Mr. Romero to Mr. Seward

Mr. Secretary: I have the honor to transmit to you, for the information of the government of the United States, some documents, translated into English, recently come into my possession, showing the condition of affairs on the north-western [Page 30] frontier of the Mexican republic. At the same time I enclose you two very significant documents, both from French sources, clearly showing what is going on in the part of Mexico occupied by the French.

The first of these documents is a letter from Mr. Heym, sergeant-major and secretary of the Belgian legion in Mexico, to his parents in Lievre, telling them simply and truthfully what the legion has done in Mexico, the excesses it has committed, and the way the usurped authority it represents is treated by the nation. The whole letter was published in an Antwerp paper, called Le Precurseur.

The second of the documents mentioned is an extract from No. 102 of La Idea Liberal, of the 29th of November last, a paper published in Puebla, and was brought to this country by the last steamer from Vera Cruz. This extract is the report of two Mexicans, denying the official assertion of the usurper’s agents that the amnesty offered in his bloody decree of the 3d of October last, of which I sent a copy in English to your department with my note of the 25th of the same month, had been willingly accepted by them. The French and their agents have recently tried to make believe that a large number of Mexicans, still defending the independence of their country, have accepted this amnesty; but the representations of the two citizens referred to, Silvester Aranda and Zeferino Macias, demonstrate very plainly what credit these assurances deserve.

I embrace this occasion to repeat to you, Mr. Secretary, the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.


Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.

No. 1.


Mariano Escobedo, general of the Mexican republic, and commanding the division of the north, to the inhabitants of the State of Tamaulipas:

Citizens of Tamaulipas: As a soldier of the republic and of the national independence I have had to traverse the territory of this ever-patriotic State with the forces I have the honor to command, in order to combat our common enemy, intrenched in Matamoras. The line of conduct pursued by the braves who have accompanied me through all these populations is the best guarantee of that which they will pursue in the future.

I know your patriotism, generous Tamaulipans. I have not passed through a single city or rancho where I have not received signal proofs of adhesion to the national cause, and therefore doubt not that you will listen to the voice of your country, calling upon you through me in these supreme moments.

Sons of Tamaulipas! Grasp your ever-feared and victorious rifles and join the hundreds of your fellow-citizens who already form our ranks, thus showing to the world that you are worthy of the freedom which you have always enjoyed. A small effort and the heroic city will be free.

Sons of Matamoras! No one in the world will believe that there is among you a single one capable of betraying the republic. You are oppressed—that is all. I come as a friend to help you shake off the yoke of the so-called empire, because we are all interested in the liberation of this port. I offer you all the guarantees which you can desire. The subordination and strict discipline of my command inspires me with the necessary confidence to assure you that all property and persons will be religiously respected.

Those only need fear who shall obstinately try to oppose the passage of my forces, for on them will fall the avenging sword of an indignant republic.

Mexicans, who are sacrilegiously armed against your country, open your eyes! What are you going to do? Against whom do you intend to fire off the guns you have shouldered? Against us? What do you defend against us? Reflect well. For nearly four years the sons of Mexico have fought against a foreign foe who desires to impose upon us the yoke of a foreign monarch—a foe which outrages, humiliates, and despises us, and tramples under foot the sovereignty, dignity, and the independence of our country. We [Page 31] are fighting and always will fight against this army of usurpators. Meditate well, you citizens who are arming against us. Think of our particular situation You are Mexicans; we also are such. Why are we about to fight against each other? You have placed yourselves by some strange fatality by the side of these foreign enemies, and yet in your bosom beats a Mexican heart. Your conscience, then, must tell you, when firing your shots upon us, that you are firing upon your country, because we contend for its honor, its liberty, and its independence. Unite with us, Mexicans, follow the natural impulses of your heart, and together we will save the republic from the domination of foreigners, fighting without rest the forces of the French monarch.

Mexicans all! the standard of independence and the republic calls you! Come cluster under its folds, and, fighting as ought to fight free and generous men, demonstrate to the world that if we Mexicans have always been unfortunate, we are not degraded enough to accept slavery at the hands of a foreign monarch, great and powerful though he may be.


No. 2.


Mariano Escobedo, general of the Mexican republic, commanding division of the north, to his subordinates:

Companions: In marching against the city of Matamoras I must tell you that I have faith in our triumph, because I reckon with your bravery and discipline.

Soldiers of the republic! You know that your mission is to fight for the independence of our country, to give its inhabitants all classes of guarantees, and such as are compatible with the circumstances of the war which we are obliged to sustain. A throne has been raised by foreign bayonets in our capital; and this throne, self-degraded, weak, and impotent, and a truly humiliating representation of sovereign nationality, must fall, to enable our country to recover its proper dignity and existence.

It appears incredible, but there exist Mexicans who lend it their support, and such are those whom you will have to encounter in Matamoras. They are mis ed But they cannot possibly feel the firm conviction of being in the right, because the country speaks to their heart as the sentiments of maternity speak to that of the child. Their cause is bad, while yours has the sympathy of the world; and the greater the privations, sufferings, and difficulties you have to confront in its defence, so much more glorious is it to uphold it Continue as you have commenced. In this State, wherever you have passed, you have by your good conduct conquered friends, strong and brave on the field of battle in defence of liberty, who have united, and continue to unite with you, and reflect splendor on the arms of the republic.

Fear nothing! Soon will the national flag wave majestically over this entire frontier, because you sustain it with an arm that knows not how to give way before foreign oppression, but knows how to fall terribly upon those who try to defile it, and also punish these who undertake to cover their transgressions under its folds, who outrage peaceful inhabitants, or deprive them of the free use of their property.

Forward, companions! There are yet thousands of Mexican hearts in the heroic Matamoras whose wishes are propitious to you. It is there you will receive the congratulations of him who with pride calls himself your general and friend.


No. 3.



