The Marquis de Montholon to Mr. Seward

Sir: I feel myself obliged to call the attention of your excellency to certain facts that occurred this year on the Rio Grande, and which seem to be in exact opposition to the repeated assurances your excellency has given me concerning the desire of the cabinet at Washington to preserve the most strict neutrality in the events now taking place in Mexico.

It is scarcely necessary for me to add, that I am convinced that the said facts occurred without the knowledge of the federal government, and that they must be the result of the negligence of subordinate agents. I do not hesitate, therefore, to inform you of them, convinced that it is only necessary to bring them to your notice in order to prevent their future occurrence.

The information conveyed to his Majesty’s government states that the dissenting forces of Cortinas are recruiting many American colored persons, and that this partisan chief passes and repasses the Texan frontier whenever he pleases, going to Brownsville (Texas) to get whatever he needs.

About the end of July last Cortinas attacked the steamer Señorita on the river, loaded with cotton, taken on board at Camargo, and destined for Matamoras. The attack occurred on Texas ground, and the captured vessel was made fast to the Texan shore, where she has remained in possession of the dissenters since the 27th of July.

In the course of the same month a convoy of goods was to start for Monterey. Cortinas, who was in Brownsville, heard of it, and enlisted men publicly to attack it. His armed troops crossed the river, and the convoy would have certainly fallen into his hands but for the vigilance of the imperial authorities.

In fine, it is well known that Cortinas’s men ride and walk armed in the streets of Brownsville, with ribbons on their hats, indicating the number of the guerilla band to which they belong.

It would be difficult for neutrality to be more openly violated, and that facts more grave should occur to contradict the assertions which your excellency has given me in the name of your government.

I will be very much obliged to you, then, if you will cause to be issued the orders necessary to prevent the renewal of any such acts in future.

Accept the assurances of my distinguished consideration.


Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.