Mr. Bigelow to Mr. Seward

No. 271.]

Sir: In view of the pretexts assigned for the harsh decrees of the soi-disant emperor of Mexico against republican prisoners captured in war, I have the honor to invite your attention to the enclosed copy of a letter from Marshal Bazaine to General Riva Palacio, general in chief of the republican army of the centre, which appears in some of the Paris journals.

In this communication the marshal not only assents to an exchange of prisoners, with all its political and belligerent implications, but he speaks in the strongest terms of the humane treatment which the imperial prisoners had experienced at his hands. “I am unwilling to terminate this letter,” he says, “without thanking you for the excellent dispositions and benevolent sentiments which you have always shown towards our prisoners.”

This calls to mind the speech of Marshal Forey, delivered in the senate, of the 18th of March last, in which he justified the shooting of Porfirio Diaz, the defender of Oajaca, by Marshal Bazaine, declaring that he was the chief of brigands, and that all the Juarist generals ought to be treated in the same way.

The cause of Juarez seems to have gained in dignity since then, for now the imperial government treats its officers an belligerents and commends their humanity.

As the minister of foreign affairs p persists in denying that the republicans of Mexico merit the title of belligerents, [propose to send him a copy of this letter of Marshal Bazaine, with an inquiry as to its authenticity.

I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,


Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.


General: I have received your letter seat by Captain Minon. I am pleased with the humane feelings you express, and by which you are actuated on this occasion. Desirous of aiding you in this good resolution, I will do all I can to bring about a proper agreement. For this purpose I have the honor to inform you that I have given orders for the exchange of prisoners, to take place at the village of Aculcho, on the 2d of December, from 8 to 10 in the morning. In this exchange I place al your disposal—

1. General Canto and all the officers taken prisoners with him by Colonel Potier;

2. All the officers taken prisoners at Tacanbaro by Colonel Vandersmissen;

3. All the officers taken prisoners at Amatlan by Colonel Mendez;

4. All the soldiers in prison at Morelia;

5. And, at your request, Generals Tapia and Ramirez, captured at Apaca, and confined in Puebla.

All the prisoners in Morelia will be delivered to you on the 2d of December.

I give my word of honor to release General Tapia and General Ramirez at Puebla, and give them a safe-conduct, to go where they please, as soon as I am informed that the exchange has taken place.

I have appointed Captain Bocarmé, of the Belgian regiment, to preside at the exchange of the prisoners. He will be escorted to the village of Aculcho by Captain Salgado, with a company of fifty or sixty infantry and a company of Mexican cavalry.

I wish to convince you, general, of my good will on this occasion, and I cannot conclude without thanking you for the kind intentions and benevolent sentiments you have always shown towards your prisoners.

Accept the assurance of my very distinguished consideration.

BAZAINE, Marshal of France.

General Riva Palagio.