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Walker led an army called the American Falange, which marched on the city of Rivas, intending to found the Central American slave republic.
- Batalla de Santa-Rosa, painting by Carlos Aguilar Duran -

Country commemorates 165th anniversary of the battle against U.S. invaders

Published Monday, March 22, 2021

By A.M. Costa Rica staff

Each March 20, the country commemorates the victory of the Battle of Santa Rosa, which happened in 1856 between the Costa Rican army and the so-called invading troops led by the U.S. citizen William Walker.

According to the archives of the Ministry of Education, the events that caused the battle began in June 1855, when William Walker, from Nashville, Tenn., arrived in the country on the Vesta ship, at the Realejo Port in Nicaragua, along with a platoon of 57 men.

Walker led an army called the American Falange, which marched on the city of Rivas, intending to found the Central American slave republic.

His goal was motivated by the main economic activity of the time in Tenn., cotton agriculture which used the slave labor of black people bought in the Antilles.

When Walker arrived in Nicaragua, the country was under internal conflict between two political parties, the Democratic and the Legitivist, ending in a civil war.

The intervention of Walker helped the Democratic party win. Then, Walker was named general of the Nicaragua army and convinced the Nicaraguan President, Patricio Rivas, of his ideas to establish one single state with all Central American countries. Walker's goal was to lead a slave empire in Central America.

Due to the rising presence of Walker in Nicaragua, the president of Costa Rica at that time, Juan Rafael Mora Porras, created an army of approximately 10,000 men.

On March 4, 1856, the Costa Rican army under the command of General José Joaquín Mora (brother of the President) marched to the border with Nicaragua.

At that time, Walker's army had already entered Costa Rica territory, and settled on a property in a large farm Hacienda Santa Rosa, located in La Cruz Canton, Guanacaste Province.

On March 20, the first and only battle between the invaders led by Walker and the Tico army took place on the farm.

"The so-called Battle of Santa Rosa was in just 18 minutes when the Costa Ricans defeated Walker and his men," the ministry said in its files.

This victory was possible because the Ticos ambushed Walker and his men, many of them, including Walker, managed to escape.

Despite the failure in the battle that forced the invaders to return to Nicaragua, on July 12, 1856, Walker was sworn in as President of Nicaragua.

On Friday, schools across the country celebrated the victory of Costa Rica in the Battle of Santa Rosa.

On Saturday, students and teachers from the Los Angeles school in Santa Cruz held a commemorative activity right in the area where the emblematic house of Hacienda Santa Rosa is located.

How would Costa Rica's development be if the outcome of the battle had been different?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to


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