The Confederate Diplomatic Mission to Mexico

jgoodguy

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The Confederate Diplomatic Mission to Mexico - EIU
Jack E. Cunningham
Jack Cunningham is a junior history major from Fox River Grove, Illinois. He wrote this paper for Dr. Hubbard's HIS 4940: Early Republic class. After graduation, Jack plans on pursuing a master’s degree in public history.
My caveat is to concentrate on sources quoted.
Eastern Illinois University :: Historia - (2018 Issue)

Interesting article about Mexico invaded and land taken by the US, courted for diplomatic recognition by the CSA covetous of its lands with the US racing to prevent that. Mexico in the midst of a civil war, invaded by the French, and very poor was a prize in an international diplomatic competition.

The Civil War was ultimately won on the battlefields, but there were many other battles that erupted during the war: the fight to break the Union blockade, battles in Congress, on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, and the failed battle for international Confederate recognition. This last issue was the fight the South needed to win in order to prevail in the larger conflict and gain its independence. The Confederacy needed a quick war to defeat the Union, and European recognition was the way to guarantee that victory. European recognition, Confederates hoped, would help them break the superior Union blockade that was starving and strangling the Confederacy, put pressure on the Union from multiple fronts, and allow the Davis administration some leverage over the Union at the negotiating table. Davis and the Confederate Cabinet members thought recognition would be easy. The South had extensive economic ties with England and France, and cordial relations with Mexico. It aimed to invoke the same strategy used by American colonists in 1776 that allowed France to recognize the Americans and intervene on their side. Davis and his diplomats understood the importance of their foreign relations missions to the Great Powers of Europe. Their survival depended on it. Despite the grave importance of their mission, however, the Davis Cabinet and the diplomats sent to Mexico were over confident and did not care to understand the Mexicans. This spelled the end for the mission before it ever began. Union diplomats were determined to keep Mexico out of the hands of the Confederacy, and they had the patience, time, and money to do so.

"Despite the grave importance of their mission, however, the Davis Cabinet and the diplomats sent to Mexico were overconfident and did not care to understand the Mexicans" IMHO the same error as their missions to Europe.

However, Davis and Toombs sent the first Confederate foreign diplomatic mission, not to Europe, but to Mexico. Toombs appointed John Pickett from Kentucky to head the Confederate diplomatic delegation to Mexico.11 On May 17, 1861, Pickett received a letter that contained his formal post as the Confederate commissioner to Mexico and his diplomatic instructions from Toombs. Pickett was to “assure them [Mexico] of the readiness of this Government to conclude a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation with that Republic on terms equally advantageous to both countries.”12 The unstable and poor nation of Mexico hardly appeared a likely candidate for a Confederate diplomatic mission for recognition. But Mexico’s instability, Tombs and Davis believed, might play into the hands of the Confederates because “no country enjoyed less respect or influence in the foreign offices of the world, and none would seem less likely to be flattered by a proud young people, like the Confederacy, seeking international standing.”13 Pickett would be responsible for
opening the door with Mexico then, in turn, opening a door with the European Powers. The planned diplomatic attack was not a frontal assault on Paris or London, but a backdoor approach through Mexico City.14
The CSA playing in Mexico might cause problems with France. What it is to gain Mexico and lost France in the diplomatic game.

The European powers retained a vested interest in Mexico ever since the Spanish left in 1821. Mexico was the jewel of Central America and its resources highly desired by the English and the French in particular. The Mexican government, however, was constantly in turmoil, and it was in massive debt to the European powers, which wanted their cash back from Mexico and decided that they knew how to run the country better than the Mexicans did. After all, since the departure of the Spanish in 1821, the Mexican government went through seventy-five presidents.15 Nor did the Mexican government show signs of stabilizing either. The most formidable opponent to the European plans for Mexico was the United States. Americans had already shown their desire for land in the New World. Their massive land grab in 1848 reaffirmed the European belief that America was a growing economic threat. The Monroe Doctrine was another obstacle to European ambitions in Mexico. Many European leaders and governments had dismissed the Doctrine when it was first announced in 1823. However, as the United States continued to expand west to the Pacific Ocean and grow its economy, Europeans took the Doctrine more seriously. It was not stopping any European power, but it was certainly something to consider. Now, with Americans engulfed in a Civil War, the European plans for Mexico were back on. Americans would be too occupied with their blockade of the East Coast to worry about European fleets entering and leaving the Gulf of Mexico. Of the European powers, the French, under Napoleon III, had the greatest hopes and plans for Mexico. France had seen the turbulent Mexican governments fail time and time again. To restore glory to France and rebuild her Empire, Napoleon III and his noble Spanish wife Eugѐnie, had drafted up plans for an invasion of Mexico that would place Archduke Maximilian of Hapsburg, second in line for the Austro-Hungarian throne, on the throne in Mexico to establish a stable, European government there to hopefully bring glory to France.16 With a weakened, distracted U.S. government, the French saw opportunity to pursue their plan. From the European perspective, secession turned the Monroe Doctrine back into a laughable document. A divided America could not stand up to massive European fleets or armies looking to encroach into Central and South America.

