Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan/Chapter 23

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In the morning, to our surprise, we found several shops open, and people in the street, who had been concealed somewhere in the neighbourhood, and returned as soon as they knew of Morazan's entry. The alcalde reappeared, and our guide was found, but he would not go with us, and told the alcalde that he might kill him on the spot; that he would rather die there than by the hands of the Cachurecos.

While I was taking chocolate, General Morazan called upon me. Our conversation was longer and more general I did not ask him his plans or purposes, but neither he nor his officers exhibited despondency. Once reference was made to the occupation of Santa Anna by General Cascara, and with a spirit that reminded me of Claverhouse in "Old Mortality," he said, "We shall visit that gentleman soon." He spoke without malice or bitterness of the leaders of the Central party, and of Carrera as an ignorant and lawless Indian, from whom the party that was now using him would one day be glad to be protected. He referred, with a smile, to a charge current among the Cachurecos of an effort made by him to have Carrera assassinated, of which a great parade had been made, with details of time and place, and which was generally believed. He had supposed the whole story a fabrication; but accidentally, in retreating from Guatimala, he found himself in the very house where the attempt was said to have been made; and the man of the house told him that Carrera, having offered outrage to a member of his family, he himself had stabbed him, as was supposed mortally; and in order to account for his wounds, and turn away inquiries from the cause, it was fastened upon Morazan, and so flew all through the country. One of his officers accompanied the story with details of the outrage; and I felt very sure that, if Carrera ever fell into his hands, he would shoot him on the spot.

With the opinion that he entertained of Carrera and his soldiers, he of course considered it unsafe for us to go on to Guatimala. But I was exceedingly anxious to set out; and the flush of excitement over, as the captain's trunks had gone on, he was equally so. Carrera might arrive at any moment, in which case we might again change owners, or, at all events, be the witnesses of a sanguinary battle, for Morazan would defend the frontier town of his own State to the death.

I told General Morazan my wish and purpose, and the difficulty of procuring a guide. He said that an escort of soldiers would expose us to certain danger; even a single soldier, without his musket and cartridge-box (these being the only distinguishing marks of a soldier), might be recognised; but he would send for the alcalde, and procure us some trusty person from the town. I bade him farewell with an interest greater than I had felt for any man in the country. Little did we then know the calamities that were still in store for him; that very night most of his soldiers deserted, having been kept together only by the danger to which they were exposed while in an enemy's country. With the rest he marched to Zonzonate, seized a vessel at the port, manning her with his own men, and sent her to Libertad, the port of San Salvador. He then marched to the capital, where the people, who had for years idolized him in power, turned their backs upon him in misfortune, and received him with open insults in the streets. With many of his officers, who were too deeply compromised to remain, he embarked for Chili. Suffering from confinement on board a small vessel, he stopped in Costa Rica, and asked permission for some of them to land. He did not ask it for himself, for he knew it would be refused. Leaving some of them behind, he went on to join his family in Chili. Amid the fierceness of party spirit it was impossible for a stranger to form a true estimate of the character of a public man. The great outcry against General Morazan was hostility to the church, and forced loans. For his hostility to the church there is the justification, that it is at this day a pall upon the spirit of free institutions, degrading and debasing instead of elevating the Christian character; and for forced loans constant wars may plead. His worst enemies admit that he was exemplary in his private relations, and, what they consider no small praise, that he was not sanguinary. He is now fallen and in exile, probably for ever, under sentence of death if he returns; all the truckling worshippers of a rising sun are blasting his name and memory; but I verily believe—and I know I shall bring down upon me the indignation of the whole Central party by the assertion—I verily believe they have driven from their shores the best man in Central America.[1]

The population of the town was devoted to General Morazan, and an old man brought to us his son, a young man about twenty-two, as a guide; but when he learned that we wanted him to go with us all the way to Rio Paz, he left us, as he said, to procure a horse. We waited nearly an hour, when the old man reappeared with a little boy about ten years old, dressed in a straw hat and shirt, and mounted on a bare-backed horse. The young man had disappeared, and could not be found; in fact, he was afraid to go, and it was thought this little boy would run less risk. I was never much disturbed by general reports of robbers or assassins, but there was palpable danger in meeting any of the routed troops. Desperate by defeat, and assassin-like in disposition; not very amiable to us before; and now, from having seen us lounging about the town at that inauspicious moment, likely to connect us with the movements of Morazan, I believed that if we fell in with them we should be murdered. But, on the other hand, they had not let the grass grow under their feet; had probably been flying all night, in apprehension of pursuit; shunning the main road, had perhaps crossed the Rio Paz, and, once in Guatimala, had dispersed to their own villages; besides which, the rout had been so total that they were probably escaping three or four together, and would be as likely to run from us as we from them. At all events, it was better to go than wait till Carrera came upon the town.

