Seward Stops Grant From Starting a New War

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Did Grant have the authority to send Sheridan to the Mexican Border without President Johnson's approval?
 

tmh10

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Yep. I want to know what date he got here and when he left. :smile:

He says he got to Brownsville the later part of June, During the winter spring of 1866 supplied arms and ammo and as many as 30,000 muskets from baton Rouge arsenal covertly. The French started pulling out Jan 1867, and Sheridan was in and out of Texas by the summer of 1866.
 
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tmh10

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In that letter Grant relieved Sheridan of command of the Middle Military Division and put him in command of west of the Mississippi.
 

unionblue

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At the close of the Civil War Grant wanted to militarily expel the French from Mexico. He sent Sheridan with 50,000 troops to Texas. He wanted to provoke an incident to start war.

In contrast, Secretary of State Seward rightfully reasoned he could get the French out w/0 war. He prompted President Johnson to outlaw the export of weapons. Grant instructed Sheridan to ignore the prohibition. Sheridan supplied at least 30,000 rifles to the Juaristas. Grant, Sheridan, and Schofield schemed to get armed U. S. troops on the right bank of the Rio Grande.

Fortunately Seward outfoxed them. The French army was gone by 1867.

Interestingly, I learned nothing about this in either the two "highly recommended" Grant bios I have. Wonder why?

Even Grant apologist William Hardy admits the topic "remains understudied"...indeed.

====================
Sources:

Hanna, Alfred and Kathryn, Napoleon III and Mexico
Smith, Gene, Maximilian and Carlotta
Haslip, Joan The Crown of Mexico

Slightly skewed history.

I direct attention to the following site:

French Intervention in Mexico and the American Civil War, 1862-1867.

http://history.state.gov/milestones/1861-1865/FrenchIntervention

It is hard for me to give any serious credence to the idea that Grant wanted to expel the French by force. More sources and evidence would be welcome to support this idea.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
At the close of the Civil War Grant wanted to militarily expel the French from Mexico. He sent Sheridan with 50,000 troops to Texas. He wanted to provoke an incident to start war.

In contrast, Secretary of State Seward rightfully reasoned he could get the French out w/0 war. He prompted President Johnson to outlaw the export of weapons. Grant instructed Sheridan to ignore the prohibition. Sheridan supplied at least 30,000 rifles to the Juaristas. Grant, Sheridan, and Schofield schemed to get armed U. S. troops on the right bank of the Rio Grande.

Fortunately Seward outfoxed them. The French army was gone by 1867.

Interestingly, I learned nothing about this in either the two "highly recommended" Grant bios I have. Wonder why?

Even Grant apologist William Hardy admits the topic "remains understudied"...indeed.

====================
Sources:

Hanna, Alfred and Kathryn, Napoleon III and Mexico
Smith, Gene, Maximilian and Carlotta
Haslip, Joan The Crown of Mexico

Saying Seward outfoxed them is probably too much.

One reason the French left was that there were 50,000 US troops just north of the Rio Grande, occupying Texas. Another was the support in arms for Mexican insurgents. These put pressure on the French in Mexico, who were already having big difficulties.

Back in Europe, the world spun and changed. In June 1866 the Austro-Prussian War broke out. By August it was all over, the Austrians crushed. Napoleon III and the French suddenly had far worse problems back on their doorstep in Europe, leading to the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71. A potential war in North America had little appeal. A large expeditionary force tied up in Mexico was foolish when they would need every man to fight the Prussians.

Tim
 

David Knight

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Location
Pontefract, Yorkshire.
Interesting bit of history I know nothing about. Wait to see if a concensus develops of what Sheridan was actually up to, where and when.

Think the idea that the French had more important issues at home could be nearer the truth as to why they gave up supporting Maximillian whose own familys nation Austrian had just been crushed by Prussia.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
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Really? They didn't even have enough troops to enforce Reconstruction and stop the Comanches. Seriously.

I hate to even ask but what the heck is your source?

50,000 people sent to Texas would be quite noticeable.
And what year? :O o: I'm so confused.

On about the 15th of June, 1865 the XXV Corps under Weitzel was arriving in New Orleans, headed for Texas. They were soon embarked for Texas.