General: Nearly four years of a bloody contest to repel the form of government which the French invasion is trying to establish are sufficient to convince you that it is not possible to give our country peace under the imperial government which has been established in some of our principal cities. We Mexicans who are fighting it are using our rights, because we want for our country true independence and sovereignty, and not the simulated one represented by the Austrian Archduke Maximilian. Using this sacred right, I am [Page 32] about militarily to occupy this place, (Matamoras.) But, considering that those who form its garrison are also Mexicans, I think it my duty to invite you to listen to the voice of your country calling upon you to cease your co-operation in its abasement and prostration by the rule of a foreign monarch.

I know that this proceeding is foreign to the usages established in this war, during which time no invitation of this nature has been extended on the part of the imperialists; but I fulfil my duty in order that the responsibility may fall upon others. God and history will judge the Mexicans who in this war have defended causes so opposite.

Do me the favor, general, to answer this communication within two hours, and accept the assurance of my consideration,


General Thomas Mejia, Commanding Garrison in Matamoras.

No. 4.



General: I have received by your two parlamentarios (bearers of a flag of truce) your letter dated to-day, which, in summary, contains an invitation for me to surrender this place to the forces under your command.

Although I could not reckon upon the elements which now are more than sufficient to defend it, yet, as a soldier, it would be my duty to die, after having exhausted all my means of resistance, and my obligations as a Mexican to sacrifice myself and soldiers for a cause upon which depends, according to my sincere convictions, the salvation of my country. But I hold in my hands resources sufficient to defend it, and hope to defend myself with complete success. You can commence your operations as soon as you think convenient. The responsibility will fall upon him who shall have provoked the occurrences.

Accept, general, the assurance of my consideration.

THOMAS MEJIA, Commander-in-chief of the Line of the Rio Grande.

General Mariano Escobedo, Before Matamoras.

No. 5.


The following communication was addressed to General Steele by General Escobedo on the day of its date, and before the former had turned over his command to General Weitzel:


Mexican Republic, division of the north–General-in-Chief.

General: As it is difficult for me to direct an official communication to the consul of the United States accredited to my government in the port of Matamoras, I have the honor, general, to write to inform you that, within a few days, I shall commence military operations against that place, occupied to-day by forces hostile to the legitimate government of my country. All the pacific inhabitants, without distinction of nationality, will be protected in their persons and property as far as the exigencies of the war will permit; and I can assure you, general, that if, unfortunately, any disorders should be committed, they will be severely punished. I beg, general, that you will transmit a copy of this official note to the consul of your nation, recommending to him (if I may so far tax your kindness) that he will give the greatest publicity to its contents among strangers and natives.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major General F. Steele, Commanding American Forces on the Rio Grande.

[Page 33]
No. 6.


At an early hour yesterday morning, in company with several officers of the United States army, I mounted my horse and started for a visit to the liberal encampment, now established around the city of Matamoras. Although the “communication” is perfectly open between this place and Escobedo’s headquarters, and parties are constantly passing upon business or pleasure, yet there is a semblance, or rather affectation, of mystery about it which, if adding little to the zest of the journey, rendered it pleasing to have one of “the initiated” with us to point out the roads, parley with the guards, and afford us the benefit of his experience in swimming our horses across the Rio Grande—as this, among other pleasant experences, was involved in the trip.

The rain of the past few days had rendered the roads through the chaparral very wet and muddy, and in many places were deep mud-holes, through which our horses made their way with considerable effort. The sky was clear as we started, and the sun beat down with a warmth which would do credit to a midsummer day in your northern climes. The foliage on either hand presented every shade of green, with not a single tinge of autumn visible. The leaves, very small, and of various and exquisite shapes, were interspersed with beautiful flowers, while from every branch and twig innumerable birds were flitting.

After riding at a furious rate for three or four miles, we turned off from the main road and entered a by-path, which soon brought us to a collection of huts near the bank of the river, and occupied by two or three Mexican families. The women, dressed in a style which, if not altogether primitive, was certainly approaching it, were squatted around a small wood fire, broiling beef bones, while their numerous progeny ran about in happy ignorance that the conventionalities of any life rendered imperative the use of clothing. These children often have the Moorish type of features, and frequently during youth are very beautiful.


Upon reaching the river bank we found one small boat, constructed much like a canoe, in which were placed our equipments, the horses, held by a long and strong lariat, swimming after. Once over, and our horses resaddled, we again started through the chaparral, the roads upon the Mexican side being somewhat of an improvement upon the other. After riding a mile or more we met a short, venerable looking Mexican, with full gray whiskers, riding upon a spirited-looking mustang. This gentlemen turned out to be


General Escobedo’s private secretary. As I afterwards learned, he formerly resided in the city of Mexico, was a lawyer by profession, and possessed of an immense fortune. Upon the occupation of the country by the French, he abandoned his home and property, attached himself to the liberal cause, and, from a spirit of pure patriotism, has devoted all his energies to the re-establishment of his country’s independence. He greeted us with much courtesy, and directed his orderly to return with us and show us the best road to headquarters.

A further ride of three miles brought us to the headquarters of the liberal commander-in-chief. They were established at a rancho about one league from the city, which was for the most part plainly visible, as it is surrounded by an extensive plain. The attacking force is alone covered by the chaparral, which grows to a height of from eight to twelve feet. In glancing over this plain, upon which were encamped between three and four thousand men, not a single evidence of life was discernible, so effectually is everything concealed by the trees and underbrush. The building occupied by the general consists of a low brick structure, having but one room and two or three hacals—houses built of cane and plastered with mud—all in an extremely filthy condition. The yard and grounds about the place were overrun by horses, mules, and cattle, in addition to which a number of the latter had been slaughtered near by and the refuse left on the ground, all causing a conglomeration of filth and stench which I have seldom seen paralleled. As we rode into the enclosure we were greeted by a number of staff officers, and requested to dismount. A glass of whiskey was immediately presented us, after which we were ushered into the house or cabin and introduced to


This officer, as stated in a previous despatch, has been recently appointed to the civil and military command of the States in northern Mexico, and of the troops therein stationed, by President Juarez. Though thus clad by an authority which the liberal chiefs everywhere pretend to recognize, he was for some time unable to reconcile and reorganize the conflicting elements composing the liberal army. He has, however, finally succeeded in doing this, and the present investment of Matamoras is the result.