Footnotes
9 Ibid, 79-80.
10 Tombs to Davis, July 24, 1861, in Papers of Jefferson Davis 1861, vol. VII, eds., Lynda Lasswell Crist and Mary Seaton Dix,
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992), 266.
11 Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, 107.
12 Toombs to Pickett, May 17, 1861, in The Messages and Papers of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy: Including Diplomatic
Correspondence, 1861-1865, vol. II ed., James D. Richardson (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1966), 21.
13 Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, 109.
14 Ibid, 109.
15 Ibid, 108.
16 Ibid, 112.
17 Ibid, 114.
18 Ibid, 115.


 

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trice

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I would like to recommend an excellent book here: A Government of Our Own: The Making of the Confederacy by William C. Davis.

The book is about the formation of the Confederate government during the first four months of 1861. It doesn't spend much text on Mexico, but there are some interesting pieces. Here's a link to a Google search of the E-book version in case you want to look at them.

Davis was always associated with taking parts of Mexico, both when in the US government and in the Confederate government.
On February 16, 1861 he made a speech in Atlanta, during a stop while still en route to Montgomery to accept the Presidency of the Confederacy. He presented the old Manifest Destiny doctrine for the Confederacy, talking of the Confederate States acquiring Cuba, the West Indies, and northern Mexico. So he let the feeler from Mexico slide that arrived when he was in Montgomery slide, but he thought maybe the Confederacy should get Mexico to cooperate on controlling the Indian tribes along the border (and still wanted to separate the northern part to become part of the Confederacy. During the Civil War, Confederate agents continued to plan and act to try to separate northern Mexico from the Mexican government.
 

jgoodguy

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I would like to recommend an excellent book here: A Government of Our Own: The Making of the Confederacy by William C. Davis.

The book is about the formation of the Confederate government during the first four months of 1861. It doesn't spend much text on Mexico, but there are some interesting pieces. Here's a link to a Google search of the E-book version in case you want to look at them.

Davis was always associated with taking parts of Mexico, both when in the US government and in the Confederate government.
On February 16, 1861 he made a speech in Atlanta, during a stop while still en route to Montgomery to accept the Presidency of the Confederacy. He presented the old Manifest Destiny doctrine for the Confederacy, talking of the Confederate States acquiring Cuba, the West Indies, and northern Mexico. So he let the feeler from Mexico slide that arrived when he was in Montgomery slide, but he thought maybe the Confederacy should get Mexico to cooperate on controlling the Indian tribes along the border (and still wanted to separate the northern part to become part of the Confederacy. During the Civil War, Confederate agents continued to plan and act to try to separate northern Mexico from the Mexican government.
I second the recommendation. Good points.
 

leftyhunter

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The Confederate Diplomatic Mission to Mexico - EIU
Jack E. Cunningham
Jack Cunningham is a junior history major from Fox River Grove, Illinois. He wrote this paper for Dr. Hubbard's HIS 4940: Early Republic class. After graduation, Jack plans on pursuing a master’s degree in public history.
My caveat is to concentrate on sources quoted.
Eastern Illinois University :: Historia - (2018 Issue)


Interesting article about Mexico invaded and land taken by the US, courted for diplomatic recognition by the CSA covetous of its lands with the US racing to prevent that. Mexico in the midst of a civil war, invaded by the French, and very poor was a prize in an international diplomatic competition.

The Civil War was ultimately won on the battlefields, but there were many other battles that erupted during the war: the fight to break the Union blockade, battles in Congress, on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, and the failed battle for international Confederate recognition. This last issue was the fight the South needed to win in order to prevail in the larger conflict and gain its independence. The Confederacy needed a quick war to defeat the Union, and European recognition was the way to guarantee that victory. European recognition, Confederates hoped, would help them break the superior Union blockade that was starving and strangling the Confederacy, put pressure on the Union from multiple fronts, and allow the Davis administration some leverage over the Union at the negotiating table. Davis and the Confederate Cabinet members thought recognition would be easy. The South had extensive economic ties with England and France, and cordial relations with Mexico. It aimed to invoke the same strategy used by American colonists in 1776 that allowed France to recognize the Americans and intervene on their side. Davis and his diplomats understood the importance of their foreign relations missions to the Great Powers of Europe. Their survival depended on it. Despite the grave importance of their mission, however, the Davis Cabinet and the diplomats sent to Mexico were over confident and did not care to understand the Mexicans. This spelled the end for the mission before it ever began. Union diplomats were determined to keep Mexico out of the hands of the Confederacy, and they had the patience, time, and money to do so.

"Despite the grave importance of their mission, however, the Davis Cabinet and the diplomats sent to Mexico were overconfident and did not care to understand the Mexicans" IMHO the same error as their missions to Europe.