With these calculations and really uncomfortable feelings, we bade farewell to some of the officers who were waiting to see us off, and at nine o'clock set out. Descending from the table-land on which the town is built, we entered an open plain, over which we could see to a great distance, and which would furnish, if necessary, a good field for the evolutions of our cavalry. We passed the Lake of Aguachapa, the beauty of which, under other circumstances, would have attracted our admiration; and as our little guide seemed at fault, we stopped at a hut to inquire the road. The people were afraid to answer any questions. Figoroa's soldiers and Morazan's had passed by, but they did not know it; they could not tell whether any fugitive soldiers had passed, and only knew the road to the Rio Paz. It was easy to see that they thought of nothing else; but they said they were poor people, and at work all the time, and did not know what was going on. In half an hour we met three Indians, with loads of pottery on their backs. The poor fellows pulled off their hats, and trembled when we inquired if there were any routed soldiers on before. It occurred to us that this inquiry would expose us to the suspicion of being officers of Morazan in pursuit, and that if we met any one, we had better ask no questions. Beyond this there were many roads, all of which, the boy said, led to the Rio Paz: but he had never been there before, and did not know the right one. We followed one which took us into the woods, and soon commenced descending. The road was broken, stony, and very steep; we descended rapidly, and soon it was manifest no horses had passed on this road for a long time before. Trees lay across it so low that we dismounted, and were obliged to slip our high-peaked saddles to pass under them. It was evidently an old cattle-path, now disused even by cattle. We descended some distance farther, and I proposed to return. My only ailment was, that it was safer; we knew we were wrong, and might get down so low that our physical strength would not carry us back. The captain said that I had chosen this path; if we had followed his advice, we should have been safe, and now that it was impossible to return. We had an angry quarrel, and, fortunately, in consideration of my having led into the difficulty, I gave way, and very soon we were cheered by hearing below us the rushing of the river. After a most difficult descent, we reached the bank; but here there was no fording-place, and no path on the opposite side.

The river itself was beautiful. The side which we had descended was a high and almost perpendicular mountain, and on both sides trees spread their branches over the water. It was called the River of Peace, but was now the dividing-line of deadly war, the boundary between Guatimala and San Salvador. The inhabitants of the opposite side were in an enemy's country, and the routed troops, both of Morazan and Figoroa, had fled to it for refuge. Riding some distance up the stream, we worked our way across, and on the opposite side found a guacal, or drinking-shell, which had probably been left there by some flying soldier. We drank from it, as if it had been intended for our use, and left it on the bank for the benefit of the next comer.

