Mr. Romero to Mr. Bayard.
Washington, April 29, 1886. (Received April 30.)
Mr. Secretary: I have had the honor to receive your note of the 22d instant, with which, referring to that which I addressed to you on the 13th, inclosing extracts from a speech delivered by the President of the United States of Mexico at the opening of the present session of the Congress of the Union, you were pleased to send me a copy of certain instructions communicated by you to Mr. Henry E. Jackson, United States minister in Mexico (No. 148), bearing date of the 20th ultimo,and of the inclosures thereto, which consist of the report of Lieutenant Maus to the adjutant-general of the Department of Arizona, dated “In camp on San Bernardino River, February 23, 1886,” concerning the affray at Teopar, in the State of Sonora, which took place on the 11th January last, and also concerning the occurrences which happened subsequently thereto.
You were pleased to state that your object in sending me those documents was that I might make such representations to my Government as might induce it to adopt suitable measures, in accordance with the treaty concluded between the two countries, for the reciprocal crossing of their regular troops in pursuit of hostile Indians.
In reply, I have the honor to inform you that, as soon as the Mexican Government received notice of the unfortunate affair at Teopar (which, in my opinion, was wholly accidental, since I am convinced that the Mexican forces thought that they were attacking the hostile Apaches of whom they were in pursuit, and that they therefore cannot have intended to attack the United States forces, or to offend this country), it directed the proper officers to furnish such reports as should enable it to form a correct idea of what had taken place, and to take proper action in view of the facts that should be proved, and that when, on the 15th February last, Mr. Jackson requested the Mexican Government to hold an investigation of the said occurrences, one was ordered, and Mr. Jackson was so informed by the department of foreign relations by means of a note dated “City of Mexico, February 18, 1886.”
As soon as the governor of Chihuahua received information of the encounter in question, he ordered an investigation to be held by the district court, with a view to eliciting the truth; the Government of Mexico, however, has not been willing to base its action on that report, but has waited for a fuller and more minute military report, winch was ordered by the war department to be prepared.
As soon as that report is finished the result thereof will be communicated to the United States Government, and in the mean time I entertain the hope that it will conclusively show that the Mexican forces thought that they were attacking hostile Indians, and that they never dreamed that the men whom they were confronting were United States troops.
From Lieutenant Maus’s official report you deduce two charges against the Mexican forces that took part in the affray at Teopar: First, that they attacked the United States troops knowing them to be such; and second, that after the attack, they made Lieutenant Maus and the Indian interpreter Concepcion prisoners, and treated them very badly.[Page 727]
I think that the Mexican Government had knowledge of the first of these charges only, and that it was wholly unaware that the second had been made until it was preferred by the United States legation in Mexico, in obedience to the instructions sent by you to Mr. Jackson on the 20th March last.
In order not to risk the expression of a conviction which, however deep it may be, may yet not be based upon sufficient evidence, I shall, pending the conclusion of the inquiry, confine myself to saying, on the first point, that, as I have already stated, I do not consider it even probable that the Mexican forces attacked those of the United States knowing them to be American troops, for the single reason that they had no motive for doing so, inasmuch as the said Mexican forces were composed of citizens of the State of Chihuahua who resided in districts that had been invaded by the Indians, and who, in defense of their lives and property, had organized as a military force for the extermination of the savages. Entertaining this purpose, their intentions and wishes were entirely in accord with those of the United States forces. There was no prejudice against these forces; there were no outrages to avenge, and there was no motive whatever that could explain, unless on the hypothesis that the Mexicans had wholly lost their reason, any hostile design against the United States troops 5 on the contrary, all the antecedents of the case furnish ground for the belief that they felt convinced that Captain Crawford’s camp was occupied by hostile Indians.
I beg you, in this connection, to allow me to call your attention to the very words of Lieut. Marion P. Maus’s report, which was sent as an inclosure to your aforesaid note. At the close of his report, Lieutenant Maus says:
I am willing to admit that the first attack was through a mistake as to our identity, because it was early, and the weather cloudy. I certainly desire to be just to these men.
Substantially the same views are expressed in the official reports of Lieutenant Shipp, Mr. Thomas Horn, and Mr. William Harrison, officers in command of the Indian scouts, although all three are of the opinion that the Mexican forces must have become aware of the fact that the Indian scouts belonged to the United States before the action was over.
On the second point, as no notice had been received concerning that on which your Department’s complaint was based, the Mexican Government had not secured the information necessary to enable it to judge.
If, when such information is received, it shall be found that the statements made in Lieutenant Maus’s report are correct, the Mexican Government will act as its duty requires, in view of the stipulations of the agreement for the crossing of troops; but if, as I trust, that report shall prove to be inaccurate or exaggerated, the result of the information secured by the Mexican Government will be communicated to that of the United States.
Be pleased, &c.,