The Marquis de Montholon to Mr. Seward
Mr. Secretary of State: I have the honor to transmit herewith to your excellency copy of a report addressed to the vice-consul of his Majesty at Matamoras, by Captain G. Gautret, of the French merchant ship Le Verrier, shipwrecked on the 4th of February last in front of Bagdad, as also several papers annexed thereto, and which have relation to the pillage of that vessel by federal soldiers.
As you will see, Mr. Secretary of State, by the examination of these documents, Colonel Jones, who commanded the troops of the United States at Brazos Santiago, near the point where the ship wreck took place, had formally authorized Captain Gautret to proceed with saving effects from his vessel. In despite, nevertheless, of this permission, and of the orders which they must have had from their commanders, the federal soldiers had not feared to make attempts on the property and even the life of our countrymen. When the captain and crew of the Le Verrier, who at first had taken refuge on the shore, sought to return on board their ship to attempt to save the cargo, a hail-storm of bullets assailed the boats before they had time to effect any unloading. At the later time, when the sailors of the wrecked vessel attempted to collect the flotsam which the sea cast upon the shore, the federal soldiers, revolver in hand, would come down and take from them by actual force the merchandise they had been able to save, and our unfortunate countrymen were thus despoiled of all they possessed, and even saw carried away the tent which they had borrowed from a merchant of Bagdad for the purpose of sheltering themselves.
His excellency the minister for foreign affairs charges me to call the most serious attention of your excellency to these deplorable facts, and to press upon you that the perpetrators of acts so contrary to the feelings of human nature and to the law of nations should be actively sought for and severely punished.
Mr. Drouyn de Lhuys adds to the note which he has written to me on this subject, that there is every reason to think that the cabinet at Washington will show itself the more ready to receive and notice this claim, in that the colonel, Jones, has himself taken the initiative in an examination of the facts above stated.
In consequence, I would be obliged to your excellency to have the goodness to let me know as soon as may be the sequel which shall be given to this regrettable business.
Accept, Mr. Secretary of State, the assurance of my consideration.
Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.