as a filibuster," he wrote home.
The American consul, Major Roman, pleaded earnestly, but vainly, for mercy. M. Calvo would not interfere. Gaston in the hour of trial bore himself with manly fortitude, begging only, and not in vain, to be spared the indignity of dying with bound hands and bandaged eyes. The faith of his childhood returned to him, and his lifelong unrest shaped itself into perfect peace and resignation. The "old nobility," too, spoke out in his farewell letter to his brother, a curious blending of worldly pride, Christian humility, and philosophic fatalism. "It is my loyalty to my word that has dug my grave…. A mysterious chain, beginning at the cradle, leads to the tomb, and life is but a link thereof…. M. Calvo will bear witness that I died as became a gentleman…. To-morrow morning I shall have burned my last cap and fired my last cartridge…. Tell your children that Uncle Gaston died with a priest at his side, and that yet Uncle Gaston was a brave man…. If any wonder that I submit to this death, you may say that I look upon a suicide as a deserter…. I go to death a gentleman, and I die a Christian." The philosophy of this dying chevalier throws a little light upon his strange character. He died with touching and simple bravery, on August 12, 1854, at the age of thirty-six. Eleven years afterwards another and more imposing filibuster, lured to Mexico, partly by the intrigues of the same commercial house which had held the glittering bait before the eyes of poor Gaston, died with equal firmness at the hands of his executioners. Maximilian of Austria, Prim of Spain, and Napoleon of France, all played with fire, like the ill-fated Count Gaston Raoulx de Raousset-Boulbon, and all, like him, suffered.
But another and stranger being had witnessed the bootless expedition to Guaymas in 1852, and drawn his own false moral from the example before him—with what results will be told hereafter.
William Walker — Boyhood and education — Doctor, Lawyer, Journalist — Goes to California — Personal appearance and characteristics — Departure of the Sonora Expedition — A government proclaimed — Stern discipline — Retreat from Sonora — Bad news at San Vincente — The adventurers cross the boundary — Walker resumes the pen.
While De Boulbon, resting upon his fruitless victory of Hermosillo, awaited at San Francisco a chance to profit by the turn of the cards in Mexico, he was offered, and declined, a subordinate command in an expedition planned and conducted by the greatest of modern filibusters.
William Walker was the son of a Scotch banker who emigrated to Tennessee in 1820, marrying there a Kentucky lady named Norvell. William, their eldest son, was born in the city of Nashville, on May 8, 1824. His parents intended to give him a profession, preferably that of the ministry, and, though his taste led him otherwise, the gravity of the kirk always pervaded his manner, and theological speculations interested him through life. His boyhood was marked by a reserved and studious disposition, yet romantic and venturesome withal. His name appears in the graduating class of 1838 of the University of Nashville. The curriculum of that institution covered a wide course of study, including, besides the branches of common education, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, navigation, belles-lettres, geology, moral and mental philosophy, logic, political economy, international and constitutional law, oratory, natural theology, the classics, and many other studies. It was not the fault of his alma mater if he failed to prove as eminent in statesmanship as he was in arms. Duelling, the carrying of arms, and all wrangling were prohibited by the rules of the college. Cock-fighting was "especially forbidden." The cost of tuition and board was between two hundred and fifty and three hundred dollars a year. Altogether there is no reason to doubt that the University of Nashville, "authorized to grant all the degrees which are or may be granted by any college or university in Europe or America," was quite able to teach a young and ambitious student the elements of a sound education. The moral guidance of youth seems to have been well provided for, and a healthy desire to check extravagance in personal outlay is particularly noted in the regulations.
Having a liking for the medical profession, young Walker made a course of study at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a class-mate of Dr. Elisha Kent Kane, the famous Arctic explorer. He afterwards visited and studied at Edinburgh, in France, Germany, and Italy, spending two years in travel, and gaining, together with his medical education, a fair knowledge of the languages and laws of those countries.
Of his professional experience we know little, save that he practised for a time in Philadelphia and Nashville, but, finding the profession unsuited to his health, he went to New Orleans and studied law. He was admitted at the bar in that city, but did not devote himself long to his new pursuit. He obtained a place on the Crescent newspaper, and gave himself up to the fascinating business of journalism with all the ardour of a novice. That a man should have tried three professions so different as those of medicine, law, and journalism, before reaching his twenty-fifth year is not remarkable in our country. It was equally in keeping with the character of the man of 1849, that he forsook this latest fancy to join the host of restless spirits bending their steps towards California. Arriving there in 1850, he became an editor on the San Francisco Herald and took sides with the faction of which David C. Broderick was the leader. His literary style was not ill-adapted to the journalism of the day and place, and ere long Walker the advocate found occasion to defend Walker the editor upon a charge for contempt of court. The lawyer failed to save the writer from the penalty of a brief imprisonment and a fine of five hundred dollars. The same pugnacious qualities involved him in a more serious quarrel with a Philadelphian, named William Hix Graham, and appeal was taken to the court of honour. The combatants met on a sandy lot outside of the city limits. Shots were exchanged, apparently without damage to either man, and the seconds were about to give the signal for another fire, when one of them perceived a pool of blood at Walker's feet. The doughty fighter had received a wound in the foot, and, in order to gain another shot, had tried to hide it by throwing sand over the spot with his other foot. The seconds, however, decided that honour was satisfied by the flow of blood, and the duel went no further. After this Walker retired from journalism, and practised law for a time in Marysville, with success enough to satisfy the ambition of anybody who aimed at law-expounding rather than law-making.
Walker was now (in 1852) only twenty-eight years of age. Nature had not dealt lavishly with this man, whose ambition grasped at no less a prize than the conquest of an empire. His figure was slight, though shapely; he stood about five and a half feet high, and never weighed over one hundred and thirty pounds. His closely-cut, sandy hair was thin and almost whitish; his face was freckled and beardless, giving him a boyish appearance. The lower half of his visage was plain, almost commonplace, but his large, rounded forehead and keen gray eyes were strikingly fine. When his usually cold nature gave way to emotions of anger or excitement the eyes dilated and kindled with a greenish light, like those of a bird of prey; the thin, short upper lip became compressed, and the slow, quiet voice rose sharp and short. He never showed other sign of emotion; but, says one who knew him well, "those were sufficient to awe the most truculent desperado into a submission as abject as that of the maniac before his keeper." Add to these a rare frugality of speech, a morality ascetically pure, and a temperance equally patent in word and action, and we know as much of the outward man as did the thousands of men who feared and loved him and died for his sake.
Joaquin Miller in his poem, "With Walker in Nicaragua," paints the Filibuster Chief, with
Henningsen, who knew him intimately, was unaware of any romance in the career of his chieftain; yet there was one, the only one of his life and it has been given to the world, within a few years, by a near relative of Walker. The object of his love was Helen Martin, a beautiful New Orleans girl, whom he met in Nashville after his return from Europe. She is described by Mr. Daniel Francis Barr, who had the story from Walker's cousin, as "a most attractive woman—the loveliness of face and form being enhanced by that endearing charm which helplessness to beauty lends. For nature, so lavish in her other endowments, deprived this beautiful creature of two most essential faculties—she was a mute. Strange as it may seem, these two young people, in appearance and character the apparent antithesis of each other, allowed friendship to ripen into an ardent and lasting affection. When Miss Martin returned to New Orleans, Walker soon followed, and as lawyer and journalist, gained distinction in the Crescent City. Just before the date fixed for their marriage the breath of pestilence poisoned the Gulf breezes, and the dreaded yellow fever became epidemic in the coast cities. Among the first to fall victim to the scourge was Miss Helen Martin, and her death changed the entire life-current, if not the heart of William Walker. From the ashes of a buried love ambition rose supreme."
The Ishmaelite nature urging him to travel again, his "destiny," as he called it, carried him to Sonora, at the moment when De Boulbon's first expedition was nearing its vain catastrophe. No longer a lawyer, a doctor, or an editor, he returned to California with dreams of martial glory, crude as yet, but, to a man of his unyielding courage, full of unlimited promise. People now spoke of "Colonel" Walker. The conferring or the assumption of military titles, solely by the grace of popular courtesy, was a curious foible of the Southern gentleman of the old school. Whether this unwritten commission preceded his assumption of a serious military career, or was coeval with it, is uncertain and of little consequence. There was no examination of titles or antecedents among the pioneers of California. The claimant of a military title could best defend it by deeds of daring, and by such William Walker was to prove himself. De Boulbon's short-lived success prompted Walker and a few friends to turn their eyes towards the same field. An agent, named Frederic Emory, was sent to Sonora in 1852 to treat for a contract such as had been granted the French company. Upon the failure of the latter, Walker and a partner, Henry P. Watkins, renewed the negotiations in person. It does not appear that they succeeded or received any encouragement from the jealous natives. Nevertheless, Walker and a few of his friends set themselves to the task of conquering the Western States of Mexico, in the face of difficulties which might have daunted even more daring spirits. The American Government was actively hostile to all filibustering movements. Sonora certainly did not offer a welcome to her unsought liberators. The singular unwillingness (already noticed by De Boulbon) of American capitalists to furnish the sinews of illegal warfare, no doubt continued to mark that unromantic class.
On the other hand, Walker had many warm personal friends, chiefly among the natives of the Southern states. He was actually a sincere, even fanatical, believer in slavery. To conquer new territory, and thus to extend the area of slavery, was a scheme certain to meet with sympathy throughout the South. The admission of new Northern territories already threatened to overcome the supremacy of the South in the national government. Sectional and party bias, personal interest, and political prejudice moved the citizens of the slave states to withstand this new and growing menace. Like feelings, intensified through years of political minority, stirred the North. So far as the South was concerned in the maintenance of slavery, her interests called for its extension; otherwise, the growing movement for its abolition, aided by the approaching change of political power, would soon compass its overthrow. So, at least, and not without foresight, reasoned the upholders of slavery in that dark and bitter era.
The impending conflict was well styled "irrepressible." Years of angry debate had made compromise impossible, but the wiser and better heads in either party shunned the wager of battle. Disunion was scarcely considered as a theory, among the mass of the people, ere it sprung into being, a fact. Doughty-tongued zealots alone talked of war, and they were those who kept on talking after men of cooler courage had begun to fight.
Walker, then, could confidently invoke the sympathy of the rich and influential slave-holders in a crusade for the extension of their favorite system. He could appeal to the daring and adventurous of every class by the dangerous fascination of his scheme, and to the Californian, especially, through his native hostility and contempt towards his Mexican neighbor. For the rest, he offered as inducements to immigrants in Sonora five hundred acres of land to each man, and four dollars daily pay for military services. Arms and ammunition were procured. Emigrants of strangely unpastoral bearing offered themselves at the rendezvous. A brig was chartered and the day of departure set. At this point the United States marshal seized the vessel. This was in July, 1853. Three months afterwards, the emigrants, learning caution from experience, took their steps so secretly that forty-five of them, including Walker and Emory, sailed in the bark Caroline, and arrived at Cape San Lucas, in Lower California, on October 28th.
Here they made a brief stay before continuing their voyage to La Paz. They captured that town, together with the governor, Espanosa, on November 3rd. Three days later a vessel arrived with the Mexican colonel, Robollero, appointed to supersede Espanosa; him also they took prisoner. Walker, being now in possession of the government and the archives, called an election, which resulted in his being chosen president. His report does not state whether or not he had any rival for the honour. Ten others of the adventurers were chosen to fill the several offices, civil, military and naval. Thirty-four remained mere citizens, as there were not "offices enough to go around." "Our government," wrote the President, "has been formed upon a firm and sure basis." However absurd the proceedings seem to us, in the light of the sequel, to him they appeared the solemn inception of free institutions and a glorious future. A high-sounding proclamation was issued, including a declaration of independence. Two months afterwards Walker annexed, on paper, the neighboring province of Sonora, and changed the name of the Republic to "Sonora," comprising the State of that name and Lower California. As yet he had not set foot upon the new half of his domain.
His friends in California were active in the meanwhile. Recruiting offices were opened in San Francisco, to which flocked the desperate, the adventurous, the reckless from every land. The Federal Government could not, at least, it did not, take active steps to check them. Between two and three hundred men were enlisted, and their passage engaged on the bark Anita. The name of the vessel and the date of her departure were kept secret from all but the leaders of the party.
On the appointed evening, December 7, 1853, they gathered at head-quarters. Horses and waggons were in readiness, and in a brief time the ammunition and supplies were on the deck of the Anita. Before midnight the embarkation was made, and the ship swung into the stream. A tow-boat carried her out of the harbour in safety. Before casting loose the lines several of the Anita's sailors secretly stole on board the tow-boat, their desertion not being perceived until the bark was beyond hail and ploughing the waves of the Pacific. The adventurers have been described by a friendly writer as "a hard set." They observed their departure by a merry carouse, the while the good bark tossed on the ocean swell and her captain cursed his recreant crew and his boisterous freight. Then the wind arose. A sea swept the decks, carrying overboard a dozen barrels of pork and making a clean breach through her starboard bulwarks. The adventurers awoke next morning, sobered and sick. A few of them who had been sailors volunteered to aid in working the vessel. The relief came none too soon, as it was found that the ship had been dragging her anchor and several fathom of cable all night, the deserters having failed to make it fast. The filibusters grimly consoled themselves with the reflection that they had not been born to be drowned.
Arrived at San Vincente, the reinforcements went into camp, amusing themselves, while they awaited orders to march, by foraging on the scattered ranches. Horses were procured by forced levies, and paid for in the promissory notes of the "Republic." Here for the first time Walker displayed the traits of stern command which afterwards made his name a word of terror in the ears of men who feared nothing else, human or divine. Half a score of the boldest desperadoes in camp formed a plot to blow up the magazine at night and desert with what plunder they might be able to seize in the confusion of the moment. To carry out their plan involved the risk of killing many of their comrades, as the ammunition was kept in the middle of the camp. Notice of the plot reached Walker, who had two of the ringleaders tried by court-martial and summarily shot. Two others were publicly whipped and drummed out of camp. Walker then ordered a muster of the troops, and after making a stirring appeal to them, called upon all who were willing to abide by his fortunes to hold up their hands. All of the original forty-five, and a few of the Anita's passengers, responded; the others shouldered their rifles and prepared to march. Walker confronted the recreants, and quietly ordered them to stack their arms, a command which, after some hesitation, they obeyed. They were then suffered to leave the camp. Less than a hundred men now formed the army of the republic. He gave orders to march to Sonora by the mountain paths, around the head of the Gulf of California. They buried the arms and ammunition of the deserters in cachés. Two men deserted on the march and joined the Indians, who harried the little band at every step.
The river Colorado was crossed on rafts. Disease and desertion thinned the ranks. The wounded died for lack of proper treatment, as there was not a case of surgical instruments in the army. They extracted arrow-heads from their wounds with probes improvised from ramrods. Every morning's roll-call showed a dwindling force. Beef was the only food left. Two men quarrelled over a handful of parched corn, and one shot the other dead. They were in rags. The President of Sonora, wearing a boot on one foot, a shoe on the other, fared no better than his followers. Those followers soon numbered less than fifty. A council of war was held, and it was decided to return to San Vincente. The Mexicans hung upon their flanks and rear, cutting off every straggler. Recrossing the mountains, they narrowly escaped annihilation in a gorge which widened out at the middle to a plateau of half a mile across, with a narrow opening at either end. Half way across the plains the Indians appeared on flank and front and opened a galling fire. Walker here showed coolness and generalship. Leaving twelve men hidden in a clump of bushes under command of Lieutenant P. S. Veeder, a cool young soldier, afterwards distinguished in Nicaragua, he retreated with the rest of the command towards the entrance of the valley. The passage had already been closed by the enemy's forces, who met the retiring party with an ill-aimed volley of arrows and bullets. At the same time those guarding the other pass joined their friends on the flanks in charging the Americans. As they passed the thicket where Veeder and his men lay in ambush, they received a deadly volley at short range. Every bullet struck down its man. Walker at the same time turned and delivered an equally well-aimed fire, which put the enemy to full flight. The two detachments then passed unmolested through the further defile before the astonished natives could be rallied to the charge. No bribes of aguardiente, with which the Mexicans were wont to ply their Indian allies could thenceforth induce the natives to face the deadly American rifles. They hung upon the line of march like coyotes, prowling about the late scene of each encampment, and robbing each new-made grave of its tenant's blanket, the only shroud of the poor filibuster who fell in the waste places of Sonora.
At San Vincente, where Walker had left in March a party of eighteen men to guard the barracks, he found not one remaining. A dozen had deserted, and the rest, unsuspicious of danger, had been swooped upon by a band of mounted Mexicans, who lassoed and tortured them to death. So many successive reverses sealed the fate of the expedition. To wait for reinforcements, even could they have come, from California was hopeless. Walker had but thirty-five men remaining. They were destitute of everything but ammunition and weapons; of these they had more than enough. At various places they had buried boxes of carbines and pistols. Eight guns were spiked at San Vincente. A hundred kegs of powder were cached on the banks of the Rio Colorado. Years afterwards the peon herdsmen or prowling Cucupa Indian stumbled, in the mountain by-paths, over the bleaching skeleton of some nameless one whose resting-place was marked by no cross or cairn, but the Colt's revolver rusting beside his bones bespoke his country and his occupation—the only relic of the would-be Conquistadores of the nineteenth century.
The stolid native who had sworn fealty to the mushroom republic, under pain of imprisonment for refusal, easily forgot his oath when the accursed "Gringo" had turned his back. The rancherio, whose sole mementos of vanished horses and cattle were the bonds of the Republic of Sonora, vainly proffered those securities at the cock-pit and the monté-table. The American of the North had come and gone like a pestilence, or like his ante-type of buccaneering days; nought remained save disappointed ambition with the one, and a bitter memory with the other.
The invasion was every way inexcusable. That his interference was unwelcome to the natives Walker soon found out; nor was he slow to learn that nothing less formidable than an army of occupation, backed by a strong power, could push his cherished dream of a new conquest of Mexico beyond the unsubstantial realms of fantasy.
With sinking heart, but bearing the calm front which never failed him, he led his starving, travel-worn band toward the California frontier. The natives made a feeble show of opposing their retreat. A host of ill-trained soldiery, formidable only in numbers, held the mountain heights; their Indian allies were drawn up on the plain to contest the passage. Colonel Melendrez, commanding the Mexican forces, sent four Indians with a flag of truce into the filibuster camp, bearing an offer of protection and free passage across the American border to all except the leader; Walker, with all the arms of the company, must be first given up. Such an offer would have been rejected, in the face of certain death, by men familiar as these were with the Punic faith of the Spaniard. Made as it was to men who had followed their chieftain through hunger and want, battle and defeat, up to this moment, when they could see their country's flag waving over the United States military camp across the border, it was treated with scornful laughter. Melendrez then begged the United States commander to interfere and compel the surrender, a request which, as it could not have been granted without a violation of Mexican territory, was properly refused. Three miles of road lay between the filibusters and the boundary line. Walker, resorting to strategy, left half a dozen men concealed behind some rocks to cover his retreat. The natives, with a wholesome dread of the American rifle, followed him at what seemed a safe distance and rode straight into the ambush. Half a dozen rifles emptied as many saddles, whereupon Melendrez and his Mexicans galloped off at full speed, leaving their Indian allies to follow as best they might. The filibusters lost one man, a victim to his own indiscretion in having borrowed a leaf from the enemy's tactics and fortified his courage with too much aguardiente.
So ended the last battle of the Republic of Sonora—if it be not a travesty to call by the name of battle a fruitless fight between a score of men on one side and a hundred ignorant savages on the other. Four and thirty tattered, hungry, gaunt pedestrians, whimsically representing in their persons the president, cabinet, army and navy of Sonora, marched across the line and surrendered as prisoners of war to Major Mckinstry, U.S.A., at San Diego, California. It was the 8th of May, 1854; and so Walker kept his thirtieth birthday.
A parole, pledging the prisoners to present themselves for trial to General Wool, at San Francisco, was signed by all, after which they were allowed to depart.
Of those starving, wounded, battle-scarred survivors of several months' accumulated miseries the names signed to the parole contain at least six of men who had love for their leader, or enough of unconquerable daring, to send them, twelve months later, in search of fresh dangers and glories under the same commander.
Walker came back from Sonora, defeated but not disheartened. He had proved himself a leader of men, even in so small an arena. Thenceforth, until his star of "destiny" was eclipsed in death, his name was worth a thousand men wherever hard fighting and desperate hopes might call him. It must be said in his favour that he sought popularity by none of the tricks of the demagogue. In camp or field he was ever the same cold, self-contained, fearless commander, inflexible in discipline, sparing of speech, prodigal of action. He won the devoted obedience of the wildest spirits by governing himself. His word of command was not "Go," but "Come"—the Napoleonic talisman. Only to the youngest of his followers would he ever unbend his solitary dignity. One of them, whose name, William Pfaff, appears on the San Diego parole, was a youth of fifteen. He was with difficulty restrained from following his leader to Nicaragua. He lived through four years of service in our Civil War, but no dangers or hardships could erase the memory of his experience in Sonora. "The rebellion was a picnic to it," said he, in the fine hyperbole of California.
The trial of the filibuster leader for breaking the neutrality laws of the United States ended in a prompt acquittal. Walker resumed the editorial chair, supporting Broderick in the San Francisco Commercial, the personal organ of that ill-fated politician. Let us leave the filibuster in his Elba, and visit the country which was destined to become the scene of his dazzling but brief career of glory, defeat, and death.
Nicaragua — "Mahomet's Paradise" — Buccaneering visitors — Philip II. and an Isthmian Canal — Nelson defeated by a girl — The apocryphal heroine of San Carlos.
Nature in lavishing her favours on Nicaragua, left little for man to add. It is a tropical country with a temperate climate, one half of its territory having a mean elevation of 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. In that favoured land the primeval curse is stayed; where nature forestalls every necessity, no need for man to toil or want. Fruits grow in the reckless profusion of the tropics, and clothing is a superfluity wisely counted as such. Two-hundred and fifty thousand children, young and old, occupy a domain as large as New England. They are poor in accumulated wealth as the poorest peasantry of Europe; they are rich, knowing no want unsatisfied, as a nation of millionaires. But Nicaragua is a country in which to study with doubt the doctrine of the survival of the fittest. The early discoverers called it "Mahomet's Paradise," an apt name for a land of sensuous happiness.
There man reaps without sowing, and the harvest never fails. He has but to stretch forth his hand and feast on dainties such as seldom grace the tables of kings; the citron, the lemon, the orange (with often 10,000 on a single tree), the banana, the mango, the papaya, the cocoa, the tamarind, the milk-tree, the butter tree, and a spontaneous perennial growth of coffee, cacao, sugar, tobacco, and everything that grows or can be grown in any tropical or temperate clime. Half the year he may sling his hammock beneath the shady trees. In the rainy season a few stakes and a thatch of palm leaves afford him ample shelter. Medicinal trees and herbs abound everywhere, for the relief of the few ills to which his flesh is heir. Birds of gayest plumage, flowers of loveliest hue, greet his eyes on every side. In the noble forests, where the pine and the palm grow beside the ceiba, the mimosa, and the stately cactus, the splendours of the rainbow are rivalled in the plumage of parrots, macaws, humming-birds, toucans, and the beautiful winged creature that bears the imperial name of Montezuma. It is the latest and the fairest land of earth, and the heavenly radiance of youth is on its face. So young, that the fires of nature's workshop have not yet died out. The volcano, towering thousands of feet towards heaven, still smoulders or flames, and the earth is shaken ever and anon by the engines of the Titans. Ometepe the glorious lifts his cloud-capped head five thousand feet out of the placid bosom of Lake Nicaragua; Madera, his neighbour, is but eight hundred feet less lofty. Momotombo and Mombacho and El Viejo, and the twin peaks which watch the mouth of Fonseca Bay, are flaming swords guarding the Eden to which the serpent has come, as of old, with a human tongue.
Little note takes the Nicaraguan of the lavish favours of nature, whose grandest mystery but awakens a languid Quien Sabe? and whose most winning plea extorts only a more languid Poco tiempo—the eternal by and by of indolence. One per cent. of the whole population makes a show of studying the elements of education. Why should they vex their souls in search of knowledge, when all that life needs can be had for the asking? Not, surely, to heap up wealth. Nature takes care even of that, for money grows upon trees of Nicaragua—that is to say, the fractional currency of the people is nuts, one cacao-nut being equal to a fortieth of a medio in value, and passing current as such in all the smaller affairs of trade. Nor is it worth the trouble of mastering letters where illiteracy is no bar to civil or military advancement, and where, especially if the "Serviles" be in power, an unlettered bandit ranks almost as high as a rascally advocate. In the days of President Chamorro the most notorious ruffians held high office, the revenues of the state were farmed out on the system which prevails to-day only in the more barbarous parts of Asia, so that it was a saying in the neighboring states, where, too, glass-houses are not scarce, that "the calf was not safe in the cow, from the thieves of Nicaragua."
It was not always so in Nicaragua. Years before the mail-clad Spaniard brought the curse of civilization across the western ocean, the simple Aztec built his altars to the sun on every hill-top from sea to sea. Centuries ere the Aztec, there flourished a semi-civilized race whose history is written in hieroglyphics of a language utterly dead and forgotten, and who have left no lineal descendants. Even such fragments of Aztec lore as survived the fanaticism of the Conquistadores in Mexico are wanting to the annals of the earlier Central American civilization. It was a culture of rich growth in its day and place, destined like that of the contemporary Roman Empire, to tempt the cupidity of a hardier race, and after an unavailing struggle, to fall before the might of numbers and superior physique. Howbeit, the Aztec Goths and Vandals overran the isthmus, and when the Spanish invasion came, it met only the late subjects of Montezuma's widespread, ill-governed kingdom.
The religion of Nicaragua before the conquest was a gloomy idolatry. The predecessors of the Aztec are conjectured to have been a gentle race, but no match in prowess for their conquerors. The Spaniards found a people of sun-worshippers degraded by human sacrifice and attendant cannibalism. Between them and distant Anahuac, to which they owed allegiance, lay the dense forests and trackless swamps of Yucatan. The journey by land at this day is long and toilsome. Cortez, nevertheless, projected and carried out an exploration as far as Honduras, until his appalled veterans refused to go further southward.
Don Pedrarias d'Avila, Governor of Panama, undertook its exploration from the south in 1514. Nine years later he was encouraged to send a force for its subjugation, under command of Francisco de Cordova, who secured the submission of its cacique, Nicarao or Nicaya. The conquerors gave that chieftain's name to his country. They founded Leon and Granada, which have remained its leading cities. Nicaragua gave a few recruits to Pizarro. Philip II., with narrow-minded foresight, sent a commission to survey the isthmus and judge of the feasibility of cutting a ship canal. The report was favourable, the route by way of Panama being chosen. It was too favourable, as it pointed out the advantages of such a passage to international commerce. Spain did not want such broad liberality, and Philip decreed the punishment of death to any one who might thereafter propose to wed the two oceans together. But, as high tariffs encourage smuggling, so prohibited commerce takes refuge in privateering. The Buccaneers arose to dispute with Spain the monopoly of her American trade. The isthmus suffered most from their ravages. Panama, then as now, the most important city on the coast, was the depôt for the royal treasure gathered at the adjacent mines of Cana. Drake paid it a predatory visit in 1586. It was afterwards taken and sacked at different times by Morgan, Sharpe, Ringrose, and Dampier. It was burned three times between 1670 and 1680. Finally it was abandoned for the new town, three miles inland.
Nicaragua, though liable to predatory forays, had not wealth enough to tempt the buccaneers from richer prey. Cape Gracias a Dios, on its north-eastern boundary, was a rendezvous of the freebooters; but the Atlantic coast was even less inviting to the plunder-seekers than the Pacific. The narratives of the buccaneers touch lightly on it. Its name of the Mosquito Coast appears to have been well deserved. De Lussan speaks with lively horror of the pestiferous little insect which "is sooner felt than seen."
The buccaneers passed away, but left a legacy. Great Britain in 1742 laid claim to the Bay Islands, which had been captured by English buccaneers just a century before. A war with Spain ensued, without material gain to either party. By the treaty of 1763, England renounced her claim on Central America, and evacuated all the disputed territory, except the Island of Ruatan, on the Atlantic coast of Honduras, a shirking of her obligations which awakened a renewal of hostilities. In 1780 Colonel Polson was sent to invade Nicaragua. Landing a force of two hundred sailors and marines at San Juan del Norte, he ascended the river in boats, carrying with little trouble the half-dozen fortified positions on its banks. At the head of the river, where it receives the waters of Lake Nicaragua, the expedition was confronted by the frowning batteries of Fort San Carlos, then, as now, guarding the mouth of the lake.
At this point in the narrative, history and tradition part company, the former averring, upon historical and biographical English authority, that Horatio Nelson, then a simple unknown captain commanding the naval forces, reduced the fort, inflicted a severe chastisement upon the enemy and returned victorious to his ships. Tradition tells a prettier story.
As the flotilla neared the shore in line of battle, the stillness was unbroken, save by the plash of their oars and the music of the surf. Not a soldier was visible on the ramparts, for the cowardly varlets of the garrison, taking advantage of the Commandante's sickness, had fled to the woods at the first sight of the enemy. The gallant hidalgo in command was left without a single attendant, save his lovely daughter. But she was a true soldier's child, with the spirit of a heroine. The boats drew rapidly near the shore, their oars flashing in the morning sun, the gunners awaiting with lighted matches the order to fire. Nelson stood up to bid his men give way, and at the instant a flash was seen in one of the embrasures of the fort; the next moment the roar of a cannon broke the stillness of lake and forest. Immediately gun after gun echoed the sound, but the first had done the work of an army, by striking down Horatio Nelson. The boats pulled rapidly out of range and down the river, beaten and discouraged. Nor did they escape heavier losses; for the Spaniards so harassed and plagued them on the retreat that, of the two hundred men who had started from San Juan, but ten returned in safety. Nelson's wound cost him the loss of an eye; and he who had never turned his back on a foe-man fled from the guns of San Carlos, served by a girl of sixteen. It was the Commandante's daughter, Donna Rafaela Mora, who had fired the battery and saved Nicaragua. The heroine of Fort San Carlos was decorated by the King of Spain, commissioned a colonel in the royal service, and pensioned for life.
