Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs, Accompanying the Annual Message of the President to the Second Session of the Thirty-ninth Congress
Mr. Romero to Mr. Seward
Mr. Secretary: I have the honor to send you, for the information of the United States government, the documents expressed in the accompanying index, showing the state of affairs on the oriental line of the Mexican republic, including the States of Vera Cruz, Tlaxcala Puebla, Oaxaca, Tabasco, and Chiapas.
In these documents you will find despatches from General Garcia, chief of the said line; from the governor of the State of Chiapas; and a very important report of General Baranda, commissioner of General Garcia.
I accept this opportunity to renew to you, Mr. Secretary, the assurances of my most distinguished consideration.
Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.
Index of documents sent by the Mexican legation in Washington, with the note of this date, to, the Department of State of the United States.
No. 1. September 28, 1865.—The constitutional governor of the State of Chiapas communicates to Mr. Romero the good feeling and enthusiasm of the people of Chiapas for the cause of national independence.
No. 2. September 29, 1865.—From the same to the same on the same subject.
No. 3. November 3, 865.—Colonel Figueroa’s official report to General Garcia of his action with the enemy on the 12th of October last, and the occupation of Teotitlan del Camino, as the result.
No. 4. November 11, 1865.—General Garcia reports to President Juarez the state of affairs on the line of his command.
No. 5. December 30, 1865.—Report of General Baranda commissioner of General Garcia on the state of affairs on the eastern line, to the Mexican legation at Washington.[Page 50]
Honorable Sir: I take great pleasure in congratulating you, in the name of the people of this State, under my command, on the brilliant success you have achieved, by remaining in your position as minister near the government of that great nation, for the good of Mexico, in whose favor that gigantic people has always felt the greatest sympathy, and especially now, when a foreign enemy is endeavoring to conquer the country.
May these wishes be the sincere expression of the sentiments of patriotism that animate these people for the good of a cause which is not theirs exclusively, but a vindication of entire humanity, and at the same time of attachment to your person. The people of this magnanimous but unfortunate republic promise themselves much from the enlightenment and highly patriotic sentiments you have shown in favor of the country that gave you birth, and, in this belief, they raise their vows to Heaven for your preservation, and unite their efforts with yours in endeavors to recover our rights, so unjustly usurped.
Accept, Mr., Minister, the protestation of my distinguished consideration and esteem.
Citizen Matias Romero, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Government of the Mexican Republic near the Government of the United States of North America, in Washington.
Private correspondence of the governor of Chiapas.
Tuxtla Gutierrez, September 29, 1865.
Much Respected and Esteemed Sir: I do myself the honor to address you; for the purpose of informing you of the situation of the States constituting the new eastern coalition, that you may have the pleasure of seeing the great progress they have made in defence of the national cause, so iniquitously opposed, without right or reason, by the sworn enemies of all progress and advancement.
After the deplorable loss of Oaxaca and the capture of the worthy general-in-chief of the old eastern line, the States forming it were reduced to political entities, isolated and independent, and weakened in power for want of a central union, which had ceased to exist in consequence of those recent events. But this state of things was soon changed.
The States of Chiapas and Tabasco had already agreed with the coast towns south of Vera Cruz, through their respective governors, upon the necessity of renewing the bonds of union between them, to insure greater strength and respectability. As soon as they had been dismembered, they accredited their respective commissioners, who met in the capital of Tabasco? and proceeded, according to instructions, to appoint a new chief to fill the vacancy. General Alejandro Garcia, who was chief of the southern coast, was the person selected. In this manner these States gained greater strength to resist the advances of the enemy, and silence his boasts and threats.
Public opinion is now firm and uniform in all of them, and the people are disposed to continue the struggle without hesitation and with a true faith in the future.
The last news from Oaxaca is of the greatest importance; an uninterrupted series of victories has been achieved, promising a speedy return of the republican forces to that capital. They are now cruising in various directions, disturbing and checking the imperial government everywhere.
The people of the Zongolica highlands have arisen, and, following their example, many towns of Vera Cruz and Huasteca have done the same. The town of Juchitan continues here the old constitutional government firmly and uncompromisingly, and it is to be hoped it will soon help Tehuantepec, where I have sent forces from this place for that purpose.
There is a detachment of the enemy in Jonuta that came from Yucatan, but it is certain it cannot withstand the considerable force sent against it from this State and the State of Tabasco.
