Hacienda Santa Rosa – Costa Rica - Atlas Obscura

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Hacienda Santa Rosa

Costa Rica's best known combat zone, used during the Battle of Santa Rosa.  


This hacienda is the location of the Battle of Santa Rosa, an encounter between William Walker’s filibuster raiders and the Costa Rican Civil Army, on March 20th, 1856.

Walker, an American, was in Nicaragua looking to conquer the Central American provinces and turn them into English-speaking territories where slavery would be practiced. For a time he took advantage of civil and political unrest and was successful, capturing the capital and declaring himself the President of Nicaragua.

In 1856, Walker turned his sights on neighboring Costa Rica, sending a contingent of several hundred to invade and establish a foothold. Costa Rica’s president Juan Rafael Mora Porras called on civilians to assist in repelling the filibuster army and hundreds took up the cause.

The march to Guanacaste took eight days, during which time the over-confident invaders had mostly relaxed and waited for more reinforcements from Nicaragua. On March 20th, the army arrived at the hacienda, surrounded the filibusters, and forced them to surrender in a stunning victory that took only 14 minutes.

Although most of the filibusters managed to escape and flee back to Nicaragua, the battle spelled the beginning of the end for William Walker, whose fortunes soon began to turn. Shortly thereafter Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador joined Costa Rica in the military campaign against Walker. He surrendered to the Central American coalition on May 1st, 1857 but was allowed to return to the United States, but not for long. Only a few years later he attempted to mount an invasion of Honduras but was quickly captured, tried, and executed. 

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