Such is the tradition, accepted as authentic by the natives and supported by the testimony of several trustworthy travellers. None of Nelson's biographers make mention of the heroic maiden. According to those historians, Nelson ascended the river as far as Fort San Juan—probably Castillo Viejo—which he reduced after a somewhat protracted siege and a heavy loss to his forces. They place the scene of the accident by which he lost his eye at the siege of Calvi, in the Island of Corsica. Yet Captain Bedford Pim, of the Royal Navy, in his book of Nicaraguan travel, gives unquestioning credence to the legend of the country; which has also been accepted by other English writers who may be supposed to have a familiar acquaintance with the life of Nelson. So firmly is it believed in Nicaragua that, upon the strength of his inherited glory, General Martinez, a grandson of the heroine, was chosen President of the state in 1857, although there was at the time a regularly-elected President claiming and lawfully entitled to the office—a fact which should suffice to silence the most captious critic. In an iconoclastic age it were needless cruelty to rob the poor Nicaraguan of the only bit of heroic history he possesses. Possibly Nelson's biographers suppressed an incident which did not redound to the glory of their hero; perchance, his Catholic Majesty was imposed upon, or the tradition of the Maid of San Carlos may be but another transplanted solar myth. Quien sabe?
British intrigues on the Isthmus — Morazan and the Confederacy — The Mosquito Dynasty — Bombardment of San Juan — Castellon calls in the foreigner — Doubleday and his free lances — Cole's contract approved by Walker.
So long as Central America remained a province of Spain, England's policy was one of peaceful words and hostile deeds. Binding herself, by treaty after treaty, to the renunciation of all claims upon the country, she steadily maintained and extended her hold upon various objective points—Ruatan, Belize, and the Bay Islands which command the Gulf of Mexico, being her favourite spoils. Some equivocal clause in a treaty, a frivolous pretence of avenging some imaginary dishonour, a buccaneer's legacy, a negro king's grant, if no better offered, was put forward as the excuse for armed occupation. Spain's ill-gotten possessions were beginning to bear the usual fruit. At length, in 1821, the colonies of the isthmus heard the cry of liberty from the North echoed by a responsive one from the South. Spanish America shook the chain fretted and worn in the friction of centuries, snapped the frail links asunder, and stood up among the nations, free. But the iron had done its work. The cramped limbs refused their offices; the eyes, wont to peer half closed in dungeon light, blinked and were dazed in the sudden noon of liberty. The body was that of a freeman, but the soul was the soul of a slave. When liberty comes to a nation prematurely, she must be born again in pain and travail ere the boon be valued by its receiver.
A disunited union of a few years' duration, a travesty of power under Iturbide's pasteboard crown, secession, reunion, discord, revolution—the annals of Central America are the Newgate Calendar of history. Yet, among the ignoble or infamous names of Central American rulers, there is one worthy of a brighter page, as its owner was of a better fate. Don Francisco Morazan, first president of the five united states, hardly deserved the title given him of the "Washington of Central America." He was an able, brave, and patriotic man, but cruel and vindictive towards his opponents. He was chosen to the presidency in 1831, and filled the office nine years; at the end of which time the natives had grown heartily tired of the civilized innovations, which were as unfitted to their inferior nature as the stiff garments of fashion to their supple limbs. Morazan had neither the grace nor the wisdom to accept philosophically the people's choice of a reactionary demagogue who catered to their tastes, and so he began to intrigue against the government of his successor, failing in which he was forced to fly to South America. Two years afterwards he landed with only three hundred followers in Costa Rica, and made himself master of the capital. But the President of that state soon rallied a force of five thousand and besieged the invader, who, after a gallant resistance of two days, was compelled to surrender. He was tried and found guilty of conspiring against the confederated states, and was put to death, together with his chief adherents, on the 15th of September, 1842. Guatemala ended the troublesome question of representative government in 1851 by electing Carrera, a half-breed, to the office of president for life.
The states of Central America, torn by internal strife, wasting their scant resources in fruitless wars and sad faction fights, were fast lapsing into a barbarism below that of Nicarao when he bowed to the Spanish yoke. Untainted by foreign blood, the independent native tribes proved themselves superior to the mongrel descendants of Cordova and D'Avila. The Indians of Darien and the Rio Frio region and the mountains of northern Costa Rica to this day preserve their freedom, whilst Nicaragua and Costa Rica have been wrangling, year after year, for the empty honour of being called their sovereign.
To this man-cursed land nature had given a noble heritage, coveted by many a powerful nation, though none dared clutch it single-handed. It is the lake, or inland sea, which covers five thousand square miles of the state, elevated one hundred and seven feet above the mean tide-level of the ocean, a natural reservoir, with an outlet ninety miles long—the San Juan river. By making this outlet navigable for large vessels, a comparatively easy work, and by cutting a canal sixteen and one-third miles in length, across the neck of land lying between the Lake and the Pacific Ocean, a highway could be opened to the commerce of the world, whose benefits it would be hard to over-estimate. It was a noble scheme, appealing to the enterprise of the civilized world and to the enlightened statesmanship of men like Bolivar and Morazan. Humboldt advocated it. Louis Napoleon beguiled his prison hours at Ham by writing a pamphlet showing its feasibility and need. As a commercial undertaking, its value was beyond question: the eye of national aggrandizement saw in it even more alluring features. The nation that should control that canal might be the dictator of America. Such nation was not, and could not be, that which, like the nerveless Ottoman, holds a point of vantage by the right of geographical position and by that alone. The power which held the key to the Mediterranean, and stood ready to seize the Isthmus of Suez, looked wistfully towards Nicaragua. Many and plausible were the dormant claims of England upon the territory of her weak enemy. For years she had exercised a nominal protectorate over the eastern coast known as the Mosquito kingdom.
The monarchs of Mosquito were ignorant negroes, ruling a scattered tribe, the savage descendants of a slave cargo wrecked upon the coast in the seventeenth century. They were appointed at various times by British man-of-war captains, being installed or dethroned at the will of their masters. Nicaragua, while never acknowledging this authority, lacked power to assert her own over the comparatively worthless tracts of her eastern coast, holding possession only of the river and town of San Juan. In 1839, the reigning king of Mosquito, His Majesty Robert Charles Frederick the First, cancelled a debt contracted for sundry liquors and other royal supplies, by making a grant of territory amounting to twenty-two and a half million acres or more. The grantees, Peter and Samuel Shepard, transferred the grant to the Central American Colonization Company, an American Association. This was the foundation of what became afterwards known as the Kinney Expedition.
The royal line of Mosquito may be classed among the unfortunate dynasties of the world. The first monarch, whose name is lost to history, was killed in a drunken brawl; his half-brother and successor was dethroned by a British captain, who placed a distant scion, George Frederick by name, on the vacant throne. The reign of the latter was short. His son, Robert Charles Frederick the First, was a merry monarch, "scandalous and poor," who sold his birthright to the Shepards for a mess of Jamaica rum and sundry pairs of cotton breeches. His son, George William Clarence, was reigning in 1850.
The superior swiftness of American ships had enabled the United States to forestall their English rivals in seizing California; whereupon the latter took the bold step, in 1848, of occupying at the same time Tigre Island, on the Pacific coast of the isthmus, and San Juan del Norte, on the Atlantic, which latter place they christened Greytown, in honour of a governor of Jamaica. England thus had the keys of the isthmus in her hands; the canal, worthless without a safe entrance and exit, might fall to the lot of him who chose the barren glory of building it. But, strange to say, the United States possessed at that time a useful diplomatic servant in their minister to Central America, the Honourable E. G. Squier, one, moreover, whose claim to honour rests upon a broader basis than the thankless triumphs of public service. He promptly seconded the protest of Honduras against the utterly indefensible robbery of her territory, Tigre Island. His government took up the question, and the island was reluctantly given up.
At the same time, the United States formally protested against the seizure of San Juan. Long and wordy negotiations ensued, ending in the so-called Clayton-Bulwer Treaty. It was a practical victory for Great Britain, as it entrapped the American Government into an obligation to refrain from "ever holding any exclusive control over the said ship canal, erecting or maintaining any fortifications commanding the same, or in the vicinity thereof, occupying, fortifying, colonizing or assuming or exercising any dominion over Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito Coast, or any part of Central America." Great Britain, with apparent fairness, bound herself to equal neutrality. The difference was that the United States promised to abstain from ever taking any steps to control the only avenue then available between the Eastern and the Western States of the Union, thus being placed upon the same footing with distant European nations which could have no such vital interests in the isthmus. Great Britain agreed to refrain from acts which were not only dangerous and inexcusable, but of very doubtful feasibility. Another difference: the United States kept the pledge; Great Britain broke it within fourteen months. The treaty was signed by both parties, and proclaimed on the 5th of July, 1850. In August of the following year, Captain Jolly, of the Royal Navy, solemnly annexed the island of Ruatan to the colony of Belize, which, notwithstanding the treaty, had remained a nominal dependency of England. In July, 1852, Augustus Frederick Gore, Colonial Secretary of Belize, proclaimed that "Her Gracious Majesty, our Queen, has been pleased to constitute and make the islands of Ruatan, Bonacca, Utilla, Barbarat, Helene, and Morat to be a colony to be known and designated as the Colony of the Bay Islands." It was the buccaneer's legacy redivivus.
Now, if ever, was a favourable time for the application of a theory set forth by a President of the United States nearly thirty years before: "That the American Continents, by the free and independent position which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power." So reads the extract from President Monroe's seventh annual message, dated the 2nd December, 1823, and known as the "Monroe Doctrine." This bold assumption of a protectorate over two continents was nothing more than the expression of its author's private opinion, unsupported by official action, either at home or abroad. But it fell like a bombshell into the diplomatic circles of the world. It was criticized, derided, repudiated by every nation of Europe; but it was secretly feared and not openly disobeyed by any, even in the much-vexed discussion of the Central American question. England carefully based her claim to the coveted territory upon the alleged facts of long possession and colonization. It is needless to say that the "Monroe Doctrine," even had it been incorporated in the American constitution, could not have been entertained for a moment in the high court of nations, save after the manner that such doubtful claims are always conceded to the right of might.
The British no longer claimed for themselves or their royal puppets of Mosquito, authority over the port of San Juan. Nevertheless, the traditional British man-of-war within a day's sail of anywhere continued to haunt the Caribbean Sea. The Transit Company's steamers sailed regularly between New York and San Juan. In May, 1854, a captain of one of them shot a negro in the streets of San Juan, and fled from arrest to the United States Consulate. The American minister, Borland, refused to surrender the fugitive to the officers of justice. A mob surrounded the consulate, and during the fray which ensued the minister was hit on the cheek by a bottle thrown by some rioter. Consul Fabens, then on board the steamer Northern Light, sent a boat ashore to take off the minister and his criminal guest, Captain Smith. Before the steamer sailed with the minister on board, a guard of fifty Americans was armed and left behind to protect the Transit Company's property at Puntas Arenas, a point of land opposite the town of San Juan. The boat which carried Minister Borland to the steamer was fired upon by the natives, but, as it appears, not with fatal results. Still the indignity offered to the representative of a great nation must be atoned for. The United States sloop-of-war Cyane was sent out as soon as the matter was reported at Washington. Her commander, Captain Hollins, on arriving off the town, found the inevitable British man-of-war lying between him and the shore. He promptly notified the Nicaraguan authorities of his intention to bombard the town, which was thereupon hastily evacuated. The captain of H.B.M. ship Express refused to move out of range, until the guns of the Cyane had been trained to rake his decks, when he reluctantly dropped astern, after protesting that the American superiority of armament alone saved the dispute from being settled by the last argument of kings and captains. The disparity is to be regretted, in view of the wearisome and vain diplomacy afterwards spent upon a question which force alone, or the show of it, could finally settle.
While the guns of the Cyane were squandering powder on the frail huts of San Juan in lieu of a worthier target, Nicaragua was too deeply engrossed in her usual internecine strife to resent the outrage from abroad. Don Fruto Chamorro, who succeeded Pineda as president in 1851, found himself towards the close of his term, ambitious of another lease of power. Chamorro was the leader of the Legitimist, or Servile party, as it was called; Don Francisco Castellon was the choice of the Liberal or Democratic party. At the biennial election in 1853, both parties claimed the victory, and, as is usual in such disputes, possession was the strongest point of law. Chamorro proclaimed himself duly elected, and was installed in office at Granada, the chief city of the Servile faction. Leon, the larger and more prosperous city, favoured the cause of Castellon, whereupon Chamorro promptly arrested his rival with several of his adherents, and banished them from the country. They took refuge in Honduras, whose president, Cabañas, received them hospitably. Chamorro, to make his position more secure, had himself, on April 30, 1854, proclaimed president for two terms or four years. A usurpation so bold was calculated to defeat its own object.
Castellon landed at Realejo within a week after its declaration, with only thirty-six followers. The Leonese rallied to his support, and drove Chamorro out of the department and into the Servile stronghold, the city of Granada. Soon after they obtained control of the lake and river and laid siege to Granada. The siege lasted nine months without material advantage on either side. Castellon was proclaimed Provisional Director by his party. Chamorro dying on the 12th of March, 1855, was succeeded by Senator Don Jose Maria Estrada, a weak substitute for his brave, popular, and ambitious predecessor. Each party had now a de facto president. General Jose Trinidad Munoz, a veteran of Santa Ana's, and like that luckless hero, fully impressed with the delusion that he was a physical and mental counterpart of the great Napoleon, commanded the army of Castellon. The Serviles were headed by Don Ponciano Corral, a clever, unscrupulous man, who relied upon the military assistance of adjacent states to strengthen the arms of his party.
Such was the state of affairs in Nicaragua in August, 1854, when an American, named Byron Cole, presented himself before Castellon with a novel offer. Cole, who had been formerly a Boston editor, was proprietor of the newspaper which we left under the editorial management of the late President of Sonora. His faith in the military genius of his editor was in nowise abated by the disastrous end of the Sonora expedition. Arriving in the camp of the Democrats when their earlier conquests were gradually slipping from their hands, and the long siege of Granada had been raised in despair, Cole's offer of aid was eagerly embraced by Castellon and his party.
They had already known and rated the value of the American rifleman as an auxiliary. At an early period of the civil war, an adventurous California pioneer, named C. W. Doubleday, found himself at the port of San Juan del Sur, the Pacific terminus of the Transit. He was homeward-bound after years of absence, but being thrown into the society of some Democratic leaders, he did not require much persuasion before deciding to abandon his cabin passage, already paid to New York, and become an apostle of Democratic principles among his fellow passengers. He worked with such good effect that thirty of them volunteered under his lead and marched to the aid of the army investing Granada. They were reckless fighters, who looked upon Central American warfare as holiday pastime. Nevertheless, although reinforced from time to time by occasional American recruits, who had drifted into the country on their way to or from California, ere the siege was raised they had been reduced by war and disease to the number of four. Doubleday then organized from the flower of the native army a corps of sharpshooters with whom he covered the retreat to Leon, losing nearly all his company, but impressing the native soldiery with a favourable opinion of the Americans as bold and reckless fighters.
Cole's plan to bring in a formidable American contingent to aid the Democratic cause, came at a time when foreign help was doubly welcome. Castellon's Honduran allies had been abruptly recalled to meet an invasion of their own country by Guatemala. The Serviles, now in possession of lake and river, were slowly but surely advancing on Leon. The strength which the Leonese might have received from the Democratic states adjoining was needed by these at home to protect themselves against their aristocratic enemies, and against the alert, wily intrigues of European agents.
Therefore, in October, 1854, Byron Cole made a contract with the government of Castellon to supply to the Democratic army three hundred American "colonists liable to military duty." The settlers should be entitled to a grant of 52,000 acres of land, and should have the privilege of becoming citizens upon a formal declaration of that intention. Cole took his contract and sailed for California to receive his chief's ratification.
Purchase of the Vesta — May 4th, 1855, sailing of the "Immortal Fifty-six" — The American Phalanx — First battle of Rivas — Punishing a desperado — Trouble in Castellon's Cabinet — Battle at Virgin Bay — Death of Castellon.
Walker submitted the contract, worded with legal precision, to the civil and military authorities at San Francisco, and was gratified to learn that it in nowise threatened to violate the neutrality laws of the country. General Wool, to whom Walker had surrendered on his return from Sonora, professed himself satisfied; the district attorney of the United States found no flaw; but everybody in San Francisco knew that Walker was about to colonize Nicaragua with filibusters, and smiled at the peaceful fiction. The legal difficulties overcome, there remained the graver question of funds. To add to his embarrassments, Walker fell sick. It was late in April before he had succeeded in getting the few thousand dollars needed to charter and fit out a vessel. Meanwhile General Jerez, commanding the Democratic army at Leon, had made one or two contracts with other Americans, unknown to his superiors. The Granadinos, too, not to be behind their Democratic rivals, had sent Don Guadalupe Saenz to California to drum up recruits for their side. But nothing came of either venture, and the Leonese, now hemmed in their own department by the victorious Legitimists, looked wistfully for the coming of Walker. He at last succeeded in collecting the barely necessary amount of money, and cast about him for a suitable vessel to carry the new Argonauts.
In the shipping intelligence of the day is chronicled amongst the clearances at the San Francisco Custom House, on April 21st, the brig Vesta, Captain Briggs, for Realejo, forty-seven passengers. She did not sail, however, though some fifty or sixty passengers had taken their quarters on board. For at the last moment a new obstacle arose. Walker had bought her outright, though she was a slow, unseaworthy craft, some thirty years old, as nothing better offered, and found out, when too late, that she was liable for several debts incurred by the former owners. The sheriff seized her and, for security, had her sails stripped off and stored on shore. New creditors with old claims also appeared, ready to serve other attachments as soon as the first should be dissolved. Everybody who held a claim, real or fictitious, against the luckless craft, hastened to present it, knowing that Walker must pay their demands or incur a delay of tedious litigation, and delay meant death to his hopes. A revenue cutter drew up alongside the brig, ready to prevent a possible attempt at departure. The expeditionists grew restive, but Walker quieted them with the promise of a speedy departure. Seeking out the creditor who had attached the vessel, Walker persuaded him to grant a release on easy terms, but it took his last cent to defray the sheriff's extravagant fees of three hundred dollars. The last charge was paid on the 3rd of May, and Walker was authorized to ask the revenue cutter's aid in having the brig's sails bent on, which was rapidly and noiselessly done at night. But though out of the hands of the Government officers, the Vesta was still liable to detention by civil process, and a sheriff's keeper remained on board. The captain fearing to risk illegal steps, a new commander, M. D. Eyre, was hastily engaged. He went on board about midnight, having hired a towboat to carry the brig out to sea, and about the hour of one on the morning of May 4, 1855, the legal functionary was put on board the tow-boat, the lines cast off, and fifty-six filibusters embarked on a voyage of 2,700 miles in a crazy brig bound for a hostile port. A story is told that just before putting to sea, Walker invited the sheriff's officer into the cabin and addressed him briefly as follows: "Here, sir, are wine and cigars; also handcuffs and irons. Please make choice of which you will have. This vessel is going to sea." The officer, according to this rather apocryphal story, was a man of the world, and the Vesta put to sea.
Walker breathed more freely as the Golden Gate closed behind him, and the tug-boat Resolute, fading to a smoky speck on the water, loosened the last tenacious tentacle of the octopus—law. Harassed like Cortez by petty trials, he was, like him, sailing with a few chosen followers to a new destiny. He confided in the superiority of civilization over barbarism, and the certainty that he would receive his country's support the moment that success should first crown his arms: success which condones even greater faults than illegal warfare. The cost of failure he did not count. The stout-hearted hunter who enters a lion's den does not ask what will happen if nerve or steel fail him confronting his angry foe. Despite the result, there is something thrilling in the story of the fifty-six men who stole out of a harbour by night to conquer an empire—and all but succeeded! For not by armaments nor resources should such enterprises be judged, but by the deeds of the adventurers. As Prescott says, "It is not numbers that give importance to a conflict, but the consequences that depend upon it; the magnitude of the stake, and the skill and courage of the players—the more limited the means, even, the greater may be the science shown in the use of them."
They sailed down the Pacific coast—a long and stormy voyage—and, after touching at Tigre Island for a pilot, cast anchor in the port of Realejo, Nicaragua, on the 16th day of June. Old Realejo, at which the Vesta's voyage ended, was the site of a once prosperous Spanish town with a good harbour and deep tide-water; but so often had the buccaneers ravaged it, that the inhabitants had abandoned it and built a new town of the same name five miles further up the river, accessible only to boats of light draught. The strangers re-embarked in several canoes, or bongoes, hollowed from the ceiba tree, and by four o'clock that day arrived at New Realejo. Castellon and his cabinet were at Leon, the Democratic capital, whither Walker and Major Crocker set out the next day escorted by Colonel Ramirez and Captain Doubleday of the native army. The Provisional Director warmly received his new ally, and promptly and formally accepted the immigrants into the military service of Nicaragua. They were organized as a separate corps, under the name of "La Falange Americana," or American Phalanx, and placed under the immediate command of their own officers. Commissions were issued on the 20th of June to Walker as colonel, Achilles Kewen as lieutenant-colonel, and Timothy Crocker as major. Orders were given them at once to proceed by water to Rivas, in the Meridional department, which was held by the enemy. Colonel Ramirez, with two hundred natives, was detailed to help the Falange, but only half that number answered the roll-call, when the Vesta weighed anchor at Realejo, on the 23rd of June.
Walker had seen enough of his new friends to convince him that his ambition had nothing to fear from such rivals. Castellon was an amiable and irresolute gentleman; Munoz was ambitious and vain, but incapable. The native soldiery were ill-trained and fickle-minded. Faction had stifled any faint sparks of patriotism in their breasts. A few hundred of them who bore the proud title of veteranos, had smelt powder and could face an enemy after a march of forty miles under a tropical sun. They wore a tasteful uniform and carried muskets and knapsacks.
But the hundred recruits of Ramirez were a Falstaffian corps of indolent, good-natured rascals, who devoted all the intervals between skirmishing to gambling and gossip. As their country's proverb hath it, "they would gamble away the sun before sunrise." In striking contrast with those children of nature were the men of California, with iron nerves and dauntless courage, in whose characters vice lost half its evil by losing, if not its grossness, all its meanness; men who "deemed no crime, or curse, or vice as dark as that of cowardice." Their manliness was incapable of treachery, falsehood, or the meaner passions, born of a society in which law, the only remedy for wrong, too easily becomes the strongest shield of the wrong-doer. Having summed up their virtues in the comprehensive ones of courage and loyalty, there is little else to be said in their favour. For themselves they would have asked no higher praise, and strict justice can accord them little beyond.
It was a bold move to attack the enemy in his stronghold. Rivas and the adjoining country are the most densely populated parts of Nicaragua. The city of Rivas contains eleven thousand inhabitants, while the department of that name and the adjacent Oriental department number respectively twenty thousand and ninety-five thousand. Four days after leaving Realejo, the party, to the number of one hundred and sixty-five landed at a point on the coast near the town of Brito, and immediately began a forced march to Rivas. Midnight and a severe rain storm overtook them in the midst of a strange country, but they trudged patiently along, ankle-deep in mud, shielding their precious ammunition from the falling torrents. On the second night of their march the weather proved a useful ally, enabling them to surprise and overpower a picket of the enemy at the village of Tola. Next morning they were rewarded by a first sight of Lake Nicaragua in all its matchless beauty. Walker, who had beheld the glories of Switzerland, Italy, and California, pauses in the recital of his dangerous adventures to note the charms of the earthly paradise upon which he had come to launch the horrors of war. Between him and the lake six hundred Legitimist's troops lay at Rivas, awaiting the attack.
No time was lost in forming the plan of assault. To the Falange was awarded the post of honour, the native command of Ramirez being reserved to support them. Kewen and Crocker led the Americans, who, at the word of command, advanced steadily, receiving the enemy's fire with the coolness of veterans, and reserving their own until it could tell most effectively. Then after pouring in a volley they charged with a yell, and drove the advance guard of the Serviles down the narrow streets to the plaza. A stubborn resistance was made at this point. Crocker was dangerously wounded in two places, his right arm was broken by a musket shot, but he carried his pistol in his left hand and continued to fire it into the faces of the enemy, until a third shot laid him dead. Walker, who had joined his countrymen in the charge, now called for the native reserves to decide the issue; but they were nowhere to be seen. The poltroons had fled at the first shot. The enemy perceived the defection and pressed the abandoned Falange so hard that they were driven for shelter to some adobe huts, behind whose walls they held their own for three hours. It was a losing game with so small a force, for every man slain was equal to thrice the number of enemies added. Achilles Kewen was the next officer to fall. The hardy pioneer, Doubleday, was shot in the head, though not fatally. Seeing six of his men dead, and twice as many wounded, Walker ordered a sortie. The enemy had lost a hundred and fifty in killed and wounded, and General Boscha, their commander, deemed it wiser to offer no opposition to the departure of the Americans. The Serviles, with cowardly ferocity, killed the wounded men who had been left on the plaza, and celebrated their victory by burning the bodies. The ghastly bonfire lit up the city as the weary filibusters halted on their retreat near the Transit road to San Juan del Sur. The following morning they resumed the march to that city, where they arrived about sunset, on June 30th, in a most deplorable plight. Some were hatless, some shoeless, and all exhausted with battle and travel, as they marched into the town. There is a whole epitome of filibustering in the fact that at such a time two recruits were found to join the ranks of the Falange. "The Texan, Harry McLeod, and the Irishman, Peter Burns," deserve mention for this characteristic piece of hardihood.
The Vesta was cruising off the coast, awaiting orders from Walker, who therefore impressed a Costa Rican schooner, the San Jose, for the purpose of carrying his command to Realejo, defending his action upon the ground that the same vessel had already been used to carry General Guardiola from Honduras to Nicaragua upon a hostile mission, thus forfeiting her neutral rights. The schooner was confiscated a year afterwards, by Walker, for sailing under a false register, and, being converted into a man-of-war and renamed the Granada, played quite an important part in the climax of this tragedy.
In this critical hour of his fortunes, Walker's firmness was put to a severe test. A couple of dissolute Americans, who had been living for some time at San Juan, either through drunken folly or private spite, or for the purpose of plunder, set fire to the barracks on shore, for a time placing the whole town in danger of destruction. Walker, foreseeing that the act would be at once attributed to his men, took measures to punish the offenders. One of them escaped from the party detailed to execute him. The other, a gambler named Dewey, took refuge in the hold of a small boat attached to the stern of the San Jose. The desperado was well armed, and any attempt to capture him would have proved fatal to one or more of his assailants. So all the night Walker and a guard of men kept watch over the boat, ready to shoot or seize the villain if he tried to escape. At daybreak the schooner put to sea, towing astern the boat in which Dewey lay sheltered behind a poor native woman, his wretched mistress. The gambler, as everybody on board knew, was a dead shot, while his guard lay under the disadvantage of fearing to injure the woman if they fired. At last he rose to cut the boat's painter, and at that moment a rifle ball ended his career. The poor woman was wounded also, but not mortally. Walker takes pains to recount minutely the details of this incident, in order to vindicate the character of his followers. So severe a punishment was not lost upon those of his men who might be inclined to take a baser view of filibusterism than their leader did.
On the same day they met the Vesta at sea, and embarking on board the old brig, arrived at Realejo on July 1st. Walker was justly incensed at the defection of his native allies at Rivas, and positively refused to continue in the Democratic service without better guarantees of support on emergency than the jealousy of the native commanders seemed likely to allow. The Falange remained several days at Leon, where the firmness of their leader alone averted a collision between them and the troops of Munoz, who had set the example of hostility and distrust towards the new-comers. At last, finding the Cabinet unable to agree upon a fixed policy (though a modified contract had been drawn up, by the terms of which the Falange were to be enlisted in the army of Nicaragua to the number of three hundred, and receive one hundred dollars a month per man, and five hundred acres of land each at the close of the war), Walker withdrew his men from Leon to Realejo. There he embarked them on the Vesta, with the pretended purpose of departing for Honduras, and entering the service of President Cabañas. Nothing however, was farther from his intention. The Meridional department, commanding the Transit route, was the point at whose acquisition he steadily aimed. To maintain his foothold in Nicaragua he well knew he must keep open his communication with the United States and the recruits who were sure to flock thence to his standard.
Castellon was perplexed, fearing equally to part with his valuable allies and to displease Munoz by retaining them. The fortune of war decided the question. The Legitimists under Corral and His Hondureño ally, Guardiola, were drawing close to Leon. Santos Guardiola (his name is still muttered with a curse throughout the length and breadth of the isthmus) was a native of Honduras, who joined the Guatemalan enemies of his country, and, by his unparalleled cruelties to young and old, men and women alike, acquired the dread name of "The Tiger of Honduras." He was sprung from the stock which produces nine-tenths of the murderers and thieves of Central America, the offspring of Indo-African amalgamation known as "Sambos."
A deadlier foe, the cholera, was also beginning to ravage the Democratic department. To meet Corral and his forces, Munoz went forth with six hundred men, and a sharp engagement occurred at Sauce, in which the enemy was repulsed, but Munoz was slain. The loss of that commander influenced Castellon more than the temporary victory, and he continued to beg Walker to return. But Walker had already secured the co-operation of an influential partisan, Don Jose Maria Valle, who readily enlisted a hundred and sixty men for the enterprise against the Meridional department, and, with the easy loyalty of his nation, proposed that Walker should pronounce against Castellon and set up an independent government. Walker was honourable enough to reject the ungrateful suggestion, although he did not hesitate to disobey the Provisional Director's commands when they crossed his own policy. Accordingly, on the 23rd of August the Vesta sailed once more for the Meridional department, and arrived at San Juan del Sur on the 29th. The Legitimists fled at his approach. While the Americans were there the steamer from San Francisco arrived and departed, carrying back with her, as a recruiting agent, the afterwards notorious Parker H. French.