We were now in the State of Guatimala, on the banks of a wild river, without any visible path; and our situation was rather more precarious than before, for here the routed soldiers would consider themselves safe, and probably many, after a day and night of toil and fighting, would lie down to rest. We were fortunate in regard to a path; for, riding a short distance through the woods, along the bank of the river, we struck one which turned off to the left, and terminated in the camino real, leading from the regular fording-place. Here we dismissed our little guide, and set out on the main road. The face of the country was entirely changed, broken and stony, and we saw no one till we reached the hacienda of Palmita. This, too, seemed desolate. We entered the yard, and did not see a single person till we pushed open the door of the house. The proprietor was an old gentleman, opposed to Morazan, who sat in the sala with his wife's saddle and his own, and two bundles of bed and bedding packed up on the floor, ready for a start. He seemed to feel that it was too late, and with an air of submission answered our questions, and then asked us how many men we had with us. It was amusing that, while half frightened to death ourselves, we carried terror wherever we went. We relieved him by inquiring about Don Saturnino and our luggage, remounted, and rode on. In an hour we reached the hacienda del Cacao, where Don Saturnino was to sleep. Owing to the position of the ground, we came suddenly upon the front of the house, and saw under the piazza three Cachureco soldiers, eating tortillas. They saw us at the same moment, snatched up their muskets, and ran; but suddenly one stopped, and levelled at us a blunderbuss. The barrel looked as big as a church door, and seemed to cover both the captain and me. We were in awful danger of being shot by mistake, when one of them rushed back, knocked up the blunderbuss, and, crying out, "Amigos, los Ingleses!" gave us a chance to reach them. This amiable and sensible young Cachureco vagabond was one of those who had paid us a visit to beg a breakfast and a medio. Probably there never was a sixpence put out at better interest. He had seen us intimate with Figoroa, and, taught by his betters to believe that General Morazan was a cut-throat and murderer, and not conceiving that we could be safe with him, considered us sharers of the same danger, and inquired how we had escaped. As it turned out, we were extremely happy to meet with these; another party might have received us very differently; and they relieved us in an important point, for they told us that most of the routed soldiers had fled on the Santa Anna road. Don Satumino had passed the night at this hacienda, and set out very early in the morning. The soldiers returned to finish their meal, and, giving their thanks in payment, set out again with us. They had a good horse which they had stolen on the road, and which they said paid them very well for the expedition, and rode by turns bare-backed. Passing El Cacao, their appearance created a sensation, for they brought the first intelligence of the rout of Figoroa. This was ominous news, for all had considered Morazan completely crushed by his defeat at Guatimala. In his retreat, he had avoided the villages, and they did not know that he had escaped with so strong a force. We endeavoured to procure a guide, but not a man could be induced to leave the village, and we rode on. In a short time it began to rain: the road was very stony, and we crossed a high, bleak volcanic mountain. Late in the afternoon, the captain conceived suspicions of the soldiers, and we rode on very unceremoniously, leaving them behind. About five o'clock, we avoided the road that led to a village, and taking el Camino de los Partidos, which was very rough and stony, soon came to a place where there were branches, and we were at a loss which to take; but the course lay through a broad valley, bounded by two ranges of mountains. We felt sure that our road did not cross either of these ranges, and these were our only guides. A little before dark, we passed beyond the range of mountains, and on our right saw a road leading into the woods, and presently heard the sound of a bell, and saw through the trees a hacienda, to arrive at which we had to go on some distance, and then turn back by a private road. It was situated in a large clearing, with cocina and sheds, and a large sugar- mill. Twenty or thirty workmen, principally Indians, were assembled to give an account of their day's work, and receive orders for the next. Our appearance created a sensation. The proprietors of the hacienda, two brothers, stood in the door while we were talking with the men, and we rode up and asked permission to stop there for the night. The elder assented, but with an embarrassment that showed the state of alarm and suspicion existing in the country. The gentlemen wore the common hacienda dress, and the interior was miserably poor, but had a hammock, and two rude frames with matting over them for beds. There was a small room adjoining, in which was the wife of one of them with a child. The proprietors were men of education and intelligence, thoroughly acquainted with the condition of the country; and we told them what had happened at Aguachapa, and that we were hurrying on to Guatimala. We had supper at a small table, placed between the hammock and one of the beds, consisting of fried eggs, frigoles, and tortillas, as usual without knife, fork, or spoon.