However, Davis and Toombs sent the first Confederate foreign diplomatic mission, not to Europe, but to Mexico. Toombs appointed John Pickett from Kentucky to head the Confederate diplomatic delegation to Mexico.11 On May 17, 1861, Pickett received a letter that contained his formal post as the Confederate commissioner to Mexico and his diplomatic instructions from Toombs. Pickett was to “assure them [Mexico] of the readiness of this Government to conclude a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation with that Republic on terms equally advantageous to both countries.”12 The unstable and poor nation of Mexico hardly appeared a likely candidate for a Confederate diplomatic mission for recognition. But Mexico’s instability, Tombs and Davis believed, might play into the hands of the Confederates because “no country enjoyed less respect or influence in the foreign offices of the world, and none would seem less likely to be flattered by a proud young people, like the Confederacy, seeking international standing.”13 Pickett would be responsible for
opening the door with Mexico then, in turn, opening a door with the European Powers. The planned diplomatic attack was not a frontal assault on Paris or London, but a backdoor approach through Mexico City.14
The CSA playing in Mexico might cause problems with France. What it is to gain Mexico and lost France in the diplomatic game.

The European powers retained a vested interest in Mexico ever since the Spanish left in 1821. Mexico was the jewel of Central America and its resources highly desired by the English and the French in particular. The Mexican government, however, was constantly in turmoil, and it was in massive debt to the European powers, which wanted their cash back from Mexico and decided that they knew how to run the country better than the Mexicans did. After all, since the departure of the Spanish in 1821, the Mexican government went through seventy-five presidents.15 Nor did the Mexican government show signs of stabilizing either. The most formidable opponent to the European plans for Mexico was the United States. Americans had already shown their desire for land in the New World. Their massive land grab in 1848 reaffirmed the European belief that America was a growing economic threat. The Monroe Doctrine was another obstacle to European ambitions in Mexico. Many European leaders and governments had dismissed the Doctrine when it was first announced in 1823. However, as the United States continued to expand west to the Pacific Ocean and grow its economy, Europeans took the Doctrine more seriously. It was not stopping any European power, but it was certainly something to consider. Now, with Americans engulfed in a Civil War, the European plans for Mexico were back on. Americans would be too occupied with their blockade of the East Coast to worry about European fleets entering and leaving the Gulf of Mexico. Of the European powers, the French, under Napoleon III, had the greatest hopes and plans for Mexico. France had seen the turbulent Mexican governments fail time and time again. To restore glory to France and rebuild her Empire, Napoleon III and his noble Spanish wife Eugѐnie, had drafted up plans for an invasion of Mexico that would place Archduke Maximilian of Hapsburg, second in line for the Austro-Hungarian throne, on the throne in Mexico to establish a stable, European government there to hopefully bring glory to France.16 With a weakened, distracted U.S. government, the French saw opportunity to pursue their plan. From the European perspective, secession turned the Monroe Doctrine back into a laughable document. A divided America could not stand up to massive European fleets or armies looking to encroach into Central and South America.

Footnotes
9 Ibid, 79-80.
10 Tombs to Davis, July 24, 1861, in Papers of Jefferson Davis 1861, vol. VII, eds., Lynda Lasswell Crist and Mary Seaton Dix,
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992), 266.
11 Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, 107.
12 Toombs to Pickett, May 17, 1861, in The Messages and Papers of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy: Including Diplomatic
Correspondence, 1861-1865, vol. II ed., James D. Richardson (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1966), 21.
13 Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, 109.
14 Ibid, 109.
15 Ibid, 108.
16 Ibid, 112.
17 Ibid, 114.
18 Ibid, 115.

Mexico had everything to loose and nothing to gain from recognizing the Confederacy. The USN could easily establish if they had not already a naval port in San Diego. There were already a fair amount of Americans in California that could either invade Baja California or at least defend the San Diego Naval Base.
Mexico had on and off again Civil Wars and a long border was mostly Union controlled. It would be easy to supply a friendly side in a Mexican Civil War.
Mexico certainly profited by having the closest foreign port to the Confederacy via the port of Baghdad to Montomoros across the Rio Grande to Brownsville,Texas.
Once Brownsville fell coupled with the fall of Vicksburg then Baghdad fell into decline.
Mexico made the smart move in not recognizing the Confederacy.
Leftyhunter
 

jgoodguy

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The Confederate Diplomatic Mission to Mexico - EIU

The idea seems to be to cooperate with France in Mexico and then get French recognization for that followed by Britain. There are downsides, not the least is the establishment of a powerful foreign monarchy on the CSA border.