On about the 24th of June, 1865 the IV Corps under Stanley was arriving in New Orleans, headed for Texas. The returning transports from Weitzel's Corps were used to move IV Corps.

Part of XIII Corps was also being sent to Texas about then, as well as a force from Mobile under General Steele.

On or about June 10th, orders were issued for transport for two cavalry divisions (one under Merritt, one under Custer, about 4500 each) to move up the Red River. Custer went to Alexandria, LA and Merritt to Shreveport. Land transportation was sent there to support therir further move (Merritt to San Antonio, Custer to Hempstead, TX)

That's from the report of the Chief Quartermaster in the Department of the Gulf.

Tim
 

NedBaldwin

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Location
California
The way you describe it, sounds like Grant outfoxed Seward. Grant/Sheridan pursued there own course and got the French out without a war.

At the close of the Civil War Grant wanted to militarily expel the French from Mexico. He sent Sheridan with 50,000 troops to Texas. He wanted to provoke an incident to start war.

In contrast, Secretary of State Seward rightfully reasoned he could get the French out w/0 war. He prompted President Johnson to outlaw the export of weapons. Grant instructed Sheridan to ignore the prohibition. Sheridan supplied at least 30,000 rifles to the Juaristas. Grant, Sheridan, and Schofield schemed to get armed U. S. troops on the right bank of the Rio Grande.

Fortunately Seward outfoxed them. The French army was gone by 1867.

Interestingly, I learned nothing about this in either the two "highly recommended" Grant bios I have. Wonder why?

Even Grant apologist William Hardy admits the topic "remains understudied"...indeed.

====================
Sources:

Hanna, Alfred and Kathryn, Napoleon III and Mexico
Smith, Gene, Maximilian and Carlotta
Haslip, Joan The Crown of Mexico
 

Complicity

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Really? They didn't even have enough troops to enforce Reconstruction and stop the Comanches. Seriously.

I hate to even ask but what the heck is your source?

50,000 people sent to Texas would be quite noticeable.

I've provided three sources, two of which cite the applicable figure.

For anyone genuinely wanting to lean more about the incident, here are a couple of more:

Miles, Donald Cinco de Mayo

Arthur, Anthony General Shelby's March

Grant's motivation is obscure...One biographer suggests a simple inability to let go of war because he had no life to lead without it.
 
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Complicity

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Slightly skewed history.

It is hard for me to give any serious credence to the idea that Grant wanted to expel the French by force. More sources and evidence would be welcome to support this idea.

This is stunning.

I've supplied three sources. Here's another:

Miles, Donald Cinco de Mayo
 

Complicity

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The way you describe it, sounds like Grant outfoxed Seward. Grant/Sheridan pursued there own course and got the French out without a war.

I have provided three sources that offer a similar description. You may also want to examine Donald Miles's Cinco de Mayo.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
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I've provided three sources, two of which cite the applicable figure.

For anyone genuinely wanting to lean more about the incident, here are a couple of more:

Miles, Donald Cinco de Mayo

Arthur, Anthony General Shelby's March

Grant's motivation is obscure...One biographer suggests a simple inability to let go of war because he had no life to leave without it.
I have provided three sources that offer a similar description. You may also want to examine Donald Miles's Cinco de Mayo.
I have provided three sources that offer a similar description. You may also want to examine Donald Miles's Cinco de Mayo.

That is all well and good, but it is also very well known that the Lincoln Administration (including Seward) had been pressuring Grant to do something to get Federal troops into Texas and create a US presence there as a means of exerting influence on the French in Mexico since early in 1864.

That would be more than a year before Grant sent Sheridan there. The most likely explanation for those May 1865 orders would be that Grant was simply following through on the next to-do item on his list now that the war was ending and he had plenty of troops available to move wherever he wanted. In addition, when the order to Sheridan was issued, it looked like E. Kirby Smith was going to try to hold on a little longer west of the Mississippi and Grant was sending Sheridan to put an end to any resistance quickly.

By the time Sheridan got down there, the E. Kirby Smith issue didn't exist anymore -- but you still had Sheridan headed that way with 50,000 troops -- and a very large ex-Confederate state to occupy and bring back into accord.

Tim
 

Complicity

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That is all well and good, but it is also very well known that the Lincoln Administration (including Seward) had been pressuring Grant to do something to get Federal troops into Texas and create a US presence there as a means of exerting influence on the French in Mexico since early in 1864.