After supper our elder host was called out, but in a few minutes returned, and, closing the door, told us that there was a great excitement among the workmen on our account. They did not believe our story of going to Guatimala, for a woman had seen us come in from the Guatimala road, and they believed that we were officers of Morazan retreating from the attack on Guatimala, and endeavouring to escape into San Salvador. Here was a ground of suspicion we had not anticipated. The gentleman was much agitated; he regretted that he was obliged to violate the laws of hospitality, but said we knew the distracted state of the country, and the frenzy of party spirit. He himself was against Morazan, his men were violent Cachurecos, and at this moment capable of committing any outrage. He had incurred great peril by receiving us for a moment under his roof, and begged us, both for our own sake and his, to leave his house; adding that, even if we were of those unfortunate men, our horses should be brought up and we should go away unharmed; more he could not promise. Now if we had really been the fugitives he supposed us, we should no doubt have been very thankful for his kindness; but to be turned out by mistake in a dark night, an unknown country, and without any guide, was almost as bad as coming at us with a blunderbuss. Fortunately, he was not a suspicious man; if he had been another Don Gregorio we should have "walked Spanish;" and, more fortunately still, my pertinacity had secured Figoroa's passport; it was the only thing that could have cleared our character. I showed it to him, pointing to the extra flourish which the secretary had made of plenipotentiario, and I believe he was not more astonished at finding who had honoured him by taking possession of his house, than pleased that we were not Morazan's officers. Though an intelligent man, he had passed a retired life on his hacienda. He had heard of such a thing as "a ministro plenipotentiario," but had never seen one. My accoutrements and the eagle on my hat sustained the character, and he called in the major-domo and two leading men on the hacienda, read to them the passport, and explained to them the character of a ministro plenipotentiario, while I sat upon the bed with my coat off and hat on to show the eagle, and the captain suppressed all partialities for Morazan, and talked of my intimacy with Carrera. The people are so suspicious that, having once formed an idea, they do not willingly abandon it, and it was uncertain whether all this would satisfy them; but our host was warm in his efforts, the major-domo was flattered by being made the medium of communicating with the men, and his influence was at stake in satisfying them. It was one of Talleyrand's maxims, never to do to-day what you can put off till to-morrow. On this occasion at least of my diplomatic career I felt the benefit of the old opposite rule. From the moment I saw Figoroa I had an eye only to getting his passport, and did not rest until I had it in my pocket. If we had waited to receive this with his letters, we should now have been in a bad position. If we escaped immediate violence, we should have been taken to the village, shut up in the cabildo, and exposed to all the dangers of an ignorant populace, at that moment excited by learning the success of Morazan and the defeat of Figoroa. In setting out, our idea was that, if taken by the Cachurecos, we should be carried up to Guatimala; but we found that there was no accountability to Guatimala; the people were in a state to act entirely from impulses, and nothing could induce any party of men to set out for Guatimala, or under any circumstances to go farther than from village to village. This difficulty over, the major-domo promised us a guide before day-light for the next village. At three o'clock we were awakened by the creaking of the sugar-mill. We waited till daylight for a guide, but as none came we bade farewell to our kind host, and set out alone. The name of the hacienda is San José, but in the hurry of my movements I never learned the name of the proprietor. In the constant revolutions of Central America, it may happen that he will one day be flying for his life; in his hour of need, may he meet a heart as noble as his own!

At a distance of five leagues we reached the rancho of Hocotilla, where Don Saturnino and our men had slept. The road lay in a magnificent ravine, with a fine bottom land and noble mountain sides. We passed through the straggling settlements of Oratorio and Leon, mostly single huts, where several times we saw women snatch up their children and run into the woods at sight of us. Bury the war-knife, and this valley would be equal to the most beautiful in Switzerland. At twelve o'clock we came upon four posts with a thatched roof, occupied by a scouting-party of Cachureco soldiers. We should have been glad to avoid them, but they could not have judged so from the way in which we shouted "Amigos!" We inquired for Carrera; expected to meet him on the road; Figoroa had told us he was coming; Figoroa had entered Aguachapa; and, taking special good care not to tell them that Figoroa had been driven out, we bade them good-bye and hurried on.

At twelve o'clock we reached the Rio de los Esclavos, a wild and noble river, the bridge across which is the greatest structure in Central America, a memorial of the Spanish dominion. We crossed it and entered the village, a mere collection of huts, standing in a magnificent situation on the bank of the river, looking up to a range of giant mountains on the other side, covered to the top with noble pines. The miserable inhabitants were insensible to its beauties, but there were reasons to make them so. Every hostile expedition between Guatimala and San Salvador passed through their village. Twice within one week Morazan's party had done so; the inhabitants carried off what they could, and, locking their doors, fled to the mountains. The last time, Morazan's soldiers were so straitened for provisions, and pressed by fear of pursuit, that huts were torn down for firewood, and bullocks slain and eaten half raw in the street, without bread or tortillas.

At two we set off again, and from the village entered a country covered with lava. At four we reached the hacienda of Coral de Piedra, situated on the crest of a stony country, looking like a castle, very large, with a church and village, where, although it rained, we did not stop, for the whole village seemed to be intoxicated. Opposite one house we were hailed by a Cachureco officer, so tipsy that he could hardly sit on his horse, who came to us and told us how many of Morazan's men he had killed. A little before dark, riding through a forest, in the apprehension that we were lost, we emerged suddenly from the woods, and saw towering before us the great Volcanoes of Agua and Fuego, and at the same moment were hailed by the joyful shouts of Don Saturnino and our men. They had encamped in a small hut on the borders of a large plain, and the mules were turned out to pasture. Don Saturnino had been alarmed about us, but he had followed our parting injunction to go on, as, if any accident had happened, he could be of more service in Guatimala. They had not met Morazan's troops, having been at a hacienda off the road when they passed, and hurrying on, had not heard of the rout of Figoroa.

