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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

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

"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 manoeuvre 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."[2]

[2] "The Filibuster War in Nicaragua."

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

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

"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

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Online LibraryJames Jeffrey RocheBy-Ways of War → online text (page 14 of 17)