to Mr. Jackson.
Washington , February 2, 1886.
Sir: I inclose to you a copy of a letter from the Secretary of War of the 30th ultimo, covering a copy of dispatch from Lieut. Marion P. Maus, of the United States Army, of the 27th ultimo, reporting the circumstances of the fatal wounding of Capt. Emmet Crawford, who was in command of the detachment of troops now operating in Mexico against the hostile Chiricahua Indians.
When the first startling intelligence was received that Captain Crawford had been killed while bearing a flag of truce, this Government refrained from asking an explanation until further confirmatory advices should be received. Lieutenant Maus’s report gives the facts which were awaited. It appears that the Mexican attack on the camp was made “at daylight,” when it was light enough to see that the assailants were ununiformed; that after fifteen minutes Captain Crawford, with two or three other officers, fully uniformed, advanced into the open, bearing a flag of truce to meet a party of the Mexicans; that in open field and in clear view of both camps a conference was held, in which Captain Crawford announced his nationality, name, and rank, and gave and received assurance that the firing should cease, and that immediately thereafter fire was reopened by the Mexicans on Captain Crawford and his little group of officers, resulting in the death of Captain Crawford and the wounding of Mr. Horn. By this time it was broad daylight and the uniformed officers were distinctly visible, as the fatal accuracy of the aim shows. Lieutenant Maus says:
I had a talk with the man in command, their captain having been killed. I was told by many that they were sore we were hostiles; that they took oar train for a hostile train, and it being dark could not tell. They seemed very sincere in their regrets and signed a paper stating all was a mistake.
The exculpatory statements made to Lieutenant Maus may be deemed to have rational application to the first surprise and attacking volley at daylight. They can have no possible value as to the second volley after the conference in the open in daylight, when the nationality and friendly mission of Captain Crawfords were plainly announced, and when the white signal of a parley was displayed. It is difficult to conceive how the allegation of a “mistake” could be soberly made under such circumstances.
You will, therefore, ask a searching examination into the facts of this unfortunate occurrence, with a view to locating the responsibility therefor, and preventing the recurrence of like “accidents” in the border operations against the hostiles which the two Governments have undertaken in their common and joint interest.
I am, &c.,