September 14, 2012 - San Jacinto Day in Nicaragua

Tomorrow Nicaragua and four other Central American nations will celebrate their independence. But unlike Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, and El Salvador, Nicaraguans will start celebrating today!

And that's because another patriotic victory occurred on September 14, 1856, coincidentally the day before Independence Day.

At the time, there was a struggle for power between two groups of Nicaraguans, and the fighting was threatening the existence of the country. One faction invited a mercenary army to get involved—which means they brought in soldiers from foreign lands who were not fighting for home and family, but instead for money. This particular mercenary army was mostly made up of men from the United States! The leader of the mercenaries was an American man named William Walker, who declared himself president of Nicaragua in 1855.

Apparently, Walker wanted to either rule over Nicaragua and other Central American nations in order to get them accepted as slave-owning states in the U.S.—or, if that didn't work out, he wanted to keep on ruling over the land himself. Either way, Walker is considered a filibuster. This isn't the filibuster that is a llllooooooonnnnnnnggggg speech made in Congress in order to stall a bill or to block it from being voted on. The William Walker kind of filibuster is a buccaneer, freebooter, or adventurer who takes private military action in a foreign country. In other words, America wasn't attacking Nicaragua, but an American sure was!

A small group of Nicaraguans was in charge of slowing down Walker and his men—even though the mercenary army was larger and had much newer, better weapons. Things seemed grim for the Nicaraguans, especially when their guns jammed, but they fought bravely on, even throwing rocks at the enemy when their guns wouldn't work. When things looked especially bad, one of the Nicaraguans released some horses from an enclosure. Hearing the sound of galloping horses, the mercenaries thought that cavalry reinforcements had arrived to fight against them—and the mercenaries ran away, scared for their lives.

Today the Nicaraguans celebrate this unlikely victory of a small, badly equipped army against a larger, richer army. Happy San Jacinto Day!

To learn more about William Walker, check out this earlier post. And to learn more about Nicaragua, check out this and this other earlier post. 

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