The Confederacy saw the opportunity to capitalize on diplomacy during this time as well. The necessities of war and conflict brought the Confederates and French very close. In 1861 any enemy of the U.S. federal government, wherever they were found, were destined to become friends with the Confederacy.17 That was one of the founding principles of the Confederate foreign policy at the start of the war. Better yet, Davis and Toombs had something concrete to offer Napoleon III, and the French had much to offer the Confederacy in return. If the Confederate States of America could get the French to recognize their independence, England was sure to follow because France and Great Britain were acting as a single unit in the American crisis. They both sent a joint delegation to Washington after both nations declared the Confederacy a belligerent in the war, one step shy of recognition. They would also act as a single nation in the possible recognition of the Confederacy as an independent nation.18 This infuriated William Seward, the American secretary of state. Lord Lyons and M. Mercier, English and French ministers to the United States requested an audience with Seward and demanded they be met with together. This was unacceptable to Seward and Lincoln. Meeting with them together would only encourage their commitment to join forces, if the South were to be recognized.

To Jefferson Davis and Robert Toombs, the news that England and France would be working very closely with one another during the American crisis was welcome. If Toombs could get the French to recognize the Confederacy as independent, that might bring in the much more valuable prize, England. To achieve this goal, Toombs would have to promote the Napoleonic scheme in Mexico because the “quickest way to a possible diplomatic triumph in Europe lay through Mexico.”19 Even though this was a quick solution to the recognition issue that plagued the Confederacy, endorsing a European scheme to place a monarch on the throne of a nation in the western hemisphere, would counter the entire American way and the American system and tradition. And, on top of all that, the European monarch would be placed right on the border with the Confederate States of America—another concerning issue. Despite George Washington’s famous insistence that America avoid “entangling alliances” with Europe and its ideas, and President Monroe’s outspoken opposition to any extension of European influence in the New World, Toombs and Davis were willing to defy the ideals of fellow southerners Washington and Monroe and make those concessions.20
If the CSA has great chances for success. Pickett was a good choice, better than the envoys sent to Europe.

The odds looked good in early 1861 regarding a Confederate diplomatic victory in Mexico. Davis, at the request of John Forsyth, the American minister to Mexico in the years leading up to the Civil War, appointed John Pickett as a special agent to represent the Confederate government in Mexico. According to the letter that accompanied that request, Forsyth boasted that Pickett was “admirably qualified for such a mission.” Forsyth also noted that Pickett’s “knowledge of Mexican character, its language and its public men, his well-known Southern loyalty and personal chivalry recommended him as eminently suitable to fill a position so delicate and important as this.”21 A graduate of West Point, Pickett had resigned his Army post for an exciting life as a diplomat. He would need to obtain the support of the Mexicans in order to secure an alliance with the French.​


Footnotes
14 Ibid, 109.
15 Ibid, 108.
16 Ibid, 112.
17 Ibid, 114.
18 Ibid, 115.
19 Ibid, 115.
20 Ibid, 116.
21 Forsyth to Davis March 20, 1861, in The Papers of Jefferson Davis 1861, 75-76.
22 Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, 116.
23 Forsyth to Davis, March 20, 1861, in The Papers of Jefferson Davis 1861, 75.​
 

trice

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The Confederate Diplomatic Mission to Mexico - EIU

The idea seems to be to cooperate with France in Mexico and then get French recognization for that followed by Britain. There are downsides, not the least is the establishment of a powerful foreign monarchy on the CSA border.

The Confederacy saw the opportunity to capitalize on diplomacy during this time as well. The necessities of war and conflict brought the Confederates and French very close. In 1861 any enemy of the U.S. federal government, wherever they were found, were destined to become friends with the Confederacy.17 That was one of the founding principles of the Confederate foreign policy at the start of the war. Better yet, Davis and Toombs had something concrete to offer Napoleon III, and the French had much to offer the Confederacy in return. If the Confederate States of America could get the French to recognize their independence, England was sure to follow because France and Great Britain were acting as a single unit in the American crisis. They both sent a joint delegation to Washington after both nations declared the Confederacy a belligerent in the war, one step shy of recognition. They would also act as a single nation in the possible recognition of the Confederacy as an independent nation.18 This infuriated William Seward, the American secretary of state. Lord Lyons and M. Mercier, English and French ministers to the United States requested an audience with Seward and demanded they be met with together. This was unacceptable to Seward and Lincoln. Meeting with them together would only encourage their commitment to join forces, if the South were to be recognized.

To Jefferson Davis and Robert Toombs, the news that England and France would be working very closely with one another during the American crisis was welcome. If Toombs could get the French to recognize the Confederacy as independent, that might bring in the much more valuable prize, England. To achieve this goal, Toombs would have to promote the Napoleonic scheme in Mexico because the “quickest way to a possible diplomatic triumph in Europe lay through Mexico.”19 Even though this was a quick solution to the recognition issue that plagued the Confederacy, endorsing a European scheme to place a monarch on the throne of a nation in the western hemisphere, would counter the entire American way and the American system and tradition. And, on top of all that, the European monarch would be placed right on the border with the Confederate States of America—another concerning issue. Despite George Washington’s famous insistence that America avoid “entangling alliances” with Europe and its ideas, and President Monroe’s outspoken opposition to any extension of European influence in the New World, Toombs and Davis were willing to defy the ideals of fellow southerners Washington and Monroe and make those concessions.20
If the CSA has great chances for success. Pickett was a good choice, better than the envoys sent to Europe.