After a stay of four days Walker set out for Rivas, where Guardiola and six hundred Serviles lay waiting to regain the laurels lost at Sauce. The Americans, after a few hours' march, halted for breakfast at Virgin Bay, on the lake, and were at once attacked by Guardiola's whole command who had made a forced march towards San Juan, and then, doubling, followed the Americans to Virgin Bay. Attacked on front and flank, Walker made a good disposition of his little force. Previous experience had taught him that no superiority of discipline, skill, and courage sufficed to counterbalance the numerical odds of eight to one on an open field. He was now to try the effect of pitting the same against a proportion of only five to one, with the ground in his favour. The Falange, as usual, bore the brunt of battle; but the natives, being better officered than before, fought well. Guardiola was driven back at every point, notwithstanding that his men showed desperate courage. But no courage could withstand the deadly marksmanship of the Americans, who, with rifle or revolver, always engaged at close quarters and never wasted a shot. The combat, which hardly deserves the name of a battle, lasted only two hours; sufficiently long to inflict on the enemy a loss of sixty killed and a hundred wounded. At its conclusion Guardiola withdrew his demoralized forces and fled to Rivas. Walker, Doubleday, and a few others were wounded, but none of the Americans, and but three of their native allies, were killed.
Walker now returned to San Juan, where he picked up a few recruits from among the ranks of homeward-bound Americans on the steamer from California. Here also he learned of the death of Castellon, who had fallen a victim to the cholera. His successor, Don Nasario Escoto, warmly congratulated Walker on his success at Virgin Bay, and promised further aid. Learning from intercepted letters of the authorities at Granada that the city was in an almost defenceless condition, he determined to attack the Legitimist stronghold without awaiting the advance of Corral, who had replaced Guardiola in the command of the enemy. To show his contempt of the latter, he sent the intercepted correspondence to the Legitimist headquarters, and was not a little surprised at receiving a polite acknowledgement of the courtesy, and a hieroglyphic document from Corral, which proved to consist of Masonic signs. A freemason in the Falange, De Brissot, interpreted them to mean an overture for confidential negotiations. No reply was made to the proposition.
Recruits continued to flock to the Democratic standard. Colonel Charles Gilman, a one-legged veteran of Sonora, came down with thirty-five men from California. The native allies now numbered about two hundred and fifty. Two small cannon were procured and mounted. By the 11th of October Walker had everything in readiness for his most audacious stroke, the capture of Granada, a city as dear to the Legitimist cause, and especially to its proud inhabitants, as was its namesake to the Moors of old Spain.
Corral was massing his forces at Rivas, hoping, yet fearing, to meet his enemy on the Transit road. No suspicion of an attack on the capital seems to have entered his mind. Dissension was rife in the Legitimist camp, Guardiola and Corral quarrelling for the supreme command. The native Democrats on the other side, whatever of jealousy they may have felt towards their foreign allies, carefully veiled their feelings and made a show of the utmost cordiality. Walker enforced absolute discipline without distinction of nationality, a spice of grim humour sometimes seasoning his decisions. Two native officers, having quarrelled all night over some old or new feud, were ordered to settle the affair by going out and fighting a duel next morning, but their courage had oozed away by daybreak, and the trouble was heard of no more.
At last, on the morning of October 11th, the Democratic army, about four hundred strong, took the line of march over the white Transit road to Virgin Bay. The Falange were in good spirits as they marched gaily along the dusty highway. They were nearly all in the prime of life—tall, robust, and spirited. Their only distinctive uniform, if it might be called such, was the red ribbon which they wore tied around their black "slouch" hats. They wore blue or red woollen shirts, coarse trousers tucked into heavy boots, with a revolver and a bowie knife in each belt, and a precious rifle on every man's shoulder. Many new faces were in the ranks, and some old ones were missing which could ill be spared from a service of trust and danger. Ten of the original fifty-six had fallen in battle—Kewen, a brave veteran of Mexico and Cuba, Crocker, McIndoe, Cotham, Bailey, Hews, Wilson, William and Frank Cole, and Estabrook. Some were absent on leave, amongst them the pioneer, Doubleday, who had returned home piqued by an untimely rebuke from his commander. The estrangement did not last long. Doubleday soon wearied of a peaceful life, and was welcomed back by Walker on his return to active service.
A Servile victory in the North — Walker in the enemy's stronghold — Negotiations for peace — Execution of Mayorga — Rivas chosen Provisional Director — Corral's treason and punishment — Newspaper history.
Corral lay with the main body of the Legitimist army at Rivas, keeping, through his scouts and spies, a close watch on the movements of his enemy. One of those spies, having been caught within the Democratic lines, was tried by court-martial and summarily shot. Corral fancied that he had his foes in a trap, and he accordingly devoted all his efforts to prevent their retreat to San Juan, as well as to cut off reinforcements from California. Matters, indeed, looked desperate with the Democrats. On the North the Leonese had just been routed in battle by General Martinez at Pueblo Nuevo, and the victor had only halted for a time at Granada to receive a triumphal ovation before coming down to Rivas to join in the extermination of the filibusters.
It had been a gala day in the city of Granada. From early dawn to midnight her ten thousand citizens filled the streets and plazas with revelry and congratulations. Salvos of artillery thundered a welcome to the victors, joy bells rang all day, and bombas and rockets wasted precious powder in their honour. Aguardiente flowed freely as water, until the valiant soldiers prayed that Walker might be spared destruction long enough to meet the heroes of Pueblo Nuevo. Far into the night lasted the grand fiesta, till the last drunken reveller had hied him home or lain down in the street to dream of renewed happiness on the morrow. The tardiest lover had tinkled his farewell on the guitar. In the grand plaza the guard nodded around the watch fire, while from distant pickets came at intervals the long-drawn nasal "Alerte!" of the sentinels. It was a melodious cry, equally unlike the sharp challenge of the Frenchman or the stern English monosyllables.
Granada slept, the while a little steamer, with lights cloaked and furnaces hidden, steamed slowly along the shore. Not a sound broke the stillness of the lake, save the lap of surf or the plash of the startled saurian. The jaguar prowling among the orange trees on the shore challenged the unfamiliar noise, and the night birds passed along the cry of warning which was lost upon the ears of the sleepy sentinels. They drowsed over their waning fires until the gray of morning broke on the mountains, and from convent and church tower the joy-bells renewed the merry peals. Here and there a straggling sentry discharged his piece in response. Another and another shot were heard; then, suddenly, a short, sharp volley such as never came from the mouth of smooth-bore musket. The joy-bells changed to a loud alarm as a terrified sentinel rushed in from the South suburb, crying, "The enemy are on us! the Filibusteros!" Close upon his heels came the broken and demoralized picket, with the advance guard of Americans under Walker and Valle galloping on their track.
The surprised garrison, after the first panic, rallied and made a short stand on the plaza, until an impetuous charge of the invaders swept them away. In less time than has been taken to tell it one hundred and ten filibusters had carried by assault the city of Granada, without losing a man—literally, for a drummer-boy was the only victim on their side.
The surprise was complete, and the consequence of supreme importance to Walker, who, from the chief city of the Servile party, might dictate terms to Central America. Corral had been completely outgeneralled, nobody but Walker himself and his trusted aids, Valle and Hornsby, having been acquainted with the object of the expedition when it set out from Virgin Bay.
Walker, as soon as he had organized a provisional government and convinced his native allies by vigorous measures that the conquered city was not to be subjected to the usual treatment of plunder and violence, sent a delegation to negotiate with Corral. The envoys were met with a polite negative, while the United States minister, Mr. Wheeler, who had accompanied them in the character of a peacemaker, was thrown into prison and threatened with other punishments, whence ensued much diplomatic correspondence and official shedding of ink.
Meanwhile the hope of a peaceable understanding was seriously jeopardized by the folly of Walker's recruiting agent, Parker H. French. He had come to San Juan with a body of new men from California, and after crossing the Transit had seized one of the lake steamers, with the intention of capturing Fort San Carlos, at the head of the San Juan River, the same stronghold which in its days of power had been the key to the Transit route and to lake navigation. French was easily repulsed, and made his way to Granada to report his misadventures. Tidings of his deeds reaching Rivas in the meantime, some Legitimist soldiers, by way of reprisal, attacked and killed six or seven Californian passengers who were awaiting at Virgin Bay a chance of passage to the Atlantic coast. Shortly afterwards the commandant of Fort San Carlos fired into a westward-bound steamer, killing some passengers who were as innocent of complicity with French or the filibusters as had been the other victims at Virgin Bay. The protest of the American minister being treated with contempt, Walker, with questionable justice, retaliated by ordering a court-martial on the Legitimist Secretary of State, Don Mateo Mayorga, who had been captured at the taking of Granada. Such a method of holding a cabinet minister responsible for the acts of his government was enforcing the principles of constitutional rule with a vengeance. The court was composed of the secretary's countrymen, who brought in a verdict of guilty, and Mayorga was promptly executed. Although personally refraining from interfering in the case, and only reluctantly sanctioning the sentence of death, it is evident that Walker had begun to learn the Central American method of conducting warfare. But the execution, if morally unjustified, proved to be a wise act politically. Corral at once agreed to treat for peace, and a meeting between him and Walker was arranged to take place at Granada on the 23rd of October.
Again the bells of Granada rang out in joy, and the light-hearted populace welcomed the festival whether of peace or of war. The Falange, now some tenscore strong, joined with the native soldiery in a military welcome to their late enemies.
At the approach of Corral, Walker, attended by his staff, rode out of the suburbs to meet him. The commanders saluted each other with grave cordiality, and re-entered the city side by side, proceeding to the grand cathedral, where Padre Vijil, the curate of Granada, offered up a High Mass, and Te Deums of thanksgiving were sung. Nor did the good father fail in his sermon to show the advantages to his beloved country attending the presence of the strange American of the North.
Handsome Corral was the darling of the Granadinos. He had the superficial traits which draw popularity—dash, openhandedness, physical beauty, and a sunny disposition; but he was weak, vain, and untrustworthy, for all that. We have seen how he coquetted with Walker while in command of the Legitimist forces, treating for peace and imprisoning its envoys. Having come to Granada to complete the negotiations, he now betrayed the rights of his principal, the President, so called, Estrada, and entered into a sacred compact with the Leonese, whose acts were sanctioned by their nominal President.
By the terms of the agreement Don Patricio Rivas was appointed President pro tempore, with the following cabinet: Maximo Jerez, Minister of Relations; Firmin Ferrer, Minister of Public Credit; Parker H. French, Minister of Hacienda; Ponciano Corral, Minister of War. Walker was appointed generalissimo of the army, which consisted of twelve hundred men, distributed throughout the country in small garrisons. Five hundred men were stationed at Leon and the remainder at Virgin Bay, Granada, Rivas, and other fortified positions. The general in chief received a salary of five hundred dollars a month, and his subordinates were awarded correspondingly liberal pay, or promises to pay. There were seven surgeons and two chaplains attached to the forces; the former held no sinecure.
During the progress of the negotiations Corral, with the small subtlety of miniature politics, had sought to entrap Walker in various ways, such as requiring him to take the oath upon the Crucifix, and similar ceremonial punctilioes, to which Walker, as a Protestant, might have been expected to object, but, like a man of sense, did not. He rightly judged that the keeping of an oath was of more importance than the form of taking it; and therein he differed from Corral, who was detected, a few days after the formation of the government, in treasonable correspondence with the neighbouring states. A native courier deceived the traitor, and placed in Walker's hands the fatal letters containing indisputable proofs of the writer's guilt.
To Xatruch, a Legitimist refugee, he had written, nine days after the signing of the treaty, begging him to foment hostility against the new administration. In a similar strain he wrote to Guardiola, the Honduran Servile leader, conjuring him to arouse the Legitimist element everywhere against the American intruders: "Nicaragua is lost, lost are Honduras, San Salvador, and Guatemala if they let this thing prevail. Let them come quickly, if they would meet auxiliaries." General Martinez, commanding at Managua, was also implicated in the treason, but received warning in time to fly the country.
Walker at once requested the President and Cabinet to meet him, and laid before them the evidence of Corral's guilt. A court-martial was convened, the members of which were all Americans, such, it is said, being the wish of the accused, who knew that he could expect no mercy from his countrymen. From the same motive, he did not deny his guilt, but threw himself on the mercy of his judges, relying, as it proved, over-much on the magnanimity which the Americans had heretofore displayed. He was sentenced to die by the fusillade at noon of the next day, November the 7th. The time of execution was subsequently postponed two hours. The friends of the condemned made earnest appeals for mercy in his behalf, being seconded by the leading public citizens, and particularly by Padre Vijil, the gentle apostle of peace; but Walker, though much moved and fully aware of the odious construction which his enemies would put upon the act, firmly refused the petition. The treason was too flagrant, the example unfortunately too necessary, and mercy to such a traitor would have been injustice to every loyal man in the state.
Corral died at the appointed hour, and the lesson was not wholly lost upon his accomplices. Walker has been bitterly censured for this piece of stern justice, especially at home in the United States, where the act was misrepresented as that of a suspicious tyrant who thus rid himself of a dangerous rival. But there is not the slightest reason for regarding Corral's death as aught but the well-merited punishment of an utterly unscrupulous villain. His whole conduct in connection with the late war was consistent with his last and fatal treachery. Even the morality of Nicaragua, loose as it was in matters of public faith, while lamenting the fate of Handsome Ponciano, confessed that he was well-named "Corral," the beautiful but deadly serpent of the country.
That impartial justice governed the action of Walker is evident from an incident which occurred on the very day on which Corral was inditing his treason to Xatruch and Guardiola. Patrick Jordan, a soldier of the Falange, while intoxicated, shot and mortally wounded a native boy. Jordan was tried by court-martial and sentenced to death. Padre Vijil and many others, including the mother of the murdered boy, begged in vain for leniency to the culprit. On the 3rd of November, two days after the commission of his crime, Jordan was shot at sunrise. Walker's detractors commented characteristically upon this execution, picturing the impartial judge as another Mokanna, delighting in the suffering of friend as of foe. The historian, groping in the darkness of contemporaneous journalism for facts of current history, wherever those facts bear upon the so-called political issues of the time, finds himself floundering at every step in sloughs of falsehoods or quicksands of misrepresentation. The evil, unhappily, is confined to no party or epoch. Walker being a champion, and a bigoted one, of a certain party, paid the inevitable penalty, that of being equally over-praised and underrated, according to the political prejudices of his critics.
To Don Buenaventura Selva was given the vacant portfolio of war. The representative of the United States recognized the new administration. The neighbouring states of Liberal tendencies sent assurances of hearty friendship; those in which the Servile party was supreme maintained a diplomatic silence. Peace reigned throughout the length and breadth of Nicaragua, the peace of her own slumbering volcanoes.
Filibusterism abroad — Kinney's Expedition — The Filibusters and their allies — An aristocracy of leather — Pierce and Marcy — A rupture with the United States — Costa Rica declares war — Schlessinger's fiasco — Cosmopolitan adventurers — Steamers withdrawn — History of the Transit Company — Vanderbilt plans vengeance — The printing-press on the field.
In the United States, particularly in California, Walker's amazing success gave an impulse to filibustering of a different, because more sanguine, nature from that produced by the first expeditions of Lopez to Cuba. France and England also awoke to behold with dismay this solution of the Central American problem. Not less alarmed was the Conservative element in Spanish America, the more reactionary part of which talked wildly of calling in a European protectorate and of breaking off commercial intercourse with the North Americans. Mexico, Cuba, Ecuador, and Central America were threatened by invading expeditions, while Nicaragua was made the objective point of an actual invasion from the Atlantic coast. It will be remembered that the Mosquito king's grant to the Shepards had been transferred to a colonization company in the United States; upon the strength of which Henry L. Kinney, of Philadelphia, proceeded to occupy his property. But there were many difficulties in the way. The grant had been revoked by his Majesty in a lucid interval. Great Britain, as guardian of the kingdom, repudiated the contract. Nicaragua steadily declined to recognize the rights of either party to her territory; and, to complete the adventurer's misfortune, the Federal authorities arrested him when about to lead his first detachment of colonists to his tropical possessions. Not to rehearse the tedious litigation which followed, it suffices to say that the Kinney Expedition, having succeeded in embarking, was shortly afterwards wrecked on Turk's Island, finally reaching San Juan del Norte in a most forlorn plight. There new misfortunes overtook them. Most of the military colonists sailed up the river to share the more promising fortunes of Walker, to whom Kinney himself, despairing of success unaided, at last made overtures for an alliance offensive and defensive. But the messenger found Walker firmly entrenched in power and, as a member of the government, bound to consider all foreign claims on the Mosquito coast as mere usurpations. Had it been otherwise, he might perhaps have returned a less peremptory answer than the brief threat: "Tell Mr. Kinney, or Colonel Kinney, or whatever he calls himself, that if I find him on Nicaraguan soil, I will most assuredly hang him." The new element in Nicaragua did not fail to uphold the sovereign independence of the country with zeal, even if it may have sometimes lacked discretion. Walker was a stickler for dignity, and never failed to exact the respect due to himself, his office, and his flag. An English merchant, of Realejo, who had resisted a Government levy, and, with the sublime assurance of his race, had hoisted the Union Jack over his house, was caustically invited by Walker to lower the emblem or produce his Government's license to display the flag of a representative. "If he refuses," said Walker, "tear it down, trample it under foot, and put the fellow in irons." The Englishman knew enough of law to see that he had no authority for the display of bunting, which he accordingly furled, paid the requisition, and cursed the Yankee lawyer who had taught him a lesson. Walker was versed in the law of nations, but he unfortunately overlooked the fact that those wise statutes are framed for the control of strong nations dealing with their peers. It is not enough to be right, or to know one's rights, unless the power to maintain them accompany the knowledge. A touch of the lawyer's weakness for technical rights always marked this curious outlaw.
In the dazzling success of the Falange, the disasters of Kinney were forgotten, and many a band of hardy adventurers was tempted to rival their deeds. For a time it seemed as though the spirit of the Vikings had been revived in the land discovered by Eric the Red. On the Pacific coast those incursions sometimes assumed, as we have seen, formidable proportions. Sonora, Arizona, Lower California, and even the Sandwich Islands, were the various goals of ambitious adventurers, some of whom never carried their schemes into effect; others, like Colonel Crabbe, made a really imposing campaign for a brief space, only to die fruitless deaths.
The filibusters were by no means impelled to risk life and liberty through an abstract love of freedom or disinterested affection for their oppressed allies. They were, on the contrary, rather prone to turn to their own advantage the fruits of hard-won victory. Their extenuation lies in the worthless character of their allies, who invariably deserted them in extremity, and left the foreigner to save himself. It was so in Cuba, in Sonora, in Nicaragua, though there were honourable exceptions everywhere. A contempt and mistrust of the native character, often but ill-concealed, did not serve to make the alliance any more sincere. In Nicaragua, for the present at least, gratitude was stronger than prejudice, and the party favouring the Americans was powerful and enthusiastic. The common people remained faithful throughout; it was the calzados, the middle and upper classes composing the Conservative party, who hated the foreigner because they felt his superiority, and his still more galling consciousness thereof. The calzados were those who wore shoes, as distinguished from the barefoot rabble. Aristocracy, based on such transcendent merit, is naturally jealous of its prerogatives.
Almost every steamer from California brought down a squad, greater or less, of recruits. Amongst the earliest was a brother of the Achilles Kewen killed at the first battle of Rivas. E. J. C. Kewen was one of the most valuable of Walker's staff, on which he served throughout the war. Quite characteristic of the time and place is the matter-of-fact way in which the San Francisco papers state that Colonel Kewen participated as second in a duel at that place on the day preceding his departure for Nicaragua. Business before pleasure.
During the four months which followed the formation of the new government, Walker gathered about him a force of Americans and other foreigners numbering twelve hundred. They came from all parts of the Union, but chiefly from the Southern and Pacific states. Recruiting offices were opened in San Francisco, whose agents penetrated the mining camps and interior towns, unnoticed or unhindered by the Government authorities. Whenever any opposition was offered, the volunteers frequently bought through tickets to New York, and stopped at Nicaragua to enjoy a little filibustering. In the east more stringent precautions were taken by the authorities, though without much effect, as the colonists were responding to the invitation of the Nicaraguan Government, and could not be legally hindered.
Among the adventurers were many idle and desperate characters attracted by visions of beauty and booty, with the broad license of a freebooter's camp. To such the reality proved a terrible revelation; they found, instead of a free lance's easy discipline, a system of military government emulating in its stringent laws that of the great Frederick. Walker's abstemiousness was supplemented by the virtue, much rarer in men of his class, of absolute personal chastity in thought, word, and deed. Drunkenness, debauchery, and profanity were vices which he abhorred. The man who was detected selling liquor to a soldier was punished by a fine of 250 dollars; the drunkard was sent to the guard-house for ten days. With whisky of a vile quality selling at two dollars and a half a bottle, and the terrors of punishment before the eyes of both buyer and seller, drunkenness was rare in Granada. On the outposts discipline was more lax, officers and men availing themselves of secrecy to evade their general's stern commands. The well-behaved, on the other hand, were treated with the greatest favour, receiving their regular pay of a hundred dollars a month, according to some—a quarter of that sum, according to others—and a contingent title to five hundred acres of land.
The assurance of peace alone was needed to make Nicaragua, the veritable "Mahomet's Paradise" which its discoverers had named it. But there was no such assurance or prospect in view. Even had Walker been willing to rest content with his present wonderful success, he would not have been permitted so to curb his ambition. His enemies were too many and too powerful and implacable. Great Britain, which had been trespassing, secretly or openly, for half a century, on the rights of the weak Spanish-American republics, could not allow so rich a prize to pass into the hands of the hated "Yankee." Money, men, and arms were furnished to the neighbouring states, and every pretext was made use of to stir up a crusade against the Americans.
Enemies as bitter, though less powerful to injure openly, influenced the administration at Washington. The Secretary of State, William L. Marcy, was a politician who is best remembered by his enunciation of the notorious political maxim, "To the victors belong the spoils." Marcy had no personal ill-will towards Walker or his political friends; he was not the man to indulge a wanton grudge, but he carried into the great office which he filled the aims, sympathies, prejudices, and alliances of a thorough politician. To him the traditions of his country, the dignity of his high position, the honour of the republic were secondary ideas. What his party would say, how his acts would be criticized at Albany or on Wall Street, these were the thoughts which swayed his mind and governed his conduct. Like master, like man, Franklin Pierce was mentally as small as his secretary. So when a minister plenipotentiary from Nicaragua presented his credentials at Washington, and the other resident ministers protested against his being received, a terrible consternation fell upon the minds of President and Secretary. Mr. Marcolletta, the former minister, though recalled by the Government of Nicaragua, stoutly refused to resign. The other foreign ministers espoused his cause, and the secretary had the amazing stupidity to argue the case gravely with those officious gentlemen. Colonel Wheeler, the minister to Nicaragua, being appealed to, confirmed the de facto and de jure claims of the Rivas Government, adding, as a proof of the country's tranquillity, the striking fact, that "not a single prisoner, for any offence, is now confined in the Republic—a circumstance unknown before in the country."
Mr. Marcy had now no choice but to acknowledge the credentials of the new representative, when the discovery of a grave blunder of Walker's saved him the humiliation. No official objection could be urged against the minister, but unfortunately for him, there were pronounced personal objections strong enough to warrant the district attorney of New York in ordering his arrest on a criminal process. The individual, Parker H. French, was the same one-armed hero whose fiasco before Fort San Carlos had brought the Falange into disrepute and provoked the Virgin Bay massacre. Walker discovered when too late the unworthy antecedents of his envoy, whose conduct in Nicaragua should have been enough to disqualify him; but regarding his arrest as a violation of diplomatic privilege, he had him recalled, dismissed the American minister to Nicaragua, and suspended diplomatic intercourse with the United States. Some months later, and after the United States had declined to receive a second minister, Don Firmin Ferrer, Walker sent a third representative, in the person of the good Padre Vijil, who proved acceptable at Washington, as much on account of his high character as for the news which he brought with him, that Walker had routed his Costa Rica enemies, and frightened back the Serviles of the North. Franklin Pierce was not the man to turn his back upon a friend in prosperity, though his good will was not shared by Mr. Marcy. The Nicaraguan minister was received in form, but met with such studied discourtesy from the Secretary of State and his underlings that the cultured and amiable gentleman was glad to return, after a brief sojourn, to the better-mannered society of Nicaragua.
But the fickle conduct of President Pierce and his cabinet had exposed the weak joint in Walker's armour to his quick-eyed enemies in Central America and in Europe. The filibuster, so far from having the support of his native country, was apparently without a friend there. English consuls and men-of-war captains saw that they might crush out with impunity this adventurer and restore the supremacy of European influence on the isthmus. All the Servile partisans in the neighbouring states and the disaffected Legitimists of Nicaragua united to expel the foreign element. The Costa Rican consul-general in London wrote to his President, Don Juan Rafael Mora, in a letter which fell into Walker's hands, that the British Government would sell to Costa Rica two thousand army muskets, at a nominal price, for the purpose of "kicking Walker and his associates out of Nicaragua." British friendship was not purely disinterested nor did it proceed solely from hatred of Americans. Seventeen million dollars invested by English capitalists in Costa Rican bonds were the substantial basis of that interest. It is painful to reflect upon the fact that those bonds were afterwards defaulted to the last dollar.
A deputation sent from Nicaragua to negotiate a treaty of peace with Costa Rica was ignominiously expelled the latter country. Guatemala, San Salvador, and Honduras also declined to recognize the new administration.
On the 26th of February, 1856, Costa Rica declared war against Nicaragua, for the expressed purpose of driving the foreign invaders from the soil of Central America. Distant Peru sympathized with the crusaders by advancing a loan of $150,000 to aid the righteous campaign. President Mora at once collected a force of nine thousand men, and prepared to march on Guanacaste. A counter declaration of war was immediately issued by President Rivas. Walker, as general-in-chief, summoned his men to meet him on the plaza of Granada, and, having had the proclamation of hostilities read to them, made a stirring address, concluding with a peroration well suited to his hearers: "We have sent them the olive branch; they have sent us back the knife. Be it so. We shall give them war to the knife, and the knife to the hilt."
Unfortunately the officer chosen to lead the advance on Costa Rica proved to be a knife more dangerous to the hand which held than to the breast before it. Colonel Louis Schlessinger was given the command, partly by way of compensation for the ill-treatment which he had received from the Costa Ricans when he went thither as one of the peace commissioners. Another of the commissioners named Arguello had deserted to the enemy. The third, Captain W. A. Sutter, son of the famous discoverer of gold in California, alone showed himself possessed of ability and honesty. Walker was not happy in his choice of civil officers, but it must be remembered that the supply of such material was limited. Heaven-inspired statesmen do not flock to the support of a cause so dangerous and unpromising as his.
If Schlessinger was a poor diplomat, he was a worse soldier. Starting with a force of two hundred men, he crossed the border of Guanacaste on the 19th of March. Five companies, of forty men each, had been divided, according to their nationalities or origin, into a French company, under Captain Legaye, a German under Prange, a New Orleans under Thorpe, a New York under Creighton, and a Californian under Rudler. The American companies comprised men of every English-speaking nation, "blown from the four parts of the earth." This division, which a skilful commander might have turned to account by exciting a generous rivalry, was but a source of weakness in the hands of the incapable Schlessinger, himself a foreigner and little popular with his men.
Their first and only engagement occurred at the Hacienda of Santa Rosa, twelve miles within the boundary of Guanacaste. Schlessinger allowed himself to be surprised, the enemy under a skilful officer, the Prussian Baron von Bulow, attacking him with a force of five hundred regulars, and winning an easy victory. Schlessinger did not even make a show of resistance, but ran away at the first shot, followed by the German and French companies. Captain Rudler and Major O'Neill made a brave stand with the New York and California companies, until some fifty of their command were killed, when the survivors made the best of their way off the field and across the border. Only a poor drummer-boy remained beating his drum with childish glee until shot down at his post. The wounded and the prisoners were all put to death by order of President Mora, who had proclaimed no quarter to every filibuster taken in arms. So ended the battle of Santa Rosa, on the 20th of March.
Schlessinger was court-martialed on his return, found guilty of cowardice, and sentenced to death, but he escaped punishment by breaking his parole during the trial and fleeing to Costa Rica. More than twenty years afterwards he reappears in the courts of that country, claiming reward for the service rendered the state on the occasion just narrated.
The heterogeneous character of the filibusters, even at this early date, may be seen from a list of the prisoners butchered after the battle of Santa Rosa, of whom six were natives of the United States, three of Ireland, three of Germany, one of Italy, one of Corfu, one of Samos, one of France, two of Prussia, and one of Panama.
So unexpected was the rout that the victors, fearing a ruse, did not pursue their advantage. The demoralized fugitives returned in straggling parties, some without arms, some in rags, and all crest-fallen and disgraced. To cover their shame they exaggerated the numbers and prowess of the enemy, who, indeed, had behaved with great skill and courage, proving a formidable foe when well led.
For some days a panic prevailed in the Democratic headquarters. Matters were in a critical condition. The Legitimists in the State, always secretly disaffected, hastened to spread the news of the defeat among their friends in the North. Honduras and the neighbouring republics grew firmer in their refusal to recognize the Rivas Government, and Guardiola began to mass his savage troops on the border of Leon. The demoralization spread among the Americans themselves. Faint-hearted officers, erstwhile thirsting for glory, suddenly began to long for a return home, and to send in applications for furlough. Walker lay tossing on a bed of fever, the while his enemies conspired against him and fair-weather friends deserted him. But he had many a stout heart among his trusty veterans, men who welcomed danger as a gambler courts his risks, and who bade good-bye to their shrinking comrades with a fine scorn worthy of Pizarro's old lieutenant, Carvajal, who sang:
Another misfortune at this moment overtook the adventurers. The steamers of the Transit Company were suddenly withdrawn, and all communication with California was suspended. Though it stopped desertion, this isolation also cut off the coming of recruits. This action of the company was the result of a misunderstanding of long date. By the terms of its charter it was bound to pay to the Government of Nicaragua ten thousand dollars annually, and ten per cent. of its net profits. The company claimed, and the Government denied, that the ten thousand dollars had been paid with some regularity; but by a process of book-keeping, well known to financiers, the accounts never showed a balance of net profit upon which to levy the additional tithe. Against this deception the weak and ephemeral administrations of Nicaragua had at times feebly protested. The agents of the company bullied, deceived, or bribed them into silence, and went on reaping a golden harvest, until the installation of the Rivas administration. Cornelius Vanderbilt was then managing the company's affairs in New York, while its Western business was conducted by Morgan and Garrison at San Francisco. Vanderbilt, a man of boundless ambition and no weak scruples, soon made himself master of the company's resources. Nicaragua had never challenged the Wall Street autocrat until Walker took the country's affairs in hand. One of his first steps was the appointment of a commission to examine the Transit Company's books. The commission reported that the Government had been defrauded flagrantly and systematically for years, and that a balance, amounting to over $250,000 was lawfully due to it. Vanderbilt peremptorily declined either to acknowledge or liquidate the debt, repeating the vague threats with which he had been used to awe the little officials of former days.
