Samuel H. Walker
Samuel Hamilton Walker (1817-1847) was a prominent Texas Ranger
and a hero of the Mexican War. He spent two years in the Florida swamps
fighting Chief Osceola’s Seminoles, and then came to Texas in January 1842
where he joined the company of Texas Ranger Captain John Coffee “Jack” Hays. He
participated in the Somervell
and Mier Expeditions, and was captured by the Mexican army. His
bitter experiences in captivity gave him a hatred for Mexicans and a desire for
revenge which ultimately led to his death in 1847. He escaped and rejoined the Texas Rangers under Hays. In 1844 he fought in
the battle of Walker's Creek, which changed the Indian's rules of engagement and led to
his collaboration in the development of the Walker Colt pistol. Walker was killed in 1847 while fighting in the
Samuel Hamilton Walker (1817-1847), Texas Ranger
and Mexican War veteran was the son of Nathan and Elizabeth (Thomas) Walker. He
was born at Toaping
George County, Maryland, on February 24, 1817, the fifth of seven
children. He attended the common country school and afterward worked as a
In May 1836 Walker
enlisted in the Washington City Volunteers for the Creek Indian campaign in Alabama.
Over the next two years, he had two tours of duty in the Florida
swamps fighting Chief Osceola’s Seminoles. He was promoted to corporal or
“exceptional courage” shown in the Battle of Hacheeluski
in January 1837. After his enlistment ended in 1837, Walker
remained in Florida as a scout
until 1841. He may also have been a railroad superintendent.
in San Antonio in January 1842, and
soon joined the company of the greatest Ranger of the pre-Civil War era, Captain John
Coffee “Jack” Hays. The wounds of the Texas Revolution were festering in
both Texas and Mexico,
and several Mexican invasions had occurred, most notably that by Raphael
Vasquez in early March 1842. After two days of plundering and looting in San
Antonio, Vasquez had retreated to Mexico,
taking some prisoners. President Sam Houston’s calm hand prevented a war, but
he could not resolve the growing hatred felt on both sides of the Rio
Grande. In September 1842, the Frenchman Adrian Woll led a Mexican army into Texas
again and captured San Antonio. For
ten days, Woll held the city, and Houston
placed Alexander Somervell at the head of the Texas Army, with two sets of contradictory
Walker signed on
as a scout for Captain Jesse Billingsley, whose force joined up with Matthew
“Old Paint” Caldwell. Walker
served with Jack Hays and Henry McCulloch
in that campaign. After Woll retreated back to Mexico,
the Rangers returned to San Antonio,
and organized the Somervell Expedition, which peacefully reoccupied Laredo
and then moved down the Rio Grande
to the town of Guerrero to re-supply.
On December 18, 1842,
General Somervell ended the expedition and ordered his 498 men back to San
Antonio, but one hundred eighty-nine refused to quit.
They elected William Fisher their commander and continued with the invasion of Mexico,
but Jack Hays did not join them, warning his friends to abandon their foolish
ideas. Two of those who disregarded Hays' advice were Sam Walker and W. A. A. “Big
On December 23, 1842
the Texans invaded Mier, just across the Rio Grande,
where they were unopposed, and returned to the Texas
side of the river. However, on Christmas Day, some of Fisher’s spies reported
that 700 Mexican soldiers were in Mier, and the Texans crossed the river again
and attacked. On December 26, they were forced to surrender because of the
overwhelming force of the enemy. Sam Walker was the first Texan captured in the
ill-fated expedition. He and Patrick Lusk had been on a scouting expedition, and
had come upon some Mexican soldiers. Walker
crawled through a fence, killed one of the Mexican soldiers and was trying to
crawl back under the fence when another large Mexican soldier grabbed him by
his boot and held him tight until more soldiers arrived.
The Texans were marched to prison in Saltillo where on March 1, 1843, Santa Anna ordered all 176 prisoners be shot. However,
Governor Francisco Mexia refused to comply with Santa
Anna’s order. The prisoners were then marched toward San
Luis Potosi. On March 25, they arrived at Rancho Salado, where another order from Santa Anna was received to
shoot every tenth man. One hundred fifty-nine white beans and seventeen black
beans were placed in a jar, and each man put his hand into the jar and brought
out one bean. Those who drew a black bean died. Walker and Big Foot Wallace
both drew white beans, as did the leader of the Texans, William Fisher.
However, Santa Anna would not permit the leader of the Texans to be spared, and
he was shot.