[Page 34]

While compelled, from the peculiarities of his position, to perform certain acts and make use of means which would not be considered strictly legitimate, he neverthelesss stands very high with his countrymen, and is, I think, justly considered to be honest, sincerely patriotic, and of considerable ability. Before starting for Matamoras he convened the various liberal commanders, some of whom were stationed at quite a distance from his headquarters, and acting for the most part on their own responsibility, and after a long and serious consultation, partly by the authority of his position, and partly by persuasion, he induced them to abandon their jealousies and differences and unite under him for an attack upon the city. Before separating these men embraced each other and pledged themselves to united efforts against the common foe. Having concentrated his forces at Camargo on the 14th, he reached Matamoras on the 20th, and forthwith commenced the investment of the place.

General Hinojosa was given the command of the right wing, Canales the centre, and the renowned Cortina the left. I may remark in this connection that up to this time these officers had worked admirably together, and the utmost harmony and good feeling prevailed.

As we entered the general arose and came forward to meet us, extending his hand and greeting us with the impressement peculiar to the Spanish race. At his suggestion the party seated themselves about a rough table, on each side of which benches were placed. These, with three camp beds, in as many corners, comprised all the furniture in the room. As the general does not speak English, the conversation was carried on in Spanish, and was mostly of a personal character. He is about five feet ten inches in hight, with small, keen, black eyes, spare in habit, and somewhat stooping. This latter defect is more observable when on horseback. His forehead is high and narrow, his mouth large, well formed, and indicative of great energy. In manner he is quiet, unassuming, reticent. This latter quality he is said to possess to an eminent degree. He keeps his own counsel remarkably well, the most prominent members of his staff knowing nothing of his plans or purposes. I gather from his remarks that he was confident of success, though nothing was said directly upon the subject. He intimated that he could have been in possession ere this by a great sacrifice of life and a, destruction of a portion of the city, which he was anxious to avoid. I thought that he fancied he had “everything his own way,” and that he could afford to wait.

His staff for the most part spoke English fluently, and seemed gentlemen of education. His engineer officer, Colonel Piscardo Villanueva, was educated in Europe, and possesses great abilities in this branch of the service. While we were seated at the table he presented the general with a sketch of the works about the city, which I saw at a glance was correct. Colonel Charles, chief of staff, is an accomplished and indefatigable officer, and performs the varied and laborious duties of his position admirably. Those duties will be the better appreciated when it is considered that the liberal army has no quartermaster or commissary department, and that the providing for the troops is necessarily under the immediate eye of the general.

After remaining in conversation for a time we clambered to the top of the most elevated buildings, where we obtained an excellent view of the city and that portion of the fortifications nearest us. As before stated, the dense chaparral concealed the troops from view. In the occasional open spaces visible animals were seen quietly grazing, and not the slightest evidence was observable that “grim-visaged war” was here holding his accustomed revel of blood. After partaking of a lunch prepared in the Mexican style, it was thought desirable to return, and as our horses were brought up the general announced his intention of accompanying us for a distance, and of showing us


Mounting, we started off, followed by as motley a crowd as ever the imagination of the great dramatist conceived, moving toward the city. We soon came upon an encampment of reserves, or rather, I should say, a bivouac, as there was no sign of a tent or other covering visible. While the general was in conversation with the commanding officer of the troops, I had an opportunity of observing both officers and men. The only distinguishing mark between the two was a sash worn around the waist, its color denoting rank among the subalterns. Theoretically the Mexicans have the shoulder-straps, with stars of various sizes, leaves, &c., designating marks, but in active service they are seldom seen. While every variety of dress was observable, the predominating one was composed of jackets and pantaloons of dark gray, the cap similar to our forage cap. As will be naturally supposed, these were extremely shabby, although, on the whole, they certainly appeared better than any similar number of rebels I saw during the latter part of our war. I thought the men looked young, though, upon calling the attention of Colonel Charles to this fact, he stated that they were mostly old soldiers. Judging from the expression of their faces, they seemed in most excellent spirits; not enthusiastic, but quiet, good-humored, and satisfied. They gathered in groups, and suspended their conversation to look at the general. Numbers waved their hats, and now and then a suppressed viva was heard, but nothing more; not much life, or energy, or expectation, but rather what seemed to me a childlike contentment.

Riding forward, we soon came upon the third line of works, which consists of a long pit or ditch, the dirt thrown from which constitutes a breastwork. The other lines were similar, as I was informed, though we did not visit them. Several pieces of artillery were pointed out [Page 35] to me in position in the chaparral. They were mostly small, though an occasional rifled gun of considerable calibre was seen.

As our course carried us towards the left, we moved in that direction, our eyes for the most part turned toward the fortifications, from which an occasional gun was heard, falling, however, far short of us. Observing a group of horsemen at a little distance in the wood, the general turned his horse in that direction. On observing us the party advanced to meet us, and an officer by my side in a low tone said, “Cortina.”

No. 7.


The condition of affairs has not materially changed since the date of my last despatch. A constant skirmishing has been kept up outside of Matamoras, and the liberals have dropped an occasional shell into the city, but no material damage has been done.


I was yesterday informed by a staff officer of General Escobedo that the liberal chief was awaiting re-enforcements, which were confidently expected last evening. He earnestly denied the rumors which have been prevalent for the past few days that the liberal force was about to be withdrawn, and was enthusiastic in his assurances that the city would be eventually taken.

The hospitals established for the care of the liberal wounded are now in full operation, and every attention is paid to their wants. The Mexicans on this side of the river are all republican in sentiment, and are contributing supplies and delicacies for their use.


There have been rumors of the arrival of French troops at the mouth of the river for the past three days, and some of the Matamoras journals have been loud in their assurances of what would be accomplished when they reached the city. A gentleman who reached here last evening from Bagdad states that no such troops had arrived, and no transports were in sight The liberals, who are usually well-informed, laugh at the idea of the imperialists receiving re-enforcements from Vera Cruz or elsewhere.

