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Her Majesty the King, A Romance of the Harem,
The V-A-S-E, and Other Bric-A-Brac

[Illustration: Wm. Walker]


The Story of the Filibusters



Small, Maynard & Company

Copyright, 1891, 1901,
James Jeffrey Roche

Riggs Printing and Publishing Co.
Albany, U.S.A.

"_So much the leaded dice of war
Do make or mar of character._"


[Illustration: MAP OF THE REPUBLIC OF NICARAGUA 1850-1860]

[Illustration: SKETCH MAP OF CENTRAL AMERICA at the time of the


_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

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

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