The rancho contained a single small room, barely large enough for the man and woman who occupied it, but there was plenty of room out of doors. After a rough ride of more than fifty miles, with the most comfortable reflection of being but one day from Guatimala, I soon fell asleep.

The next morning one of the mules was missing, and we did not get off till eight o'clock. Toward evening we descended a long hill, and entered the plain of Guatimala. It looked beautiful, and I never thought I should be so happy to see it again. I had finished a journey of 1,200 miles, and the gold of Peru could not have tempted me to undertake it again. At the gate the first man I saw was my friend Don Manuel Pavon. I could but think, if Morazan had taken the city, where would he be now? Carrera was not in the city; he had set out in pursuit of Morazan, but on the road received intelligence which induced him to turn off for Quezaltenango. I learned with deep satisfaction that not one of my acquaintance was killed, but, as I afterwards found, not one of them had been in the battle.

I gave Don Manuel the first intelligence of General Morazan. Not a word had been heard of him since he left the Antigua. Nobody had come up from that direction; the people were still too frightened to travel, and the city had not recovered from its spasm of terror. As we advanced I met acquaintances who welcomed me back to Guatimala. I was considered as having run the gauntlet for life, and escape from dangers created a bond between us. I could hardly persuade myself that the people who received me so cordially, and whom I was really glad to meet again, were the same whose expulsion by Morazan I had considered probable. If he had succeeded, not one of them would have been there to welcome me. Repeatedly I was obliged to stop and tell over the affair of Aguachapa; how many men Morazan had; what officers; whether I spoke to him; how he looked, and what he said. I introduced the captain; each had his circle of listeners; and the captain, as a slight indemnification for his forced "'Viva Carreras!" on the road, feeling, on his arrival once more among civilized and well-dressed people, a comparative security for liberty of speech, said that if Morazan's horses had not been so tired, every man of Figoroa's would have been killed. Unhappily, I could not but see that our news would have been more acceptable if we could have reported Morazan completely prostrated, wounded, or even dead. As we advanced I could perceive that the sides of the houses were marked by musket-balls, and the fronts on the plaza were fearfully scarified. My house was near the plaza, and three musket-balls, picked out of the woodwork, were saved for my inspection, as a sample of the battle. In an hour after my arrival I had seen nearly all my old friends. Engrossed by my own troubles, I had not imagined the full extent of theirs. I cannot describe the satisfaction with which I found myself once more among them, and for a little while, at least, at rest. I still had anxieties; I had no letters from home, and Mr. Catherwood had not arrived; but I had no uneasiness about him, for he was not in the line of danger; and when I lay down I had the comfortable sensation that there was nothing to drive me forward the next day. The captain took up his abode with me. It was an odd finale to his expedition against Guatimala; but, after all, it was better than remaining at the port.

Great changes had taken place in Guatimala since I left, and it may not be amiss here to give a brief account of what had occurred in my absence. The reader will remember the treaty between Carrera and Guzman, the general of the state of Los Altos, by which the former surrendered to the latter 400 old muskets. Since that time Guatimala had adopted Carrera (or had been adopted by him, I hardly know which), and, on the ground that the distrust formerly entertained of him no longer existed, demanded a restitution of the muskets to him. The State of Los Altos refused. This State was at that time the focus of Liberal principles, and Quezaltenango, the capital, was the asylum of Liberals banished from Guatimala. Apprehending, or pretending to apprehend, an invasion from that State, and using the restitution of the 400 worthless muskets as a pretext, Carrera marched against Quezaltenango with 1,000 men. The Indians, believing that he came to destroy the whites, assisted him. Guzman's troops deserted him, and Carrera with his own hands took him prisoner, sick and encumbered with a great coat, in the act of dashing his horse down a deep ravine to escape: he sent to Guatimala Guzman's military coat, with the names of Omoa, Truxillos, and other places where Guzman had distinguished himself in the service of the republic, labelled on it, and a letter to the government, stating that he had sent the coat as a proof that he had taken Guzman. A gentleman told me that he saw this coat on its way, stuck on a pole, and paraded by an insulting rabble around the plaza of the Antigua. After the battle Carrera marched to the capital, deposed the chief of the State and other officers, garrisoned it with his own soldiers, and, not understanding the technical distinctions of state lines, destroyed its existence as a separate State, and annexed it to Guatimala, or, rather, to his own command.