Peace and public tranquillity have become proverbial in the towns under my command, and they are likely to continue; but if they should be disturbed, contrary to my belief, I assure you the normal condition will soon be restored, or I shall pay the last tribute I owe to my country.[Page 51]
Such is our actual situation, and I hope it will improve daily, if fickle fortune does not turn against us.
Please accept the expressions of consideration and esteem with which I have the honor to subscribe myself your most humble and obedient servant,
Señor Don Matias Romero, Washington.
NORTHERN LINE.—HEADQUARTERS OF THE COLONEL IN COMMAND.
On the 12th of last month I made a feint to attack the town of Orizaba. On hearing of my approach the troops put themselves on the defensive within the walls. At a league and a half from the town I made a countermarch in the direction of Tehuacan. The garrison of Teotitlan had left that place and assembled in Tehuacan, to defend it, as they had done at Orizaba, and our cavalry immediately occupied the deserted place.
The enemy, vexed at my deliberate march through the valley of Tehuacan, at a league and a quarter from the town, sent out one hundred and fifty Hungarian horse, who, after many efforts, managed to surprise us, and succeeded in cutting off eighty infantry recruits who happened to be serving as a rear guard that day. A few arms were lost, but those that remained on the battle-field were gathered up, when we struck our tents. The enemy’s cavalry fled in all haste as soon as they got sight of our advance guard. Our cavalry, numbering one hundred and seventy, are stationed five leagues from Tehuacan, and keep the enemy in constant alarm.
I congratulate you on the reoccupation of Teotitlan del Camino, which cuts the enemy off from all hope of communication, by direct route, with the pass; and all the people around them are opposed to them. I beg you to make this known to the President of the republic.
General Alejandro Garcia, Chief of the Eastern Line, Tlacotalpam.
General Alejandro Garcia.
My Very Bear Friend: * * * * * *
Colonel Figueroa made a raid through Zongolica, Orizava, and Tehuacan, near the end of last month, and on the 29th the Austrians cut off his rear-guard, causing him some harm; but he recovered very soon, returned to the charge with the rest of his forces, and routed his adversaries, taking Teotitlan, whence he sent his cavalry advance five leagues from Tehuacan, without being attacked by any one as yet. I am now trying to send him some artillery, as he informs me he has lost all he had.
I will dwell upon this feat of Figueroa, because the enemy’s newspapers say he was completely routed; and if any of them reach you, you may know what to believe.
Since my last letter I have had no news from the northern part of the State; but I am not surprised at it, for the principal roads are held by the enemy; and I have full confidence in the valor and military skill of General Alatorre, who I have no doubt will keep things in good order in that quarter.
Tabasco and Chiapas preserve the same hostile attitude and undisturbed tranquillity, although the enemy’s newspapers say the imperialists are preparing an invasion of the former of those States.
Another invasion of this part of Vera Crag is also threatened; but as the invaders need all their disposable forces along the coast, they can do nothing here till the re-enforcements they have been expecting so long from France shall reach Vera Cruz.
I wish you, as always, the best health, and sign myself your true friend.
Citizen Benito Juarez, President of the Mexican Republic, Villa del Paso.
Mexican Republic.–Military line of the eastern states.–Commissioner of the General-in-Chief.
Citizen Minister: I am commissioned by the general-in-chief of the eastern line of the republic to inform you, and through you the supreme national government, of the imminent danger these States are in of being invaded by the enemy, and probably conquered, though their inhabitants are determined to defend themselves at all risks, if you cannot contrive some remedy to prevent it.
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As might be expected at this season, my journey has been tedious, and this is the first opportunity I have had to send you the communication of the general-in-chief of the eastern line, and the one I beg you to transmit to the supreme government.
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After the loss of Oaxaca, in February last, and the capture of General Porfirio Diaz, in command of that line, the eastern States would have been left in the most dangerous confusion if the good sense of the governors of Vera Cruz, Tabasco, and Chiapas had not prompted them to contrive means to prevent the serious consequences of existing anarchy (for there is no constitutional provision in the emergency where the only representative of the supreme government is wanting) by establishing a central authority and forming a compact of common defence, which began to exercise their powerful influence, thus dispersing the gloom caused by the reverses at Oaxaca. The choice made by the supreme government of a chief, to fill the place of General Diaz, in conformity with that made by the States, to the satisfaction of the inhabitants, increased the confidence the people have always had in the chief magistrate of the republic, and order was immediately restored without the slightest disturbance.