Thereupon the ex-lawyer of California simply directed the authorities to seize the company's property as security, revoking at the same time the old charter and granting a new one to Messrs. Randolph and Crittenden. This occurred on the 18th of February. The last act of the old company had been the transportation of two hundred and fifty recruits from San Francisco, the draft for whose passage money was paid by Vanderbilt, some days afterwards, while he was yet ignorant of the sequestration of his property. The Wall Street dictator was very angry, but bided his time and quietly despatched a draft for a much larger sum, payable to the order of Juan Rafael Mora, President of Costa Rica. He then made a formal protest and appeal to Secretary Marcy, invoking the help of the United States. Marcy, however, was too old a politician to identify himself openly with the unsavoury interests of the Transit Company, a corporation whose history is summed up by Minister Squier, as "an infamous career of deception and fraud." He quieted his friend Vanderbilt with promises which were only too well kept. The vengeance of the money king was not contented with abetting Walker's enemies. Nothing short of the filibuster's ruin would suffice to soothe the wounded pride of Vanderbilt. The man of millions was no mean power in affairs commercial and political at home. When he undertook to use his resources against an almost penniless adventurer abroad, the might of money proved to be all but omnipotent.
In December Kewen was sent to California to dispose of a million dollars' worth of the bonds of the State of Nicaragua. He was instructed to sell no bonds below a minimum of ninety per cent. of the face value, and it does not appear that he did dispose of any below that price—few, indeed, at or above it.
Another feature of a stable government appeared about this time. In the early Spanish invasions the outward adjuncts of religion always followed in the wake of the army. It was in keeping with the changed condition of affairs that the printing-press should accompany the filibuster. Two newspapers were already in full play in Nicaragua, El Nicaraguense, of Granada, and the Herald, of Masaya. The editors and printers of Nicaragua were not strictly men of peace, but were wont, when occasion served, to exchange the pen for the sword. On this account their war despatches ought to have been most authentic, being commonly written and published on the field. John Tabor, the editor and proprietor of El Nicaraguense, was twice wounded in the pursuit of his novel duties, but lived to accompany Walker on his second invasion, in 1857, when, alas! his ready press was not called upon to chronicle any glorious victories.
The Costa Ricans invade Nicaragua — Second battle of Rivas — The enemy meet a new foe — Rivas orders an election — Walker a candidate — Treason of Rivas — Murder of Estrada — Coalition of the Northern States against Nicaragua — Walker chosen President — Inauguration and recognition by the United States minister — Tradition of the "Gray-eyed Man."
Walker was less concerned about his enemies in the United States than those nearer home, though he never committed the mistake of undervaluing a dangerous foe or the weakness of forgiving him. Three thousand Costa Ricans had crossed the border and overrun the southern part of Rivas. It was no time for fever of body or mind. Walker arose from his bed and summoned his forces to strike a vigorous blow for his rights. Rivas, the President, was at Leon, watching and waiting; he had placed the southern departments under martial law, and given absolute power to the commander-in-chief. Walker no longer opposed the enemy's march on Rivas, as his object in holding the Transit had been lost with the withdrawal of the steamers. All the American troops at Rivas and Virgin Bay were accordingly removed to Granada, with the ostensible purpose of retreating at once to Leon. When the enemy entered Virgin Bay they found there only the native inhabitants and a few foreign employés of the Transit Company. Without a word of warning, they opened fire on the latter, killing some nine or ten unarmed servants of Mr. Vanderbilt, and with a zeal for which that gentleman would have been far from grateful, burned all of the company's property in wharves and warehouses which they could find. After completing the work of destruction, they marched to Rivas, where President Mora took up his abode and cautiously awaited the movements of Walker. The latter kept his counsel so well that no one knew whether he intended retreating to Leon or abandoning the country entirely. The latter course seemed the more probable, as the lake steamer, San Carlos, had been for some days engaged in carrying men and munition across the lake and down the river to Forts San Carlos and Castillo Viejo. A side light was thrown on these movements, when Lieutenant Green, with only fifteen men, surprised a Costa Rica force of two hundred at the mouth of the Serapiqui, killing twenty-seven of them and putting the rest to flight.
At last on the morning of April 9th, Walker rode out of Granada at the head of five hundred men, four-fifths of them Americans, and pressed rapidly southward towards Rivas, where Mora lay encamped with Prussian von Bulow and three thousand regulars. There were several English, French, and Germans acting with the Costa Ricans, some as volunteers and many as mercenaries. At eight o'clock, on the morning of the 11th, Walker's forces entered Rivas in four detachments by as many different routes. The order of battle was that of a simultaneous assault, the several detachments to unite at the centre of the town. It was faithfully carried out, although the Costa Ricans, soon recovering from their surprise, behaved gallantly, using their firearms with precision and coolness, and picking off the American leaders with fatal accuracy. The combat lasted through four hours. At its termination Walker had gained possession of the plaza and cathedral, but at a cost of fifty killed and wounded. About two hundred of the enemy were killed and twice as many wounded. They were receiving reinforcements, but did not venture from behind their adobe walls to renew the contest. Setting fire to the houses near the plaza, they kept up a desultory sharp-shooting from the adjacent buildings. The Americans improvised a temporary hospital within the cathedral, whence at daybreak the wounded were deported, well guarded by their comrades. Mora did not oppose their departure, being well content to be rid of his troublesome visitors.
Walker's loss in officers was severe. Early in the fight Colonel Machado, commanding the native soldiers, fell mortally wounded. Five captains and six lieutenants also perished, and there were twelve other officers among the wounded. Of Walker's staff Captain Sutter alone survived. This mortality was due not more to the marksmanship of the enemy than to the reckless courage of the victims, who made it a point of honour to volunteer for every desperate adventure. Ten of them at one time had charged, armed only with revolvers, on a barricade, whence they dislodged over a hundred of the enemy's riflemen.
By this time the aspect of affairs had changed materially, and the situation of the invading army had become extremely perilous. The Legitimists, whom Mora had expected to unite with him in expelling the American usurpers, he found to be few and faint of heart, while the wanton insolence of his own men had tended to alienate whatever of sympathy they might have found among the poorer classes. In a word, the repulse of Walker at Rivas, if that can be called a repulse which was an unhindered withdrawal, was to Mora the signal of defeat. Unable to conquer an enemy of one-sixth his strength, and not daring to lessen his odds in the hazard of a pitched battle—much less in a siege of Granada—he lay at Rivas exhausted and impotent. It needed but one other enemy to complete his overthrow. That enemy, always a potent one beneath the tropic sun, appeared.
The bodies of two hundred Costa Ricans had been thrust heedlessly into the vaults and wells of Rivas, along with some fifty dead filibusters. Hundreds more lay in the wretched hospitals, with festering wounds and scant nursing. Cleanliness and good living did not distinguish the Costa Rican soldier. A strict discipline was maintained, but one day an Enemy passed the outpost, unchallenged of the watchful sentinel. The patrol crying "Alerté!" was stricken dead by a silent hand. The soldier at the monte table, the officer in his hammock, the camp follower in the slums, and the staff-officer in the palace—all ages, all ranks, all valour succumbed before the dread foe. The Cholera was in Rivas, that malady more terrible than a legion of filibusters. With the cholera, desertion. President Mora set the example, news of trouble at home hastening his flight southward. General Cañas remained in command until he heard of the arrival at Granada of some hundreds of recruits, whom the veteran Hornsby had gathered in the United States and brought to the country by way of the river San Juan.
Anticipating justly that Walker would soon resume an offensive attitude, Cañas hastily abandoned his wounded and fled to Guanacaste. The march thither was long and painful; the fugitives could be traced for leagues by the bones of their dead comrades. Whom the cholera struck down no brotherly hand stayed to lift up. About five hundred worn stragglers entered Costa Rica, the remnant of the gallant host that had marched forth to drive the filibusters into the sea. With them they carried the seeds of the pestilence, which being sown broadcast in the country, swept off ten thousand of its inhabitants.
Nor was Walker exempt from trouble during this period. Many of his most cherished friends were carried off by the plague, among others his young brother, James, whom he loved, in his undemonstrative way, very tenderly. The condition of political affairs was unsatisfactory. President Rivas, who had remained with his cabinet at Leon, seems to have dreaded an invasion from the North more than he did that of the Costa Ricans. He was a weak man, easily played upon by designing persons who had succeeded in imbuing him with a jealousy of Walker, which, so far at least, was entirely groundless. The northeastern districts of the State had been for some time harassed by roving bands of freebooters, pretended and real Legitimists, whose depredations became a serious annoyance. Against these guerillas Walker sent a body of cavalry, under Domingo Goicouria, who speedily restored order in the district.
An election for President held in May had been conducted with such irregularity that it was decided by President Rivas to order one to be held anew in June. In this decision the opposing candidates, Salazar and Jerez, acquiesced. Both of them were, like Rivas, of the Leonese, or Liberal party; so the Granadinos, or Legitimists, dreading the influence of their rivals, cast about them for a strong candidate to represent their interests. No Legitimist of sufficient popularity being available, they chose Walker, preferring a neutral foreigner to a hostile countryman. It was therefore understood, in political parlance, that Walker was the "first choice" of the still powerful Legitimist party. The effect was at once to unite the opposing Leonese leaders. Rivas, supported by Salazar and Jerez, delayed issuing the call for a new election, and entertained with favour the suggestion that the American auxiliaries be reduced to the number of two hundred, at the very time when that number of new recruits were disembarking from the California steamer. The steamers had resumed their trips under the management of a company favourable to "immigration."
Walker proceeded to Leon to confer with Rivas, receiving on the way a popular ovation which encouraged him to maintain his rights with firmness. To the proposition of disbanding his forces he replied that the men were ready to leave the country as soon as they should receive their stipulated pay, a claim which he knew that the Government exchequer was in no condition to defray. Not to embarrass the resources of the republic, however, he arrested Don Salazar on a charge of having defrauded the Government of the duties upon some valuable Brazil wood, and of having sold the same wood to the Government, with a profit to himself seldom overlooked by contractors. The act was an offence against an old and seldom enforced law of the country. The arrest was doubtless meant to warn Salazar that he could not conspire with impunity against his vigilant ally, as he was not immediately brought to trial. Rivas, Jerez, and Salazar now decided to pronounce against their formidable rival, but with smooth duplicity they concealed their design, the President, on the 10th of June, issuing a decree for a general election to take place on the fourth Sunday of the month. Next day Walker departed for Granada, and Rivas and Salazar immediately fled from Leon, proclaiming that Walker was a traitor. They took refuge in Guatemala, where General Carrera was preparing a force with which to invade Nicaragua.
Walker, as general in chief of a state disturbed by a revolution within and threatened with invasion from without, was, of course, the head of the government in the absence of the civil ruler. At least, there was nobody to dispute that proposition. He accordingly appointed a provisional director, Don Firmin Ferrer, pending the election which was to occur in a few weeks.
In the election, when it was held, all the districts took part except the northeastern, which was disturbed by the presence of an invading army on its border and two pretenders to the presidency within its precincts. One of them was Rivas; the other the almost forgotten Legitimist puppet of Corral, Don Jose Estrada. Estrada did little of an official character save issue proclamations which nobody heeded; still, as a pretender is always a potential element in monarchy or republic, whom a cunning invader might use to his own advantage, the partisans of Rivas feared to leave to Carrera that poor excuse for betraying their interests. Estrada was murdered in cold blood by a band of ruffians from Leon. With him perished the last of the strictly Legitimist claimants. To insure further their personal interests, Rivas and his friends appointed General Ramon Belloso commander-in-chief of the army of invasion. The allied forces were from Guatemala, Honduras, and San Salvador, and it was from the last and smallest state that it was deemed wise to choose the commander, as the one least likely or able to usurp power after victory.
The lack of representation in the election of the northeastern district was of little consequence, as it was the least populous part of the state, and its vote would have had no influence to change the result. The voting was entirely free and unaccompanied by disturbance. In Nicaragua every male inhabitant over eighteen years old, criminals excepted, is entitled to the suffrage. Representatives, senators, and president, are all chosen by a college of electors who are themselves elected by popular vote. Such, at least, was the law at this period.
When the votes were counted it was found that 23,236 ballots had been cast, of which Walker had received more than twice as many as all his rivals, viz., 15,835, Rivas having 867, Salazar 2,087, and Ferrer 4,447. Walker was accordingly declared elected and, on the 12th of July, 1856, he was formally inaugurated President of Nicaragua. It is worth noting that he was chosen by the largest vote ever polled in the country, and that his actual tenure of office was longer than that of any of his predecessors in the presidency with the exception of two, Pineda and Chamorro. The former held office for four months—the latter for one month—longer than did Walker. In six years there had been no less than fifteen presidents inaugurated. Reform, even through filibusterism, was sadly needed in Nicaragua.
So far as legality was concerned, Walker's title was as sound as that of any prince or president in the world. It only remained for the world to acknowledge it. The first recognition came, unwittingly enough, from his enemy, Secretary Marcy. That statesman, after much consideration of the case, had sent instructions to the United States minister, Colonel Wheeler, whose suspension had been but temporary, to recognize the existing government of Nicaragua, under the supposition that the Rivas administration still held office. Thus much had been conceded to the reasonable demands of Padre Vijil. Mr. Wheeler, with a possible appreciation of the humour of the situation, yet with a strict obedience to the letter of his instructions, thereupon tendered to President Walker the good wishes and felicitations of the United States Government. But Mr. Marcy never forgave the instrument of his blunder, and one of his last official acts was to beg of President Pierce, as a personal favour, the dismissal of Minister Wheeler, a request which the dying administration was weak enough to grant.
We now behold Walker at the zenith of his fame, the lawful ruler of a country whose position and resources made it a prize worth the ambition of all Europe and America to possess. Besides a powerful native party, he had an army of his countrymen at his back numbering over a thousand men, a line of steamers under his control—for the California agents of the Transit Company were his friends as long as their interests and his were the same—and a strong party in the United States in sympathy with his cherished project for the extension of slavery. The tradition vouched for by Crowe in his "Gospel in Central America," as current among the Indians of Nicaragua—"that a grey-eyed man would come from the far North to overturn the Spanish domination and regenerate the native race"—seemed likely to be confirmed, in part, at least.
The ceremony of inaugurating the new President was performed with great pomp at the capital on the 12th of July. The acting provisional director, Don Firmin Ferrer, administered the oath of office, Walker kneeling to make the solemn affirmation. The President-elect was dressed in his customary civilian costume of decorous black, in manner and attire a striking contrast to the gaily decked natives who flocked to the ceremony. The inauguration was celebrated on a large staging erected in the plaza, which was festooned with the flags of Nicaragua, the United States, France, and the unborn republic of Cuba. The text of the oath which Ferrer administered, with a highly eulogistic address, was as follows:
"You solemnly promise and swear to govern the free Republic of Nicaragua, and sustain its independent and territorial integrity with all your power, and to execute justice according to the principles of republicanism and religion."
"I promise and swear."
"You promise and swear, whenever it may be in your power, to maintain the law of God, the true profession of the Evangelists, and the religion of the Crucifixion."
"I promise and swear."
"In the name of God and the sainted Evangelists, you swear to comply with these obligations and to make it your constant guard to fulfil all that is herein promised."
"And for this the succession is committed to you firmly, by these presents, by authority of the Secretary of the Government charged with the general despatches."
At the end of this ceremony Walker delivered an inaugural address of the usual character pertaining to such prosaic compositions. The President was not without hopes of establishing friendly relations with the Great Powers, and among his first acts was the sending of ministers to England and France. The envoys either never reached the fields of their missions or failed to receive official recognition, as the Blue-books of those governments make no mention of diplomatic intercourse between the filibuster cabinet and their own. The nations of Europe, in their blind jealousy of American influence, would not, or could not, understand that the aims of Walker were, if successful, likely to prove an unsurmountable obstacle to the very American expansion which they feared. To build up a strong confederacy of slave states, which should antagonize the powerful free states of the North, was the prime, if not the sole, object which won for Walker the sympathy and aid of the Southern States. By opposing and frustrating this scheme, Great Britain unwittingly lent herself to the service of the party of union in the United States, thereby weakening the cause which she afterwards favoured, of Southern secession.
The shrewd English observer, Laurence Oliphant, writing, in 1860, his personal recollections of "Patriots and Filibusters," shows the mistake into which his Government fell, as he frankly says, through "no mere considerations of morality," but through a mistaken notion of self-interest. Walker never intended that Central America should become a part of the Union. Like Aaron Burr, he wished to keep all the fruits of conquest for his personal glory and aggrandisement; but he was sincere in representing to his countrymen that the effects of establishing a powerful slave empire south of the United States would be of incalculable advantage to the pro-slavery party at home.
Administration of President Walker — The Allies advance towards Granada — Naval victory — Review of the filibuster army — Filibusters and their allies — Assault on Masaya — Civil government — The Slavery decree — Antiquated logic.
Walker wisely gave the most important places in the cabinet to his native adherents. His faithful friends, Don Firmin Ferrer and Mateo Pineda, were appointed respectively Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of War. Don Manuel Carascossa received the Treasury portfolio, and that of Hacienda was given to the Cuban, Don Domingo Goicouria. Hundreds of recruits continued to pour in from California and the Atlantic states. In the Northern departments the Allies also received strong reinforcements, and by the 1st of July they had undisturbed possession of Leon, whence they soon spread over the country, annoying the foraging parties sent out of Granada to collect cattle in the district of Chontales. A detachment of cavalry which Walker sent against them was repulsed near the river Tipitapa, and one of the leaders, Byron Cole, was slain. Cole was the early friend of Walker, and the negotiator of the contract under which the filibusters had come to Nicaragua. Belloso, reinforced by a strong body under command of General Martinez, was now emboldened to advance to Masaya, which he fortified and made the base of operation against Granada, fifteen miles distant.
Xatruch, Jerez, and Zavala were acting with the enemies of their country. Rivas was of little importance among his dubious friends. Salazar, who had been so prominent in inciting the invasion, was captured on the coast of Nicaragua by Lieutenant Fayssoux, and carried a prisoner to Granada, where he was tried for treason, found guilty, and executed.
Fayssoux, the only commander in the navy of the ephemeral republic, was a splendid specimen of the sailor-filibuster. A native of Louisiana, he had seen service in Cuba with Lopez and Pickett. Walker, having confiscated the schooner San Jose for carrying a false register, had her fitted out with some guns and placed her under the command of Fayssoux. Her first exploit was an engagement with the Costa Rican brig, Once de Abril, carrying thrice the armament and six times the crew of the Granada, as the San Jose was now christened. The Costa Rican was blown out of the water after a two-hours' fight, and the Granada remained mistress of the Pacific waters until a heavier antagonist came upon the scene.
The position of the Allies at Masaya was well chosen. It is an eagle's nest, hung high a thousand feet, on the crest of a volcanic upheaval. Half-way down its sides lies the Lake of Masaya, imprisoned within its walls of adamant. To the south lies the lava desert, well named "the Hell of Masaya," barring the road from Granada.
Belloso from his eyrie was wont to swoop down on detached parties of foraging filibusters, or to strike with quick and deadly blow the solitary hamlets whose people might be suspected of a leaning towards the liberal cause. Walker did not need control of the northern districts, and would have been content to leave Masaya and its barren crags in undisturbed possession of Belloso's rough riders, but for the daily waspish annoyance to his foragers and the loss of prestige in the eyes of the conquered Leonese. Characteristically he chose the bold plan of attacking the enemy in his stronghold, regardless of the enormous odds against him. At the head of only eight hundred men he rode out of Granada, on the morning of October 11th, and took the high road for Masaya.
There was a gallant review of the little army, proud in the bravery of new uniforms and waving banners, and under the eyes of wives, sisters, and sweethearts, of whom not a few had followed the flag down to the seat of war. For the filibusters had "come to stay," they boasted. What further ambition they dreamed may not be known; but something was hinted in the device upon the flag of the First Rifle battalion, the corps of one-legged Colonel Sanders, a grim and hard-fighting old colonel withal. It bore, in place of the old-time five volcanoes and pious legend, the filibuster's five-pointed red star, and the motto, in sword-cut Saxon, "Five or None"—a hint to the allied states of new and stronger alliance yet to be.
The march was leisurely and uninterrupted. By ten o'clock at night they halted near the suburbs of Masaya, threw out pickets, and went into camp. It was a glorious tropical night. The early evening had been misty, but night fell without the laggard twilight of temperate zones, and the full moon shone in all her splendour upon a scene worthy the pencil of Salvator Rosa. Before the filibusters' bivouac lay the Lake of Masaya, reflecting the watch-fires of the town. In the distance rose the towering cone of Mount Masaya, clouded in dense volumes of smoke, and grandly indifferent to the puny preparations of the insects about to bring their mimic thunders into play on the morrow. The filibusters lay in groups around their fires, the very flower and perfection of that lost race called the "49-ers." They smoked their pipes tranquilly; they took an occasional sip of aguardiente—but it was a temperate potation, for the General was at hand, and woe betide the luckless wretch who unfitted himself for duty in that dread presence on the eve of battle. They talked of the past much, of the present little, and of the future not at all, save in connection with mining prospects. For it was a religious belief with those queer adventurers that in coming to Nicaragua they had been governed by a marvellous inspiration of good sense. It was to them a question of practical business, they believed; and if its pursuit involved a little incidental fighting, why, that was to be reckoned among the taxes to fortune. Hence they had not wasted their hours in Nicaragua, but had diligently, as their duties would allow, visited every rivulet and hill, and talked knowingly of "indications," and "colour," and other technical lore. Regarding themselves as industrious, if rather enterprising, men of business, they would have resented any intimation of romance or recklessness in their present occupation.
They spoke in a short, terse way which it was the despair of their allies to understand. Ollendorf had furnished the Spanish student with no equivalent for the wondrous vocabulary of California. The Nicaraguan, who uses not over one-fifth of the words in his glorious Castilian inheritance, was at the verbal mercy of the man who possessed a whole mine of phrases unknown to the lexicographers, and who pitied with a fine scorn the ignorant wretch, native or foreign, who knew not the patois of the mining camp. He even improved upon the language of the country, when he condescended to use it, changing such household words as "nigua" or "jigua," into the more expressive "jigger," nor omitting to prefix it with the Anglo-Saxon shibboleth known to all mankind—the watchword which, hundreds of years ago, gave to English soldiers in foreign towns the charming sobriquet of the "Goddams." The prefix was not inapt, for the "jigger" is the most pestiferous parasite of all his race, and a living thorn in the flesh of his victim. Spanish verbs, like "buscar," "pasear," &c., masqueraded with English terminals and marvellous compound tenses, a wonder of philology. Nor did the sonorous native names come forth unrefined from the furnace of California speech. "Don Jose de Machuca y Mendoza" was a style nomenclature altogether too lofty for democratic tongues, which found it easier and much more sociable to pronounce "Greaser Joe." Whatever was to come of the incongruous alliance, for the present there was a touch of nature, a community of courage, which made the parties kin in thought and action. The native, whether friend or foe, was no coward. In endurance he was the peer of his northern rival, though he lacked the physical strength and wild hardihood of the pioneer. The bivouac before Masaya was but one of a score of such.
The enemy, who had kept up a desultory firing through the night, appeared in force at daybreak a few hundred yards away. Walker began the engagement by a general advance on the town under cover of a well-directed fire from his battery of howitzers. In a short time the First Rifles had driven the enemy out of the main plaza, which was immediately occupied by the whole force of the assailants. The position was excellent as far as it went, but the enemy still held two other plazas and the intervening houses, and to dislodge them would have entailed a heavier loss of life than could be afforded. The artillery was accordingly brought up, and sappers were detailed to cut passages through the adobe house walls. Slowly but steadily the work proceeded, the besieging lines converging towards the enemy's stronghold. The day was thus consumed in engineering, with an occasional skirmish in the narrow streets.
While the combatants lay on their arms that night awaiting the morrow which was to see the city in the possession of the invaders, what was happening in Granada? Zavala and eight hundred swarthy Serviles, making a forced march from Diriomio, had entered the Jalteva at noon of the 12th. A scant garrison of a hundred and fifty men, mostly invalids, was all that remained to oppose them; and Zavala, feeling sure of an easy victory, divided his forces so as to surround the little band. The latter were distributed in the church, armoury, and hospital, whither also repaired all the civilians who could, having little confidence in the security of their neutral position. General Fry, commanding the garrison, hastily prepared for a desperate resistance. He had two or three field pieces, which were placed to best advantage and managed by Captain Swingle, an ingenious experimenter, with an enterprising eye to church bells and such raw material.
Zavala found himself, to his great astonishment, repulsed at every point after several hours' hard fighting. In his rage, he wreaked vengeance on the neutral residents who had trusted to the peacefulness of their character or the protection of their government rather than to the rifles of the filibuster garrison. The American minister's house was assaulted, though unsuccessfully. Three of his countrymen, a merchant and a couple of missionaries, were murdered in cold blood. Padre Rossiter, the army chaplain, knew his countrymen, and boldly took up a musket in defence of his life, as did also Judge Basye of the Supreme Court. Honest Padre Vijil took a middle course by discreetly flying to the swamp until the storm was over. Nor did the civilizing mission of the worthy editor of El Nicaraguense prevent him from seeking liberty under the sword. He went back to his desk, the wiser for a broken thigh.
So for twenty-one long hours the siege lasted, while recruits flocked to the side of the assailants, and the little garrison struggled bravely against the fearful odds. To the threats and the promises, alike of the enemy they returned but defiances and the cry, "Americans never surrender!" Renegade Harper, acting as interpreter, assured them that Walker had been annihilated at Masaya, and that Belloso, with four thousand men, was on the road to Granada. No quarter was the penalty if they delayed longer to surrender. But they did delay. The hospital patients limped to the windows and rested their rifles there. The women and children stood by to supply them with cartridges. At night a courier was despatched in hot haste to Masaya. Eluding the enemy's pickets, he made his way along the road, only to meet the advance guard of Walker's returning forces. The news of Zavala's movement had already reached Masaya, putting the loyalty of an ambitious soldier to as severe a test as well might be. To abandon his assured victory for the safety of a hundred or two non-combatants was something of a sacrifice, but Walker did not hesitate a moment. The sacred ties of comradeship were strong in the hearts of those wild men, who, almost without awaiting the word of command, took up the march for Granada.
In a few hours they arrived in the Jalteva, where they were confronted and for a time repulsed by a strong battery placed to bar the way, and well handled by the enemy. The advance guard fell back, as well they might, for the position was skilfully chosen for the defence of a narrow roadway. In the moment of confusion Walker rode up, and pointing to the Lone Star flag which still floated over the church, called for volunteers to succour their beleaguered comrades. The response was a cheer and a fierce charge, led by the commander in person, before which the enemy was scattered like chaff. Following up this advantage, the Americans moved upon the plaza before the church, where stood Zavala and his forces, now themselves on the defensive. But the intrepid resistance of the garrison, followed by the capture of the battery, had utterly demoralized the Serviles, who scarcely struck a blow in their own defence. In mad panic they fled through the city, only to be met in the suburbs by a detachment placed to intercept them.
Barely half of Zavala's army escaped capture or death. Masaya had not been taken, but Walker had achieved a greater victory and inflicted a heavy loss upon the allies. Four hundred of them had fallen in the battle of Masaya, and an equally large number was supposed to have perished before Granada. Walker's loss was less than a hundred killed and wounded in both engagements. Lieutenant-colonel Lainé, a young Cuban aid of the general, was made prisoner at Masaya and shot by his captors, who refused an exchange. Walker was so incensed at this, that, in reprisal, he had two of his prisoners, a colonel and a captain, shot next day, and sent word to Belloso that a heavier reckoning would follow any future acts of atrocity.
With those engagements active hostilities ended for a time. The enemy grew more wary in his movements.
Civil government had not been neglected during the prosecution of military enterprises. An elaborate revision of the constitution and laws of the country was perfected; changes of a most serious nature being introduced. Walker reviews with complacency the laws of his government, especially those affecting the rights of property and the more vital right of liberty. Whether we look with approval or blame upon his course up to this point, it is impossible to excuse acts which in his eyes were not only just but even praiseworthy. A law was passed making "all documents connected with public affairs equally valuable, whether written in Spanish or in English." The American residents who knew both languages could here find an opportunity of outwitting the natives with the purpose, which Walker commends, of having the "ownership of the lands of the state fall into the hands of those speaking English." To further the same end, the military scrip of the republic was made receivable for Government lands sold under forfeit. Still further to aid the same purpose, he passed a law requiring a registry of all deeds; a thing heretofore unknown in the country, as "it gave an advantage to those familiar with the habit of registry." The Spaniards of California have had reason to regret that familiarity in their American neighbours. There is no pretence in all these acts of any higher or worthier purpose than that avowed by their author, viz., the practical confiscation of the lands of the Government for the benefit of his adherents. Finally, on the 22nd of September, "the President of the Republic of Nicaragua, in virtue of the power in him vested," decreed that "Inasmuch as the act of the Constituent Assembly, decreed on the 30th of April, 1838, provides that the Federal decrees given previous to that date shall remain in force, unless contrary to the provisions of that Act; and inasmuch as many of the decrees heretofore given are unsuited to the present condition of the country, and are repugnant to its welfare and prosperity as well as to its territorial integrity; therefore:—
"Article I. All acts and decrees of the Federal Constituent Assembly, as well as of the Federal Congress are declared null and void.