In honour of his distinguished services, public notice was given that on Monday the 17th he would make his triumphal entry into Guatimala; and on that day he did enter, under arches erected across the streets, amid the firing of cannon, waving of flags, and music, with General Guzman, personally known to all the principal inhabitants, who but a year before had hastened at their piteous call to save them from the hands of this same Carrera, placed sideways on a mule, with his feet tied under him, his face so bruised, swollen, and disfigured by stones and blows of machetes that he could not be recognised, and the prisoners tied together with ropes; and the chief of the state, secretary of state, and secretary of the Constituent Assembly rode by Carrera's side in this disgraceful triumph.

General Guzman was one of those who had been liberated from prison by General Morazan. He had escaped from the plaza with the remnant of his forces, but, unable to endure the fatigues of the journey, he was left behind, secreted on the road; and General Morazan told me that, in consequence of the cruelties exercised upon him, and the horrible state of anxiety in which he was kept, reason had deserted its throne, and his once strong mind was gone.

From this time the city settled into a volcanic calm, quivering with apprehensions of an attack by General Morazan, a rising of the Indians and a war of castes, and startled by occasional rumours that Carrera intended to bring Guzman and the prisoners out into the plaza and shoot them. On the 14th of March intelligence was received from Figoroa that General Morazan had crossed the Rio Paz and was marching against Guatimala. This swallowed up all other apprehensions. Carrera was the only man who could protect the city. On the 15th he marched out with 900 men, toward Arazola, leaving the plaza occupied by 500 men. Great gloom hung over the city. The same day Morazan arrived at the Coral de Piedra, eleven leagues from Guatimala. On the 16th the soldiers commenced erecting parapets at the corners of the plaza; many Indians came in from the villages to assist, and Carrera took up his position at the Aceytuna, a league and a half from the city. On the 17th Carrera rode into the city, and with the chief of the state and others, went around to visit the fortifications and rouse the people to arms. At noon he returned to the Aceytuna, and at four o'clock intelligence was received that Morazan's army was descending the Questa de Pinula, the last range before reaching the plain of Guatimala. The bells tolled the alarm, and great consternation prevailed in the city.

Morazan's army slept that night on the plain. Before daylight he marched upon the city, and entered the gate of Buena Vista, leaving all his cavalry and part of his infantry at the Plaza de Toros and on the heights of Calvario, under Colonel Cabanes, to watch the movements of Carrera, and with 700 men occupied the Plaza of Guadaloupe, depositing his parque, equipage, a hundred women (more or lees of whom always accompany an expedition in that country), and all his train, in the Hospital of San Juan de Dios. Hence he sent Perez and Rivas, with 400 or 500 men, to attack the plaza. These passed up a street descending from the centre of the city, and, while covered by the brow of the hill, climbed over the yard-wall of the church of Escuela de Cristo, and passed through the church into the street opposite the mint, in the rear of one side of the plaza. Twenty-seven Indians were engaged in making a redoubt at the door, and twenty-six bodies were found on the ground, nine killed and seventeen wounded. When I saw it the ground was still red with blood. Entering the mint, the invaders were received with a murderous fire along the corridor; but, forcing their way through, they broke open the front portal, and rushed into the plaza. The plaza was occupied by the 500 men left by Carrera, and 200 or 300 Indians, who fell back, closed up near the porch of the cathedral, and in a few moments all fled, leaving the plaza, with all their ammunition, in the possession of the assailants. Rivera Paz and Don Luis Bartres, the chief and secretary of the state, were in the plaza at the time, and but few other white citizens. Carrera did not want white soldiers, and would not permit white men to be officers. Many young men had presented themselves in the plaza, and were told that there were no arms.

