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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."

"I swear."

"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.




CHAPTER XII

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.




CHAPTER XIII

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.


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