The odds looked good in early 1861 regarding a Confederate diplomatic victory in Mexico. Davis, at the request of John Forsyth, the American minister to Mexico in the years leading up to the Civil War, appointed John Pickett as a special agent to represent the Confederate government in Mexico. According to the letter that accompanied that request, Forsyth boasted that Pickett was “admirably qualified for such a mission.” Forsyth also noted that Pickett’s “knowledge of Mexican character, its language and its public men, his well-known Southern loyalty and personal chivalry recommended him as eminently suitable to fill a position so delicate and important as this.”21 A graduate of West Point, Pickett had resigned his Army post for an exciting life as a diplomat. He would need to obtain the support of the Mexicans in order to secure an alliance with the French.​


Footnotes
14 Ibid, 109.
15 Ibid, 108.
16 Ibid, 112.
17 Ibid, 114.
18 Ibid, 115.
19 Ibid, 115.
20 Ibid, 116.
21 Forsyth to Davis March 20, 1861, in The Papers of Jefferson Davis 1861, 75-76.
22 Hendrick, Statesmen of the Lost Cause, 116.
23 Forsyth to Davis, March 20, 1861, in The Papers of Jefferson Davis 1861, 75.​
Interesting. It doesn't seem to fit tightly with what I remember, so let me see what I can recall with a couple of Google searches to jog my memory:

  • Mexico was fighting a civil war from 1857-60 (Reform War). Juarez was with the Liberals, recognized as the Mexican government in 1859 by President Buchanan. The Conservatives had the support of the official Mexican Army from the start -- they controlled Mexico City, but were unable to take Vera Cruz from the Liberals (partially because of USN support, see the Battle of Anton Lizardo). Attempts to take Vera Cruz were beaten back twice in 1860 and the Liberal counter-offensive took Mexico City on January 1, 1861.
  • Conservatives fell back into the countryside, keeping up a sporadic struggle and eventually supported the French and Maximillian. Savage guerrilla warfare continued for years.
  • In Mexico, Juarez and the Liberals held an election in March 1861 to validate their victory. Juarez is elected President.
  • In "the South", the rebel government of the Confederacy is forming in Montgomery during February/March 1861.
  • In "the North" (as in "the rest of the USA"), Lincoln is assuming office in the beginning of March 1861.
  • Meanwhile, Mexico is in an economic crisis and unable to pay debts to the Spanish, French and British, who are ticked off and ramping up pressure on Mexico.
  • In mid-April of 1861, "the South" attacks Ft. Sumter and begins interning 1100 US troops peacefully withdrawing from Texas under agreement with that state. Lincoln calls for troops to defend the nation. The American Civil War starts.
  • Juárez declares a two-year moratorium on foreeign debt payments on July 17, 1861.
  • Toombs tenders resignation as Confederate Secretary of State on July 19, 1861 (he is replaced July 25).
  • In London, the Spanish, French and British sign the Convention of London to use force to get payment from Mexico on October 31, 1861.
  • The European (British/French/Spanish) expedition lands at Vera Cruz on December 8-17, 1861.
  • Grant takes Ft. Henry & Ft. Donelson February 6-16, 1862 leading to the Fall of Nashville
  • North of the border, the Battle of Shiloh is April 6-7, 1862.
  • When the British and Spanish discovered that it was Napoleon III's intent to conquer Mexico, a direct violation of the Convention of London, they withdrew their forces April 9-24, 1862.
Clearly, there was a lot of chaos going on, but I have trouble thinking that Bob Toombs had much to do with shaping it. His entire tenure as Confederate Secretary of State lasts only five months. Given transit times for messages and envoys, I have trouble seeing where he had much, if any, impact.
 

jgoodguy

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Interesting. It doesn't seem to fit tightly with what I remember, so let me see what I can recall with a couple of Google searches to jog my memory:

  • Mexico was fighting a civil war from 1857-60 (Reform War). Juarez was with the Liberals, recognized as the Mexican government in 1859 by President Buchanan. The Conservatives had the support of the official Mexican Army from the start -- they controlled Mexico City, but were unable to take Vera Cruz from the Liberals (partially because of USN support, see the Battle of Anton Lizardo). Attempts to take Vera Cruz were beaten back twice in 1860 and the Liberal counter-offensive took Mexico City on January 1, 1861.
  • Conservatives fell back into the countryside, keeping up a sporadic struggle and eventually supported the French and Maximillian. Savage guerrilla warfare continued for years.
  • In Mexico, Juarez and the Liberals held an election in March 1861 to validate their victory. Juarez is elected President.
  • In "the South", the rebel government of the Confederacy is forming in Montgomery during February/March 1861.
  • In "the North" (as in "the rest of the USA"), Lincoln is assuming office in the beginning of March 1861.
  • Meanwhile, Mexico is in an economic crisis and unable to pay debts to the Spanish, French and British, who are ticked off and ramping up pressure on Mexico.
  • In mid-April of 1861, "the South" attacks Ft. Sumter and begins interning 1100 US troops peacefully withdrawing from Texas under agreement with that state. Lincoln calls for troops to defend the nation. The American Civil War starts.
  • Juárez declares a two-year moratorium on foreeign debt payments on July 17, 1861.
  • Toombs tenders resignation as Confederate Secretary of State on July 19, 1861 (he is replaced July 25).
  • In London, the Spanish, French and British sign the Convention of London to use force to get payment from Mexico on October 31, 1861.
  • The European (British/French/Spanish) expedition lands at Vera Cruz on December 8-17, 1861.
  • Grant takes Ft. Henry & Ft. Donelson February 6-16, 1862 leading to the Fall of Nashville
  • North of the border, the Battle of Shiloh is April 6-7, 1862.
  • When the British and Spanish discovered that it was Napoleon III's intent to conquer Mexico, a direct violation of the Convention of London, they withdrew their forces April 9-24, 1862.
Clearly, there was a lot of chaos going on, but I have trouble thinking that Bob Toombs had much to do with shaping it. His entire tenure as Confederate Secretary of State lasts only five months. Given transit times for messages and envoys, I have trouble seeing where he had much, if any, impact.
Good points.

IMHO the main benefit of this article is the sources and facts, not so much the interpretation of those facts.
 

jgoodguy

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France
Main article: France in the American Civil War
The Second French Empire under Napoleon III remained officially neutral throughout the War and never recognized the Confederate States of America. It did recognize Confederate belligerency. [47] The textile industry needed cotton, and Napoleon III had imperial ambitions in Mexico which could be greatly aided by the Confederacy. The United States had warned that recognition meant war. France was reluctant to act alone without British collaboration, and the British rejected intervention. Emperor Napoleon III realized that a war with the U.S. without allies "would spell disaster" for France.[48] Napoleon III and his Minister of Foreign Affairs Edouard Thouvenel adopted a cautious attitude and maintained diplomatically correct relations with Washington. Half the French press favored the Union, while the "imperial" press was more sympathetic to the Confederacy. Public opinion generally ignored the war, showing much interest in Mexico.[49]

Mexico[edit]
Further information: Mexico–United States relations
In 1861, Mexican conservatives looked to French leader Napoleon III to abolish the Republic led by liberal President Benito Juárez. France favored the Confederacy but did not accord it diplomatic recognition. The French expected that a Confederate victory would facilitate French economic dominance in Mexico. Napoleon helped the Confederacy by shipping urgently needed supplies through the ports of Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville (Texas). The Confederacy itself sought closer relationships with Mexico. Juarez turned them down, but the Confederates worked well with local warlords in northern Mexico, and with the French invaders.[50][51]

Realizing that Washington could not intervene in Mexico as long as the Confederacy controlled Texas, France invaded Mexico in 1861 and installed an Austrian prince Maximilian I of Mexico as its puppet ruler in 1864. Owing to the shared convictions of the democratically elected government of Juárez and Lincoln, Matías Romero, Juárez's minister to Washington, mobilized support in the U.S. Congress, and raised money, soldiers and ammunition in the United States for the war against Maximilian. Washington repeatedly protested France's violation of the Monroe Doctrine.

Once the Union won the War in spring 1865, the U.S. allowed supporters of Juárez to openly purchase weapons and ammunition and issued stronger warnings to Paris. Washington sent general William Tecumseh Sherman with 50,000 combat veterans to the Mexican border to emphasize that time had run out on the French intervention. Napoleon III had no choice but to withdrew his outnumbered army in disgrace. Emperor Maximilian refused exile and was executed by the Mexican government in 1867.[52]
 

wausaubob

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Sheridan went to Texas, not Sherman. Sheridan claimed surplus weapons were left at convenient places on the US/Mexico border, where they seem to disappear from time to time.

"During the winter and spring of 1866 we continued covertly supplying arms and ammunition to the Liberals--sending as many as 30,000 muskets from Baton Rouge Arsenal alone--and by mid-summer Juarez, having organized a pretty good sized army, was in possession of the whole line of the Rio Grande, and, in fact, of nearly the whole of Mexico down to San Louis Potosi. Then thick and fast came rumors pointing to the tottering condition of Maximilian's Empire-first, that Orizaba and Vera Cruz were being fortified; then, that the French were to be withdrawn; and later came the intelligence that the Empress Carlotta had gone home to beg assistance from Napoleon, the author of all of her husband's troubles. But the situation forced Napoleon to turn a deaf ear to Carlotta's prayers. The brokenhearted woman besought him on her knees, but his fear of losing an army made all pleadings vain. In fact, as I ascertained by the following cablegram which came into my hands, Napoleon's instructions for the French evacuation were in Mexico at the very time of this pathetic scene between him and Carlotta. The despatch was in cipher when I received it, but was translated by the telegraph operator at my headquarters, who long before had mastered the key of the French cipher:"

http://pattonhq.com/militaryworks/sheridan.html How about them apples?
 