In the meantime, Carrera, strengthened by masses of Indians from the villages around, attacked the division on the heights of Calvario. Morazan, with the small force left at San Juan de Dios, went to the assistance of Cabanes. The battle lasted an hour and a half, fierce and bloody, and fought hand to hand. Morazan lost some of his best officers. Sanches was killed by Sotero Carrera, a brother of the general. Carrera and Morazan met, and Carrera says that he cut Morazan's saddle nearly in two. Morazan was routed, pursued so closely that he could not take up his equipage, and hurried on to the plaza, having lost 300 muskets, 400 men killed, wounded, and prisoners, and all his luggage. At ten o'clock his whole force was penned up in the plaza, surrounded by an immense mass of Indian soldiers, and fired upon from all the corners. Manning the parapets and stationing pickets on the roofs of the houses, he kept up a galling fire in return.

Pent up in this fearful position, Morazan had time to reflect. But a year before he was received with ringing of bells, firing of cannon, joyful acclamations, and deputations of grateful citizens, as the only man who could save them from Carrera and destruction. Among the few white citizens in the plaza at the time of the entry of the soldiers was a young man, who was taken prisoner and brought before General Morazan. The latter knew him personally, and inquired for several of his old partisans by name, asking whether they were not coming to join him. The young man answered that they were not, and Morazan and his officers seemed disappointed. No doubt he had expected a rising of citizens in his favour, and again to be hailed as a deliverer from Carrera. In San Salvador I had heard that he had received urgent solicitations to come up; but, whatever had been contemplated, there was no manifestation of any such intention; on the contrary, the hoarse cry was ringing in his ears, "Muera el tyranno! Muera el General Morazan!" Popular feeling had undergone an entire revolution, or else it was kept down by the masses of Indians who came in from the villages around to defend the city against him.

In the meantime the fire slackened, and at twelve o'clock it died away entirely; but the plaza was strewed with dead, dense masses choked up the streets, and at the corners of the plaza the soldiers, with gross ribaldry and jests, insulted and jeered at Morazan and his men. The firing ceased only from want of ammunition, Carrera's stock having been left in Morazan's possession. Carrera, in his eagerness to renew the attack, sat down to make cartridges with his own hands.

The house of Mr. Hall, the British vice-consul, was on one of the sides of the plaza. Mr. Chatfield, the consul-general, was at Escuintla, about twelve leagues distant, when intelligence was received of Morazan's invasion. He mounted his horse, rode up to the city, and hoisted the English flag on Mr. Hall's house, to Morazan's soldiers the most conspicuous object on the plaza. Carrera himself was hardly more obnoxious to them than Mr. Chatfield. A picket of soldiers was stationed on the roof of the house, commanding the plaza on the one side, and the courtyard on the other. Orellana, the former minister of war, was on the roof, and cut into the staff with his sword, but desisted on a remonstrance from the courtyard that it was the house of the Vice-consul. At sundown the immense mass of Indians who now crowded the city fell on their knees, and set up the Salve or hymn to the Virgin. Orellana and others of Morazan's officers had let themselves down in the courtyard, and were at the moment taking chocolate in Mr. Hall's house. Mrs. Hall, a Spanish lady of the city, asked Orellana why he did not fall on his knees; and he answered, in jest, that he was afraid his own soldiers on the roof would take him for a Cachureco and shoot him; but it is said that to Morazan the noise of this immense chorus of voices was appalling, bringing home to him a consciousness of the immense force assembled to crush him, and for the first time he expressed his sense of the danger they were in. The prayer was followed by a tremendous burst of "Viva la Religion! Viva Carrera! y muera el General Morazan!" and the firing commenced more sharply than before. It was returned from the plaza, and for several hours continued without intermission. At two o'clock in the morning Morazan made a desperate effort to cut his way out of the plaza, but was driven back behind the parapets. The plaza was strewed with dead. Forty of his oldest officers and his eldest son were killed; and at three o'clock he stationed 300 men at three corners of the plaza, directed them to open a brisk fire, threw all the powder into the fountain, and while attention was directed to these points, sallied by the other, and left them to their fate. I state this on the authority of the Guatimala official account of the battle—of course I heard nothing of it at Aguachapa—and if true, it is a blot on Morazan's character as a soldier and as a man. He escaped from the city with 500 men, and strewing the road with wounded and dead, at twelve o'clock arrived at the Antigua. Here he was urged to proclaim martial law, and make another attack on the city; but he answered, No; blood enough had been shed. He entered the cabildo, and, it is said, wrote a letter to Carrera recommending the prisoners to mercy; and Baron Mahelin, the French consul-general, related to me an anecdote, which does not, however, seem probable; that he laid his glove on the table, and requested the alcalde to give it to Carrera as a challenge, and explain its meaning. From that place he continued his retreat by the coast until I met him at Aguachapa.