"Article II. Nothing herein contained shall affect rights heretofore vested under the acts and decrees hereby repealed."
The principal decree which this was intended to repeal was an Act of the Federal Constituent Assembly of the 17th of April, 1824, abolishing slavery and indemnifying the slave-owners in the then confederated states of Central America.
Thus the institution of slavery, without any restriction, was reimposed on Nicaragua. Walker, so far from denying that this was the object of the decree, expressly avows it, saying, "By this Act must the Walker administration be judged. If the slavery decree, as it has been called, was unwise, Cabañas and Jerez were right when they sought to use the Americans for the mere purpose of raising one native faction and depressing another. Without such labour as the new decree gave, the Americans could have played no other part in Central America than that of the Pretorian guard at Rome or of the Janizaries in the East, and for such degrading service as this they were ill suited by the habits and traditions of their race." He admits that annexation to the United States was no part of the programme of the American adventurers in Nicaragua, knowing that it could not be constitutionally effected after the passage of a slavery law.
To-day it seems strange to read such arguments as Walker used to defend the institution of slavery. But by the lurid light of his sentences we can see something of the bitter conflict which then raged between the friends and the enemies of slavery. His contempt for the Abolitionist party speaks in every line, whilst his defence of the now obsolete system of unspeakable wrong seems as puerile as the solemnly sincere essays of a Mather on the evils of witchcraft. He admires the "wisdom and excellence of the Divine economy in the creation of the black race," and the providence of letting Africa lie idle until the discovery of America gave a chance of utilizing the raw material of slavery. No self-appointed theological dragoman to the court of Heaven ever showed more readiness in interpreting the sentiments of Providence than he does when he piously asks, "And is it not thus that one race secures for itself liberty with order, while it bestows on the other comfort and Christianity?"
Did the author of such views look at his subject through a moral single-convex lens which presented every object inverted? Was he colour-blind to right and wrong, or did he wilfully and deliberately present the side which he knew to be ignoble and the opposite of true? He was perfectly sincere. Walker was no worse, and no better, than nine-tenths of his fellow citizens in the Southern States, who honestly believed in the divine right of slave-holding, and testified to their conviction by the willing sacrifice of their blood and treasure. A wrong defeated, dead and buried, is a wrong which becomes visible to the blindest eyes. Whether we, who pass prompt sentence on it, might perceive its enormity so plainly, had the "leaded dice of war" turned up differently, is a speculation as idle as any other on the might-have-beens of history.
The severe punishment inflicted on the allies at Masaya and Granada had the effect of keeping them for a time in check. A few days after those engagements, Walker received a most valuable ally in the person of General Charles Frederic Henningsen, an able officer, who had seen service and achieved distinction in many lands.
Henningsen — Early service with Zumalacarregui — Campaigning with the Prophet of the Caucasus — Joins Kossuth — Arrival in America — Omotepe — A gallant defence — Watters carries the barricades.
Henningsen was born in Belgium, son of a Scandinavian officer in the British service and his wife, an Irish lady. At the age of nineteen he left his home to take service under Don Carlos, in 1834. He was assigned to duty on the staff of the sturdy old partisan, Zumalacarregui, from whose rough school of war he graduated with the rank of colonel and an honour of nobility, the only rewards left in the power of the Bourbon to bestow.
In one engagement he captured single-handed three cavalrymen and their horses, and was the first man to enter Villa Real, after chasing the enemy three leagues. For this he was offered the choice of a commission as first lieutenant in the general's body guard or the cross of St. Ferdinand. He chose the cross.
The Order of Isabella the Catholic was subsequently conferred on him, with promotion, for his gallantry before Madrid, but a wound received in the foot, which caused him much suffering and refused to heal, compelled him to ask for sick leave. As he was with difficulty wending his way homeward he was pursued by the enemy and abandoned by his guide. After hiding for three days he was captured and imprisoned with three other foreigners. Feigning an illness which afterwards became real, he was removed to a hospital. The English doctor in attendance knew only of the prisoner's feint and admired the natural way in which the shivering fits were counterfeited. In vain the patient, who was really ill, protested that he was so, until after a time the truth of his assertion became apparent, for typhus fever had declared itself and the doctor was, too late, convinced of it. For twenty-one days Henningsen's life was despaired of, during which time his friends interceded for him. His release was demanded by the British Government, but General Espartero sternly refused it, saying his life was forfeited, for he had both with his sword and pen proved himself a dangerous foe. At the reiterated request of Lord Palmerston, backed by the Duke of Wellington and others, Espartero, however, was compelled to yield, as the withdrawal of the foreign legion was threatened if he persisted in his refusal.
Henningsen, on his return to England, published a couple of volumes of personal recollections, which still hold a place in literature. His story was told in a simple and direct style, which showed marked literary ability. But the world was then too full of doing, for an active mind to content itself with thinking or saying. Schamyl the Prophet had unfurled his sacred banner, lit the fires of revolution on the Caucasus, and thrown the gage of battle to the mighty Czar himself. His cause was just enough, his case was desperate enough, to enlist the sympathies of the young knight-errant, who soon found himself battling beside wild mountaineers in Caucasian snows, and completing the education begun on the vine-clad hills of Spain. That campaign over, he improved his leisure in writing two or three books on Russian life, which increased his literary reputation without inducing him to take up a life of letters. The restraints of civilisation were too irksome, and he fled to the wilds of Asia Minor, where the news of Hungary's revolt against Austrian and Russian despotism found him. He arrived on the scene of action too late to take part in anything but the sorrowful ending. Gorgey's treason, if such indeed it were, had turned the scale against the patriots. Henningsen submitted a plan of operations to Kossuth, who decided that it was now too late for offensive action. All that remained was to offer his sword to the forlorn hope. The offer was gladly accepted. He joined Bem in the last ditch at Komorn, aiding not a little in the stout defence of that place.
When the pitiful collapse came, Henningsen was one of the chieftains who were outlawed and had a price set upon their heads. He narrowly escaped capture and its inevitable consequence, death. Once he was saved by the tact of a lady, a relative of Kossuth, who, when the police were searching for a likeness of the fugitive, allowed them to find a portrait of some stranger, upon which she had hastily written the words, "From your friend, C. F. Henningsen." Being questioned, she averred that the likeness was not Henningsen's, but with so much apparent confusion as to make them disbelieve her. Copies of it were accordingly printed and distributed with the hue and cry, to the manifest benefit of the fugitive. Again, upon the very border of Turkey, he was chased so closely by a party of Haynau's bloodhound troops that capture seemed inevitable, and he had prepared a dose of poison, which he always carried with him, to be swallowed at the moment of arrest. His Caucasian experience had taught him that mercy was not to be expected of Cossack victors. More fortunate than many of his comrades, he managed to elude his foes and escape across the boundary, to join Kossuth. With him he crossed the Atlantic, never to return. In the United States he shared the social and political distinction of his leader.
Henningsen at this period was thirty years old, tall and strikingly handsome, with the polish and breeding of a man of the world and a scholar. In Washington he met and loved a Southern belle, at the time when Southern society ruled in the national capital. The lady, who was a widow, was a niece of Senator Berrien of Georgia. She returned his affection, and they were married after a brief courtship.
It was a critical period in American politics. It was the reign of King Pierce the Irresolute, to be followed shortly by that of King Buchanan the Unready. Henningsen by his matrimonial alliance was thrown into the society of those who favoured slavery, wherein he imbibed opinions in harmony with the upholders of that institution. The adherents of slavery felt that in the political field they were fighting a losing battle. The more farsighted saw that the success of their cause could be promoted only by "extending the area of freedom," as they phrased it. Thus the filibusters acquired new importance in the eyes of friend and of foe at home.
Henningsen's wife, with the spirit of a Roman matron, acquiesced heroically when her knight volunteered to go forth and do battle for a cause which would have won his sympathy for its very danger alone. His reputation as a soldier was well established. He had introduced the Miniê rifle into the United States service, and was an authority upon his speciality, the use of artillery. Nor did he come empty-handed to Nicaragua; but brought with him military stores, arms, and ammunition, to the value of thirty thousand dollars, the contribution of himself and his wife, besides an equally liberal offering from George Law and other sympathizers with the cause. Walker immediately placed him on active service, with the rank of brigadier-general.
Henningsen had scarcely assumed his command before he was sent to clear the Transit road of marauding bands of Costa Ricans, a large body of whom had landed at San Juan del Sur, under General Cañas. Henningsen scattered them promptly, and admitted a force of recruits from California, who had arrived on the steamer Cortes. The reappearance of the Costa Ricans on the Transit was too dangerous a menace to the communication with the United States, however; and Walker saw that to preserve his base of supplies, and at the same time to garrison the large city of Granada, was a task too serious for his slender forces. But as he did not wish to let the latter important stronghold fall into hostile hands, with the moral and material benefits accruing from the possession of the seat of government, he resolved to destroy the city. Previous to evacuating Granada he made another attack on Masaya, in order that the enemy might remain on the defensive and not suspect his intended movement of retreat southward. A trifling engagement took place, in which the artillery was well handled. On the 19th of November the sick and wounded were transported in the lake steamer to the island of Omotepe, where they were placed in charge of Colonel Fry and a corps of medical attendants.
This island is one of the healthiest places in the country, being a volcanic upheaval, with a mountain towering from its centre to a height of five thousand feet. A few families of native Indian fishermen, rude and savage, are its only inhabitants, and their frail huts dot the margin of the lake. In the interior a dense jungle bars the road to the mountain top. The rank growth of the tropics hides the ruined monuments of a civilization which preceded Conquistador and Aztec. The traveller who cuts his way through the rank vegetation finds himself, here and there, in the presence of quaintly sculptured, hideous idols overturned. In remoter nooks, whither his Indian guide cares not to lead him, he would see the gods whom the Christians threw down, reinstated on their pedestals; and the good folk of Granada say in whispers, that thither, at stated times, flock silent, dusky worshippers, to offer up unholy rites and pray for the return of the gods of their fathers, who fed on human victims, and spoke to their people in the awful accents of the volcano. Little knew or recked the bold filibusters, quarantined beneath the frowning peak of Omotepe, of the alleged idolatrous practices or the evil repute in which the islanders were held by their mainland neighbors. They nursed their wounds with scant patience, recovered, and sought a chance to get new ones, or died and were forgotten, as though their passports to the realm of Death had been viséd by the most legitimate of all lawful war-makers.
Walker, having entrusted to Henningsen the duty of destroying Granada, set out for Rivas. Upon his departure, many of the men and some of the officers, feeling that the severe restraints of discipline were withdrawn, plunged into a wild debauch. Henningsen, with the aid of such as were in decent condition, began the work of firing the town. As the smoke of the burning houses arose in the air the enemy's pickets saw and reported it to General Belloso, who rightly surmised the cause and ordered an immediate attack. The miserable debauchees awoke from their stupor to find that they had aroused a formidable foe. Five thousand furious Serviles were pouring into the city, and had already secured a strong strategic point in the church of the Guadaloupe, whence their sharpshooters were keeping in play the useful men whom Henningsen could gather about him.
Under a fierce fire Henningsen continued the work of destruction until almost the entire town was reduced to ashes. His position, encumbered as he was with sick and wounded, was so perilous that he determined to capture the Guadaloupe church at any cost, as that important position commanded the passage to the lake. That end was not attained without the loss of many valuable lives and two days of hard fighting. Finally, on the 27th of November, the church was carried by assault, and all the American force, with their supplies, ammunition, and non-combatants, were safely transferred to the new quarters. A guard of thirty men, detailed to protect the wharf on the lake, three miles away, had been betrayed and captured two days before. Henningsen, in order to secure communication with the lake, began throwing up a line of earthworks along the whole distance, the enemy contesting every inch of the road. To keep the latter in check, Captain Swingle and his howitzers were employed night and day. When ammunition ran short the ingenious gunner made balls from scraps of iron piled in a mould of clay and soldered together with lead.
As soon as they had effected communication with some adobe huts half way to the lake, Henningsen removed the sick and wounded to the more healthful land near the water. It was none too soon, for over a hundred men had perished from the ravages of cholera and typhus in the crowded quarters of the Guadaloupe. Lieutenant Sumpter with seventy men was left to garrison the church. Meanwhile the enemy had not been idle; they had thrown up earthworks between the lake and Henningsen's defences, and gathered a strong force to prevent the advance of relief from that direction.
For three weeks the unequal fight lasted, until of the four hundred men who had remained to burn Granada, less than one hundred and fifty answered to the roll-call on the 13th of December. To Zavala's demand for their surrender Henningsen sent back word that he would parley only at the cannon's mouth. Their position, nevertheless, was so critical that many of the men talked openly of forsaking their helpless comrades and cutting their way to the lake. Finding that the first sign of such a proceeding would be greeted with a volley of grape, for Henningsen had learned from his chief the way to deal with insubordination, a few of the malcontents deserted to the enemy. The rest imitated the heroic fortitude of their officers, and all shared together their sorry rations of mule and horse meat as long as they lasted. That was not long; they had reached the limit of their supplies on the 12th of December, and Henningsen sent a message to Walker begging immediate relief. A native boy of the Sandwich Islands, who had come to Nicaragua on the Vesta, and who was known in the army as "Kanaka John," volunteered to carry the note. It was given to him sealed and enclosed in a bottle. The boy made his way unperceived through the enemy's lines, and reached the water in time to see the lake steamer, La Virgen, lying beyond the line of surf, with lights shrouded and not a sign of life on board. The amphibious Kanaka swam out and boarded the steamer, where he found Walker and three or four hundred new recruits from the States.
Colonel John Watters, with a hundred and sixty men, was at once ordered to relieve the beleaguered force under Henningsen. Watters on landing was met by a stout resistance from a large body of Allies guarding the wharf and adjacent earthworks; but the Californians rushed upon the barricade with a yell and carried it by storm. Henningsen heard the distant firing, and, recognizing the sharp note of the American rifle, made a sortie against the nearest post of the enemy. The firing lasted all night, for Belloso was frantic at the thought that the prey for which he had hungered so long was about slipping from his paws. Watters, finding the enemy so strong, made a detour so as to enter Granada by the north-eastern road, and sent a courier to notify Henningsen of his approach. It was daybreak ere the relief reached the city, having carried four strong lines of barricades on the march, and routed thrice their number of Allies. The enemy, as soon as the junction was effected, abandoned further opposition to the retreat of the filibusters and withdrew from the lake road. The evacuation of the Guadaloupe was completed in peace on the morning of December 14, 1856.
When the Allies entered the place they found only a wilderness of smouldering ruins to mark the site of the city beloved by the Serviles and hated by the Leonese. The latter rejoiced secretly, the former mourned aloud, over the loss of the proudest city of the isthmus. In the Plaza they found a scornful souvenir of the destroyer, a lance stuck in the earth and bearing a raw hide, upon which was inscribed the legend, "Aqui fué Granada"—"Here was Granada!"
Three hundred men, including Watters' command, embarked on the lake steamer and sailed to Virgin Bay. Three-fourths of the garrison of Granada had died in the three weeks' siege. The Allies had suffered more severely. Of the six thousand who joined their standard at Masaya only two thousand now remained; but they received new strength in the arrival of General Cañas with the Costa Ricans who, on the appearance of Walker and Henningsen at Virgin Bay, had evacuated Rivas and marched northward. Belloso and Zavala were constrained to turn the command of the Allied forces over to Cañas, as the success of the Costa Ricans in another quarter had given them a moral superiority over their less fortunate friends. The importance of that success can be estimated only by narrating its effect on the fortunes of Walker.
Vanderbilt joins issue — Titus outwitted — Siege of Rivas — Death in the Falange — Desertion — Captain Fayssoux and Sir Robert McClure — Battle of San Jorge — Allies assault Rivas — Famine and devotion — Commander Davis as a peacemaker.
President Pierce had recognized the government of Rivas and Walker, as a cheap concession to the friends of the filibusters in the United States, for President Pierce was looking to a re-nomination in the forthcoming convention. No party so weak but the average Presidential candidate will scatter his bait before it. The nomination was not given him, but it was too late to recall the friendly act. The recognition of Walker's administration was, as we have seen, an accidental courtesy which Mr. Marcy would not hesitate to retract if occasion offered. The friends of Walker saw that to establish his power firmly he must be aided liberally and without delay. The bonds of the republic were accordingly offered for sale, and freely disposed of in many places. Thousands of dollars were collected in the Southern cities and expended in the purchase of munitions of war, and for the transportation of recruits. Every steamer carried out large numbers of enlisted men and consignments of war material. For the former, California could always be relied on, but the latter had to be procured in "the States." Vanderbilt saw a chance to revenge himself by cutting off the base of supplies, and cast about him for an able tool.
He found willing instruments in the persons of Webster and Spencer, two adventurers of daring character and questionable antecedents. Webster drew up a plan of operations which met the approval of Vanderbilt, and Spencer was entrusted with its execution. This Spencer was a man of good family. His father had been Secretary of War. His brother was hanged for mutiny at the yard-arm of the brig-of-war Somers in 1842, the only American officer who ever achieved that infamy. Spencer went to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, whence he set out, with one hundred and twenty picked men, for the head waters of the River San Carlos, which flows into the San Juan. Arrived there, they constructed rafts and floated down to the mouth of the Serapiqui. There they surprised a force of Americans, and continuing the descent to San Juan del Norte, soon made themselves masters of the Transit Company's steamers. With them and a reinforcement of eight hundred Costa Ricans, commanded by a brother of President Mora, they speedily captured all the fortified positions on the river and both of the lake steamers. Lake and river being thus secured, it only remained for Mora to cross the district of Chontales and effect a junction with the Allies at Granada.
The enemy had effectually cut off Walker's communication with the Atlantic States. California remained open to him just so long as the agents of the line in San Francisco, whose friendship for him was, of course, secondary to their self-interest, should consider it profitable to continue running their steamers.
Vanderbilt had triumphed. We may anticipate events so far as to say that President Mora's indebtedness to the Wall Street magnate taught him respect for the absolute power of money. But ere many years his confidence in another rich friend was repaid by treachery, which drove him from power into exile, disgrace, and death. Eighteen days after the execution of Walker at Trujillo, Juan Rafael Mora and General Cañas perished by the fusilade, after an abortive attempt to regain their lost power. It is recorded of the wealthy ingrate who had betrayed Mora that he died not long after his victim, and of a strange disease—ossification of the heart.
Many attempts to recover control of the lost river route were made during the months of January, February, March, and April, 1857. Various expeditions from New Orleans and New York landed at San Juan del Norte, where eight British men-of-war were concentrated to watch the operations. The interference of the latter, though annoying, was not openly hostile, yet it was marked enough to affect seriously the fortunes of the expeditions. The English commander incited desertion by spreading among the men rumours of the terrible dangers they must risk in attempting the passage of the river. Many Europeans were thereby induced to claim British protection, which was gladly granted, though the loss of such deserters may have been a questionable calamity. A strong force, under the command of a certain Colonel Titus, a windy "Border ruffian" from Kansas, succeeded in ascending the river as far as Castillo Viejo, and were on the point of capturing that key to the situation, when their leader weakly allowed himself to be hoodwinked and befooled by its commandant. The latter, finding himself sore pressed, begged for a twenty-four hours' truce before surrendering; which being granted, he sent for reinforcements, and by the time the truce had expired was prepared to laugh at the simplicity of his antagonists.
The mistake was irreparable. Through the incompetence of Titus and Lockridge, the key to Nicaragua was lost, perhaps for ever. With the Transit route in his power, Walker could have brought a host of recruits into the country and bidden defiance to all Spanish America. Without it, the labour of years was wasted and the conqueror thrown on the defensive. Knowing naught of the disasters which had befallen his arms on the river, Walker waited and watched through the long weeks for the relief which was never to come.
Towards the end of January the Allies had advanced to Obraje, nine miles from Rivas, and soon occupied San Jorge, within a league of the American outworks. Rivas, embowered in her orange groves and cocoa palms, was slowly being encircled by the lines of the Allies, now numbering some seven thousand. They held those points, in spite of repeated attempts to dislodge them. Walker, not desiring to waste his men's lives in useless attacks, contented himself with occasional forays, while Henningsen prudently strengthened the fortifications and was careful of his scanty ammunition. Aided by the resourceful Captain Swingle, he cast round-shot from all sorts of old iron, and gathered together the bronze and silver bells of the city to melt into cannon balls.
The Transit road between San Juan del Sur and Virgin Bay still was theirs, and nearly every steamer from San Francisco brought down a little band of recruits whose arrival was hailed with joy. But the advantages resulting from such additions to the garrisons were more than offset by the losses from desertion and death. The latter had made sad havoc in the ranks of the tried veterans. In February, Major Cal. O'Neill died in a skirmish with the Allies. He was a favourite soldier of the commander, having distinguished himself in almost every engagement during the campaign. His brother was slain in the evacuation of Granada, and the survivor had grown reckless of life thereafter. He was only twenty-one years old at the time of his death, but the Irishman's instinctive military bias and courage made up for the inexperience of youth. Other brave officers fell during the next few months, Conway, Higby, Dusenberry, and a score of veterans who were the flower of the army. The surviving members of the Falange found themselves surrounded by strange faces. The brave men died, and the cravens deserted. Unfortunately the evil did not end with the loss of worthless cowards; their example had a baneful effect upon good but reckless men, who otherwise would have remained faithful. It was not in weak human nature to content itself with scant rations of mule meat and plantains, while snug treason flaunted itself across the picket lines, boasting of rich fare and no duty. The hungry sentry was tempted by the sight of his late comrades and taunted by the sound of a brass band, which had deserted en masse one night, and now drew from the instruments bought with the money of the republic, seductive dancing tunes and Servile melodies, instead of the loyal strains of the "Blue, White, and Blue," which they had been hired to play. On his confused mind, perchance, dawned the suspicion that the Nicaragua which he had come thousands of miles to see and enjoy was to be found rather in the fleshpots of the Allied army than in the hungry camp of the filibusters. Small wonder if the poor fellow forgot his duty and elected to follow the example before him.
Early in February the monotony of the siege was broken by the arrival at San Juan del Sur of the American man-of-war St. Mary's, Commander C. H. Davis. Promptly in her wake came the British steamer Esk, Captain Sir Robert McClure. The two formidable ships lay not many cable lengths apart in the harbour. The day after his arrival Sir Robert sent a boat's crew aboard a small schooner lying near the shore to ask the meaning of the ensign which she was flying at the masthead. It was a handsome flag, composed of three horizontal stripes, blue, white, and blue; in the middle stripe, which was twice the width of either of the outer ones, was a five-pointed red star. The ensign was that of the new republic of Nicaragua, and the vessel, as her commander, Fayssoux, politely replied, was the Nicaraguan schooner-of-war Granada. Sir Robert then ordered him to come on board the Esk, and bring his commission with him; to which the plucky Louisianian, with the blood of revolutionary ancestors boiling at the impertinence, replied that he would do nothing of the kind; and when the English captain threatened a broadside, the Nicaraguan commander beat to quarters—he had a score of men—loaded his two six-pound carronades, and awaited destruction as calmly as if he had the deck of a seventy-four under his feet. But Sir Robert, either fearing to exceed his authority, or labouring under the delusion that the St. Mary's captain might not relish the idea of seeing his fellow-countrymen annihilated before his eyes, softened the demand into a request for a friendly visit, which Captain Fayssoux thereupon paid him. A nobler motive may have actuated Sir Robert, for he was a sailor, and had traditions of his country's honour, which it were worth an American officer's commission to entertain. The latter has never forgotten the awful example handed down from the early days of Commodore Porter, who was court-martialed and forced out of the service because he exacted an apology from some Spanish vagabonds who had imprisoned an American officer visiting Porto Rico under a flag of truce.
When Sir Robert went to Rivas, some days afterwards, to demand an explanation of Fayssoux's conduct, he was met by Walker, at the outset of the interview, with the stern inquiry: "I presume, sir, you have come to apologize for the outrage offered to my flag and the commander of the Nicaraguan schooner-of-war Granada." And the gallant sailor actually forgot his wrath in his wonder, and made a suitable apology to the wounded dignity of the chief of a thousand men and one schooner. "If they had another schooner," said he, "I believe they would have declared war on Great Britain." Had he known the mission of the St. Mary's at San Juan, he might have come to a different conclusion; for the instructions of Commander Davis, which he faithfully obeyed, directed him to aid the Allies in forcing Walker and his men to capitulate. Why? Walker says, because Commodore Mervin, who had given the orders, was a bosom friend of Secretary Marcy—a possibly sufficient reason, since Marcy's power was absolute in the conduct of the minor foreign relations. Davis says, because the interests of humanity prompted him to save Walker in spite of himself—a reason perhaps as good as the other. The reader must guess at the true motive, as Blue-books do but fulfil their mission in confusing the truth.
The enemy receiving large reinforcements, was enabled to mass about two thousand men at San Jorge, where they were a constant danger and annoyance. Walker determined to dislodge them. On the 16th of March he took personal command of four hundred men, and marched out to meet the enemy, two thousand five hundred strong. Henningsen, with two six-pounders, one twelve-pounder, and four mortars, went ahead to clear the way. Swingle and the rest of the battery remained to guard Rivas; and it was well that they did so, for a large force of Costa Ricans made a determined assault as soon as Walker was out of sight, and were not repulsed until after a fight of some hours' duration. They fell back on the road to San Jorge, a couple of hundred of them taking up a position behind the adobe walls of a planter's house, and there lying in wait for the return of Walker and his command.
The latter arrived before daybreak at the suburbs of San Jorge and at once opened a brisk fire on the town; but the enemy were on the alert, and swarmed like angry bees out of their streets and lanes, pressing on the battery and throwing out lines of skirmishers on either side, who opened a galling fire on the American cavalry. Henningsen thereupon threw a shower of grape and canister among the plantain fields on the right and left, driving in the skirmishers, while Walker led the main body of his men towards the centre of the town. The enemy contested every inch of the ground, until driven to within three hundred yards of the plaza, where their immense superiority of numbers and the shelter afforded by the adobe walls and church towers gave them a position of impregnable strength. Walker, nevertheless, called for forty volunteers to storm the place. But fifteen responded, and with that handful he charged boldly into the plaza, fighting with desperate but vain courage against the tremendous odds. Two horses were killed under him, and a spent ball struck him in the throat. His men were brave to madness, but they were worn out with the long day's service, their ammunition was running short, and Walker at last gave order to retire to Rivas. They left the field on which they had fought from daybreak almost to sunset in good order, Walker riding at the head of the column, and Henningsen covering the rear with his guns. No opposition was made to their departure, and not until the head of the column came abreast of the planter's house at Cuatros Esquinas did they learn of the presence there of the 200 Costa Ricans who had been repulsed by Swingle in the morning.
As Walker and his staff rode by the dark and silent house, a blaze of musketry lit up its front, not thirty yards away. Fortunately the marksmen's aim was bad, and not over half a dozen saddles were emptied; but the column was thrown into temporary confusion, and some of the men fell back, while others stood panic-stricken, until another volley sent them galloping in dismay. Walker, with the invincible calmness which never deserted him, reined in his horse, drew his revolver and fired its six shots into the house; then putting spurs to his steed, he rode by, erect as if on parade, while the musket balls fell like hail around him. A long-haired Californian, Major Dolan, who was riding behind him, deliberately imitated his commander, emptying his pistol to the last shot, and hurling the useless weapon at the house, with an imprecation, as he dropped from his saddle, riddled with bullets. His clothing caught in the trappings of his horse, and he was thus dragged out of the melée, to survive and fight another day. The rest of the force ran the gauntlet as best they could. Many were killed in a vain attempt to carry the house by storm. The rear guard with the artillery made a detour, and losing their way, did not arrive at Rivas until the next morning. To the poor marksmanship alone of the enemy can be charged the small loss of the filibusters before San Jorge and in the ambuscade at Cuatros Esquinas, the total number in killed and wounded being only some sixty or seventy.
A week afterwards, the whole Allied force, led in by a deserter, made a concerted attack on Rivas, at daybreak, from four different directions. They were beaten off with dreadful slaughter, leaving six hundred dead on the field. The attack was most serious on the north side of the city, where a small battery was placed in a position to rake the American lines. It was handled well and bravely by an Italian gunner who, though exposed to a galling fire from the American sharpshooters, continued to load and fire with the utmost deliberation, advancing his piece a little nigher after each discharge. Henningsen, an adept in the same branch of warfare, stood upon the parapet of the low wall, rolling and smoking cigarettes, as he watched with admiration the actions of his cool adversary, and directing the management of a small gun which the American artillerymen were serving with less than their usual skill. At last, losing patience with his men, he leaped into the embrasure, and sighting the gun himself, threw a six-pound ball straight into the enemy's piece, which it dismounted, killing four of the gunners and wounding the Italian captain. The latter being made prisoner, the hostile batteries ceased to annoy the besieged for some time, until the gallant gunner, escaping from his captors, was enabled to resume his duties.
In this assault the besieged suffered but a trifling loss, as the shelter of the adobe walls ensured them safety against any force which it was in the power of the enemy to bring forward. When the latter pushed their barricades too close to the walls of Rivas, the besieged fired hot shot into them and burned the swarming hordes out of their nests. Mora cared nothing for the lives of his wretched conscripts, whom he could afford to lose by hundreds, as long as the Americans fell by dozens and were not reinforced, and while the Allies could cut off supplies of food and ammunition from the beleaguered city. Unfortunately for Walker, a more dangerous enemy than death or hunger assailed Rivas. Desertion, which had begun with the weak-hearted new men, gradually spread like a pestilence, until he hardly knew in whom to trust. Whole companies deserted at a time; pickets abandoned their posts; foraging parties sent out to collect food for the hungry garrison never came back. As early as October, a company of rangers sent into the Chontales district had deserted with their equipments, on a wild attempt to reach the Atlantic by way of the Blewfields river. They never reached the coast, for some French settlers whom they had attempted to plunder fell upon them and slew them to a man.