A forced loan of two or three thousand dollars has been levied on all persons engaged in business in Bagdad. It is alleged that the money is levied for the purpose of paying the troops, who, it appears, are not disposed to fight for “the empire” without pay, and it was apprehended that, unless it was forthcoming, a revolt would take place.

As protection from forced loans is one among the strongest arguments used by the supporters of Maximilian, it is presumed the money will be paid with but a poor grace.


A despatch from Colonel Trevino to General Escobedo says that a portion of his command, under Captain D. Jacinto Fragoso, recently encountered a force of the Franco-traitors at Villa de Garcia, on the road between Ceralvo and Monterey, and routed them, killing a number and capturing five prisoners. The fight was a hand-to-hand contest in the streets of the village.

The same party surprised a force of the imperialists at Mesilla, and captured their arms and horses.

Colonel Trevino holds the road between Monterey and Matamoras, and has sufficient force to prevent re-enforcements marching from the former to the relief of the latter, even though they could be spared for that purpose.

No. 8.


The liberal forces, which, since their withdrawal from the immediate front of Matamoras, have been encamped some six or eight miles up the river, have succeeded in obtaining a liberal supply of ammunition, and, as they say, will resume their old position before the city as soon as the state of the weather—which is now very bad—will permit. Yesterday, owing to the condition of the ground, their encampment was moved to a point nearer the river, and Escobedo now has his headquarters opposite ranch Cortina, the residence of the famous border chief of that name.

[Page 36]


It is gravely stated that while the commander of the French fleet off the Rio Grande was engaged in writing important letters to the officer commanding the United States forces here— copies of which I forward you—the liberals succeeded in running a vessel loaded with arms and ammunition from the north past his fleet, and landed them on the Mexican coast below Bagdad. This is, however, considered a canard by the better informed; and it is intimated that the vigilance of the detectives engaged in efforts to preserve the neutrality laws has been evaded, and the supply referred to crossed over from this side.

No. 9.


At about eight o’clock last evening what seemed to be a sharp skirmishing, with an occasional sound of artillery, was heard below this city, and it was supposed the liberals had passed around Matamoras, and were attacking it from the south side. It was known that General Mejia had, during the day, kept a force at work cutting down the chaparral outside of the forts, and that no enemy was in sight. The sound of the guns, therefore, caused much wonderment, and many absurd rumors were rife.


This morning the mystery was explained, and in a manner which has caused much merriment, and poured a flood of ridicule upon the imperialists.

It seems that a wood boat or barge, used in bringing wood from up the river for the use of the government transports, had come down loaded during the day, and had been tied to the bank near the town. The current being very strong, her fastenings were broken, and she floated down the stream. The three men upon her, having no boat, were compelled to let her take her course. When opposite Matamoras she was hailed by the gunboat Antonio, lying at that point. The answer was not heard or not understood, and. fearing she was some diabolical invention of the liberals, the Antonio opened fire upon her, in which the land forces and guns soon after joined. The captain called out her true character at the top of his voice, but to no purpose, and onward past the forts at the lower end of the city moved the fearful craft, until brought up by a sharp bend in the river, when the demoralized but uninjured crew succeeded in tying her to the bank. A bullet passed through the captain’s hat, but no other injury was done. That officer, who is an absurd-looking Mexican, with liberal tendencies, hopes that the Juarez government will bear in mind the precedent established by the United States in heaping such liberal rewards upon Admiral Farragut for his success in passing forts.


General Escobedo recently received a communication from Colonel Trevino, commanding the liberal troops in the vicinity of Monterey, in which that officer confirmed the evacuation of that city by the French, with the further information that the place was held by five hundred native troops (imperialists.) He also stated that events had transpired there which rendered the presence of the commanding general of great importance—details of which he did not feel at liberty to commit to paper. Upon the reception of the communication General Escobedo immediately started for Colonel Trevino’s headquarters. He will be absent four or five days. It is shrewdly surmised that the commanding officer of the imperial troops in Monterey, who once belonged to the liberal party, is desirous of a personal interview with the general, and that such interview will result in a compromise which will avoid all bloodshed over the possession of that city.

No. 10.


Advices from the interior have been received here which confirm the oft-repeated statements of the anarchy and confusion which exist throughout Mexico under the beneficent rule of the emperor Maximilian. The interests, and, indeed, the life and property of the people, under the sway of the officers commanding the foreign legions, are treated as things of no moment, and forced loans of money and other valuables are constantly levied and collected at the point of the bayonet—imprisonment and death being oft times the penalty of non-payment. Maximilian has recently come to the sage conclusion that he has not troops enough [Page 37] to hold the country, and has therefore commenced a series of concentrations at some of the more important points. In accordance with this programme the French troops were withdrawn from Monterey and marched to Saltillo, where it was given out they were to remain. This place has a population of fifteen thousand. Before his departure Colonel Jeanningros, commanding the French troops, caused fifty thousand rations to be sold at auction in the public square, where they brought small prices. For this and other reasons it is supposed the troops are to be withdrawn some distance in the interior.

At the latest advices they had reached Saltillo, where the people had already been robbed of large sums by forced loans.

The troops were quartered in the city, and a large number of families had been turned from their houses to make room for the French officers and men.

Everywhere the people are treated like dogs, and the most atrocious outrages perpetrated on both men and women.

The French troops are of small stature and poorly armed, but are seemingly very active. They carry much heavier loads on the march than our soldiers and straggle fearfully. They are miserable horsemen, officers as well as soldiers, and in their operations against the mounted troops of the liberals never leave the broad road, as, should they enter the chaparral they might fall from their horses, the result of which would be certain death from the sword or dagger of the Mexican, who moves with astonishing celerity through the tangled undergrowth.


Engineers in the French service are engaged in making maps of the country and studying its condition with reference to the roads, water, and supplies.


