Who Killed Capt.
Few incidents of the campaign in Mexico seem so mixed up and
indefinite as that relative to the taking of Huamantla, and the death
of that noble and chivalric officer, Capt. Walker. In glancing over the
papers of Major Mammond, of Georgia, which he designates the Secondary
Combats of the Mexican War, we observe that he has given an account of
the engagement at Huamantla, and the fall of Walker. We believe the
Major's account, compiled as it is from the documents, to be in the
main correct, but lacking incidental pith, and slightly erroneous in
the grand denouement, in which our gallant friendwhose manly
countenance even now stares us in the face, as if in life he yet
livedyielded up the balance of power on earth.
We have taken some pains, and a great deal of interest surely, in
coming at the facts; and no time seems so proper as the
presentseveral of the chivalric gentlemen of that day and occasion,
being now around usto give the story its veritable exhibition of true
Capt. S. H. Walker was a Marylander, a young man of the truest
possible heroism and gallantry. He entered upon the campaign with all
the ardor and enterprise of a soldier devoted to the best interests of
his country. He commanded a company of mounted men, whose bravery was
only equalled by his own, and whose discipline and hardiness has been
unsurpassed, if equalled, by any troops of the world. We shall skip
over the thousand and one incidents of the line of action in which
Walker, Lewis, and their brave companions in arms did gallant service,
to come at the sanguinary and truly thrilling denouement.
Gen. Lane, after the landing and organization of his troops at Vera
Cruz, with some 2500 men, started for Puebla, where it was understood
that Col. Childs required reinforcement. Lane left Jalapa on the 1st of
October, and hurried forward with Lally's command. At Perote, Lane
learned that Santa Anna would throw himself upon his muscle, and give
the advancing columns jessy at the pass of Pinal, and there was every
prospect of a very tight time. Col. Wynkoop was in command at Perote;
the men were anxious to be in at the fight in prospective, and
Wynkoop obtained permission to join the General with four companies of
the Pennsylvania Regiment; a small battery of the 3d Artillery, under
command of Capt. Taylor, with Capts. Walker, of the Texan Rangers, and
Lewis, of the Louisiana Cavalry. The column was now swelled to some
2800. They moved rapidly forward, and upon reaching Tamaris, Lane heard
that the old fox was offSanta Anna had gone to Huamantla. Lane
determined to hunt him up with haste. The main force was left at
Tamaris. Troops were forwardedadvanced by Walker's Rangers and
Lewis's Cavalrywho approached to within sight, or nearly so, of
Huamantla. The orders to Walker were to advance to the town, and if the
Mexicans were in force, to wait for the Infantry to come up. Walker's
command rated about 200 men. Upon reaching the outskirts of Huamantla,
the Mexican Cavalry were seen dashing forward into the town, and the
brave Walker ordered a pursuit.
Santa Anna was evidently in the town. Capt. Walker, says his gallant
comrade Lewis, made up his mind to be the captor of the wily old chief.
The fair prospect of accomplishing the deed so excited Walker, that
danger and death were alike secondary considerations, and so the
command charged into the town. Some 500 lancers met the charge, but
with terrific impetuosity the Rangers and Cavalry dashed in among them,
cutting them down right and left, and soon sent them flying in all
directions! It was at this moment, says Capt. Lewis, that one of the
most heroic acts of bravery was performed, unsurpassed, perhaps, by any
act of personal daring during the whole war! A tremendous negro, a
fine, manly fellow, named Dave, belonging to Capt. Walker, with whom he
was brought upboys togetherbeing mounted, and armed with a heavy
sabre, dashed forward down a narrow street, (up which, a detached body
of lancers were striving to escape,) and throwing himself between three
poised lances and the person of Dr. Lamar, one of the surgeons, who
would have been most inevitably torn to atoms, Dave raised himself in
his saddle, and with a yell, and one fell swoop, the heroic fellow
chopped down a lancer, clean and clear to his saddle! Two lancers
pierced Dave's body, and he fell from his horse, dead!
Charging up to the Plazathe Mexicans flyingCapt. Walker
dismounted, with some thirty of his men, and advanced up a flight of
steps to force an entrance into a church or convent, where he supposed
Santa Anna was hid away. The flying lancers were pursued by the
Rangers, who, very injudiciously, of course, scattered themselves over
Capt. Lewis, in the mean time, had found a large yard attached to a
temporary garrison, in which were some sixty horses, equipped ready for
immediate use, and which the Mexicans had, in their hurry to escape,
left behind them! The irregular firing of the Rangers, in pursuit of
the Mexicans, being deemed useless and unnecessary, Capt. Lewis left
several of his men, among whom was Country McCluskey, the noted
pugilist, a volunteer in Capt. Lewis's company, to guard the horses,
while he rode forward to the convent.
Capt. Walker, said Lewis, I deem it, sir, not only useless, but
bad policy, to allow that firing by the men, around the town.
Capt. Walker immediately ordered the firing to cease, and being
apprized of Capt. Lewis's discovery of the horses, &c., ordered him to
bring up his command. Capt. Lewis wheeled his horse; some one fired
close by, and Capt. Walker cried out
Who was that? I'll shoot down the next man who fires against my
At that moment three guns were fired from the conventand
simultaneously a cannon was fired down the street, from a party of
Mexicans in the distance. Capt. Lewis faced about just in time to see
Capt. Walker drop down upon the steps of the convent, as he
emphatically expresses it,
Like a lump of lead, sir!
The piece up the street was fired again. Capt. Lewis ordered the
fallen, gallant Walker, to be placed upon the steps close to the wall.
A shot from the piece alluded to striking off the stone and mortar, he
ordered the doors to be forced, and Capt. Walker to be taken in, which
was done. The bugle sounded, and in an instant a horde of lancers
poured into the town, rushing down upon the Americans from every
avenue! Capt. Lewis had wheeled about to collect his men, when he found
McCluskey and others leading out the pick of the captured horses.
Dropdrop the horses, you fool, and mount! Mount, sir, mount!
They mounted fast enough; Lewis formed, and met the enemy in gallant
style; and though there were ten, aye, twenty to one, possibly, he
drove them back! To quote our friend, Major Hammond's words, Lewis, of
the Louisiana Cavalry, assumed command, struggled ably to preserve the
guns (captured), and held his position fairly, until assistance
One hundred and fifty of the enemy fell, while of the Rangers and
Cavalry some twenty-five were killed and wounded. They were engaged
nearly an hour, and the bravery displayed by Walker, Lewis, and their
men, was worthy of general admiration, and all honor.
Poor Walker! a ball struck him in the left shoulder, passed over his
heart, and came out in his right vest pocket!
Thus fell the gallant leader of one of the most formidable war
parties, of its numbers, known to history. Walker was a humane,
impulsive man; a warm friend, a brave, gallant soldier. His dying words
were directed to Capt. Lewisto keep the town, and drive back the
enemy; and that the chivalrous Captain did so, was well proven. Capt.
Walker, and his heroic boy Dave, who fell unknown to his master, were
buried together in the earth they so lately stood upon, in all the
glory and heroism of men that were men!