Famine threatened Rivas. There was not an ounce of bread in the city; the men were living on scanty rations of horse and mule meat, seasoned with sugar in lieu of salt; the hospital was filled with wounded and fever patients. Henningsen said jestingly that, rather than surrender, they would devour the prisoners. Once it was whispered in the ranks that Walker and Henningsen, in anticipation of a successful assault on the town, had prepared a magazine with which to blow up the citadel in the moment of defeat, and with it friend and foe together. The rumour was a silly falsehood, but so much impression did it make upon some of the hardier spirits that, as General Henningsen told the author, seven of them came to him, each begging for the privilege of firing the train. Walker was not reduced to any such straits; he had yet three forlorn hopes; the arrival, by the San Juan river of Lockridge with reinforcements; assistance from California, and, as a last resource, flight to the north on board his schooner Granada. The first never came, because Lockridge, defeated before Castillo Viejo, had given up the hopeless task. The second failed when Morgan refused to co-operate with his partner, Garrison, in continuing to run the steamers from San Francisco. On the Granada, then, depended the only hope of retreat with honour. Walker, however, did not as yet know that the first and second hopes had failed him.
On the 10th of April, the Allies made another attack on the town, and were again repulsed with even greater loss than on the previous occasion. Commander Davis, who had been negotiating with the Allies, sent word to Walker, on the 23rd of April, offering a safe convoy to the women and children from Rivas to San Juan del Sur, an offer which was thankfully accepted.
On being relieved of his non-combatants, Walker felt that no obstacle now stood in the way of his evacuation of the city, whenever he deemed it proper, and a safe withdrawal on board of the schooner. Fayssoux had continued to keep a close watch on the enemy's movements in San Juan, preventing them throwing up fortifications or doing anything which should embarrass the occupation of the town by Walker. Commander Davis, acting as a peace-maker between the belligerents, but finding his office one of perilous delicacy for a raw diplomat, and being governed apparently by secret instructions, which new orders from Washington might nullify at any moment if he delayed too long, now brought matters to an unexpected crisis, by demanding Walker's surrender to the United States authorities. Such an astonishing demand had never before been made by a subordinate naval officer upon the President of a friendly government. It was indignantly and promptly rejected. Davis then assured Walker of the truth of two rumours which had reached Rivas; the first, that Lockridge had given up his attempt to retake the Transit route; the second, that no more steamers were to come from San Francisco. Accepting both statements, which were true, Walker replied that he purposed holding the city as long as his supplies lasted, after which he intended carrying his command on board the Nicaragua schooner-of-war Granada, and removing whithersoever he pleased. To which Davis responded, that it was his "unalterable and deliberate intention" to take possession of the schooner before he sailed from San Juan; that his instructions on that point were clear and imperative; and nothing but a countermand of his orders should induce him to depart from that intention. The enemy had previously made Fayssoux an offer of five thousand dollars to surrender the schooner; but what could not be won by force or bribe was more cheaply gained through the extraordinary action of an officer holding the commission and authority of the United States. Walker has been accused of ingratitude because he protested against the interference of Commander Davis. It was said that the United States had saved the filibusters from extermination; but there was not a man in Rivas who did not spurn the spurious claim. Ungrateful step-children, they had cherished a different ideal of a mother country!
Ultimatum of Captain Davis — Evacuation of Rivas — Statistics of the campaign — Henningsen's opinion of his men — Characteristic anecdotes — Frederick Ward — A filibuster's apotheosis.
The ultimatum of Davis, backed by the power at his command, destroyed Walker's last hope of retaining his hold in Nicaragua; this too, at a time when the tide of fortune had begun to show signs of turning. In despair of ever taking the city by assault, the Allies had sat down to besiege it, with scant patience. The formidable army of seven thousand which had invested Rivas in January had decreased within two months, through death and defection, to a comparatively small force of less than two thousand, two-thirds of them Costa Ricans and other foreigners. These were, moreover, short of powder, threatened with cholera and the rainy season, and so reduced as to be unable to man effectively the investing works, through which the American scouts penetrated freely when they pleased. With the garrison, desertion had done its worst. Walker had still with him 260 of his best fighting men, with plenty of arms and ammunition and two or three days' provisions. To cut his way through the hostile lines and reach his schooner would have been a much less difficult feat than Henningsen's evacuation of Granada. Capitulation had never been discussed or thought of by Walker, nor had Commander Davis hinted at his intention of seizing the Granada, until her possession had become of vital importance to the besieged.
The Leonese in the North had begun to murmur at the cost and misery of this prolonged, fruitless war, whose advantages, should it end favourably to the Allies, would most likely be reaped by those whom they loved no better than they did the Americans of the North. Walker, had he been allowed to embark his fighting men in safety, might expect to awaken in those old friends a new and stronger friendship, and resume the fight against the Serviles from the original point at Realejo. The possession of over a hundred prisoners, whom he could have carried with him as hostages, was a sufficient guarantee for the safety of the sick and wounded whom he would have been compelled to leave behind. Such, at least, are the arguments embodied in Henningsen's protest, and the facts conceded by all authorities justify his conclusions. But half of Walker's ammunition was on board the schooner, without which it would have been madness to attempt a change of base in presence of the enemy.
Walker, finding that Davis was firm in his determination, sent General Henningsen and Colonel Watters to meet the naval autocrat at the headquarters of the Allies and arrange terms of capitulation. An agreement was drawn up and submitted to Walker, on the 13th of April, but he declined to sign it, as it contained no provisions guaranteeing the safety in person and property of his native adherents who should have to remain in Nicaragua. Among the latter were many devoted men who had kept faithful to his fortunes throughout all, and on whom the wrath of the enemy would fall as soon as the dread filibusters should leave the country. On the next day an agreement was submitted and accepted by both parties, the provisions of which were as follows:—
"Rivas, May 1, 1857.
"An agreement is hereby entered into between General William Walker, on the one part, and Commander C. H. Davis, of the United States Navy, on the other part, and of which the stipulations are as follows:—Firstly. General William Walker, with sixteen officers of his staff, shall march out of Rivas, with their side-arms, pistols, horses, and personal baggage, under the guarantee of the said Captain Davis, of the United States Navy, that they shall not be molested by the enemy, and shall be allowed to embark on board the United States vessel of war, the St. Mary's, in the harbour of San Juan del Sur, the said Captain Davis undertaking to transport them safely, on the St. Mary's to Panama.
"Secondly. The officers of General Walker's army shall march out of Rivas with their side-arms, under the guarantee and protection of Captain Davis, who undertakes to see them safely transported to Panama in charge of a United States officer.
"Thirdly. The privates and non-commissioned officers, citizens, and employés of departments, wounded or unwounded, shall be surrendered, with their arms, to Captain Davis, or one of his officers, and placed under his protection and control, he pledging himself to have them transported safely to Panama, in charge of a United States officer, in separate vessels from the deserters from the ranks, and without being brought into contact with them.
"Fourthly. Captain Davis undertakes to obtain guarantees, and hereby does guarantee that all natives of Nicaragua, or of Central America, now in Rivas, and surrendered to the protection of Captain Davis, shall be allowed to reside in Nicaragua, and be protected in life and property.
"Fifthly. It is agreed that all such officers as have wives and families in San Juan del Sur shall be allowed to remain there under the protection of the United States consul, till an opportunity offers of embarking for Panama or San Francisco.
"General Walker and Captain Davis mutually pledge themselves to each other that this agreement shall be executed in good faith."
Such is the text of the treaty between the representative of the United States and his captive. The lenity, unheard of before in Central American warfare, which the Allies thus offered to the men whom they had vowed to exterminate, shows how highly they valued the services of Captain Davis. That they did not keep their merciful promise to the native prisoners, but harried them in the good old-fashioned style as soon as the gallant captain had sailed away, does not detract from the merit of their promise. They would have promised anything to be rid of the troublesome filibustero.
No stipulation had been made for the surrender of the ammunition and weapons of the besieged. Henningsen, therefore, before the evacuation began, set his gunners to work destroying all the artillery and ammunition, consisting of one four-pound brass gun, three five-pounders, two twelves, and three sixes, and four light iron twelve-pound mortars, also 55,000 cartridges, 300,000 caps, and 1,500 pounds of powder; no contemptible supply of saltpetre for a garrison lacking in bread.
The total number of men surrendering was 463, including 170 sick and wounded. One hundred and two prisoners taken from the Allies were set free and sent within the enemy's lines. Forty natives who had abided with him to the end, bade their grey-eyed chieftain a sorrowful adieu on the bright May morning that was his last in Rivas.
Bravely and deliberately the filibusters marched out of the town, Walker riding at the head, with blade on thigh and pistol in belt, and the same impassive visage that he would have worn in mounting a throne or a gallows. After him, Henningsen, tall, martial, frank of face, then bearded like a whiskered Pandour, and not without traces of powder from his morning's work. Gaunt Hornsby, a Northern Quixote in face and figure, rode beside phlegmatic Bruno Von Natzmer, erst Prussian cornet of hussars and friend of Baron Bulow, until differences of national adoption set them lustily to fighting each other; more fortunate than the Costa Rican baron, he lived to fight another day; Henry and Swingle, doughty gunners; Watters—Colonel Jack—he of the relief of Granada; Williamson, West, and a dozen others, brave men and true, accompanied their leader. Other brave men and true, scores and hundreds, lay beneath the orange trees of Rivas and Granada and San Jorge, and a score of hard-fought fields, who never again might follow a filibuster's flag or awake to martial trump until that of Gabriel sounds their reveillé.
Walker and sixteen of his officers were to go on board the St. Mary's, thence to Panama, and home. It is a striking, and in its way, an heroic picture, that of the filibuster chief parting from his wild, wayward, but devoted comrades. First, he must say not adieu but au revoir to 250 privates and non-commissioned officers, escorted by a United States lieutenant, who curses his job, to Virgin Bay, thence homeward as circuitously as may be; also to the sad contingent of sick and wounded, homeward bound by another course; finally, he gives a look of pitying scorn upon a battalion of recreant deserters whom, for their own safety, Captain Davis must despatch to the home which yearns not for them, by yet another route.
So fared they forth from Rivas and on to their several fates; Walker to gaze from the decks of the St. Mary's at his beloved schooner Granada, now captured by Davis, as promised, and turned over, as also (privately) promised to the Costa Ricans, and commanded, not without much pomp and glory, by a Jamaico negro—horribly satirical sequel to that slavery decree which was to have regenerated Central America. Commander Davis, most respectable of naval magnates, passed from Rivas unto well-earned promotion, chiefly by dint of meritorious longevity, and died, in the fulness of time, an admiral, having achieved nothing more important in his long life than the forcible overthrow of the filibuster chief.
The "Blue, White and Blue" has floated over Nicaraguan soil for the last time, save that one brief moment when it shall flutter and fall before the "Stars and Stripes" in the port of San Juan del Norte. So many and such varying stories have been told of the number of men who fought and died under its folds, that a summary of the actual force which during twenty months held possession of a country may not be uninteresting.
It has been estimated by those who estimate by guess, that 5,000 Americans perished in Nicaragua—that is to say, five-sevenths as many Americans as were killed and wounded in the Revolutionary War. It has also been guessed that Walker had from 10,000 to 20,000 men at his command. These guesses have been gravely crystallized into history, where history has condescended to notice the subject at all. The actual records of the adjutant-general, P. R. Thompson, show that exactly 2,843 men were enlisted in all the campaigns. In addition to these, however, must be reckoned native volunteers, civilians who volunteered, and others who were impressed for temporary service—whose combined strength may have swelled the total to about 3,500.
Against them was arrayed a force, in all, of 21,000 Servile Nicaraguans, Costa Ricans, Hondurans, Guatemalans and San Salvadorians, with at least 10,000 Indian auxiliaries. The Allies admitted a loss of 15,000 in all the campaigns. One-third, perhaps, of the Americans died in Nicaragua. I take the assertions of General Henningsen, in the absence of any official figures. Some estimate of their deeds may be gathered from the surgical report, which showed that the proportion of wounds treated was 137 to every hundred men. Those who did not shirk their duty must have carried away many a scar, when they were fortunate enough to carry away their lives, to average the immunity of the cowardly and the false. It is not placing the proportion too high to say that about one thousand five hundred was the number of those who were steadfast and true.
These were mostly Californians, when to be Californian meant to belong to that race of giants who had come from all parts of the earth in search of gold, and then journeyed two thousand miles further in search of adventure. Nine-tenths of them were Americans, of every rank in life, from college to prison graduates, who boasted that "California was the pick of the world, and they were the pick of California"; nor quarrelled with him who chose to put it, "California is the sink of the world, and we are the sewer of California." Young Southerners drifted to Nicaragua, as naturally as young Northerners ran away to sea. A son and a nephew of Senator Bayard ran away from school to join the filibusters, and might have added some military glory to the family name, but that Walker sent them home at the request of the American State department. Henningsen's first aid was a youth of nineteen, named Burbank, who had run away from the Virginia military institute, and would have been entitled, had he lived, to a fortune of 100,000 dollars, which in those days was esteemed wealth. A rather worthless sergeant did actually fall heir to a fortune of that amount, which he was summoned home to enjoy, but purposely missed the steamer and remained to die in Nicaragua.
All the strange, wild natures for whom even California had grown too tame, drifted naturally into the filibuster's camp. "I have heard," says Henningsen, "two greasy privates disputing over the correct reading and comparative merits of Æschylus and Euripides. I have seen a soldier on guard incessantly scribbling strips of paper, which turned out to be a finely versified translation of his dog's-eared copy of the 'Divina Commedia.'"
The same appreciative commander testifies to the invincible heroism and fortitude of those men: "I have often seen them marching with a broken or compound-fractured arm in splints, and using the other to fire the rifle or revolver. Those with a fractured thigh, or wounds which rendered them incapable of removal, often (or, rather, in early times, always) shot themselves, sooner than fall into the hands of the enemy. Such men," he adds, "do not turn up in the average of every-day life, nor do I ever expect to see their like again. I was on the Confederate side in many of the bloodiest battles of the late war; but I aver that if, at the end of that war, I had been allowed to pick five thousand of the bravest Confederate or Federal soldiers I ever saw, and could resurrect and pit against them one thousand of such men as lie beneath the orange trees of Nicaragua, I feel certain that the thousand would have scattered and utterly routed the five thousand within an hour. All military science failed, on a suddenly given field, before assailants who came on at a run, to close with their revolvers, and who thought little of charging a battery, pistol in hand." Ten men, all officers, did in the first battle of Rivas actually charge and capture a battery manned by over a hundred Costa Ricans, half of the little band being slain in the heroic feat.
Their enemies bear witness to the splendid courage of the filibusters and their indomitable sang-froid when called upon to face the fusillade which almost always awaited them if captured. Chevalier Belly tells of a filibuster captured, with a broken leg, and condemned to be shot, who curtly replied to the questions of a sympathetic person, as to why he had come to Nicaragua, whether he believed in a future state, and so forth; until losing patience at what he deemed such idle speech, he burst out: "Here, we've had enough of this fooling! If you mean to have this funeral come off bring on your mourners and let us get through with it."
Men who possessed the military genius, which upon a broader field had earned them fame and fortune, lie in unhonoured graves; because on their field bravery and skill meant only increased chances of death. Men of highest education, family, and wealth, lie beside felons and outcasts. Some survived to pursue their adventurous career in other lands, many to die in the American Civil War. One of them, Frederick Townsend Ward, descendant of straitest Puritan ancestry, a native of Salem, Massachusetts, graduated from the filibuster's school to wander over to distant China, where, the Taiping rebellion occurring in the nick of time, he entered the Imperial service, in which he presently attained to the chief command. So well did the doughty filibuster practise the lessons learned in his old school, that he soon became one of the greatest men in the Celestial kingdom, and was loaded with wealth and honours (two million dollars, it is said, of the former, but the native executors produced no assets), and might have risen to any position in that most conservative kingdom, perhaps even to the very throne and office of heaven's vice-gerent, had not an unlucky ball cut short his career at the siege of Ning-Po, and sent him to enjoy the most remarkable honours ever paid to a Yankee living or dead. For the grateful Pagans have erected two temples in his honour, and have solemnly enrolled his name among those of their country's gods. Even to this day there is kept perennially blooming over his tomb a spotless lily, emblematic of I know not what, which is constantly tended and nursed by loving hands, and shall perchance be so tended centuries to come, when Taiping and Filibuster shall have grown dim and hoary traditions in the busy, forgetful world outside the Middle Kingdom. China remembers the services of Ward. With us alter tulit honores, and an Englishman wears the glory of having suppressed the Taiping rebellion. Of a different type was the young Californian, Joaquin Miller, who has lived to embalm in heroic verse the memory of his chief—albeit, Walker, simple and severe, masquerades in a garb which he would have little yearned for or admired.
Thus the poet pictures his hero as "tall, courtly, grand as any king," with
It is grand; it is magnificent; but—it is not our Filibuster, who was more impressive in his stern simplicity.
To the more ignorant of his followers Walker's ulterior designs were naturally inexplicable. They thought that his purpose was merely that of a freebooter. Hence there arose a legend that he had amassed a mighty treasure which, like that of Captain Kidd, still lies hidden, awaiting discovery by some lucky seeker. Long years after his death the following story was told by a relative of one of the surviving filibusters, named Samuel Lyons:
"By his bravery and strategy Samuel became one of Walker's most trusted men, and he was one of the four officers who helped Walker bury his treasure. There were five mule loads of it—gold and silver, money and bullion, including a great deal which had been plundered from the churches, the chapels, and private mansions. At eleven o'clock one moonlight night Walker and four officers buried the treasure under a big tree near the brow of a hill. I have heard Samuel tell how they scraped away the leaves on the ground before they dug the pit. I have a pretty good idea of the locality myself, but he knows just where it is, and can find it even if the tree is removed. The treasure was buried just before the two final engagements which crushed the hopes of Walker. The next morning after that little moonlight excursion the first of these engagements occurred, and in it two of the officers who had seen the treasure buried were killed. After that engagement the army—if it could be called one—lived on bananas alone for two weeks in a big banana plantation, and had a hard time of it. Then came the last engagement, in which Walker, Samuel, and the rest were captured. There is only one of the four accompanying officers who is not accounted for; but as nothing was heard of him after that engagement Samuel has always believed that he was killed then or executed with the captives who met death in that way. He certainly was not with the party that so wonderfully escaped with Samuel, and who, I think, were the sole survivors of that engagement. If he be dead, or rather, if he died then, Samuel alone has the secret."
Most lovers of the marvellous would be satisfied with this delectable dish of treasure and gore, but another "survivor," with a still more able-bodied imagination, gravely corrects the first narrator, by saying:
"The writer hereof knows something of that treasure, and personally examined it, and in lieu of five mule loads, there were five tons of it. It is well known that the most horrible chapter in that most horrible of wars was the burning and pillaging of Granada by General Henningsen, under Walker's orders, in November, 1856. The churches—some twenty or more, immensely rich in plate and jewels—were secretly and systematically despoiled, and their great booty was safely stowed away on board a Lake Nicaragua steamer before the doomed city was given up to pillage. What became of that immense spoil has been a mysterious secret, and was so regarded by the filibusters at the time. It was worth millions. To allay suspicion as to its true disposition Walker gave out that it was shipped to New Orleans to be disposed of on account of his government, and that the proceeds thereof would be used in purchasing military supplies. That spoil was buried, and, to my own personal knowledge, the officer who had it in charge and commanded the squad who guarded it now lives in San Bernardino. He informs me (and we have frequently discussed the matter) that, under the immediate supervision of Walker, he and five other officers and about twenty men buried that treasure in the village of St. George, on Lake Nicaragua, under a room in the house wherein the booty was so sacredly guarded. Walker exacted the most solemn oath of secrecy, giving substantial gratuities and promising future rewards to the whole party if they would faithfully guard the secret of the hidden church-spoil of the burned city. Inside of a month the whole party who were in the secret, save my friend and informant and two or three of the officers therein engaged, were sent away on a feigned expedition; were given out as deserters; were pursued by a large party of cavalry, and, by Walker's order, shot to a man when overhauled by the pursuing party. Soon thereafter, at a desperate battle fought at St. George on January 16, 1857, the last man of the party who assisted in burying the church spoil, save my friend of San Bernardino, was killed, and in such a way as to confirm in the mind of my informant the opinion that all had been killed by Walker's order, and that the General intended to be the only custodian of the secret of the hidden treasure. Although my informant was a faithful and trusted officer, high in Walker's favour, still the prompt and tragic ending of his comrades and sharers in the dread mystery produced such an impression on his mind that he at once deserted. He carried the secret with him and yet has it, and he is the only man living who knows where the Granada booty lies hidden, and he don't know. And why not? Well, the spoil was buried in December; in January the enemy by a forced march, possessed themselves of St. George; Walker took position at Rivas, three miles distant, and, within the next three months, utterly exhausted his army in his vain endeavours to repossess himself of the insignificant village that contained this immense wealth. In the terrific conflicts that ensued the village was razed to the ground. This the writer hereof knows, because he fought through all of those engagements."
Nothing (save truth) is lacking to make this circumstantial narrative all that it should be. Like most of the improbable charges made against Walker, it emanated from his deserters, who have done more than any others to blacken his memory.
Walker returns to the United States — Crabbe's expedition — Renewed attempts of Walker — The expedition to San Juan del Norte.
Walker's reception in New York, on his return to the United States, was like that of a conqueror. The city wore a holiday appearance; tens of thousands of citizens flocked to see the hero; Broadway was decked with banners as on a national festival. Public meetings were called to give him welcome and sympathy. Walker received the homage with dignified modesty, and resolutely avowed his determination to recover his lost power at the first opportunity. As the lawful President of Nicaragua, he protested against the action of the United States, to him a foreign power, in driving him from his country. He went to Washington, to lay before the State Department his complaint against Commander Davis, and was received with diplomatic politeness; but the case was referred to the consideration of Congress, where it was effectually buried under a mountain of verbiage. Thence he made a journey through the South, being welcomed and fêted with even more enthusiasm than he had received in the North. Arriving at New Orleans, he made his first appearance publicly in a box at one of the theatres. When the audience became aware of his presence they turned with one impulse from the mimic romance of the stage to gaze at the living hero whose exploits made tame the wildest flights of imagination, and cheer upon cheer went up from pit and gallery. Walker was hailed as a hero and a martyr, and his bitterest enemies were silenced for the time, when Henningsen, whom they had expected, from some unknown reason, to villify his commander, not only disappointed that hope, but lauded everywhere the character and principles of the great filibuster. He also laid before Secretary Cass an indignant protest against the outrage inflicted upon a friendly nation, whose only offence towards the United States lay in the fact that its president had the misfortune to be by birth an American. Technically the filibusters had serious reason for complaint. But the demand for reparation fell upon deaf ears. The President of the United States cared nothing for the fact that the title of the President of Nicaragua to his office was in law as good as that of James Buchanan to his. Buchanan, as Walker soon saw, was not the man to add another bramble to his already too painful bed of thorns; and the bold filibuster decided to seek outside the pale of law that redress which was denied him within it.
While Walker and his men were battling for their lives in Rivas, during the months of March and April, 1857, another and a bloody scene in the tragedy of filibusterism was being enacted on the stage which had witnessed the failures of De Boulbon and Walker. Towards the end of March one hundred and fifty men from California were led across the boundary line into the northern part of Sonora by Henry A. Crabbe, a former friend of Walker, and like him, a man of bold and ambitious character. He had been one of the most useful agents in organizing the latter's expedition to Nicaragua, and through him Walker had secured some of his most efficient officers, Hornsby, Fisher, and De Brissot, all of whom had been concerned in a contract between Crabbe and Jerez similar in its terms to that afterwards made between Castellon and Walker.
Crabbe was an ex-Senator of the State of California; in his party were seven former members of the legislature and one present senator, together with the former State treasurer and State comptroller; men who had outlived their popularity, perhaps, or who had become tired of humdrum life and sought a new career in Sonora, the graveyard of adventurers. Nor was the military element lacking. Colonel Watkins, who had been with Walker in his expedition to the same country, and a former lieutenant in the regular army, Colonel T. D. Johns, superintended the military department as the expedition crossed the line. They marched through the country without hindrance until they passed Sonoyta and approached Caborca, on the Gulf of California, near Point Lobos. There for the first time the Mexicans showed a hostile front. Crabbe had issued an address to the inhabitants, in which he claimed that his business in the country was peaceable, his object being the prosecution of a mining scheme in Sonora; and maintained that, while his party were armed, they had come so only for self-defence against the Apache Indians. The truth of the matter was that Crabbe had been invited to Sonora by the partisans of a political minority, whose leader, Don Ignacio Pesqueira, had meanwhile gained his political ends without the aid of foreign allies, and was much disturbed lest the inopportune arrival of the latter should reflect upon his present loyalty. Crabbe, who had at much cost and labour organized his immigrants and arranged for the future immigration of nine hundred more men, was not disposed to abandon his project. He was allied by marriage with some of the leading families in the State, and may have cherished hopes of exchanging places with Pesqueira in Sonorian affairs. If he counted upon the assistance of the native population he was doomed to a cruel disappointment.
On the 1st of April, when the expeditionists were within six miles of Caborca, they were fired upon by an ambushed party of natives; at the same time a strong force appeared in front, drawn up to contest the road. The filibusters opened fire upon them, killing at the first volley Colonel Rodriguez, the commander, and driving the Mexicans before them into the town. The fugitives rallied in the plaza and fortified themselves in the main church. The assailants occupied the houses opposite, whereupon the natives, seeing that the church was not attacked, plucked up courage to garrison the adjacent buildings and harass the invaders. Crabbe soon perceived his error in allowing the enemy to assume the offensive, and made one or two futile attempts to carry the church by assault. The fighting lasted through eight days. On the last, Crabbe with fifteen men tried to blow up the church by means of gunpowder, but the enemy kept up such a sharp fire that he was compelled to desist, with four of his men shot down and himself badly wounded. He now sent a flag of truce, offering to withdraw his forces, if they should be allowed to leave the country. The Mexicans had themselves made such a proposition to him on the second day of the fight, which he had then rejected, as they now did, their relative positions having so much changed in the meanwhile. Gabilondo, the Mexican commander, disposed his force of five hundred men so as to hem in completely the unfortunate adventurers, until the Mexicans, having cut through the walls of the intervening houses, fought hand to hand in the passages and slowly drove the Americans into the last house on the street.
Night fell upon the scene where fifty-eight surviving filibusters stood at bay, overcome with hunger, thirst, and hard fighting. They placed sentries and sought to snatch a few moments' rest, which was rudely broken by the crackling sound of fire above their heads. An Indian archer had lodged a flaming arrow in the thatched roof, and soon the fiery flakes were dropping upon the men within. In this desperate strait Crabbe sent word to the enemy that he was willing to surrender as a prisoner of war, on condition that he and his men should be given a fair trial. Gabilondo replied, accepting the terms of capitulation and promising to send the prisoners to El Altar for trial. They were ordered to leave the house one by one, and without their arms, and then, their hands being bound, they were marched to the barracks. Crabbe was separated from the rest and brought before the Mexican commander, who offered to give him his life if he would point out where he had buried his treasure, some ten thousand dollars. Crabbe, remembering the bad faith of Pesqueira, and rightly judging that the possession of the money by Gabilondo would be anything but a guaranty of the owner's safety, refused, and was sent to his cell. The surrender had taken place at eleven o'clock in the evening. One hour after midnight a sergeant entered the barracks and read to the assembled prisoners their sentence of death by the fusillade at daybreak.
At the appointed hour they were led out on the plaza, where, after the executioners, with an eye to thrift, had first stripped them of their valuable articles of clothing, they were shot in cold blood, without the form of a trial. A boy of twelve was spared to witness the brutal scene. The bodies were rifled of their rings, and in some cases even the gold fillings in their teeth, after which they were thrown into a burial ground where the wild hog and the coyote fattened on them. To Crabbe was accorded the honour of dying last and alone. He was tied to a post and riddled with bullets. His head was cut off and exhibited in a jar of vinegar for several days, a sight which so stimulated the heroism of the natives that they fell upon a party of sixteen peaceful travellers a few days afterwards and cut them off to a man, while another bold band crossed into the American territory and murdered four sick men, presumed to have been adherents of Crabbe. Of the nine hundred men who were to have joined Crabbe from California, only some fifty appeared in the vicinity of Caborca, where being set upon by the natives they succeeded only with great difficulty in making their way back across the boundary line.
Mr. Forsyth, the American minister to Mexico, took pains to investigate the matter, and laid before his own Government and that of Mexico the results of his inquiry. He pronounced the execution of the prisoners "legal murder," a conclusion which apparently satisfied both parties, the Americans because it was "legal," and the Mexicans because it was "murder," and so the matter was allowed to drop. It ended filibusterism in that country. The American apostle of liberty no longer heeds the cry of the oppressed of any faction. Nor is it likely, since the world was shocked by the execution of the Austrian archduke, that many Europeans will be found treading the wine-press for what they have been pleased to term the "regeneration" of Mexico.
With the expulsion of the filibusters terminated for a time the war in Nicaragua. The Allied states formed a kind of protectorate over the republic, having first rewarded themselves, after the fashion of greater powers, by gathering a goodly share of the fruits of victory. Costa Rica was rewarded by the possession of Guanacaste and a strip of land bordering along the lake and the southern side of the San Juan river, a sufficiently small return for her outlay in the war, which had entailed a loss of so many thousand men, women, and children slain by cholera. The "Tiger of Honduras" was given material aid in driving from power at home the partisans of Cabañas. General Martinez, a descendant of the apocryphal heroine of San Carlos, was appointed President of Nicaragua, and at once sent a minister to Washington, who was received without question. Mr. Buchanan thus gave himself a plausible excuse for declining to recognize the claims of Walker. Señor Yrissari, the new minister, negotiated a new treaty for the construction of a canal, the terms of which not being considered favourable to Costa Rica, that state and Nicaragua were soon again preparing to grapple each other's throats.