Large numbers of foreign troops have deserted, and others lose no opportunity to do so. Of the eight thousand Austrian troops which originally came to the country two thousand have died off or deserted. It is thought by the well informed that there are not now more than fifteen thousand foreign troops in the country. As has been stated, there were originally eighteen thousand French troops, and fourteen thousand Austrians, Hungarians, Poles, Egyptians, &c. These were the numbers on paper. It can be safely calculated that one-third less was the actual number present, and that by disease, desertion, and the weapons of the liberals it has been decreased to the present estimate can be easily believed.


In many places the people have anxiously longed for the arrival of the imperial troops, hoping to be preserved from the exactions of the liberals; but in every case these illusions have been dispelled by their presence, and the universal cry is, “Anything but these foreign robbers and cut-throats.”

No. 11.


Information of the defeat of the liberals in and about Monterey has reached here. As usual, the accounts of the respective parties widely differ, and it is difficult to get at the real truth of the affair.


Before leaving Monterey the French commander had made forced loans, in violation of the decree of Maximilian, and on November 8 the Mexican imperial commander made another assessment on the merchants for money, men, and horses to defend the city against the liberals. Some Americans and others protested against this, but were informed that they must comply with the demand or go to jail.

Drafts on the city of Mexico for previous loans had been dishonored.


of affairs about Monterey had been very tyrannical, and the people everywhere were more dissatisfied with the empire than they had previously been with the republic. Many complaints were made of outrages committed on citizens by the French officers, particularly by Americans and other foreigners. Instances of public flogging of citizens by Jeanningros himself were related by reliable parties.

The officers, with their orderlies and servants, were quartered with the wealthy families, using their rooms, furniture, and provisions at pleasure. The troops were quartered in houses, from most of which the families had been ejected.

[Page 38]

On the march from Monterey to Saltillo women and children were turned from their houses in cold weather that the soldiers might occupy them.

All property seized for public use is paid for at such prices as the commanding officer may allow, or not at all.

The people are constantly contrasting the course of the French with that of the Americans in 1847, much to the credit of the latter.

The roads through the country travelled are natural, and for the most part good. A scarcity of water is, however, a serious difficulty in the way of travel or of military operations Much of this might be overcome by digging common or artesian wells. Generally speaking, good water can be obtained at a depth of from thirty to sixty feet in limestone rock, and large tracts of land, now useless, might be cultivated by the aid of irrigation therefrom. In case of military operations within the states mentioned, all supplies except fresh meat must necessarily be from the line of the Rio Grande. A railroad from the river to Monterey would be advisable in such case. To build such a road very little heavy grading would be required. The greatest difficulty would be in procuring ties, there being little timber growing near except palmetto, which is too soft for such purpose. Difficulties in procuring water and grass would prevent any extended cavalry operations.

No. 12.



Matamoras, November 9, 1865.

General: I forward you enclosed copy of a communication, dated yesterday, sent to me by D. de la Bedolliero, lieutenant in the French marines, and acting commander of the armed gunboat Antonia. You can, by said communication, officially take cognizance or the following occurrences, which include so many flagrant violations of the neutrality which the United States have obligated themselves to keep in Mexican affairs:

First. That the Mexican steamboat Antonia, coming up the river with French troops on board, was attacked from the Texas shore without any provocation whatever. Nor was this insult to the French and Mexican flags, which were both floating on the boat, in any way punished.

Second. That the besiegers of Matamoras detached from their lines to attack, from Mexico, the said steamboat, crossed the Rio Grande under arms, without any opposition being made by the American authorities, officers or soldiers, from whom, on the contrary, they received a hearty welcome.

Third. That the same bandits were in direct communication with the American steamboat Tampico during the action. The relation of M. de la Bedolliero is confirmed by the unequivocal marks left on the Antonia by the projectiles sent from the Texas shore.

Besides this, occurrences of the same character have taken place in the neighborhood of Matamoras during the stay of the enemy. According to the daily reports of the steamers Paisano and Eugenia, a great number of persons, among whom could be distinguished the uniform of the United States and that peculiar to Cortina’s robbers, occupy themselves in insulting and even throwing stones from the city of Brownsville at the troops which man said boats, and this in the presence of the American officers and guards stationed on the bank of the river.

Such outrages, which cannot naturally be explained, have been noted, and relation of them will be transmitted to the Mexican government, and to his excellency Marshal Bazaine, in order that they may decide upon the real character of such actions. Accept, general, the assurance of my consideration.

THS. MEJIA, Commanding line of the Rio Grande.

The following is a copy of the communication referred to in the foregoing:

No. 13.



Matamoras, November 8, 1865.

General: I have the honor to inform you that, coming up the river Rio Grande with the Mexican steamboat Antonia, I was attacked by the liberals posted near Ranchito, on the Mexican side of the river. After the engagement I saw two horsemen crossing the river behind us. They landed on the Texas shore, and a few minutes afterwards three shots were fired at us from that side, almost immediately followed by three more, and yet another— [Page 39] altogether seven shots. I had a great deal of trouble to restrain my men and keep them from firing into the American shore I gave the order not to fire on the Texas side under any circumstances whatever, and was strictly obeyed.

The two horsemen who had fired upon us were galloping along the bank in the direction of Brownsville, and I am convinced that they were the same who fired upon us during the last affair, which took place about four miles from Matamoras.

When we arrived in front of the American camp, these two horsemen were prancing up and down, exchanging salutations and shaking hands with the American officers. Several men, wearing the same uniform, and who had no doubt crossed the river after the engagement, had rejoined these two, and seemed to be equally well received by the Americans.

During the morning we were continually annoyed by horsemen, who were firing at us under cover of ranches and chaparral. Arriving at a place called, I believe, Lamparena, we saw the American steamboat Tampico tied up to the Mexican shore and loaded with troops. The liberals continued to fire upon us until we were hid from their sight by the Tampico.

In passing they communicated with said steamboat, and again commenced their fire upon us, when we could not answer them without hitting the Tampico; and when a short time afterwards the superiority of our fire obliged them to fly, they went back to the Tampico again, communicated with her, and then followed us. I presume they went to the Americans to ask either for ammunition or information as to our armament.