Actually, the pressure started as early as July 1863, right after the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson. But Grant was not singled-out as you imply. In fact most of the pressure was put on Banks.

But it is irrelevant. After the war Grant defied President Johnson's prohibition on exporting weapons to Mexico. Seward was handling the matter correctly and successfully.

The most likely explanation for those May 1865 orders would be that Grant was simply following through on the next to-do item on his list now that the war was ending and he had plenty of troops available to move wherever he wanted. In addition, when the order to Sheridan was issued, it looked like E. Kirby Smith was going to try to hold on a little longer west of the Mississippi and Grant was sending Sheridan to put an end to any resistance quickly.

That presumption fails to conform to the facts available in the sources I provided.

Grant told Sheridan that his order to track down the last of the Transmississippi Rebels was just a cover for something Grant had not told President Johnson or Secretary of State Seward. What he really wanted was to make a military show of force against the French in Mexico. When Sheridan and Grant met privately to discuss it they agreed that Sheridan should leave immediately "in case Seward were to find out about the plan and try to stop it."
 

JCM6395

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Location
Southwest Indiana
Grant knew the French weren't going to just leave because we said so. Putting 50,000 troops in Texas was a reminder to them that we were going to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. It could be done nicely or ugly. Funneling weapons to those who are friendly to us and want to kick the French out.....its a win-win for us.
 

AndyHall

Colonel
Joined
Dec 13, 2011
Useful as well to understand this incident as part of a long series of crises along the Texas/Mexico border. In the 19th century, at least, there were always local interests in South Texas who were looking for an excuse to march back into Mexico and seize large amounts of territory. I wrote about one incident in the mid-1870s some time back:

Rio Bravo: "A 4th-Class TUB"

U.S.S. Rio Bravo was originally built as the civilian sidewheel packet Planter at Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1860. Her master and part owner, Charles V. Wells, sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War and took her south, where she was captured by Union forces on June 15, 1863. She was taken into the U.S. Quartermaster Department and operated as a transport for the remainder of the war. In 1866 Planter was sold out of the service, and once again resumed operating as a civilian steamer, this time out of Mobile, Alabama.



In 1875, General E. O. C. Ord, commander of the U.S. Army's Department of Texas, persuaded the Navy Department to provide a gunboat for the Rio Grande to protect the area against raids from Mexico, particularly those coordinated by Juan Cortina, a longtime enemy of American business interests in the area. The Navy responded by purchasing the old sidewheeler Planter and christening her Rio Bravo, after the Mexican name for the river she was to patrol. The Navy's decision to outfit Planter/Rio Bravo as a gunboat is a curious one, since she was already 15 years old -- positively geriatric for a riverboat -- and substantially larger than most of the steamers operating on the shallow, hazard-strewn Rio Grande.

Armed with four small howitzers and a rifled gun firing a 30-pound shell, Rio Bravo set out for the Rio Grande in the summer of 1875. She was damaged by a storm while crossing the Gulf of Mexico, and put into Galveston briefly for repairs. She arrived in in early October on the Rio Grande with a complement of eight officers and forty-five crewmen. Her crew was hardly impressed with their newly-outfitted gunboat; Frank Pierce, who served aboard her as a yeoman and would later write an early history of the Rio Grande Valley, described her as a "4th-class TUB."


More important, Rio Bravo's captain, Lieutenant Commander Kells, quickly embroiled himself in the volatile atmosphere in Brownsville. There were many in the area, primarily Anglo businessmen, who would have welcomed another war with Mexico. Kells sided quickly with them, and even offered to create an incident to precipitate one. Just two days after arriving at Brownsville, Kells proposed that "it could be arranged to have [Rio Bravo] fired upon, by a party of Texans from the Mexican bank, in her first trip up the 'Rio Grande,' in order that he might have an excuse to return the fire, destroy adjacent Mexican ranches, and land and occupy Mexican soil, ostensibly to avenge the insult to the United States flag; and thus precipitate an armed conflict with Mexico on this frontier." As an alternative, Kells suggested, a group of Texans posing as Mexican raiders might drive a herd of cattle across the river to Las Cuevas, one of the Mexican ranches believed to harbor Cortina's men. This would then give Kells an excuse to attack Las Cuevas.