In spite of the vigilance of the United States authorities Walker continued planning schemes to resume the offensive on Nicaraguan soil. Being arrested on charge of organizing an unlawful expedition, he was acquitted, only to renew his preparations. Thirteen days after his discharge at New Orleans he appeared off the harbour of San Juan del Norte on board the steamer Fashion, but did not stop at that port until after he had landed Colonel Anderson and fifty men at the mouth of the river Colorado, a southerly branch of the San Juan. Returning to the harbour of San Juan, the Fashion boldly came to anchor under the guns of the United States frigate Saratoga, and landed her cargo of war material and passengers to the number of a hundred and fifty men. The officers and most of the men were old veterans of Nicaragua, including the tried soldiers, Hornsby, Von Natzmer, Swingle, Tucker, Henry, Hoof, Fayssoux, Cook, McMullen, Haskins, Buttrick, and others. Captain Chatard, of the Saratoga, sent a boat on board the Fashion, but the passengers had landed before the lieutenant in command could prevent them. The only steps which the American officer felt himself authorized to take were to order the filibusters to respect American property on the Transit Company's ground, an injunction which Walker obeyed, after protesting that it was an infringement of his rights as President of Nicaragua, from and through whom the company held its privileges.
Walker immediately formed his camp and awaited the reinforcements which he was daily expecting from the United States. Colonel Anderson, having ascended the Colorado and San Juan, suddenly appeared before Castillo Viejo and captured it without difficulty, a feat which the incompetent Titus and Lockridge had been unable to achieve with eight times his force. He also captured three or four of the river steamers, and was in a fair way to obtain supreme control of the Transit route, when the arrival at San Juan, on December 6th, of Commodore Hiram Paulding and the U.S. frigate Wabash gave a new turn to affairs.
Captain Chatard, not content with exercising a kind of police superintendence over the port of San Juan, began a series of petty annoyances, which, had they been intended to provoke Walker into a collision with the United States forces, could not have been better contrived. While the American captain professed to maintain a strict neutrality, he nevertheless issued orders to the expeditionists, and sent his boats out to practise firing where the filibusters on duty were exposed to injury unless they abandoned their posts. His officers insisted upon landing and entering Walker's camp without a pass; and when Walker, with more dignity than discretion, threatened to shoot anybody found trespassing within his lines, Captain Chatard retorted in a note (which Walker sent to Commodore Paulding,) assuring him that he would retaliate. "The childish follies," as Walker characterized them, of Captain Chatard failing to provoke a collision, Commodore Paulding, on the 7th of December, sent an imperative summons to surrender. Resistance to such a demand, backed as it was by two frigates and a complaisant British captain, who volunteered to aid Paulding in annihilating the American filibusters, would have been madness. On the next day Commodore Paulding landed a force of three hundred and fifty men in howitzer barges and formed them in order of battle, while the broadsides of the Saratoga were sprung to bear on the camp. Captain Engle proceeded to the tent of General Walker and presented the demand for surrender, adding, "General, I am sorry to see you here. A man like you is worthy to command better men." Walker replied briefly that the virtue of his men would be apparent if their number and equipments were one half those of his captors.
The flag of the filibusters was then hauled down, and the prisoners were sent on board the Saratoga for transportation to the United States. Walker, being offered the choice of returning by way of Aspinwall, availed himself of the favour and went home at his own expense. Colonel Anderson, on learning of the capture, surrendered his command on the river and returned to New Orleans. Arriving at New York, Walker gave himself up to a United States marshal, in fulfilment of his parole to Commodore Paulding, and was sent a prisoner of war to Washington. But President Buchanan was by no means ready to support the act of his naval subordinate, and absolutely refused to accept the surrender or to recognize Walker as in the custody of the Government. In a message to Congress he reviewed at length the action of Commodore Paulding, which he pronounced unlawful, but cited the approbation of the de facto government of Nicaragua as justifying the proceedings. In short, Paulding had infringed the rights of that country by an act of hostility towards its president and upon its soil; but, reasoned Mr. Buchanan, inasmuch as the enemies of Walker now in possession of the government of Nicaragua do not complain, therefore Commodore Paulding's action was not reprehensible. Nevertheless, it was a grave error and a dangerous precedent, should it be allowed to go unrebuked. Acting upon the logical sequence of that opinion, Walker demanded that the Government of the United States should indemnify him for his losses and, by granting free transportation to a new expedition, restore the status quo ante. Needless to say, the petition was not granted. He then instituted civil suits against Paulding, claiming damages for illegal arrest and detention, suits which lingered in the courts and never arrived at a decision.
The Fashion was condemned for having sailed from Mobile under a false clearance, and sold by the United States marshal for two hundred dollars. Her cargo, which was brought back by the frigates Saratoga and Wabash, showed that the filibusters had made ample preparations for the equipment of a force sufficient to have easily reconquered the country had they been able to secure a foothold. That their failure should be caused by the action of their fellow countrymen they had never dreamed. Walker, before his departure, had satisfied himself that he should suffer no harm if only he could get away in quiet. Least of all did he dream of being molested on foreign soil. Proof came readily, when it was too late to be of any service, that Paulding had transgressed his powers in breaking up the expedition. The cause of his enmity was not difficult to fathom. Paulding was an old shipmate and intimate friend of Walker's enemy, Commander Davis. Fate seems to rejoice in a certain kind of ironical cruelty, whereby she sends to a Napoleon the gad-fly, Hudson Lowe, and thwarts the ambition of a Walker by the pipe-clay petulance of a naval martinet. It is as though Cæsar had caught a cold, and died of it, in crossing the Rubicon. Paulding and other petty potentates chose to take offence at the disrespectful manner in which Walker, a mere uncommissioned adventurer, had dared speak of Commander Davis. They resented it as an insult to "the service," and when the subsequent correspondence with Commander Chatard was laid before the Commodore, his indignation knew no bounds. The man who would threaten to shoot a naval officer for penetrating his military lines without a pass could be only a pirate and outlaw. As such, Paulding had the filibuster arrested, although permitting him, with charming inconsistency, to go to New York on parole.
But the irreparable mischief was done, and Walker found slight consolation in having his persecutor suspended from active service, or in the prosecution of endless civil suits for damages, a species of vengeance which carries its own punishment.
Walker's "History of the War " — Lands at Ruatan and takes Trujillo — Retreats before the English forces — Surrender — Trial and execution of the last of the Filibusters.
During the following two years Walker continued his efforts to regain power in Nicaragua, his friends maintaining their unshaken confidence in his ability to succeed and in the "destiny" which had lately played him such sorry tricks. On the 30th of October, 1858, President Buchanan found it necessary to issue a proclamation calling attention to certain plans of emigration companies intending to colonise Nicaragua, the leading promoter of which was William Walker. "This person," it said, "who has severed the ties of loyalty which bind him to the United States, and who aspires to the presidency of Nicaragua, has notified the Collector of the port of Mobile that two or three hundred of those emigrants will be ready to embark and sail for that port towards the middle of November;" and the President warned the intending emigrants that they would not be allowed to carry out their project.
In spite, however, of this proclamation a party of one hundred and fifty filibusters, commanded by Colonel Anderson, embarked about the 1st of December on the schooner Susan at the port of Mobile. The voyage terminated abruptly by shipwreck off the coast of Honduras, whence the expeditionists were rescued by a British vessel of war and carried back to their home. Doubleday thus describes the ruse by which the adventurers deceived the Federal authorities in escaping from Mobile:—
"No customs official had molested us while fast to the dock, but when we had reached the open bay a shadowy vessel ran athwart our bow in the semi-obscurity of the night, hailing us as she passed by announcing herself a United States revenue cutter, commanded by Captain Morris. He had orders if we should persist in sailing with our present cargo, to sink us as soon as we were a marine league from the shore, that distance constituting in their parlance the open sea. This we agreed among ourselves was unpleasant. She carried heavy guns while we carried none, and besides not even Walker was quite prepared as yet to make war with the United States.
"Captain Harry Maury, who commanded our schooner, was a thorough sailor, intimately acquainted with the varying depths of the bay of his native Mobile, and a true type of the oft-quoted chivalry of the South. He furthermore had a rather intimate convivial acquaintance with Captain Morris of the cutter.
"We therefore readily agreed that he should try his diplomatic talent, to extricate us from our unpleasant situation, for he assured us that Morris was a man to carry out his instructions.
"As the cutter again came around within hailing distance, Maury hailed, asking permission to go aboard with a friend or two, for discussion of the situation. Receiving a cordial invitation to bring as many of his friends as he pleased, Colonel Anderson and I accompanied him.
"The wind being very light the two vessels kept almost side by side while we were in the cabin of the cutter. Maury remarked that to men who were prospectively so near Davy Jones' locker, a glass of grog would not be unacceptable.
"Morris, hospitably inclined, set forth champagne, drinking fraternally with those whom a hard duty compelled him to immolate, and, as bottle succeeded bottle, I saw that it was to become a question of endurance.
"Perfect courtesy was sustained and still further tested when Maury invited Morris to come aboard the schooner and try our wine, pledging himself that he should be returned in safety to his own vessel. Whatever Morris might have decided an hour before, he now promptly accepted the invitation, following us in his own boat.
"Drinking was resumed on the schooner, and, as Morris was helped into his boat, Maury told him that he would not keep so good a fellow chasing us through the darkness of the night, but would anchor and wait for daylight, cautioning him not to run into us when our anchor went down.
"The night had become exceedingly dark, and as the captain of the cutter reached his deck, Captain Maury called out, cautioning Morris not to run into us when we should bring up.
"At the same time the order was given in a loud voice to 'let go,' and by a preconcerted arrangement the anchor chain rattling through one hawse-hole was pulled in at the other.
"Morris, supposing he heard the chain carrying our anchor down, let go his own. As he brought up we shot ahead, and then came the delicate part of the business.
"Maury had reckoned on the difference in draught between our vessel and the cutter—about six inches—together with his superior knowledge of the depths in the bay, to carry us over by a short cut into the sea. He had arranged his manœuvre to coincide with our arrival at the spot on which he wished to make the test.
"We therefore headed directly across the channel, and Morris, quickly perceiving the trick we had played him, followed as soon as he could pull in his anchor. Even this delay gave us a start which in the thick darkness deprived him of the advantage of our pilotage. We afterwards learned that he did not go far before he was fast on the bottom, and of course had to wait for high tide to get off."
Shortly after the sailing of the Susan, the Collector of the port of New Orleans detained a steamship with a party of three hundred "emigrants" who were compelled to give up their design of colonizing in Central America. No further attempt was made by Walker until September, 1859, when the guns of a United States frigate were brought to bear upon the steamer Philadelphia at New Orleans, forcibly compelling her passengers to disembark. About the same time Lord Lyons, the British minister, notified the American executive that his Government had resolved to interfere in repelling forcibly any future attempts of Walker against Nicaragua. A squadron of English vessels of war was permanently stationed at San Juan del Norte, while a similarly strong force guarded the Pacific gate. The United States also kept a small fleet in the Caribbean Sea to watch the movements of the exiled president. Napoleon was hardly more of a nightmare to the Holy Alliance than was Walker to the two powerful countries which did him the honour of this surveillance.
Meanwhile he was employing his enforced leisure in writing a history of his Nicaraguan career, which he published in the spring of 1860. The book, which was written in the third person, after the style of "Cæsar's Commentaries," is valuable chiefly as a reflection of the author's character. His modesty in alluding to his own exploits is extreme; but he makes no hesitation of avowing his principles as an ardent champion of slavery, devoting many pages to an exposition of arguments which were never logical and are now mournful and ridiculous. That he was sincere is unquestionable. He was a man who would live or die in support of his convictions, and who had too much sincerity of purpose ever to succeed in any undertaking which required duplicity. A proof of his impolitic honesty is found in the fact that at this period of his career he embraced the Catholic religion, a step not calculated to win him favour among either his political friends or enemies. It has been incorrectly stated that he joined the faith on becoming President of Nicaragua; it would have been a wise stroke of worldly policy for him to have done so. But the fact is, that he stoutly maintained his independence of thought until his reason was convinced, even though it might injure him with the clerical party in that country. In Napoleon's place Walker would never have donned the turban nor sought to conciliate the Pontiff, though the empire of a world rewarded the stroke. Empires are neither won nor held by men of such obstinate conscience.
The evident impossibility of running the gauntlet of the British and American cruisers in the Caribbean Sea determined him to seek a new pathway to his cherished goal; and that way, he decided, lay through the exposed part of the enemy's territory, the eastern coast of Honduras. It would seem that at that time the Island of Ruatan, a fertile land with a population of about 1,700 souls, was not under the usual British man-of-war captain's sovereignty, but owed a nominal allegiance to the Republic of Honduras. Upon the always ready invitation of some of its inhabitants, Walker prepared to use it as a base of operations against his former enemy, President Alvarez, and as a stepping-stone to the real point of attack. Accordingly, in the early part of August, 1860, having made arrangements for a strong body of reinforcements to follow and join him at Trujillo, he sailed in the schooner Clifton from Mobile with a force of about a hundred men, including the veterans Rudler, Henry, Dolan, and Anderson, and landed at Ruatan on the 15th of the month. There he issued a proclamation to the people of Honduras, which was an explicit avowal of his objects and desires:
"More than five years ago, I, with others, was invited to the Republic of Nicaragua and was promised certain rights and privileges on the condition of certain services rendered the state. We performed the services required of us, but the existing authorities of Honduras joined a combination to drive us from Central America. In the course of events the people of the Bay Islands find themselves in nearly the same position as the Americans held in Nicaragua in November, 1855. The same policy which led Guardiola to make war on us will induce him to drive the people of the Islands from Honduras. A knowledge of this fact has led certain residents of the Islands to call upon the adopted citizens of Nicaragua to aid in the maintenance of their rights of person and property; but no sooner had a few adopted citizens of Nicaragua answered this call of the residents of the Islands by repairing to Ruatan than the acting authorities of Honduras, alarmed for their safety, put obstacles in the way of carrying out the treaty of November 28, 1859. Guardiola delays to receive the Islands because of the presence of a few men whom he has injured; and thus, for party purposes, not only defeats the territorial interests of Honduras, but thwarts, for the moment, a cardinal object of Central American policy. The people of the Bay Islands can be ingrafted on your Republic only by wise concessions properly made. The existing authorities of Honduras have, by their past acts, given proof that they would not make the requisite concessions. The same policy which Guardiola pursued toward the naturalized Nicaraguans prevents him from pursuing the only course by which Honduras can expect to hold the Islands. It becomes, therefore, a common object with the naturalized Nicaraguans, and with the people of the Bay Islands, to place in the government of Honduras those who will yield the rights lawfully required in the two states. Thus, the Nicaraguans will secure a return to their adopted country, and the Bay Islanders will obtain full guarantees from the sovereignty under which they are to be placed by the treaty of November 28, 1859. To obtain, however, the object at which we aim, we do not make war against the people of Honduras, but only against a government which stands in the way of the interests, not only of Honduras, but of all Central America. The people of Honduras may therefore rely on all the protection they may require for their rights, both of person and property.
To capture the town of Trujillo, on the mainland, was the work of but half an hour, only a few of the assailants being injured. Walker received a slight wound in the face. Scarcely had the town been occupied when a British war-steamer, the Icarus, appeared on the scene. Captain Salmon, her commander, immediately notified Walker that the British Government held a mortgage against the revenues of the port, as security for certain claims, and that he intended to protect the interests of his Government by taking possession of the town. Walker replied that he had made Trujillo a free port, and consequently could not entertain any claims for revenues which no longer existed. The captain refused to recognize any change in the government of Honduras, and sent a peremptory demand for surrender, promising, in case of compliance, to carry the prisoners back to the United States, and threatening to open fire on the town if it were not given up. Meanwhile General Alvarez, with 700 soldiers, was preparing to make an assault by land. Thus hemmed in, Walker determined to evacuate Trujillo, which he did the following night, retreating down the coast with only eighty-eight men. In their haste they were compelled to leave behind all their heavy baggage and accoutrements, carrying only thirty rounds of ammunition each; the rest they destroyed at Trujillo. When the British landed next morning they were only in time to protect the sick and wounded in the hospital from the ferocious Hondurians. The Icarus immediately took Alvarez and a strong force on board and steamed down the coast in pursuit.
At the mouth of the Rio Negro they learned that Walker lay encamped at the Indian village of Lemas, whither the boats of the Icarus were sent. They found the adventurers in no condition to oppose such overwhelming odds. They had carried with them from Trujillo only two barrels of bread, and being without blankets or overcoats, many had been attacked with fever from sleeping on the damp unhealthy ground. To reach Nicaragua in such miserable plight would have been impossible, even had they any hope of meeting a hospitable reception there. The Indians through whose territory they should have to pass were fierce and hostile to all intruders, and Olancho ("Olancho, ancho para intrar, angosto para salir"—"Easy to enter, hard to leave") lay in the way.
Two cutters, with forty English marines and 200 Honduran soldiers, landed at the filibusters' camp on Sept. 3. To Captain Salmon's demand for unconditional surrender, Walker replied with the inquiry, whether he was surrendering to the British or to the Hondurenos? Captain Salmon twice assured him, distinctly and specifically, that it was to her Majesty's forces; whereupon the filibusters laid down their arms and were carried on board the Icarus. On arriving at Trujillo, Captain Salmon turned his prisoners over to the Honduran authorities, despite their protest and demand for trial before a British tribunal. But Captain Salmon was only a young and rather pompous commander who disdained to argue the case, although he so far interested himself as to secure the pardon of all except the leader and one faithful follower, Colonel Rudler. West, Dolan, and other veterans who had joined this last forlorn hope were either unknown to the Hondurenos, or not deemed of sufficient importance to merit severe punishment.
Captain Salmon offered to plead for Walker, if the latter would ask his intercession as an American citizen. But Walker, with the bitter remembrance of all the injuries which his nativity had brought upon him, thanked his captor, and refused to demean himself by denying the country which had adopted and honoured him.
He was arraigned before a court-martial on the 11th of September, and, after a brief examination, he was condemned to die by the fusillade next morning. He heard his sentence with calmness, and was remanded to prison to pass the night in preparing for death. At half-past seven o'clock on the morning of September 12th he was led out to the place of execution. He walked unfettered, with calm and firm tread. He carried a crucifix in his left hand, a hat in his right. A priest walked by his side, reciting the prayers for the dying. Two soldiers marched before him carrying drawn sabres; three more followed him with bayonets at the charge. Upon entering the hollow square of soldiery on the plaza he begged the priest to ask pardon in his name of any one whom he had wronged in his last expedition. Then, mounting the fatal stool, he addressed his executioners in Spanish, for none of his comrades had been allowed to witness the execution, and said:
"I am a Roman Catholic. The war which I made, in accordance with the suggestion of some of the people of Ruatan, was unjust. I ask pardon of the people. I receive death with resignation. Would that it might be for the good of society!"
Then, calm as he had ever been, whether in peace or in war, he awaited the fatal signal. The captain of the firing party gave a sharp order, dropped the point of his sabre, and, at the sign, three soldiers stepped forward to within twenty feet of the condemned, and fired their muskets. All of the balls took effect, but still the victim was not dead; whereupon a fourth soldier advanced, and placing the muzzle of his piece at the forehead of the victim, blew out his brains. The authorities refused to bury the body, and it was deposited in the Campo Santo by some pitying Americans and other foreigners. And so ended the last of the filibusters!
Character of Walker — A private's devotion — Anecdote — After fate of the filibusters — Henningsen's epitaph — Last Cuban expedition — The Virginius tragedy — An Englishman to the rescue — Finis.
As Walker was the last, so he was the greatest of American filibusters. He was not a great man, nor by any means a good one; but he was the greatest and the best of his class. His fault was ambition. It was a fault with him because it was a failure. From such a verdict there is no appeal. No apology can be offered for ambition ungratified; and successful ambition needs none. But the world's estimate of his personal character and actions has been needlessly severe. He was not the insatiable monster of cruelty that his enemies have painted. He was a man of deep, if narrow, learning, fertile resources, and grand audacity. He was calm and temperate in words and actions, and mercilessly just in exacting obedience from the turbulent spirits who linked their fortunes with his. He lacked worldly wisdom; nothing could induce him to forego the least of his rights to gain a greater ultimate advantage. He would maintain the dignity of his office, though it cost him the office itself. The lawyer belittled the lawgiver in his attempt virtually to confiscate the lands of Nicaragua by the help of an unworthy legal device; while his design for the restoration of slavery was as impolitic as it was futile, unjust, and barbarous. The action was, doubtless, the result of an honest belief in that "divine institution," as well as of a desire to show his sympathy with his devoted friends in the United States; but the effect was only to put another weapon into the hands of his foreign enemies, without materially strengthening him at home. It was a defiance to his powerful British opponents, and a wanton outrage upon the free states of Central America, alienating the sympathies of all who hoped from the evil of conquest to extract the good of civilization. Judged, as he wished to be judged, by his public policy, Walker was unequal to the office of a Liberator. It would be unfair to criticize the domestic administration of one who held his office by the sword, yet it is true that he preserved order and enforced justice with more success than any ruler of Nicaragua who has filled the position since the independence of the country. Doctor Scherzer, the intelligent German traveller, writing at a time when Walker's success seemed assured, heartily rejoices in the new and grand career opening before Central America. He warmly commends Walker's administration of justice, without palliating his errors, and sees "the morning star of civilization rising in the Tropic sky."
Walker was humane in war, and allowed retaliatory measures to be taken against the Costa Ricans only after the latter had shamelessly abused his lenity by repeated massacres of defenceless prisoners and non-combatants. The tales of his cruelty to his men have uniformly proceeded from the lips of worthless and disgraced adventurers, who were mainly deserters. Had he been the cold and haughty tyrant painted by his enemies, the infatuated devotion of his followers is unaccountable by any human rule. Neither ambition nor recklessness can explain the conduct of men who followed him through life, with unswerving loyalty. "Private Charles Brogan" is recorded among the surrendering men at the end of the Sonora campaign. As "Private Brogan" his name figures among the Vesta's passengers. So again, it appears on the army register and in the lists of wounded, all through the Nicaraguan campaign. Yet again, in 1857, when the second descent on Nicaragua ended ingloriously at San Juan del Norte, "Private Charles Brogan" heads the list of captured rank and file. Did he see his chief perish bravely at Trujillo? or had he himself gone before and escaped the tragic sight? This chronicler knows not, and history, alas! has forgotten greater men than the poor follower of the half-forgotten filibuster. All honour here to thee, Private Charles Brogan, whom no vision of fame or fortune tempted to serve so loyally and long the ill-starred chieftain of a contraband cause!
The truth is, Walker's attitude towards his officers of high rank was one of studied formality, which the necessities of his position made imperative. Familiarity in his intercourse with such volunteers would have been death to discipline. But towards his humbler followers he showed the kindness and consideration of a friend, and won their respect by sharing their dangers. "I have known him," says Henningsen, "to get up from a sick bed, ride forty miles to fight the Costa Ricans, whipping soundly a force of thrice his numbers, and then, after giving his horse to a wounded soldier, tramp back his forty miles, without, as the boys used to say, 'taking the starch out of his shirt collar.'" The men who did their duty spoke well of him always; but it was, of necessity, the knaves and cowards, mainly, who survived such bloody campaigns, and returned to defame their comrades. Few even of these accused him of selfishness, save in his ambition. For money he cared nothing; and the soldiers of fortune complained of hard fighting and no pillage.
He had a certain grim sense of humour, which finds occasional expression in the pages of his book. Of Guardiola's attempt to fire the hearts of his men by plying them with aguardiente before an engagement, in which they were ignominiously routed, he says: "The empty demijohns which were picked up on the road after the action looked like huge cannon-balls that had missed their mark." There is wisdom as well as humour in his remark, that "the best manner of treating a revolutionary movement in Central America is to treat it as a boil; let it come to a head, and then lance it, letting all the bad matter out at once." The pompous pretence of his native friends and enemies amused the shrewd judge of men, who possessed a happy knack of epitomizing a character in a single phrase, as when he calls the native custom of indiscriminate conscription, "an inveterate habit of catching a man and tying him up with a musket in his hand, to make a soldier of him." Kinney "had acquired that sort of knowledge and experience of human nature to be derived from the exercise of the mule trade." He mentions his enemy Marcy only with a contemptuous allusion to the blunder of that statesman in referring to Nicaragua as a country of South America, and dismisses Mora from his notice with the qualified clemency: "Let us pass Mora in exile, as Ugolino in hell, afar off and with silence."
His sense of the ridiculous was too keen to allow him ever to depart from the rigid simplicity of manner and dress which was in such striking contrast with the gaudy attire and pompous demeanour of his native friends. His uniform consisted of a blue coat, dark pantaloons, and black felt hat with the red ribbon of the Democratic army; his weapons were a sword and pistols buckled in his belt, and these he carried only in battle, where they were rather for use than ornament.
His character is in many respects like that of Cortez. Both were unlicensed conquerors; both were served by volunteers; served well by the faithful and brave, and obeyed through fear by the knavish and cowardly. Bodily fatigue or danger had no terrors for either, nor were they chary of demanding equal courage and endurance from their followers. Cortez triumphed over his enemies in the field; but barely succeeded in defeating the machinations of his foes in the Spanish Cabinet. Had Walker been a Conquistador he would have conquered Mexico as Cortez did. Had Cortez been a Californian filibuster he might have conquered Nicaragua, but he would assuredly have succumbed to Marcy and Vanderbilt.
Unquestionably Walker was carried away by his firm belief in his destiny. He never doubted, until he felt the manacles on his wrists at Trujillo, that he was destined to play the part of a Cortez in Central America. He had risked death a hundred times in battle and skirmish without fear or doubt. Possibly he welcomed it, when at last it came, and was sincere in hoping that it might be for the good of society.
So died, in his thirty-seventh year, the man whose fame had filled two continents, who had more than once imperilled the peace of the world which remembers him only in the distorted and false character of a monster and an outlaw. The country which gave him birth, and little besides, save injustice, forgot amid the bloody conflict into which it was soon plunged, the fame and fate of the filibusters. Into the vortex of civil war were swept many of the restless spirits who had survived the sanguinary fields of Central America, and in it perished some of the bravest and ablest who had learned their first lesson in that stern school.
As most of them were of Southern birth, so they generally joined the ranks of the Confederacy. At the first call to arms, Henningsen offered his services to the seceding states, and was given a regiment in Wise's Legion of Northern Virginia. Frank Anderson went with him as lieutenant-colonel, and did good service for the lost cause. He was one of Walker's oldest veterans, having served in both the expeditions to Nicaragua. At the first battle of Rivas he was wounded three times, and left on the field for dead, but managed to drag himself into hiding before his comrades were all massacred, and so escaped to rejoin his command.
Henningsen served throughout the war; but, in spite of his experience on many fields, and the marked ability with which he filled his subordinate position, he never rose to distinction in the Confederacy. He was a natural leader in irregular warfare, as might have been expected of a pupil in the schools of Zumalacarregui, Schamyl, and Walker; and the scientific campaigning of the Peninsula gave no scope for his talents. But he had espoused the cause with honest convictions of its justice, and he supported it faithfully to the end. When that end and ruin came he returned to private life, a man without a career, and lived quietly and unobtrusively until his death in June, 1877. In his later years he was a devoted adherent of the patriots who were waging a fruitless war for freedom in Cuba. Once he visited the island in connection with a projected uprising, but saw no promise of success in the attempt. His death was sudden. He had been ill but a few days; a faithful friend, Colonel Gregg, a soldier who had fought against him in the Civil War, watched by his bedside. The sick man slept, while the tireless brain dreamed, what dreams who can say? of the chequered career about to close forever. Suddenly his eyes opened, and in them was something of the old fire, as he half sat up in his bed, and pointing to a print on the wall of the arms of "Cuba Libre," said, "Colonel, we'll free Cuba yet!" The ruling passion found voice in his last words—the next instant he fell back dead.
Henningsen was considered to have been the military genius of the Nicaraguan campaign by the detractors of Walker, who could not deny the wonderful success of the latter. But Henningsen himself always repudiated the undeserved fame, and was foremost in awarding to his chieftain whatever of glory was won in that profitless field. He died as he had lived, a true, simple-hearted gentleman, a knight-errant born centuries too late. Colonel John T. Pickett, a kindly philosopher, and one who in his heyday followed a filibuster's luckless banner, has engraved upon the tomb of Henningsen the apt motto from Gil Blas: "Inveni portum. Spes et fortuna valete! Sat me lusistis…. Ludite nunc alios."
The filibusters whom the winds had blown from every quarter of the earth to the sunny vales of Nicaragua were drifted back, when the storm had broken and spent its fury, to the world of peace and prose. A few only of the worthier survive to recall that strange page in life's romance. Rudler, who was with his leader in all his campaigns, and who was sentenced to four years' imprisonment after the surrender in Honduras, returned to share the fortunes of the seceding South, as did also Wheat, Hicks, Fayssoux, Hornsby, and many others. In the vicissitudes of American life a few, like Doubleday and Kewen, even achieved wealth, which is perhaps as strange a climax to the career of a filibuster as any that could be conceived. The two O'Neils were men of invincible courage. Both died in battle, Cal, the younger, at the age of twenty-one, after making a reputation for heroism that was marked even among that valiant group. Reluctantly we part with the wild band, Homeric heroes in more features than one; with Henry and Swingle, the inventive gunners, Von Natzmer, the Prussian hussar, Pineda, the great-hearted native of an unworthy country, Hornsby, Rawle, Watters, and the Fifty-six who were "Immortal" for a day.