On July 30, 1843,
Walker escaped and managed to get
on a ship headed for New Orleans,
where he arrived in September 1843. But he did not stay long in New
Orleans because he wanted to get back to Texas
and start settling scores with the Mexicans. He repeated his vows of vengeance
so often to his friends that he earned a new nickname, “Mad” Walker. His bitterness and desire to get revenge for
his experiences in captivity led ultimately to his death in 1847.
In 1844 Walker
joined John C. Hays' company of Texas Rangers and rode for the next two years,
fighting Indians. He participated in the Battle of
Walker's Creek on the Pinta Trail near
the confluence of Sister Creek
and the Guadalupe
River. During the battle some fifteen rangers using new Colt revolvers
successfully defeated about eighty Comanches. It
was the first time that the Colt revolvers had been used in combat with the
Indians, and the results were so dramatic that they resulted in a permanent
change in the tactics of the Indians. In that battle, Walker
was run through with an Indian lance, and was not expected to recover. He was
taken to San Antonio, where he was
nursed back to health, and then rejoined the Texas Rangers under Hays.
In 1846, the United States
and Mexico went
to war again, and Walker rode to
the Rio Grande to join General
Zachary Taylor’s army. Taylor was
impressed with Walker and
authorized him to raise a company of Texas Rangers to serve in the federal
forces as scouts for the army. On April 28 Walker
was ambushed with his company en route to join Taylor
at Port Isabel. He reached Taylor's
camp on April 29 and his reports caused Taylor
to move his encampment. Walker
performed exemplary duty as a scout and courier on numerous other occasions.
His company was the only Texas
unit at the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la
Palma. He was presented a horse by the grateful citizens of New
Orleans in the spring of 1846 for his numerous
exploits with Taylor's army.
Walker served as
captain of the inactive Company C of the United States Mounted Rifles until the
outbreak of the Mexican War. When the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Riflemen,
was organized in June 1846, Walker
was elected lieutenant colonel. He fought in the Battle of Monterrey
in September and on October 2, 1846,
mustered out of federal service, activated his commission as captain of the
mounted rifles, and proceeded to Washington, D.C.,
to begin recruiting for his company. During his recruitment excursion Walker
visited Samuel Colt.
Colt credited Walker with proposed
improvements, including a stationary trigger and guard, to the existing
revolver. The new six-shooter was named the Walker Colt. After arriving with
his new company at Vera Cruz, Mexico,
Walker was detailed on May 27, 1847, to the First
Pennsylvania Volunteers, stationed at Castle San Carlos de Perote
to counter Mexican guerrilla activities between Perote
On October 5, 1847, Walker
left Perote with Gen. Joseph
P. Lane to escort a supply train to Mexico
City. According to J. J. Oswandel,
author of Notes on the Mexican War, who wrote about the incident, Walker
grew increasingly embittered against the enemy: "Should Captain Walker
come across guerillas, God help them, for he seldom brings in prisoners. The
captain and most all of his men are very prejudiced and embittered against
every guerilla in the country."
En route Lane was
informed of a sizable enemy force at Huamantla and ordered an attack. With Walker's
mounted rifles in the lead, the assault force reached Huamantla
on October 9. During the spirited contest that followed Walker
was either shot in the back or killed by a man on foot carrying a lance.
Following his death his unit took revenge on the community of Huamantla. Walker
was buried at Hacienda Tamaris. In 1848 his remains were moved to San
Antonio. On April
21, 1856, as part of a battle of San Jacinto
celebration, he was reburied in the Odd Fellows' Cemetery in San
Compiled from various sources by
Kendall County, Texas
August 1, 2009
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Gerald Witt, The
History of Eastern Kerr
Press, 1986, pp. 100-106.
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. " Texas Rangers," http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/TT/met4.html
(accessed July 4, 2007).
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum,Texas Ranger History, http://www.texasranger.org/history/rangerHistory.htm
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, A Brief
History of the Texas Rangers, http://www.texasranger.org/history/BriefHistory1.htm,
1969. Rangers of Texas.
Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia, "Texas Ranger Division," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Ranger_Division (accessed September 2, 2007).
of Texas Online, s.v. "Samuel H.
(accessed September 3, 2007).
Wikipedia, the free
encyclopedia, "Samuel Hamilton Walker." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Hamilton_Walker
(accessed September 3, 2007).
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, 2003,
"Samuel Hamilton Walker," http://www.texasranger.org/halloffame/Walker_Samuel.htm (accessed September 3, 2007).
Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, 2003,
"Captain Sam Walker," http://www.texasranger.org/dispatch/9/Walker.htm