I have thought it my duty to make these facts known to you.

I am, general, your very obedient servant,

D. DE LA BEDOLLIERE, Ensign, Commanding Steamboat Antonia.

Literal and certified copy:

No. 14.


General: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 9th instant, and to say in reply that you, as a soldier, must certainly be aware that it would require all the cavalry of Europe and America combined so to picket this river as to prevent single individuals from committing such outrages as Lieutenant de la Bedolliero complains of, and that it would not be just in you to hold me or my government responsible for the acts of such individuals. All that I can do is to try my utmost to arrest the guilty parties, and dispose of them according to instructions; and this I commenced to do before I received your letter, and as soon as I heard of the occurrence.

The soldiers on the Tampico were sick and disabled men who were mustered out, and were on their way to their homes. What crime there could have been in communicating with the liberals I cannot possibly understand. These sick and disabled soldiers had no ammunition, and they certainly could give them very little information.

The fact that there were bullet-marks on the starboard side of the Antonia does not prove at all that the shots were fired from the American side, because, as you must know, the Rio Grande is so crooked and has so many sharp turns that a boat could be riddled on her starboard side and still every shot be fired from the Mexican shore. You complain that my officers and men affiliate with the liberals and welcome them. This is not strange. The liberals claim that they fight for their freedom. Their cause, then, is one that has awakened the warmest sympathies in every American breast. It would be as impossible for me to prevent this, even if I felt so disposed, as it would be to stop the motion of the earth. But I do not feel so disposed. During our late war the officers and men of French and English men-of-war lying in ports in our military possession affiliated continually and exclusively with our enemies, (as at New Orleans and Norfolk,) and yet it was not thought necessary to communicate with them on the subject. They were permitted to choose their own associates.

I have only heard of a single instance when a mob of Mexicans threw stones at your gunboats, and this mob was promptly dispersed by my guards.

I have never heard of a single soldier making insulting remarks, but have heard that Mexicans frequently make them. It would be impossible for me to stop this, because I have not the force to spare for pickets, though I felt disposed to do it; but I do not feel so disposed, because ever since my arrival here you have allowed a sheet, published in Matamoras and printed in the English and Spanish languages, daily to vilify and insult the government, the people, and the army of the United States; and this, too, after your attention and that of Señor Robles had been called to it.

You, general, have no right to complain of my conduct during the recent siege. I permitted the women and children to come here from Matamoras, meat to go over to your citizens who remained, grass for the cows of the same, and wood to enable them to cook their meals. Humanity required this. In return I gave the wounded liberals who were helpless and [Page 40] destitute shelter, medicines and food. I invariably did this for my wounded enemies. For whom have I done the most in this matter? Is it not about an equal thing?

Again, you promised to release American citizens, after my demand was made, from being pressed into military service under you, contrary to the treaty between Mexico and the United States, and yet yesterday I heard of three that were still held. I believe this to be entirely the fault of your subordinate officers, and do not blame you for it.

Again, you have converted an American steamer into a gunboat and hoisted the Mexican flag on her, without first buying her and changing her nationality, according to law; and against this I hereby protest, and if not remedied, will at once lay the matter before my superior officers.

As Monsieur Cloue, commander of the naval division in the gulf of Mexico, has also addressed me on some of the above subjects, I should be pleased if you would send him a copy of this letter, as I do not wish to correspond with two different commanders.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. WEITZEL, Major General Commanding.

General Tomas Mejia, Commanding line of the Rio Grande.

No. 15.


The following is the correspondence between the American commander and the officer in command of the French fleet:

First Letter.


General: I have been exactly informed as to the events taking place in the surroundings of Matamoras—that is to say, that I am perfectly cognizant of the assistance which the so-called liberals have received and still receive from Texas, and more especially from Brownsville.

The mess stores and munitions of war are furnished by persons under your command. Escobedo’s pieces are worked by gunners from your army who are not mustered out of service.

The wounded are received in the Brownsville hospital.

The officers of Escobedo and Cortinia daily go to that city (armed) to take their meals or to rest during the leisure hours which the siege of Matamoras leaves them. In a word, Brownsville seems to be the headquarters of the Juarists. And it is undoubted that neither Escobedo nor Cortina could undertake anything if they did not have these continually renewed resources from Texas to sustain them.

I will take the liberty to recall to your memory how very different to what is passing here has been the conduct of France during the recent war which has just torn the American Union. France remained loyally neutral. If it had been otherwise—if we had done the one-hundredth part of what is being done in Brownsville or on the banks of the Rio Grande— the American people would have loudly protested, and they would have been right.

The international laws adopted by all civilized nations are obligatory upon all. As they bound us in honor to remain neutral, so do they bind you also; you cannot pretend to be exempt from rules upon which you have leaned under pretext that they are now useless.

After having presented to you, general, the preceding observations, I close my letter by protesting in the most formal manner against the flagrant violation of neutrality on this frontier, and particularly in Brownsville.

Accept, general, the assurance of my highest esteem and most perfect consideration.

G. CLOUE, Commanding the Naval Division of the Mexican Gulf.

The General Commanding the Forces of the United States on the Rio Grande.

No. 16.

General Weitzel’s response.

Sir: I have received your communication of the 6th instant, and return it herewith, as I cannot receive a document so disrespectful to me and to the government I have the honor to represent.

[Page 41]

If you have any complaints to make, they will he duly submitted to higher authority, if said complaints are in proper tone and couched in proper language.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. WEITZEL, Major General Commanding.

Monsieur G. Cloue, Commander of the Naval Division, Gulf of Mexico.

No. 17.

Second letter.


General: I have the honor to inform you that some shot were fired from the American side at a detachment of French marines going up the river on the steamboat Antonio.

