File No. 819.1052/46.
The Secretary of War to the Secretary of State.
Washington , May 11, 1915 .
Sir: On February 15, 1915, the Department received a report to the effect that in an altercation between enlisted men of the Army and Panama police, in the City of Panama on the morning of February 14, 1915, a number of enlisted men had been wounded or otherwise injured; and on April 3, 1915, a report was received to the effect that a disturbance somewhat similar in character to the one referred to above had occurred on the afternoon of April 2, 1915, in the City of Colon, Panama, during a ball game between a team of the 5th Infantry and a team from Cristobal composed of enlisted men and civilians, which disturbance resulted in the death of Corporal Maurice Langdon, 21st Company, Coast Artillery Corps, who was in command of an Army patrol, and in the wounding, more or less seriously of three other enlisted men of the Army, by Panama police.
In reporting upon these occurrences, the Commanding General, Eastern Department, within the territorial limits of which department the Canal Zone is located, recommended that representations be made to the Government of Panama with a view to securing the arrest and trial of those responsible for the death of Corporal Langdon, and for the wounding or injuring of the other enlisted men referred to above; and that the present uncertain status of the patrols maintained by the United States military authorities in the cities of Panama and Colon be placed upon a definitely established and well recognized basis, through an agreement between the Government [Page 1223] of the United States and the Government of Panama, which agreement should define clearly the functions and powers of these patrols.
This Department concurs in the recommendations of the department commander as set forth above, and is of the opinion that the patrols should have general authority to arrest soldiers and sailors of the United States and other persons connected with the military and naval establishments of the United States, within the limits of the cities of Panama and Colon. I have, therefore, the honor to request that, if agreeable to the Department of State, representations in accordance with the foregoing be made to the Government of Panama, and to suggest that prior to asking the necessary concessions from that Government the United States diplomatic representative at Panama ascertain in conference with Major General George W. Goethals and Brigadier General Clarence R. Edwards the exact powers and functions that should be vested in the military patrols.