General Trim to Admiral Jurien de Lagraveire.
My Dear General : M. Legrand has delivered to me your confidential despatch and esteemed favor of the 20th.
Before all else, I thank you for the order you have given to your battalion of ——— to remain here and help us in case the Spanish troops should find them selves menaced.
In inviting you to allow the ——— to rest awhile here, it was not at all on account of the possibility of their help being needed, since at this moment I find myself perfectly tranquil, threatened by no danger, and, above all, because with my troops I fear no attack from the Mexicans, whatever be their number. I have simply wished to avoid your soldiers fatiguing themselves in case that the conference once met, it should be therein agreed to exact from the govern-ernment what we have a right to exact from it, without departing from the policy followed until this time, and without taking from the principal object of the allied expedition.
Can we permit that, whilst we remain tranquil in our cantonments, the Mexican government should continue vexing our countrymen residing throughout the republic, exacting the payment of the two and a half per cent, upon their respective capitals, as is actually done, General Doblado giving as a pretext that he has the right to demand it? Can we permit the same Doblado to threaten us with the re-establishment of the decree prohibiting the commercial movement between the custom-house of Vera Cruz and the interior if the said customhouse is not restored to him? Can we permit that a forced loan of 500,000 dollars be exacted from six houses in Mexico, three of them Spanish, calculating at 100,000 dollars each?
You see, dear friend, why Sir Charles Wycke and myself have assumed a more energetic attitude than that we held when you left us the last time. I send you enclosed the last letter of Mr. Doblado. You will be able to judge, in seeing it, if such curtness of language in any way suits us.
In General Doblado’s letter, and in my explanations, you will find the motive of our warlike attitude; seek for no other, since this alone exists. I do not use with you the policy of a diplomatist, but the most frank. I speak as a true soldier.
From the first you have had the same idea, “to avoid being reproached with having subjected yourself to the Spanish general,” and now wish it to be well understood that you will act with perfect freedom, and establish at the same time that in future, (as until now it may have been said that the expedition of the allies was a Spanish expedition,) it is therefore now converted into a French expedition.
Neither you nor I have on any occasion had complete liberty in our own determinations, since we have always found ourselves obliged to act in accordance with the decisions adopted in the conferences, far as regards politics; as to military actions, both of us have been able to act as we thought proper, and I owe you the justice you have done me, acknowledging that for my part I have never, upon any occasion, done anything that might give reason to believe or even to suspect it was not so. As to the Spanish contingent, it was the greatest, for it was composed of 6,000 men, the French consisting of 2,500, and that of the English of 1,000; but not for this has the expedition ceased to be an allied expedition, and as such directed solely by the decisions of the conferences.
Have I ever asked for the least preference? Never. You have seen me give [Page 767]place to yourself and your troops, as well as to our colleagues, the English, and their soldiers.
In fact, the French contingent is the greatest; but I cannot but think that we shall continue to be an allied expedition, with the same liberty of military operation as its chiefs have hitherto enjoyed, and the same subjection, as before, on the part of its chiefs, to the decrees of the conferences, unless your instructions oblige you to withdraw, to act afterwards as a French expedition, which is not likely to be the case, for a thousand reasons which oppose it. We have not yet left for Puebla on accouut of the indisposition of Sir Charles Wycke, and besides, as General Doblado has not arrived, what could we do with the others ?
The ministers of finance and justice have arrived, but I have made known to them that we cannot set out on account of Sir Charles Wycke’s illness, and I have invited them to come here, if they carry sufficient powers to treat of the questions referring to the contribution and custom-house. I prefer to burn our ships in the defence of our countrymen, than with the object of exacting an amnesty entire and without exceptions, because we have no right, at this moment, to demand of the government of the republic to permit the return to the country of those exiled for political causes, when it knows that they come with the intention of conspiring and of attacking the government and the constitutional institutions.
Reflect, my friend, upon the subject with your usual justice, and I doubt not, listening to your loyalty, you will think with us. It is to speak of all these weighty matters that I wish we could meet as soon as possible, and for this reason I once more say to you that your troops are safe at Tehuacan as mine are here, since all the Mexican forces united would not dare to attack them.
Come, then; for here, in your house, I expect you, and I extend to you the hand of a true friend.
It is a correct translation.
- REPLY OF GENERAL PRIM TO ADMIRAL LAGRAVIERE.↩