According to my positive orders, the officer commanding the detachment recommended to his men not to answer any act of hostility whatever coming from the American side. This order was executed, and will continue to be, whatever happens, because we understand our duty as belligerents, and are determined not to swerve from it. According to international laws, the armed Mexicans who cross your frontier should be arrested and disarmed. With stronger reason do these laws require that you should not tolerate any acts of hostility coming from your side. It is failing in respect to the United States to come upon their territory and from there fire upon our troops without danger.

I am confident, general, that the acts of hostility committed against the Antonio were committed without your knowledge, and I am certain that it is sufficient for me to have called your attention to such deplorable occurrences in order that they be not renewed.

You are probably unaware that the assailants of the Antonio communicated with your troops descending the river on the steamboat Tampico, and, besides, that these same assailants crossed over to Texas in sight of the Antonio, and were seen fraternizing with the United States soldiers.

I had the honor to write to you upon my arrival in regard to the grave occurrences which are taking place on the frontier, and would be happy to learn that you have received my letter.

Accept, general, the assurance of the sentiments of high esteem and consideration with which I have the honor to be your most obedient servant,

G. CLOUE, Commanding the Naval Division of the Mexican Gulf

The General Commanding the Forces of the United States on the Line of the Rio Grande, Brownsville.

No. 18.


Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 9th in stant.

Several days ago I received one from General Mejia on the same subject; but before I had received either I had commenced to investigate the affair, and as soon as I can I will reply to General Mejia, as he signs himself and is understood to be, commander of the line of the Rio Grande on the other side, and because I have neither the time nor the disposition to correspond with two different commanders on the same subject.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. WEITZEL, Major General Commanding.

Monsieur G. Cloue, Commander of the Naval Division of the Mexican Gulf.

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No. 19.

[General Orders No. 3.]

The Mexican authorities having officially notified the commanding general that the Ranchero has been ordered to cease publishing any articles insulting to our government, people, and army, it is hereby ordered that all officers and soldiers of this command shall not allow any person on this bank to insult any person on the other side of the Rio Grande.

By order of Major General Weitzel:

D. D. WHEELER, Assistant Adjutant General.
No. 20.

General Mejia to General Weitzel

General: In answer to your communication of October 24, I will state that I have taken the necessary information in regard to the detention of the individuals whom you ask me to set at liberty.

In none of the edifices which serve as prisons in this city of Matamoras can there be found the persons of James McElrath, Bartley Quinn, or James Smith; but under the jurisdiction of the court-martial are detained Richard Crawford, or Cranford, Carter Smith, and Joseph King, American soldiers, who deserted from your command on the 16th of September last, and were taken prisoners in the neighborhood of Matamoras on the next day, the 17th, in a skirmish which took place between a few of my soldiers and one of Cortina’s band.

It is, therefore, impossible for me to set them at liberty.

It is true that a few men of color, of American origin, were employed on the public works or fortifications; but this labor was freely given, and they were paid one dollar each daily.

You see that neither the laws nor the treaties have been violated.

It is also certain that during the last operations in this city several negroes and former United States soldiers were arrested, but they were afterwards liberated. Still, the presence of individuals of this class in the enemy’s lines, the projectiles of American manufacture which were thrown over Matamoras, and the passing of Escobedo’s artillery indiscriminately to and from Texas on United States transports, justify, in the eyes of my government, such measures of security.

Accept, general, the assurances of my highest consideration.

TOMAS MEJIA, General Commanding, &c.

Major General Weitzel, Commanding Western District of Texas.

No. 21.

General Weitzel’s reply.

General: In accordance with instructions from Major General P. H. Sheridan, commanding military division of the gulf, transmitted through Major General H. G. Wright, commanding department of Texas, I hereby notify you that if any such outrages on American citizens as 1 complained of in my letter to you of the 24th of October last are permitted within your lines, no excuse for such conduct will be accepted; that you will not be permitted to commit acts against the United States which are no accidents, and that the government will not accept your personal apologies for your bad faith.

I am further ordered to say to you that hereafter, when any garrison under your command is in a state of siege, no supplies of any kind will be permitted to be sent to such garrison from this side, General Sheridan considering that it would be less a violation of neutrality against the legitimate authority in Mexico to send powder to such garrison.

I am further ordered to stop all intercourse with any garrison during the progress of a siege, except that which humanity shall dictate.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. WEITZEL, Major General Commanding.

Major General Tomas Mejia, Commanding line of the Rio Grande.

[Page 43]
No. 22.


The foregoing communication was returned by General Mejia, with a verbal message, to which General Weitzel returned the following:

General: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 1st instant, in reply to my communication of the 24th of October last.

The three men that cannot now be found in your prisons have long ago been released. If the three men of the twenty-third United States colored troops were captured in the lines of your enemies in arms against you, I have nothing more to say, of course. But for humanity’s sake, I ask that, on their trial, your court may take into consideration their ignorance, their ignorance of your language, and the fact that officers and others from the other side induced these men to do what they did under promise of large sums of money. But three pieces of artillery have crossed and recrossed this river, and that only once, and then not on United States transports. But one of my officers, who saw the whole performance, says the guns were dismounted, the carriages taken apart, and the different parts carried over in skiffs. These were brought over to be repaired, and returned as soon as they were repaired.

As I understand you, however, you do not complain of this, nor of projectiles of American manufacture being thrown over Matamoras; but you merely mention them as facts which justified great precautionary measures on your part.

I have also received my communication of the 27th ultimo, returned to me. I must consider it unanswered, as I can receive no verbal reply to a communication written by direction of such high authority as it was.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. WEITZEL, Major General Commanding.

Major General Tomas Mejia, Commanding line of the Rio Grande.

No. 23.


We extract, says the Précurseur of Antwerp, the following interesting information from a letter of Mr. Heym, sergeant-major and secretary of the Belgian legion, to his parents in Lierre:

Dear Parents: I informed you in my last letter that I was a prisoner of war in Ziran daro; but, before telling of my unfortunate situation, I will give a brief retrospective glance at my sojourn in Mexico.

