Back in the 1850s, a Tennessean named William Walker and his band of mercs launched an offensive on Baja California and successfully captured the Baja del Sur capital City, La Paz.
He proceeded to declare a Republic of the Sonora complete with territorial boundaries and its own flag.
More amazing still, he and his men managed to get out of there alive again after the Mexican government started sending armies into the region.
Walker was a real filibuster. Not one of our modern gerontocrats deadlocking sessions of congress. No he was a filibuster in the original sense of the word. A freebooter trying to conquer a sovereign state without permission from any state.
The age of manifest destiny in America fostered an entire generation of filibuster mercs who tried to take over countries and found their own colonies.
For Walker, his personal war with Mexico was just the beginning of his career.
Next, he showed up in Nicaragua with a private army of 60 men and tried to take over the country. He actually succeeded and declared the foundation of (another) new country complete with (another) new flag.
As if taking on one country wasn’t enough, Walker soon found himself at war with Costa Rica as well.
He held on for awhile despite the odds and still managed to escape with the help of the US Navy.
Still not discouraged, Walker next tried to invade Honduras but this time he was caught by the British Navy, who had no intentions of allowing an American to mess around in a zone of influence so close to where they were already planning a canal.
The British simply turned Walker over to the Hondurans, who lost little time in putting him in front of a firing squad.
Walker had no military experience and little grasp of strategy, achieving many of his impressive victories with superior firepower. Both in Mexico and Nicaragua his campaigns were ended by disastrous incidents that led to his forces being cut off from their supply lines.
An impulsive fool, he actually seized steamships from Vanderbilt, the Robber Baron sponsor who was supplying him with food, arms, and transport.
Vanderbilt retaliated by giving gold and guns to Walker’s enemies instead to get revenge and to recover his steamships.
Predictably, Walker found himself suddenly stranded in a foreign country and would have gotten himself and his men killed then if the US Navy hadn’t picked them up.
Walker got his way as a crazily charismatic dreamer in spite of his ineptitude. Newspaper articles about his crazy exploits always got him new followers no matter how badly he screwed up…until his luck finally ran out.
William Walker, a 5″2 120 pound dynamo of reckless ambition that got himself and lots of his followers killed while trying to found a private Latin American empire.