Last edited:

trice

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France
Main article: France in the American Civil War
The Second French Empire under Napoleon III remained officially neutral throughout the War and never recognized the Confederate States of America. It did recognize Confederate belligerency. [47] The textile industry needed cotton, and Napoleon III had imperial ambitions in Mexico which could be greatly aided by the Confederacy. The United States had warned that recognition meant war. France was reluctant to act alone without British collaboration, and the British rejected intervention. Emperor Napoleon III realized that a war with the U.S. without allies "would spell disaster" for France.[48] Napoleon III and his Minister of Foreign Affairs Edouard Thouvenel adopted a cautious attitude and maintained diplomatically correct relations with Washington. Half the French press favored the Union, while the "imperial" press was more sympathetic to the Confederacy. Public opinion generally ignored the war, showing much interest in Mexico.[49]

Mexico[edit]
Further information: Mexico–United States relations
In 1861, Mexican conservatives looked to French leader Napoleon III to abolish the Republic led by liberal President Benito Juárez. France favored the Confederacy but did not accord it diplomatic recognition. The French expected that a Confederate victory would facilitate French economic dominance in Mexico. Napoleon helped the Confederacy by shipping urgently needed supplies through the ports of Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville (Texas). The Confederacy itself sought closer relationships with Mexico. Juarez turned them down, but the Confederates worked well with local warlords in northern Mexico, and with the French invaders.[50][51]

Realizing that Washington could not intervene in Mexico as long as the Confederacy controlled Texas, France invaded Mexico in 1861 and installed an Austrian prince Maximilian I of Mexico as its puppet ruler in 1864. Owing to the shared convictions of the democratically elected government of Juárez and Lincoln, Matías Romero, Juárez's minister to Washington, mobilized support in the U.S. Congress, and raised money, soldiers and ammunition in the United States for the war against Maximilian. Washington repeatedly protested France's violation of the Monroe Doctrine.

Once the Union won the War in spring 1865, the U.S. allowed supporters of Juárez to openly purchase weapons and ammunition and issued stronger warnings to Paris. Washington sent general William Tecumseh Sherman with 50,000 combat veterans to the Mexican border to emphasize that time had run out on the French intervention. Napoleon III had no choice but to withdrew his outnumbered army in disgrace. Emperor Maximilian refused exile and was executed by the Mexican government in 1867.[52]
The French pretty much ignored the Civil War from a professional standpoint, sending no official observers to either side -- until suddenly they decided to send a team, without warning, in 1864. I think someone in the higher-ups in France had decided they had better take a look at the Americans. It looked like the Civil War might be ending and France would have to decide whether to stay and fight in Mexico if the Union won and turned in their direction.

That team had exactly two members: a senior colonel and a young lieutenant. The colonel did not speak English (I find that strange because he was married to an American from Baltimore) and the Lieutenant did. The Lincoln administration, suspicious or irritated by the surprise arrival, kept them cooling their heels up in New York for three months,while Grant and Lee fought it out in Virginia. They went up to West Point and the French colonel fell in love with the place, measuring every inch of everything he could, making big recommendations on what he found there after he got back to France.

With things settled down around Richmond and Petersburg, the administration let the French go forward to City Point. They spent the next 3 months studying whatever Grant's HQ would let them see. They went crazy at the sight of the Union hospitals (for humans and animals). Discovering that Union cavalry horses had very few back problems, they investigated and urged the French cavalry to adopt the McClellan saddle (which McClellan brought back from Europe after the Crimean War). They gathered all the data they could about the Union medical service and hygiene system, which they thought much better than the French one. I am sure they studied the artillery and siege lines, looked over the weapons and observed the drill, probably got as close to the front as allowed and wanted to see units in action. Their time up, they returned to France to deliver a report in late 1864.

The report was in two parts. The first was publicly released. The second was still classified in the 1980s when Jay Luvaas was writing The Military Legacy of the Civil War: The European Inheritance. After they got back, they presented their report at a meeting of the very influential Artillery Committee. The general reaction to their findings was described as a "sensation" in the papers.

Less than a year later, the Confederacy was gone and Sheridan was in Texas with 50,000 Union troops. War clouds were gathering in Europe. Napoleon III decided to pull out while Maximillian decided to stay. In 1866 as the French were pulling out, the Prussian victory at Koniggratz in the 7 week Austro-Prussian War made the looming confrontation with Prussia imminent and urgent. By the Fall of 1866, the French were gone.