The naval officer's remarks were widely reported in and around Brownsville, and prompted an urgent series of telegrams between the U.S. Consul at Matamoros and the State Department. Kells was relieved of command of Rio Bravo on November 15, 1875, before he could stage any of his proposed incidents. (The attack on Las Cuevas was eventually carried out, without Rio Bravo's assistance, by a party of Texas Rangers.)


Rio Bravo's actual service on the river seems to have been somewhat brief. On her first trip up the Rio Grande, about a hundred river miles above Brownsville, the old sidewheeler exploded one of her boilers. Unable to move under her own power, she took advantage of the high stage of the river to drift back downstream to Brownsville.
Rio Bravo was officially transferred to the ownership of the U.S. War Department in June 1880, her 20th year, but her useful life undoubtedly had passed some time before. Rio Bravo was finally sunk as a breakwater below Fort Brown.
 

Complicity

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Interesting bit of history I know nothing about. Wait to see if a concensus develops of what Sheridan was actually up to, where and when.

Think the idea that the French had more important issues at home could be nearer the truth as to why they gave up supporting Maximillian whose own familys nation Austrian had just been crushed by Prussia.

You don't need to wait for "the forum" to decide by consensus. I have provided five sources that give you the facts and full context.

You may have observed, however, that none of my comments in this thread have been "liked" a single time although it is obvious that some of the participants were surprised to learn of the incident and nobody has provided as many sources as me.

Consequently, the chances that my further participation will influence anyone are as slim as a Cherokee Indian getting elected Pope...regardless of the facts. So, adios.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Actually, the pressure started as early as July 1863, right after the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson. But Grant was not singled-out as you imply. In fact most of the pressure was put on Banks.

I understand the pressure was on earlier. I did not imply Grant was singled out: Grant was in charge of the entire Army from early 1864 on, so he was the natural recipient of the Lincoln Administration's requests.

But it is irrelevant. After the war Grant defied President Johnson's prohibition on exporting weapons to Mexico. Seward was handling the matter correctly and successfully.

As is normal and natural, there were quite a few plans being pushed in Washington at the time, several of them at cross-purposes. Seward's was one -- there was another plan cooking among President Johnson-Grant-Schofield from the US side and Mattias Romero from Mexico.

The Johnson-Grant-Schofield-Romero plan seems to have consisted of recruiting volunteers from the US forces in Texas to serve for the Mexicans in Mexico (carefully mustering those men out of the Army before they became part of the force going to Mexico). Schofield was to have commanded. This plan had gone as far as working out Schofield's contract and Grant telling Sheridan not to send any of his captured war material back to Washington and parts north, but to store it where it could be easily turned over to Schofield. This is about November 1, 1865 -- Seward out-maneuvered them by getting Schofield to take a diplomatic mission to France on November 4th.

You might also want to notice that Clarence A. Seward, the nephew of the Secretary of State, had a lucrative position with Maximillian's Express Company, and that this was well-known in the inner circles of Washington (Johnson, Grant, Schofield all knew of it). Again, as is normal in these matters, expect to find people with more than one iron in the fire: Seward was certainly one of those.

That presumption fails to conform to the facts available in the sources I provided.

Grant told Sheridan that his order to track down the last of the Transmississippi Rebels was just a cover for something Grant had not told President Johnson or Secretary of State Seward. What he really wanted was to make a military show of force against the French in Mexico. When Sheridan and Grant met privately to discuss it they agreed that Sheridan should leave immediately "in case Seward were to find out about the plan and try to stop it."

Again, nothing is as simple and limited as you are trying to make it. Most such orders have more than one purpose -- and it was certainly true that something had to be done about clearing out rebels in Texas and putting the area under Federal control, which would require large forces. Doing that would also (as had been repeatedly requested) put pressure on the French in Mexico.

As to Seward -- he was possibly the biggest man of the moment in politics in the US, following the assassination attempt on Seward and the death of Lincoln. He was overplaying his hand, as he had done before, and working at cross-purposes to what President Johnson seems to have been thinking.

You might like to take a look around for a book called Mexican Lobby: Mattias Romero in Washington 1861-1867, edited by Thomas David Schoonover.

Tim
 
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