Mr. McMahon to Mr. Seward.
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I arrived at this post on the 3d instant, having left Rio de Janeiro on the 28th, on the United States flag-ship Guerriere.
I immediately communicated with the United States consul, in order to ascertain if the military obstacles to my passage up the river, heretofore apprehended, were removed, as far as the government of the Oriental Republic is concerned.
Deeming it advisable that any communication made to the Oriental government on this subject should be made through Mr. Worthington, United States minister accredited to the Argentine and Oriental Republics, a view in which the consul concurred, I proceeded to Buenos Ayres and submitted to Mr. Worthington your dispatch of 2d September last, numbered 3.
He immediately addressed an inquiry to the government of the Argentine Republic on the subject referred to in your dispatch, and returned with me the same night to Montevideo, where he addressed a similar communication to the Oriental government.
I learn from him that the government at Buenos Ayres has replied to his communication, requesting a few days’ delay before giving a definite answer, for the purpose, I believe, of consulting with their allies. The government at Montevideo has not yet replied.
On the morning of my departure from Rio, I received from General Webb a letter, a copy of which I inclose, marked A, informing me that “the way (up the Parana) is open to the vessels of war of all nationalities, and most assuredly will not be closed against us, through whom the insult to all of the civilized governments of the world has been offered.”
This communication from Mr. Webb is in reply to the letter I addressed to him on the 27th October, ultimo, a copy of which I transmitted in my dispatch of the same date to the department.[Page 686]
Upon receiving the required assurance from the respective governments of the Argentine and Oriental Republics, I will proceed as stated in my dispatch of the 20th October ultimo.
I had an interview with my predecessor, Mr. Washburn, on the 8th instant, at Buenos Ayres. I learned from him nothing in addition to the facts already made known to the department.
The latest intelligence from Paraguay is to the effect that Lopez is still at Villeta, where it is rumored the allies intend to attack him to-day. As to his force there is much variety of opinion; but Captain Kirkland, of the Wasp, a most reliable witness, reports to me that he saw at that point not less than twelve thousand men under arms, and this before the rear-guard of the Paraguayan army had arrived from the defenses of the Tebicuari. In conversation President Lopez informed him that he was prepared to retire from Villeta to other and interior positions if deemed advisable. It is probable, however, that he will wait to be attacked in the strong position he now occupies, and then retire in the interior.
Information, received as late as the 8th instant from the Parana, is to the effect that Bliss and Masterman are unharmed, though still retained in custody.
Since commencing this dispatch I have heard from Mr. Worthington, unofficially, to the effect that the Argentine government will give explicit and full assurance that no obstacles, military or otherwise, will be opposed to my passage up the river to my post of duty upon the part of that government.
I have reason to hope that a similar assurance, equally definite, will be promptly offered by the Oriental Republic.
Mr. Washburn has arrived from Buenos Ayres, and intends proceeding, by the steamer of the 15th instant, to the United States.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.