No. 440.
Mr. Frelinghuysen to Mr. Cayetano Romero.

Sir: Adverting to the Department’s note to you of the 15th ultimo, I have now the honor to inclose to you, for the information of the Government of Mexico, copy of a letter from the Secretary of War of the 19th instant, covering a report from General Crook, stating that it would be difficult, if not wholly impracticable, to carry out the suggestions presented in your note of August 16 last relative to the return of articles stolen from Mexican citizens by the Indians recently captured by that officer.

Accept, &c.,

[Page 700]

Mr. Lincoln to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

Sir: The Department duly received your letter of the 3d ultimo, inclosing, with request for an expression of the views of this Department thereon, a copy of a note from the Mexican chargé d’affaires ad interim here of August 16 last, relative to the return of the articles stolen from citizens of Mexico by the Indians recently captured by General Crook in the Sierra Madre, and suggesting that a formal agreement be entered into between the United States and Mexico providing for the return in future of such articles as may be recovered from captured Indians when ascertained to belong to the citizens of either Government.

In reply I have the honor to state that the subject was duly referred to General Crook, who is thoroughly conversant therewith, and from whose report thereon, dated the 30fch ultimo, a copy of which is herewith inclosed, it would seem to be difficult, if not wholly impracticable, to carry out the suggestion presented by the chargé d’affaires of Mexico in his above-mentioned note.

Very respectfully,


General Crook to the Adjutant-General.

Sir: Referring to a communication of the 3d instant from the Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of War, inclosing a note from Mr. Romero, Mexican chargé d’affaires at Washington, with reference to the return of articles in the possession of the Indians surprised by my command in the Sierra Madre, &c., upon which my views are requested, I have the honor to report that before starting upon this expedition I enlisted as scouts a number of Apache Indians from the White Mountain Reservation for service during the trip.

These Indians thoroughly understood the dangers which would probably be encountered, and knew that it would entail upon them a march on foot of over one thousand miles, over exceedingly difficult country. You cannot expect to hire Indians for a trip of the nature of the one in question for $13 per month, and I therefore promised them before starting that they should have any property they might capture from the Chiricahuas. This property would really be the spoils of war, and belong to them under any circumstances.

That on the 15th of May my scouts attacked and captured the rancheria of Chato and Bonito, finding therein few articles of value other than perhaps as many as forty head of horses and mules, some of them with Mexican and some with American brands, and others unbranded. These animals, in accordance with my agreement, wth the other plunder of the camp, fell into the hands of the scouts. A number of the animals were killed and eaten for food by the Indians, others died or were abandoned on the trail.

The Indian prisoners had some money, but this was either taken from them by the scouts or was retained in their own possession. To consent now to the reclamation of these animals would result in serious trouble, and would open wide the door for the disreputable cowboys and rustlers of the two countries to make false and fraudulent claims for stock never lost, which would result perhaps in applications for every hoof of stock on the White Mountain Reservation. It would also have the effect of creating an uneasy feeling among these Indians that my agreement with them might be overruled by higher authority, which would seriously impair my influence over them.

In reference to the concluding portion of Mr. Romero’s note, I have to remark that in my judgment it will not be advisable to add the stipulation referred to to to the agreement for the reciprocal crossing of troops, for the reasons above stated, that it would offer an opening for fraud, and for the further reason that in my opinion it would be practically of no value, and might form the basis for mutual recriminations between the citizens of the two countries.

Very respectfully, &c.,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.