Mr. Seward to Mr. Bigelow

No. 375.]

Sir: The Marquis de Montholon called here yesterday, and the first topic of conversation between us naturally was the hostile expedition across the Rio Grande and the capture of Bagdad, as reported in the newspapers. To an inquiry as to whether the department had any official information upon the subject, I replied in the negative. I added that such information was probably in possession of the War Department only, and I would at once apply to that department for it, with a view of communicating the same to you in order that you might make the explanations which will probably be expected by the French government. Accordingly, a copy of a letter of this date, addressed to this department by the Secretary of War, and of the papers by which it was accompanied, is herewith transmitted. From these it is apparent that the expedition referred to was not authorized and is not approved by any officer of this government, military or civil, and that orders have been given to put a stop to any recruiting in Texas for similar expeditions.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,


John Bigelow, Esq., &c., &c., &c.

[Page 276]

Mr. Stanton to Mr. Seward

Sir: In compliance with the request contained in your letter of this date for official information respecting the reported hostile crossing of the Rio Grande from Texas and the seizure of the town of Bagdad, I send herewith copies of telegraphic correspondence on the subject received by this department.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

Hon. Secretary of State of the United States.


Major General P. H. Sheridan, New Orleans:

In view of probable action by Congress on Mexican affairs, do all you can to preserve strict neutrality pending such action.

U.S. GRANT, Lieutenant General.

[Received in cipher, 3 p. m., 17th.]

Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, Washington:

In the New Orleans newspapers of this date it is reported that some of the colored troops crossed over the Rio Grande to assist in the capture of Bagdad. I do not believe one word of it. Weitzel has the most peremptory orders to preserve neutrality, and I look on this crossing of the Rio Grande as a sensation story. I have no official information from that quarter.

I have sent orders to Weitzel to break up all filibustering recruiting parties, if necessary to preserve neutrality.

P. H. SHERIDAN, Major General.

[In cipher.—Time received, 9.50 p.m.]

Lieutenant General U. S. Grant., Commanding armies United States:

I have directed General Wright to go at once to the Rio Grande to examine into the condition of affairs there and break up the fillibustering parties there, who are giving us much annoyance. I will probably go there myself in a day or two. Meantime but little credence should be given to published exaggerations in the newspapers.

P. H. SHERIDAN, Major General, &c.

[In cipher.—Time received, 10.40 p. m., January 18.]


Lieutenant General U. S. Grant, Commanding armies United States:

The following official information has just reached me from the Rio Grande: Bagdad was captured on the morning of the 15th January, between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m. The attacking force was about sixty men. They captured the Franco-Mexico garrison, about three hundred strong, one-half of which joined the liberalists and garrisoned the place.

The attacking party had all disappeared before daylight.

Neither Escobedo nor any one else had any knowledge of this transaction, but both Escobedo and Crawford posted to the place at once, and a quarrel ensued between them, and at the request of the commander of the post a garrison was sent by General Weitzel to protect the private property of the place, with instructions to withdraw should any imperialist [Page 277] approach the place. I do not sustain this action, but I presume there can be no objection on the part of the imperialists, as I protect them. An investigation is now going on to ascertain if any of our troops were engaged in this transaction. It appears that they were all present at tattoo and reveille. If General Weitzel has not already arrested Crawford on the order already given, I will arrest him.

* * * * * * * * * *

P. B. SHERIDAN, Major General, Commanding.