Before and after this supreme decree the reconstruction of the eastern line has been continued; and if it is not now complete, the enemy has been left in quiet possession of but very few places.
The State of Vera Cruz has regained its northern half, and has organized its forces with the same discipline and order as those on the southern coast, under General Garcia, and has succeeded in repelling the enemy at every invasion; and, moreover, has recovered the territory on the Perote road almost to the gates of Jalapa.
The important canton of Zongolica, the advance guard, in the vicinity of Orizava, drove out the Austrian garrison that was oppressing it, and annexed itself to the State to which it had always belonged, (Vera Cruz,) after a hard contest, with the garrison of Orizava, that could not see with indifference a troop of the loyal defenders of their country at such a short distance from them.
The possession of Zongolica is most important, as it completes the northern line, running parallel with the road from Vera Cruz to Orizava, where a very active war is waging.
The Alvarado bar is in the power of the enemy, held by two French war steamers; and though it is only eight leagues from the city of Tlacotalpam, the State authorities have never ceased to hold their headquarters in that place. It has been visited occasionally by the steamers from Alvarado, but the system of defence adopted does not give the enemy a chance to display their superior war vessels and artillery with impunity, as they Usually do.
Ten months have passed since the enemy abandoned the Coatzacoalcos bar, because they could not blockade it, being very dangerous by sea, and quite accessible by land to the constitutional forces. They will not soon forget the warning they got at this place. The rest of the State is subject to the governor and military commander, and they have given the best proofs of their patriotism and determination to defend the country.
The State of Tabasco, having driven the enemy out with great courage, at the beginning of this year, is now resting from the efforts of that desperate struggle. It has not failed to collect new means of defence; fresh forces are drilled every day, and their enthusiasm and resolution continue to increase. The enemy have respected this imposing attitude. A place near Campeche and the town of Frontera, at the Grijalva bar, (where there are two war steamers, ) are the only points in possession of the enemy, and he is there constantly molested by our forces.
The State of Chiapas, after driving out some traitor bands that were desolating the land, and who sought shelter in the neighboring republic of Guatemala whenever they were pressed, (formerly this privilege was denied them,) has been troubled by no other invasion.
This State is also distinguished for the bravery of its sons, worthy defenders of the holy national cause, who did not cease to battle till they had ejected the last invader from the soil. Now it is free from the scourge, but will always be ready to oppose the invaders whenever they appear.
The campaign in Oaxaca was carried on as long as possible, considering the scarcity of means and the destruction of all its resources and means of defence during the former campaign. One force of about a thousand men, that routed the enemy several times, and went [Page 53] as far as the State of Puebla, now hold the mountains and harass the enemy incessantly. This will be the base of future operations for the complete recovery of the State.
We have not been able to get possession of Puebla and Tlaxcala, though there are patriots In both States who never lay down their arms an instant, and the constitutional governor of the last is in the field with a considerable force. Early last year the enemy had possession of most of the three States mentioned; but they were so often routed, they have discovered what a determined people can do when forced to defend their independence; and the few times they have returned, they have been so badly whipped, they now consider fighting in the “hot country,” as they call it, very dangerous. Owing to this justly inspired terror, these States have been suffered to enjoy peace for some time; and the people, without neglecting their holy cause, have been able to hold their State and general elections within the time prescribed by law, and in the midst of the war.
The general-in-chief of the line, convinced of the necessity of the step, has kept the judicial authorities in the free exercise of their duties, even in a state of rigorous siege. This guarantee, and all others enjoyed by the inhabitants within the lines, induces them, without exception, to adhere to the cause, and contribute all their strength to its defence.
The admiration and respect that is professed for citizen Benito Juarez in all the eastern States, on account of his constancy and decision in sustaining the national cause, will cause his remaining in his thorny post to be considered as the best guarantee for the triumph of the Mexican cause, and will dispel the fears that began to arise when it was thought he would go out of power.
From this slight sketch you will see the spirit that animates the good sons of the eastern States, who have never ceased for a moment to resist the odious French intervention and the so-called empire that has sprung from it. No more sacrifices could be asked of them; they have fought with courage and determination, and almost without means.
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I have the honor of protesting to you the assurance of my respect and esteem.
Citizen Matias Romero, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Mexican Republic in Washington.