The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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and his command, beleaguered by the troops of Guatemala. It may not be uninteresting to record here the true facts in relation to this expedition in which so many of our countrymen took part, and where so many and valuable and enterprising lives were sacrificed. The character and the objects of this expedition have never been understood or fairly stated. Now, when more than a quarter of a century has passed, and prejudice and passion subsided, the truth should appear. When I arrived in Nicaragua, I found the republic convulsed in civil war. War is the normal condition of Central America. The two parties, the Democratic, headed by General Castellon, and the Legitimists, by General Chamora, waged a fierce and bloody internecine contest. The Democratic party sent agents to California for men and arms. These engaged the services of General Walker and others, who became enlisted in their service, and Walker was placed in command of a regiment, and became a naturalized citizen of Nicaragua. He soon, by his energy and activity, trained the ragged, barefooted and half-naked natives to become disciplined troops, and as such led them to victory. He soon took the towns of San Juan del Sur, Virgin Bay, and the cities of Rivas and Grenada, the latter the capital and a city of 10,000 inhabitants. I witnessed this battle, which was of short duration, and which completed the conquest of the republic. The President of Nicaragua fled, and after a short interim, Walker was elected President. Americans from New York, New Orleans and California, and almost every State of the Union, flocked to "this El Dorado." Peace and prosperity for the time smiled on this beautiful country.

        From the natural fondness of these people for war and revolution, the other republics of Central America (as Costa Rica and Guatemala) proclaimed hostility, and determined to drive the Americans from the country. They alone could not have effected this, but our Government, under lead of Governor Marcy and others, denounced Walker, although President Pierce received Padre Vijil as the Envoy and Minister Plenipotentiary of Walker's government, and authorized Captain Davis, of the United States Navy, to take Walker and bring him to the United States; which was done. But soon Walker again returned to Central America, when, under orders, he was again seized by Commodore Paulding and brought to the United States. This act was pronounced by the President "a grave error," and severely denounced in Congress, and very generally by the press of the country as unjust and unconstitutional.

        Walker again embarked for Central America, and landed with a few troops in Honduras, where, after some bloody and successful skirmishing with the Honduras troops, he encamped near Truxillo. While here a superior force, dispatched by Captain Salmon, of the British man-of-war "Icarus," under command of Alvarez, of the Honduras army, demanded of Walker his surrender. Walker then surrendered to the British officer, who delivered him to the Honduras authorities. The next day [12th September, 1860] he was shot. His fate was melancholy and undeserved. Doubtless Walker had faults, but he supplanted a government of ignorance, superstition, indolence, imbecility, and treachery. Had he succeeded, he would have rivaled the fame of Houston, and added to the area of human liberty and enjoyment. Compare the present condition of Texas and California now with what it was under the rule of Mexico. There is a destiny in the affairs of nations, as well as of men.

        Captain Tayloe, after the failure of Walker, was ordered to conduct his command through a trackless and almost inaccessible route, from Rivas to Point Arenas, during which march they suffered every privation that famine, disease,
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