In the meantime Carrera's soldiers poured into the plaza with a tremendous feu-de-joie, and kept up a terrible firing in the air till daylight. Then they commenced searching for fugitives, and a general massacre took place. Colonel Arias, lying on the ground with one of his eyes out, was bayoneted to death. Perez was shot. Marescal, concealed under the Cathedral, was dragged out and shot. Padilla, the son of the widow at Aguachapa, found on the ground, while begging a Centralist whom he knew to save him, was killed with bayonets. The unhappy fugitives were brought into the plaza two, three, five, and ten at a time. Carrera stood pointing with his finger to this man and that, and every one that he indicated was removed a few paces from him and shot. Major José Viera, and several of the soldiers on the roof of Mr. Hall's house, let themselves down into the court-yard, and Carrera sent for all who had taken refuge there. Viera was taking chocolate with the family, and gave Mrs. Hall a purse of doubloons and a pistol to take care of for him. They were delivered up, with a recommendation to mercy, particularly in behalf of Viera; but a few moments after Mr. Skinner entered the house, and said that he saw Viera's body in the plaza. Mr. Hall could not believe it, and walked round the corner, but a few paces from his own door, and saw him lying on his back, dead. In this scene of massacre the Padre Zezena, a poor and humble priest, exposed his own life to save his fellow-beings. Throwing himself on his knees before Carrera, he implored him to spare the unhappy prisoners, exclaiming, they are Christians like ourselves; and by his importunities and prayers induced Carrera to desist from murder, and send the wretched captives to prison.

Carrera and his Indians had the whole danger and the whole glory of defending the city. The citizens, who had most at stake, took no part in it. The members of the government most deeply compromised fled, or remained shut up in their houses. It would be hard to analyse the feelings with which they straggled out to gaze upon the scene of horror in the streets and in the plaza, and saw on the ground the well-known faces and mangled bodies of the leaders of the Liberal party. There was one overpowering sense of escape from immense danger, and the feeling of the Central Government burst out in its official bulletin: "Eternal glory to the invincible chief, General Carrera, and the valiant troops under his command!"

In the morning, as at the moment of our arrival, this subject was uppermost in every one's mind; no one could talk of anything else, and each one had something new to communicate. In our first walk through the streets our attention was directed to the localities, and everywhere we saw marks of the battle. Vagabond soldiers accosted us, begging medios, pointing their muskets at our heads to show how they shot the enemy, and boasting how many they had killed. These fellows made me feel uncomfortable, and I was not singular; but if there was a man who had a mixture of uncomfortable and comfortable feelings, it was my friend the captain. He was for Morazan; had left La Union to join his expedition, left San Salvador to pay him a visit at Guatimala, and partake of the festivities of his triumph, and left Aguachapa because his trunks had gone on before. Ever since his arrival in the country he had been accustomed to hear Carrera spoken of as a robber and assassin, and the noblesse of Guatimala ridiculed, and all at once he found himself in a hornet's nest. He now heard Morazan denounced as a tyrant, his officers as a set of cut-throats, banded together to assassinate personal enemies, rob churches, and kill priests; they had met the fate they deserved, and the universal sentiment was,—So perish the enemies of Guatimala! The captain had received a timely caution. His story, that Morazan would have killed every man of Figoroa's if the horses had not been so tired, had circulated; it was considered very partial, and special inquiries were made as to who that captain was. He was compelled to listen and assent, or say nothing. On the road he was an excessively loud talker, spoke the language perfectly, with his admirable arms and horse equipments always made a dashing entree into a village, and was called "muy valiente," "very brave;" but here he was a subdued man, attracting a great deal of attention, but without any of the éclat which had attended him on the road, and feeling that he was an object of suspicion and distrust. But he had one consolation that nothing could take away: he had not been in the battle, or, to use his own expression, he might now be lying on the ground with his face upward.

In the afternoon, unexpectedly, Mr. Catherwood arrived. He had passed a month at the Antigua, and had just returned from a second visit to Copan, and had also explored other ruins, of which mention will be made hereafter. In our joy at meeting we tumbled into each other's arms, and in the very first moment resolved not to separate again while in that distracted country.


  1. General Morazan returned about a year after these occurrences to Costa Rica, was captured, tied to a tree, and shot.— F. C.