Mexico may seem a fine country to a pleasure traveller, for wild, picturesque, and magnificent views are extended on every side; but it is certainly a most detestable country to a soldier on a campaign, and such a campaign as ours—a mountain war. We poor little Belgian soldiers, used to all possible comforts, have been greatly astonished at our new mode of life since our arrival. We have been in the field since our landing, garrisoned only a few days at a time. My longest stay was in the city of Mexico, where I remained one month. Except the time when I was a prisoner, I have been constantly going, traversing hundreds of leagues, wading in sand above my ankles one day, almost up to my kness in mud, climbing steep mountains, 2,000 metres above the level of the sea; now lodging under a tent upon the cold ground, at another time sleeping among the ruins of an old convent or an older church, where mosquitoes, ants, fleas, &c., disputed my bed. There are no paved roads; the country is almost a desert, especially in the regions of the tierra caliente, which compels us, when we have an excursion into the mountains, to take ten days’ provisions in our knapsacks, travelling ten, twelve, and fourteen leagues a day. This may seem exaggerated, but I assure you it is the truth. Besides, in order to give a proof of it, I am going to relate what happened, for want of precautions, during our march from Mexico to Morelia, the capital of Michoacan. Arrived at a place named La Florida, where we bivouacked, they informed the colonel during the night that a band of guerillas were at San Felipe, three leagues from our bivouac. At four o’clock in the morning four companies of the main corps, under the command of a colonel, started, taking only one day’s rations, thinking to join the main body that day. At six o’clock in the morning we reached the spot the enemy had just left. We started in pursuit, and marched until six o’clock in the evening, without overtaking them. During the night the colonel received orders to march on Zitacuaro, a small town the dissidents had seized. We had no provisions, but the order was positive and we had to start; all we could get was one ration of bread each. We then started and travelled fourteen consecutive hours, from six o’clock in the morning until seven at night, on this one ration of bread; but as there was a squadron of Mexican cavalry with us, we made them kill beeves [Page 44] and we ate the meat broiled on coals, without salt or bread. It was only the fourth day, about two o’clock in the afternoon, when we arrived at Zitacuaro, where we had the pleasure of eating a bit of bread, which we had not tasted for three days. To our great displeasure, these beggarly Chinacos, as they are called here, had run away. The city was almost entirely abandoned. We remained there six days, during which we made several excursions, pillaging two villages and a mill. This is what is called making a raid. Each takes for himself; it is who shall get the most; there were only the cattle to divide. We took in this way six hundred head of cattle. These episodes happen very frequently. This will give you some idea of our mode of life.

When we made our entry into Mexico, after passing in review before the emperor, the empress, and Marshal Bazaine, we defiled before the palace, admired by everybody, and were quartered at Chepultepec, the imperial residence, (like Laeken in Belgium,) Tacubaya and Molino del Rey, three pretty places, about three and a half leagues from Mexico. The subordinate French officers of the capital gave us a magnificent dinner that day; only Frenchmen know how to do such things; they are the perfection of gallantry and politeness. Wherever we go we meet Frenchmen, and they always receive us magnificently. We are looked upon by them as countrymen, and are on the best of terms, when we go on expeditions together. Our colonel, Mr. Yan der Smissen, is very fond of the French, and has evidently not forgotten his stay among them in Algeria. But it is not so with the Austrians; they can never forget Solferino and Magenta; and in their fist-fights they tear off each other’s medals, given to them by their governments for the Italian campaign. An example for dissension was set by the Austrian commander, who, on his arrival at Puebla positively refused an invitation to dinner given to him by the commander of that city; but things are improving now.

No. 24.


It having been reported by the commander of the third territorial division that Silvestre Aranda and Zeferino Macias, among others, had accepted the amnesty granted by the decree of the 3d of October, Mr. Macias wrote upon a sheet of paper the following declaration:

“I have seen, with some surprise, a communication from the commander of the third territorial division, directed to the war department and published in the paper called the Pejaro Verde, No. 261, of the 4th instant. It is asserted in this that I had petitioned for a pardon, according to the decree of the 3d of October, of this year; but as this is entirely false, I consider it my duty to show it, for my dignity and my military reputation.

“More than a year ago I was beaten in the battle of Matehuala, and since then I have lived quietly in this city. Colonel Garnier, commander of Guanajuato, and the commander of this place, are conscious of this fact, as I went to see them and informed them of my intention. They both received me cordially, and, so far from imposing the least conditions upon me, they offered me every guarantee of personal protection. Some time passed, and on the 8th of May Mr. Nauroi, commander of the place, gave me a safe-conduct from Marshal Bazaine without my solicitation, which they had given me without his authority. Since then I have lived without molestation, attentive to my business.

“These are the facts; this is the truth. It is, therefore, with pain I have seen my name printed in an official paper, stating that I had been pardoned by the decree mentioned.

“Therefore I deem it my imperative duty to refute these assertions; to let my country know, as all the citizens of this place do, that for more than a year I have lived in the midst of my family, attending to my private business. I am very sorry that a man like me, who has lived entirely secluded from public life, has been injured in reputation when facts prove the contrary of the assertion.

“I now ask the commander of the third territorial military division to correct the errors mentioned, and justify my corrections.


Leon, November 14, 1865.”

After assuring that he had not asked a pardon, Mr. Aranda says:

“I was wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Majoma, the 21st of September of last year, and, with two of my aids and the surgeon, Dr. Encisco, I came to this city, where I have remained since the 8th of May. I was then set at liberty by order of Marshal Bazaine, without any solicitation from myself; and Mr. Nauroi, who gave me the pass, exacted no conditions whatever from me.

“Sick and prostrate from my wound, I have remained since then with my family, devoted entirely to my private business. Now, if the decree of the 3d of October alludes to armed men, I certainly cannot be included among the number, and it affects me in no particular; hence my astonishment that the commander of the third territorial military division has made a report so entirely false to the honorable secretary of war.

“It is unpleasant to enter into the details of such a disagreeable subject; I only desire that the officials may let me alone, and disturb me on no account; but I cannot avoid, on this occasion, the duty of correcting the mistakes injurious to my honor.”