That most entertaining cosmopolitan, Laurence Oliphant, came very near adding the distinction of being a filibuster to his other experiences. He did, in fact, join an expedition which set out from New Orleans in December, 1856, for San Juan del Norte, with the intention of reinforcing Walker at Rivas. But the good steamer Texas reached her destination too late, Spencer and his Costa Ricans having closed the Transit. Among the adventurous spirits in the company was one who had taken part in the last ill-fated expedition of Lopez to Cuba, and spent a year and a half in a Spanish dungeon. "The story of his escape from a more serious fate," says Oliphant, "was characteristic of many other stirring narratives of a similar description, with which on moonlight nights we used to beguile the evening hours." He had served as an officer on General Lopez's staff during one of the expeditions to Cuba. When that officer, together with many of the more prominent members of the expedition, after a desperate resistance, was captured by the Spanish troops, my friend, who was one of the number, found himself with many of his countrymen thrown into the Havanna jail, and informed that he was to prepare for his execution on the following day. As an act of grace, however, permission was given to all the captives to indite a farewell letter to their friends, informing them of their approaching execution. Most of his fellow-victims could think of some one belonging to them to whom such a piece of information might prove interesting; but the poor captain racked in vain the chambers of his memory for a solitary individual to whom he could impart the melancholy tidings without feeling that his communication would be what in polite society would be called an 'unwarrantable intrusion of his personal affairs upon a comparative stranger.' He could think of nobody that cared about him; revolving this forlorn state of matters in his mind, ashamed to form the only exception to the general scribbling that was taking place, he determined to choose a friend, and then it flashed upon him, that as all the letters would probably be opened, he had better choose a good one. Under his present circumstances, who more appropriate than the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at Washington, then Daniel Webster? Not only should he make a friend of him, but an intimate friend, and then the Spanish Governor might shoot him if he chose, and take the risk. He accordingly commenced:
"Dan, my dear old boy, how little you thought when we parted at the close of that last agreeable visit of a week, which I paid you the other day, that within a month I should be "cribbed, cabined, and confined" in the infernal hole of a dungeon from which I indite this. I wish you would send the Spanish minister a case of that very old Madeira of yours, which he professes to prefer to the wines of his own country, and tell him the silly scrape I have got myself into, if indeed it be not too late, for they talk of sending me to "the bourne" to-morrow. However, one never can believe a word these rascals say, so I write this in the hope that they are lying as usual,—and am, my dear old school-mate, your affectionate friend, ——.' For once the absence of friends proved a real blessing. Had the captain been occupied by domestic considerations, he never would have invented so valuable an ally as was thus extemporised, and he was rewarded for his shrewd device on the following morning, by finding himself the only solitary individual of all the party allowed to 'stand over.' In a couple of hours Lopez and his companions had gone to the bourne, to which our captain so feelingly alluded; and when, at last, the trick was discovered, the crisis was past, and the Spanish Government finally condemned him to two years' confinement in chains in the dungeon at Ceuta, which was afterwards commuted to eighteen months. He had just returned from this dismal abode in time once more to gratify the adventurous propensities which had already so nearly cost him his life; and it is due to him to say, that even the daring and reckless spirits by whom he was surrounded, agreed in saying that he placed an unusually low estimate on that valuable possession."
There is little to add to the history of filibusterism, which may be ranked among the dead industries or the lost arts, just as one chooses to regard it. Contrary to the predictions of the prophets, the disbandment of a million of men at the end of the American Civil War was effected without trouble. The European Powers breathed more freely when it was accomplished, satisfied that the aggressive "Yankee" was not so grasping as he had been painted. Maximilian of Mexico slept peacefully, and his late unruly subjects renewed their fraternal quarrels, undisturbed by interference from abroad, and finally settled into uninteresting peace and prosperity. Filibusterism died because, in sooth, it had no longer a reason for being. To "extend the area" of an abolished slavery were as paradoxical as Quixotic. Nevertheless, the peculiar institution chanced to prove the cause of yet one final, fallacious, and ghastly episode.
Cuba, once coveted as an ally by the slaveholders of the United States, was now the only spot on the civilized globe afflicted with the barbarous stain. The "ever-faithful isle" was trebly cursed with slavery, foreign rule, and martial law. Like a spendthrift come to his last penny, Spain, having squandered a continent, clung with tenacity to its remaining possession in the Western world. Thrones were set up and knocked down at home, republics were born and strangled, but no change for the better was ever felt in the wretched colony. Rather, it suffered from every change, since each involved a change of masters. Hungry, avaricious masters they were, spurred on by the uncertain tenure of their office, to reap as rich plunder as might be got out of the hapless colony, ere a new turn of the cards at home should force them to make room for other needy patriots. The power of the Captain-General is almost absolute at the best of times. In such times as those it is well-nigh omnipotent. The colony was denied representation in the Cortes, while taxed beyond endurance to support the government, and robbed by an army of officials appointed to rule over her without her consent or choice.
Cuba at last rebelled. The planters who found themselves robbed of the fruits of their industry as fast as they were gathered, and who saw the system of slavery develop into the most intolerable of all wrongs, the wrong unprofitable, at last determined to strike for their liberty. They freed and armed their slaves. They burned their plantations, and in September, 1868, hoisted the lone star flag in the mountains and bade defiance to the Spaniard. The leading insurgents were all men of wealth and influence, while their followers were necessarily ignorant and undisciplined. But success meant freedom to both classes; and they threw themselves into the unequal struggle with sublime desperation. All, or mostly all, of the leaders perished during the long and bloody contest, which ended only after it had lasted eight years, at a cost to Spain of two hundred thousand lives and over seven hundred million dollars. The figures are those of Governor-General Don Joaquin Javellar.
The Junta of Cuban patriots in New York sent out several cargoes of war material, and enlisted many American adventurers; but no regular expedition was at any time organized. Among those who participated in the guerilla conflict were Domingo de Goicouria, once Minister of Hacienda in Nicaragua, and Colonel Jack Allen, also not unknown to filibuster fame.
The culminating tragedy came to pass in October, 1873. On the 23rd of that month, the steamer Virginius, a former blockade-runner, cleared from Kingston, Jamaica, for Port Limon, Costa Rica, with passengers to the number of a hundred or more. Her true destination was the island of Cuba, her mission the transportation of arms and filibusters. Among the passengers were the patriot leaders, Cespedes, Ryan, Varona, and Del Sol. The steamer touched at Port au Prince, received her cargo of arms, ammunition, medicines, and equipments, and made sail for Cuba. She was seen and chased by the Spanish gunboat Tornado, which, by a curious coincidence, was also a former blockade-runner and a sister ship of the Virginius—a favoured sister, since she speedily overhauled and captured her prey.
The Virginius, though flying the American flag on the high seas, was made a prize and carried into the port of Santiago de Cuba. Captain Fry, her commander, an American citizen and former officer in the United States and Confederate navies, protested in vain against the outrage. He was denied communication with his consul, and thrown into prison, with all his passengers and crew. The four insurgent leaders were first tried by summary court martial on board of the Tornado, before General Buriel, Governor of the province, and sentenced to death. The sentence was promptly executed, at sunrise on the 4th of November, five days after the capture, before the walls of the Slaughter House, infamous in the annals of Cuba for over thirty years. It lies in the suburbs, about half a mile from the main wharf and on the edge of a swampy tract, beyond which are the sluggish waters of the bay and the blue, barren mountains, dark, desolate and forbidding. Some squalid huts are scattered along the sides of the road. The vegetation is scanty and the stunted palm trees are few and far between. The four walls of the Slaughter House grounds are each about 400 feet long and twelve or thirteen feet high, built of brick covered with stucco. The front gate is a rather pretentious work with ornamental pillars and strong iron pickets. Between it and the extreme left, as you face the structure, is the place set apart for executions. It bears to-day this inscription, surmounted by the Lone Star and two crossed palm-branches, with, on one side, "1868," and on the other, "1898":
Tu que paseas descubrete; este lugar es tierra con segrada. Durante treinte años benedicida ha sido con sangre de Patriotas immolados por la tirania.
"Thou who passest by, uncover; this spot is consecrated ground. During thirty years it has been hallowed with the blood of Patriots immolated by tyranny."
Ryan and Varona refused to kneel, and were shot as they stood. The heads of the four were cut off and carried on pikes through the city and before the windows of the prison, where their comrades lay awaiting a similar fate. Cespedes was the son of a patriot who had died for Cuba Libre. Varona, a chivalrous commander, had given freedom to fifteen Spanish officers captured in battle, and those fifteen, to their credit be it said, pleaded, though in vain, for clemency to him when he fell into the hands of Buriel. Del Sol was a brave young man with a wife and children. Ryan, Canadian born, was a daring adventurer. He had saved eight persons from drowning, a short time before, and leaped into the sea and saved one more on the day of the ship's departure. Santa Rosa, who was shot with the next batch of victims, had fought beside Lopez in 1851 and was one of the thirteen who raised the banner of revolt in 1868. He was imprisoned but escaped to renew the struggle, and died at last, after twenty years of strenuous endeavor for the freedom of his country, leaving the reputation: "He was very brave and very eccentric; of violent temper, but good-hearted and very devout. He never went into battle without praying for the souls of the Spaniards who might be slain."
The news of the tragedy had been carried to the United States, and the American and English consuls interested themselves to protect the remaining prisoners; but the sham trials went on in spite of their protests. Here in the face of death came out all the manliness, the tenderness, the unselfishness, and the simple piety of the brave Fry. For himself he expected no mercy and asked for none. He made his formal protest against the seizure of his ship on the high seas and the unfair trial by which he and his men had been condemned; but it was for them alone that he besought mercy. To General Buriel, the Spanish Governor, he wrote, saying:
"Running the blockade is considered a risky business among sailors, for which good pay is received. It is notorious that a great number of vessels were employed in it during the American war, and, although captures were numerous, not a single life was lost; the greater part of the prisoners were set at liberty after a short imprisonment. I never heard a word before the night of my sentence, of Cuban law and the proclamation relative to an attempt to introduce arms into Cuba. If, with superior opportunities, I was ignorant that the case could be decided by another law than the international, how complete may have been the ignorance of these poor people! I was continually in the company of people who ought to have known it, and not one alluded to the fact. In a word, I believe it is not known, and that the world will be painfully surprised on learning the sacrifice of these lives.
"The Consul knows well that I am not pleading for my own life. I have not prayed to God for it, nor even to the Blessed Mother. I have neither home nor country—a victim of war and persecution, the avenues to the securing of property being closed to me to such a point that I have not been able to provide bread for my wife and seven children, who know what it is to suffer for the necessaries of life. My life is one of suffering, and I look upon what has happened to me as a benefit of God, and it is not for me, therefore, to ask favors of anyone.
"The engineer, Knight, I know, came contrary to his will. He was bitterly opposed to it, as I learn from the person who obtained him to come.
"Spaniards, the world is not so full of people who prefer honor to life. Save poor Santa Rosa! Poor gentleman, with heart as tender and as compassionate as that of a woman, of irreproachable honor, his business was that of charity. He was devoted to others, and though he was aboard the vessel for the benefit of their health, I believe he will not use this advantage for himself….
"The greater portion of the crew were entrapped by their lodging house keepers, who gained possession of them, and watched the opportunity to put them on board on receiving advances on their wages.
"Spaniards, I believe I am the only one who dies in the entire Christian faith of our holy religion. Consider the souls of these poor people; give them an opportunity to ask mercy of God. I know that you must fulfil your duty, but my blood ought to be sufficient, because innocent and defenceless people will suffer with my fall.
"May these considerations have influence with the authorities to whom I beg to appeal! These poor people had no knowledge of what you think their crime. Pardon me if I say that I don't believe their deaths would have on the fate of Cuba the good effect the law foresees—our civilization is so opposed to such proceeding. I don't say this in tone of complaint, but we are accustomed to at least identify victims when we are going to sacrifice.
"According to my view, there should have been some intervention. Our Government, by its influence, should have been pronounced, and perhaps in that way their lives might have been saved without compromising the dignity of Spain.
"Señores, farewell. I know that the members of the council who condemn me accomplish a painful duty. Let them remember us in their prayers to God, and ask their wives and children to do the same for us. Respectfully,
"Written on board the Tornado, Nov. 7, 1873."
At six o'clock on the morning of November 7, Captain Fry and thirty-six of his crew and twelve passengers were brutally butchered in the presence of a ferocious mob, who mangled the senseless remains.
There still survived ninety-three unfortunates. By this time the telegraph had spread the terrible news throughout the world, and awakened a tempest of indignation everywhere save in Havanna and Madrid. Even in Spain, at the time enjoying a government nominally republican, there was some surprise at the horrible tragedy, and Señor Castelar, his humanity spurred up by a peremptory despatch from the English Foreign Office, was moved to beseech of his lieutenant to be a little less hasty in his action. The appeal was unheeded, and all of the hapless victims were condemned to immediate execution. But General Buriel had made an epicure's mistake in prolonging his feast.
There was no American vessel of war in the neighbourhood of Santiago de Cuba, but, what was more to the purpose, as far as the fate of the prisoners was concerned, there was the inevitable British man-of-war within a day's sail. The sloop Niobe lay in the harbour of Kingston, with half of her crew on shore liberty, when the news of the massacre reached her commander, Sir Lambton Loraine. He sailed at once for Santiago. An English captain does not need instructions in such an emergency. He has standing orders and can trust to his nation for support of his acts. "I am an English subject," said Thompson, a sailor of the Virginius, "and they won't dare lay hands on me." He knew his countrymen, but he mistook the Spaniard.
He and fifteen compatriots were among the murdered fifty-three.
Then did the hearts of other British subjects and American citizens fail them as they awaited their doom. The Americans had long abandoned hope. The English were giving way to despair, when a glad sight met their eyes. It was the Niobe entering the harbour, with the cross of St. George flying at her peak. She did not stop to salute the fort, but gracefully rounded to, a few cables' lengths from the Tornado and her prize, with port-holes open and her crew at quarters. Ere her anchor fell, the captain's gig was in the water, and soon its oars were flashing spray as it sped shoreward. In the stern sheets sat the young commander.
His veto of the massacres was delivered not a moment too soon. Buriel demurred, questioning the Englishman's right to interfere. Loraine insisted on the right, claiming that there were British subjects among the prisoners. To the Spaniard's denial of that fact, he answered that he would take upon himself, then, the responsibility of protecting American citizens, in the absence of their own defenders. The delicate points of this officious interference, Señor Buriel might have debated, long and ingeniously, with a different kind of adversary. But the English sailor was no casuist. His arguments were brutally direct. "Stop the murders, or I bombard your town," they said in so many words. Indeed, he was a very rash and impulsive young man. Under a free government he would have been cashiered, without benefit of clergy. Only a few months before, so the rumour went, he had fired hot shot and shell into the town of Omoa, Honduras; and there was no guessing what he might not be tempted to do with Santiago, upon such very strong provocation. Extreme measures were averted, however, by Buriel's consenting to reprieve his prisoners.
Then arose the question of reparation. Minister Sickles at Madrid took high and dignified ground, insisting upon the fullest apology for the insult offered to his country's flag, and indemnity to the families of the murdered men. Castelar assented to a treaty covering every demand of Mr. Sickles, and was about to sign it formally, when he received advices from Washington which made him retract his concession, and made General Sickles telegraph his resignation. It appeared that the Spanish minister at Washington had proved himself a skilful diplomat by negotiating with the American Secretary of State a protocol, the terms of which were as extraordinary as the secret manner in which they were drawn up.
By this arrangement, which settled the question for ever, the United States waived its demands for a salute to the insulted flag, accepting a formal apology instead, waived the question of indemnity, and did not press for the punishment of the guilty officials of Santiago. What the Government did demand and obtain, it would be hard to say. The only visible reparation was the conditional surrender of the captured vessel, for trial before an American court of admiralty. Should it transpire that she had been in lawful possession of her American register, then she was to be given to her owners; if otherwise, she was to be restored to her captors. Strangely enough, there was no provision made in the latter contingency for the rendition and punishment of the survivors. All possible dispute on that point was happily averted by the inscrutable catastrophe which befell the luckless craft. She foundered, opportunely, in a gale off Cape Fear on her voyage to the United States, to the great relief of two governments.
There was much indignation in the United States over the awful tragedy and accompanying insult to the national flag. A vast amount of money was expended on the navy, and certain commanders were ordered to review their forces and manœuvre their squadrons almost in sight of the Cuban shores. Warlike talk was in the air; but the sober second thought of the people was averse to a war in defence of the insulted banner, when it had been used to shelter adventurers in an illegal undertaking. The American is slow to be angered, and has none of the Englishman's sentimental reverence for bunting, unless it covers a clearly just cause. Sir Lambton was speedily promoted by his Government. Somebody in the American Congress proposed a resolution of thanks to him also, but it was promptly tabled, with a perception of the fitness of things hardly to have been expected in that sagacious body. More fitting and spontaneous was the gift sent to him by the miners of far Nevada, a fourteen-pound silver brick, emblematic of the highest expression of eulogy.
The Virginius tragedy, and the indifference with which it was beheld by the American Government, were sufficient warnings, had any been needed, to the Filibuster, that his day was past. In unmistakable language he was told that his country's flag should not and would not shield him in the violation of international law. Theoretically the execution of the Virginius adventurers was as much of an outrage on the dignity of the United States as if it had occurred on American soil. Practically, the delicate points of flag and register and high-seas neutrality were dismissed from consideration, and the evidently hostile mission of the vessel was held to excuse the severe punishment meted out to her passengers. Whether or not the lesson may be heeded when the example shall have grown old, it is plain that for the present at least, the race of filibusters is extinct. Although the Cuban insurrection broke out again five years later and several cargoes of war munitions were landed on the island during the months preceding the American invasion, there were no filibustering expeditions on a large scale from the United States or any other country.
The nearest approach to genuine filibusterism in recent years was the raid of Dr. Jameson and some eight hundred adventurers on the Transvaal, on New Year's Day, 1896. It was badly planned and conducted without any show of skill or courage. The raiders were entrapped and surrendered almost without firing a shot. The Boer authorities, with more magnanimity than wisdom, pardoned the demoralized rank and file, permitted the civilian leaders to go free after a brief imprisonment and the exaction of a fine, and delivered "Dr. Jim" and his military associates over to the English for trial. They were found guilty and subjected to a nominal imprisonment of a few months, as "first-class misdemeanants." Four years later the English forces were in the Boer capital and Dr. Jameson as a member of the Cape Colony parliament, was passing judgment on the Dutch burghers as "rebels" against the British Empire! The career of the Filibuster is no longer open to private individuals. The great powers have monopolized the business, conducting it as such and stripping it of its last poor remnant of romance, without investing it with a scrap of improved morality.
The Filibusters were a virile race, with virtues and vices of generous growth. They played no mean part on the world's stage, albeit a part often wayward and mistaken. They were American dreamers. Had they been Greeks or Norsemen, or free to roam the world in the days of Cortez, Balboa, and Pizarro, victors like them, History would have dealt more kindly by them. As it is, spite of faults and failures, they do not deserve the harshest of all fates, oblivion.
A Romance of the Iowa Wheat Fields.
THE ROAD TO RIDGEBY'S.
By FRANK BURLINGAME HARRIS.
12mo., cloth, decorative. $1.50
A simple but powerful story of farm life in the great West, which cannot fail to make a lasting impression on every reader. In this book Mr. Harris has done for the wheat fields what Mr. Westcott has done for rural New York and Mr. Bacheller for the North country. It is in no way imitative of David Harum or Eben Holden; and, unlike each of these books, it is not in the portrayal of a single quaint character that its power consists. Mr. Harris has taken for his story a typical Iowa farmer's family and their neighbours; and, although every one of the characters is realistically portrayed, the sense of proportion is never lost sight of, and the result is a picture of real life, artistic in the highest sense, as being true to nature. It is a wholesome story, full of the real heroism of homely life, a book to make the reader better by strengthening his belief in the truth of self-sacrifice and the survival of sturdy American character.
MONONIA. A Love Story of '48,
By JUSTIN McCARTHY, M.P.,
Author of A History of Our Own Times, Dear Lady Disdain, etc.
12mo, green cloth and gold. $1.50
Mr. McCarthy has written several successful novels; but none, perhaps, will have greater interest for his American readers than this volume, in which he writes reminiscently of the Ireland of his youth and the stirring events which marked that period.
It is pre-eminently an old-fashioned novel, befitting the times which it describes, and written with the delicate touch of sentiment characteristic of Mr. McCarthy's fiction. The book takes its name from the heroine, a charming type of the gentle-born Irishwoman. In the development of the romance, the attempts for Ireland's freedom, and the dire failures that culminated at Ballingary are told in a manner which will give an intimate insight into the history of the Young Ireland movement. If the book cannot be considered autobiographical, the reader will not forget that the author was contemporary with the events described, and will have little difficulty in perceiving that many of the principal characters are strongly suggestive of the Irish leaders of that day, which gives the book scarcely less value than an avowed autobiography.
For sale by all booksellers, or sent, postpaid, by the publishers on receipt of price.
Small, Maynard & Company,
COPLEY SQ., BOSTON
Two Notable Novels by Emma Rayner.
VISITING THE SIN
A Tale of Mountain Life in Kentucky and Tennessee.
12mo, cloth, with cover designed by T. W. Ball. 448 pages.
The struggle between the heroine's love and her determination to visit the sin upon the son of the supposed murderer of her father forms the basis of the story. All of the characters are vividly drawn, and the action of the story is wonderfully dramatic and lifelike. The period is about 1875.
"A powerful, well-sustained story, the interest in which does not flag from the first chapter to the last."—Philadelphia North American.
"Unusually powerful. The dramatic plot is intricate, but not obscure."—The Congregationalist.
"A graphic and readable piece of fiction, which will stand with the best of its time concerning humble American characters."—Providence Journal.
"Far ahead of most of these latter-day Southern novels."—Southern Star.
"The people in the story are persistently real."—Christian Advocate.
FREE TO SERVE
A Tale of Colonial New York.
12mo, cloth, with a cover designed by Maxfield Parrish.
434 pages. $1.50
"One of the very best stories of the Colonial period yet written."—Philadelphia Bulletin.
"We have here a thorough-going romance of American life in the first days of the eighteenth century. It is a story written for the story's sake, and right well written, too. Indians, Dutch, Frenchmen, Puritans, all play a part. The scenes are vivid, the incidents novel and many."—The Independent.
"The writing is cleverly done, and the old-fashioned atmosphere of old Knickerbocker days is reproduced with such a touch of verity as to seem an actual chronicle recorded by one who lived in those days."—Saturday Evening Post, Philadelphia.
"The supreme test of a long book is the reading of it, and when one reaches the end of Free to Serve, he acknowledges freely that it is the best book that he has taken up for a long time."—Boston Herald.
For sale by all booksellers, or sent, postpaid, by the publishers on receipt of price.
Small, Maynard & Company,
COPLEY SQ., BOSTON
Two Remarkable Volumes of Stories.
And Other Strange Tales of the Filipinos.
By SARGENT KAYME.
With cover design by William Mather Crocker.
12mo., cloth. $1.25
The sub-title to this volume gives a suggestion of the nature of the stories of which it is composed, but no title can give an adequate idea of their wonderful variety and charm. It is hardly exaggeration to say that Mr. Kayme's treatment of the life of the Filipinos opens to our literature a new field, almost as fresh and as original as did Mr. Kipling's Indian Stories when they first appeared. Like Mr. Kipling, he shows his perfect familiarity with the country and people he describes; and he knows how to tell a good story straight away and simply without any sacrifice of dramatic effect or power.
The curious title to the volume furnishes the motive for some of the most striking of the stories. Anting-Anting is a Filipino word, used to denote anything worn as an amulet, with a supposed power to protect the life of the wearer. Often a thing of no intrinsic value, the belief in its efficacy is yet so real that its owner often braves death with a confidence so sublime as to command admiration, if not respect.
WHEN EVE WAS NOT CREATED,
And Other Stories.
By HERVEY WHITE, author of Differences and Quicksand
12mo., cloth, with a cover design by Marion L. Peabody.
Remarkable stories of a type and style of subjective symbolism altogether new to American literature. In the title story Svend, as a type expressive of the suppression of the artistic sense in love, where, the eye being satisfied with the object, the heart, the soul, the mind of the man, yet goes hungry and unsatisfied, will fix himself in the reader's mind as one of the strongest characters of fiction. The other stories are scarcely less noteworthy, and the book as a whole will add greatly to the author's already high reputation as a writer.
For sale by all booksellers, or sent, postpaid, by the publishers on receipt of price.
Small, Maynard & Company,
COPLEY SQ., BOSTON
A Remarkable Study of Social Life in America.
By HERVEY WHITE.
12mo, cloth, decorative, 320 pages. $1.50
"It is treating the poor as a class and employing any method of handling them that I object to…. Why can't they be treated as individuals, the same as other people? What would the rich think of my impertinence if I went about the world treating them in a peculiar manner,—as if they were not real people, at all, but only 'the rich,' in my knowledge?"—Hester Carr, in Differences.
"Differences is an extraordinary book…. The labor question is its primary concern, and the caste barrier which modern conditions have erected between the man who works and the man who merely lives. This is no new theme, yet Differences is new, and its place in thoughtful literature awaits it. The only argument presented by Mr. White is contained in the picture he spreads before us. It is real, and set out with bold, firm strokes, and there is no attempt to be merely artistic. Genevieve Radcliffe, the rich society girl, who goes to work charity with the poor, and John Wade, the workman, whose situation involves all the tragedy of metropolitan poverty, are human, if they be not typical. They embody the 'differences,' and, if they do not point the way to equality, it is because American civilization is not yet ripe for them. Withal, the book is not a tract. It is worth a thousand such. Informed throughout with a tender simplicity, a sense of the beauty of common things, and a sincerity that brooks no question, it carries equal appeal to the student of economics and to the lover of human feeling."—Philadelphia North American.
"There is no end of philosophy in books about the poor and how to reach them and send rays of sunshine into their world; but few books get at the real 'Differences' that exist between the wealthy classes and the poor as does Mr. Hervey White…. Differences is vitally interesting, both as a story and as a moral lesson…. It is written with wholesome enthusiasm and an intelligent survey of real facts."—Boston Herald.
"The method employed by Mr. Hervey White in Differences is not like that of any author I have ever read in the English language. It resembles strongly the work of the best Russian novelists, it seems to me, and particularly that of Dostoievsky, and yet it is in no sense an imitation of those writers; it is apparently like them merely because the author's motives and ways of thought and observation are like them…. I have never before read any such treatment in the English language of the life and thought of laboring people."—Joseph Edgar Chamberlin, in Boston Transcript.
For sale by all booksellers, or sent, postpaid, by the publishers on receipt of price.
Small, Maynard & Company,
COPLEY SQ., BOSTON
A Powerful Realistic Novel of American Life.
By HERVEY WHITE.
12mo, cloth, decorative, 328 pages. $1.50
Quicksand is a strong argument against a certain condition which the author believes exists too generally in American society, and is, in effect, an appeal for the freedom of the individual in family life. It is a powerful tragedy, developing very naturally out of the effects of the interference of parents in the lives of their children, and of brothers and sisters in the affairs of each other. It becomes therefore, not only the story of an individual, but the life history of an entire family, the members of which are portrayed with astonishing vividness and realism. The hero of the book also illustrates, in his sufferings and failures, the unfortunate effects of a too narrow orthodoxy in religion, coupled with his family's interference with his growth out of this environment. Offsetting the tragedy of the story is "Hiram," the "hired man" of the family in its earlier New England days, in whom, particularly, the reader's interest will centre. Patient, kindly, faithful, and uncomplaining, he is indeed the real "hero" of the tale, the only one free from the unfortunate environments of the other characters, yet forced indirectly to suffer also because of them. It is the every-day life of the every-day family that is drawn; and this fact, together with the boldness and fidelity of the drawing, gives the story its power and impressiveness.
"Hervey White is the most forceful writer who has appeared in America for a long generation."—Chicago Evening Post.
"We cannot remember another book in which lives, thoughts, emotions, souls, and principles of action have been analyzed with such convincing power. Mr. Hervey White has great literary skill. He has here made his mark, and he has come to stay…. He is the American George Gissing, and as such some day he will have to be taken into account."—Boston Herald.
"It should insure Mr. White a permanent place in the critical regard of his fellow-countrymen…. Few characters as strong as that of Elizabeth Hinckley have ever been drawn by an American author, and she will remain in the mind of the most assiduous novel reader, secure of a place far above that held by most of the puny creations of the day."—Chicago Tribune.
"It is wrought of enduring qualities. Few novels are so sustained on an elevated plane of interest."—Philadelphia Item.
"It is a novel that takes hold of one, and is not the sort of book that, once begun, can be laid down without being finished."—Indianapolis News.
For sale by all booksellers, or sent, postpaid, by the publishers on receipt of price.
Small, Maynard & Company,
COPLEY SQ., BOSTON
|& ITS WORK|
By MAX BENNETT THRASHER
With an Introduction by BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
12mo, cloth, decorative, 248 pages, 50 Illustrations, $1.00
THE TUSKEGEE NORMAL AND INDUSTRIAL INSTITUTE, at Tuskegee, Alabama, is one of the most uniquely interesting institutions in America. Begun, twenty years ago, in two abandoned, tumble-down houses, with thirty untaught Negro men and women for its first students, it has become one of the famous schools of the country, with more than a thousand students each year. Students and teachers are all of the Negro race. The Principal of the school, Mr. Booker T. Washington, is the best-known man of his race in the world to-day.
In "Tuskegee: Its Story and its Work," the story of the school is told in a very interesting way. He has shown how Mr. Washington's early life was a preparation for his work. He has given a history of the Institute from its foundation, explained the practical methods by which it gives industrial training, and then he has gone on to show some of the results which the institution has accomplished. The human element is carried through the whole so thoroughly that one reads the book for entertainment as well as for instruction.
"All who are interested in the proper solution of the problem in the South should feel deeply grateful to Mr. Thrasher for the task which he has undertaken and performed so well."—Booker T. Washington.
"Should be carefully and thoughtfully read by every friend of the colored race in the North as well as in the South."—New York Times.
"The book is of the utmost value to all those who desire and hope for the development of the Negro race in America."—Louisville Courier-Journal.
"Almost every question one could raise in regard to the school and its work, from Who was Booker Washington? to What do people whose opinion is worth having think of Tuskegee? is answered in this book."—New Bedford Standard.
For sale at all Bookstores, or sent, postpaid, on receipt of price, by the publishers,
Small, Maynard & Company, Boston.
Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.
Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have been retained as printed.
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