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. Hunter
My Dear Sir: I have the honor to send you the copy of a letter from the Mexican citizen Manuel Saavedra, which I received from Brownsville, dated in that city the 8th of December last, and the documents to which it refers, giving an account of the latest events that have taken place in the States of New Leon and Tamaulipas, of the Mexican republic, by virtue of the French invasion.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William Hunter, &c., &c., &c.
Much Esteemed Friend: Since my last of the 10th instant, we have received the particulars of all that has happened in Monterey. I enclose General Escobedo’s report to the general government, by which you will see we gave the traitors two severe blows, held the public square for some time, fought the French well, but were at last compelled to retire in good order, without loss.
In less than a month, we have taken two fortified towns, and had many battles.
Escobedo behaved bravely, and his poor soldiers are heroes in valor and fortitude. I saw them in front of Matamoras, in a fearful storm, without shelter, almost without clothing, with a few bad provisions, panting enthusiastically for the assault on Matamoras: and I have also seen them benumbed with cold, wet to the skin, take off their shirts to cover their gun-locks, do their duty fearlessly, and when Escobedo asked them, What do you want, boys? They replied, “Nothing, general, but to take Matamoras! ”
Such soldiers are worthy of the cause we are defending, and their behavior is the best guarantee of a speedy and certain triumph.
Escobedo is now in Camargo with his forces. He left some at Matamoras, upon which place he is preparing a fresh attack.
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I remain, your very attentive and humble servant,
Senor Don Matias Romero.
General Escobedo’s Official Report.
On the 22d of the past month I marched from Cadereyta with a portion of the army of the north, composed of the first and second brigades of Nueva Leon and two companies of mounted rifles of Coahuila, and camped that night in the town of Guadalupe, three miles east of the city of Monterey. From daylight of the following day part of the force of traitors (imperialists) which garrisoned said city began skirmishing with my advance posts, and the presumption was that they would attack my camp, knowing that the force under Major Ruperto Martinez, of three hundred men, had failed to join me. I immediately reconnoitred and prepared to receive their attack. The enemy, after shelling our lines severely, detached three strong columns, preceded by a line of skirmishers, and attacked our troops with the greatest decision. The battle soon became general; the enemy, astonished by the determined resistance he met, wavered, and at this moment a charge of our cavalry, under Colonel Trevino, on his rear and flanks, and the advance of the rest of the line, disconcerted him, and he was soon utterly routed; most of his force was dispersed, and the rest found refuge in the fortifications of the city. The enemy lost many killed, all his wounded remaining in our hands, many prisoners, and a great number of arms. On the following day the force of Martinez joined me, and I decided on attacking the place as follows: Three columns of attack were formed, the two first of infantry, under Colonel Naranjo and Major Martinez, and the third of cavalry, under Colonel Lostenes Rocha. These columns formed the line of attack, the whole under the command of Colonel Trevino, and were to be directed against the forts of Muralla and Carlotta, and after forcing these, to continue the attack on the northeast side of the plaza. Another line, composed of two columns, one under Lieutenant Colonel Garcia and the other under Major Leal, and under my personal command, was to make a feint and attack the forts of Cuesta and Puebla. The attack took place in the above order, with so much energy that the forts were soon in our possession. One part of their garrison was sabred by the cavalry, who took many prisoners, and the balance, by an inglorious flight, shut themselves up in the citadel and fort of the bishop, leaving us in possession of the city. The enemy had many killed and wounded, and left in our hands more than two hundred prisoners, all armed. On our side we lament the loss of six officers and thirteen soldiers.
Shortly after this, and when my soldiers were trying to get some rest from the fatigues of the two days’ fighting, I was informed that a French column, coming from Saltillo, was advancing to aid the traitors, (native imperialists;) and in fact shortly afterwards, undercover of the darkness preceding daylight, and guided by a column of traitors, they penetrated to the centre of the city, where they began a vigorous attack on our troops. With a small portion of our infantry I was able to detain them while our attack was being organized. This was soon effected. Major I. Trevino attacked them with the squadron of the Rio Grande by one flank, and with the infantry in front we soon made them retreat. At this moment Colonel Rocha charged, sabre in hand, on their columns, and completely repulsed the French and the traitors, following and sabring them beyond the city. The French left nineteen dead and the traitors twenty-eight. They carried off their wounded. We took some traitors prisoners, many guns, lances, and some horses.
As all my officers and men behaved well, I make no special mention of any in particular. They have all fulfilled their duties as soldiers and patriots.
I have sent out reconnoitring parties towards Saitillo and Marin, as I am informed that from the last place a French column is advancing, commanded by Jeanningros in person; and from Panas another is also advancing of the same troops.
Independence and liberty!
The Minister of War, of the Navy, of the Mexican Republic, Chihuahua.
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The French authorities at this place have a supervisor in constant attendance at the customhouse, who carefully and minutely examines every package landed or embarked, and if any objectionable name is discovered upon any of the packages they are immediately seized.[Page 59]
Of late the so-called imperial forces have made some important movements against this State, and they are now in the occupancy of Tancasnequi, Victoria, and Altamira, all of which places were abandoned by the liberal forces before the enemy arrived; consequently they have obtained no great advantage.
The almost expiring embers of commerce seem now to be somewhat rekindled by the assurance from the French commandant that the roads are open hence to San Luis Potosi, and this morning a steamer left here with two launches in tow, loaded with the merchandise brought back from Tancasnequi several weeks ago. It is now to be again landed at Tancasnequi, and from thence to be conveyed to San Luis Potosi by mules, at the rate of thirty dollars per mule load, to which must be added the expenses of steam freight and military escort. If the owners obtain first cost and expenses they may consider themselves fortunate in the extreme.
But in order that you may clearly understand the position of commercial affairs here, I must inform you that when, in the latter part of the mouth of September last, the French forces were compelled to abandon Tancasnequi, two or three hundred packages of iron and steel were, by force of circumstances, left there, and, upon the recent reoccupation of that place by the French forces, they found several of the packages still lying there, which they at once shipped on board their steamer and launches and landed here in Tampico; and when the foreign merchants discovered their own familiar marks and numbers upon the said packages they forthwith repaired to the military chief to claim their iron and steel goods; but they were coolly informed that as they were found in the abandoned camp of the enemy, the full value thereof must be awarded to the troops under his command, the officers of course coming in for the lion’s share.
The imperial decree of the 3d of October last has been enforced in this place in all its parts and with all the cruel rigor therein prescribed. But I will not enlarge upon the modus operandi of the executions which have taken place in the most respectable and conspicuous parts of that city, but merely state that several defenceless Mexicans have lost their lives under the authority of that ban put forth by a Christian prince in this enlightened age. I now anxiously await the receipt of the message which the President of the United States, I suppose, issued to the world on the 4th instant, which I presume will give us some insight as to what will be the action of our republic in relation to Mexico.
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Hon. Matias Romero, &c., Washington City, D. C.