I think a lot of that decision was being processed in late 1864 and early 1865. In Europe there was almost a continent-wide war in 1863-64 over the Polish uprising (this is why the Russian Navy shows up on US shores unexpectedly). In 1864, the Austrians and Prussians were fighting the Danes over Schleswig-Holstein in the "Potato War". That Austro-Prussian War starts in late June of 1866. Given a choice of continuing a fight in North America or bringing the troops back to fight in Europe ....

Also: that young English-speaking French lieutenant apparently had something to do with military intelligence. During the 1870 Franco-Prussian War he makes a flying visit to the US to ask for arms assistance. For decades, he seems to have shown up to greet any US officer or delegation that came to France.
 

USS ALASKA

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During the 1870 Franco-Prussian War he makes a flying visit to the US to ask for arms assistance.
Sir, that is very interesting. Why would the French want American weapons? Did we vastly upgrade our armories between 1865 and 1870? They already had the Chassepot and mitrailleuse. And while their artillery was put to shame by the Krupp products of their adversaries, surplus American weapons wouldn't have been better... or was this a numbers exercise where they needed huge numbers of weapons - any weapons - to arm her greatly enlarged forces following the reforms that were implemented after the Austro-Prussian War?
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USS ALASKA
 
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jgoodguy

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Sir, that is very interesting. Why would the French want American weapons? Did we vastly upgrade our armories between 1865 and 1870? They already had the Chassepot and mitrailleuse. And while their artillery was put to shame by the Krupp products of their adversaries, surplus American weapons wouldn't have been better... or was this a numbers exercise where they needed huge numbers of weapons - any weapons - to arm her greatly enlarged forces following the reforms that were implemented after the Austro-Prussian War?
159

Thanks,
USS ALASKA
My concern is that the names of both the senior and junior officers are still a military secret.
 

trice

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Sir, that is very interesting. Why would the French want American weapons? Did we vastly upgrade our armories between 1865 and 1870? They already had the Chassepot and mitrailleuse. And while their artillery was put to shame by the Krupp products of their adversaries, surplus American weapons wouldn't have been better... or was this a numbers exercise where they needed huge numbers of weapons - any weapons - to arm her greatly enlarged forces following the reforms that were implemented after the Austro-Prussian War?
159

Thanks,
USS ALASKA
It is a long time ago that I saw that, probably in the Jay Luvaas book I mentioned. Going from memory, I believe this was after von Moltke's Prussians smashed Napoleon III's armies in the field, so after the Battle of Sedan and his surrender. The only real French Army left then is trapped at Metz. The Siege of Paris starts September 19, 1870 and the Armistice is January 26, 1871. In between, the French are desperately fighting to hold Paris and raise armies to fight the Prussians and raise the siege. The Prussians steadily knock back Gambetta's attempts while waiting to rebuild the RR from Germany to Paris; when they were able to get enough supplies (particularly heavy artillery ammo) forward, a starving Paris surrendered to the dual threats of bombardment and hunger.

I would say the Lieutenant's trip to the US was then, during the Siege of Paris. The Luvaas book doesn't seem to be available online for searching. I still have a copy at home, so I'll look tonight. Luvaas was closely associated with Civil War studies, the first civilian ever to be a visiting professor at West Point and a professor at the Army War College. He is usually best-known for the Civil War Staff Ride series of books.

As an aside to that, the only thing the Prussian Army really took from the American Civil War was the organization of the USMRR. They adopted it wholesale for their own organization. I suspect that the difficulties they had getting the RR to Paris rebuilt and dealing with all the French francs-tireurs ("Free-shooters") along the way led them to appreciate what the USMRR had done even more.
 
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jgoodguy

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Good Find!
from the above reference.

Pickett's mission, therefore, revealed the fact that the Confederacy could expect little encouragement from the Jubrez government. It tended to show, moreover, that the South still clung in a measure to the idea of expansion,-a fact which the North never tired of using against her. Had the Jubrez administration been well disposed towards the Confederates, it could not have rendered any very great service; for it was throughout the period rather a flying squadron than a governing body.3 So far as has been ascertained, however, the members of that administration evinced little friendliness toward the Confederacy, but showed rather a disposition to play into the hands of the United States, which offered numerous inducements to secure their friendship.Y Hamilton P. Bee, a citizen of Texas and well informed on the Mexican situation, declared in November, 1863, that owing to the influence


3Bancroft, Mexico, VI, 54-234.
 

USS ALASKA

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So far as has been ascertained, however, the members of that administration evinced little friendliness toward the Confederacy, but showed rather a disposition to play into the hands of the United States, which offered numerous inducements to secure their friendship.
So picking the side whose 'inducements' are most likely to be fulfilled. Not that Mexico particularly cared for either suitor ... "The Devil you know... "

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 


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