Memorandum by the Counselor for the Department of State (Lansing)

The German Secretary called my attention to the annexed memorandum in regard to the recruiting in Paris of a body of “Rough Riders,” among them many Americans, stating that he believed that his Government would regard such enlisted foreigners as not entitled to be treated as properly in the military service of France, and, therefore, if captured, they might be shot as civilians and not held as prisoners of war.

I replied, that I felt sure that he must be mistaken as to his Government’s views in regard to the enlistment of Americans in foreign military service; that it had always been the right of individuals to enter the army of a foreign nation; that I recalled no war, unless perhaps the Russian-Japanese, in which there were not numerous foreigners in both armies and often so-called “foreign legions;” and that never to my recollection had these foreigners, when captured, been treated otherwise than as prisoners of war.

The German Secretary said that in spite of these statements, which he could not deny though he had not studied the cases, he feared that his Government would take the view of the character of Americans serving in the French army such as he had stated.

I replied that, if such a course was followed, it would be entirely unwarranted by international usage, and that this Government would not view such treatment of Americans with indifference, for, although its policy was to discourage its citizens from enlisting in foreign military service, it had always recognized their right to do so. I said further that the effect of treating Americans, who chose to fight for France, as military outlaws would undoubtedly cause general indignation in the United States and arouse a spirit of animosity toward Germany, the results of which it would be difficult to foretell.

The Secretary said that he would consider the question further in view of what I had said.

Robert Lansing
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Anglo-American Rough Riders

Paris—Anglo-American Rough Riders including many famous western horsemen of America and best riders in England and France are expected to figure largely in operations of Allied troops against Germans.

Minister of War declared services of this body recruited during past week would be accepted by France and men would be called on to act as scouts and interpreters.

All of the Rough Riders have seen actual service some of them being veterans of Spanish-American War—They have provided their own mounts and uniforms but French Government has given the squad 5 automobiles—one of which will carry nurses, surgeons and hospital supplies.