William Walker dies

William Walker
William Walker

William Walker the filibuster reached his zenith in 1856-57, when he was president of Nicaragua. My colleague The Richmonder has covered his career extensively. It came to an end in Honduras on Sept. 12, 1860, and the reports of his death shifted from rumor to certainty in the ensuing weeks.

On September 11, 1860, the New York Times reported on Walker’s Honduras expedition:

The intelligence from Truxillo, which we publish this morning, indicates that we were right in our conjecture that the expedition of the fillibuster WALKER was doomed to come to a sudden termination. By way of Havana we learn that the Commander of the British man-of-war, reported as having been there, made a demand upon WALKER for the surrender of the place, which he complied with. He evacuated the city on the 1st inst., and proceeded down the coast, harassed on the way continually by the Hondurians, under GUARDIOLA. WALKER is represented to have been severely wounded in the face, and to have lost a large proportion of his men.

On September 17, the Times ran an editorial reporting that Walker would likely be shot.

The steamship Empire City arrived at this port yesterday from Havana, and brings particulars of the capture of Gen. WALKER in Honduras, already briefly announced by telegraph. It was believed that the authorities of Truxillo, to whom WALKER had been handed over by the Captain of the British man-of-war Icarus, would shoot him and his chief officer RUTTLER. The rest of the men would be allowed to return to the United States, and the expenses of the journey were to be defrayed by the American commercial agent.

Walker was shot in Honduras on September 12, 1860. Republican newspapers had little good to say about him. The Oskaloosa (KS) Independent reported on Walker’s death on September 26:

The Telegraph to Leavenworth announces on reliable authority that Gen. William Walker, the great American filibuster, and his aid-de-camp, Rudler, have been shot by the Honduras authorities. Thus has another outlaw, whose career for several years passed has been red with human blood, met a merited, though fearful and summary retribution. A thirst for conquest, and a desire to resume the dictatorship of some people, he cared but little who, has prompted him to the sacrifice of many an ill-fated follower, and to commitment of murderous deeds of blood. He cared not a farthing for the sacrifice of human life, as compared with the accomplishment of his selfish and mercenary purposes; but a fearful destiny, which has long awaited him, has at last ended his cruel and murderous career.

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