But the British government wisely hesitated; and notwithstanding the unpatriotic Peace-Faction in the city of New York had, six months before (November, 1862), waited upon Lord Lyons, the British minister at Washington, with an evident desire to have his government interfere in our affairs, and thus secure the independence of the Confederates, and the emissaries of the conspirators were specially active in Europe, the British ministry, restrained by the good Queen, steadily refused to take decided action in the matter. Only the Roman Pontiff, then a temporal prince, of all the rulers of the earth officially recognized Jefferson Davis as the head of a real government.
At the same time, a scheme of the emperor of the French for the destruction of the Republic of Mexico, and the establishment there of a monarchy ruled by a man of his own selection, and pledged to act in the interests of despotism, the Roman Catholic Church and the promotion of the domination of the Latin race, was in successful operation, by means of twenty thousand French soldiers and five thousand allied Mexicans. In this movement, it is alleged, the leaders of the great insurrection were the secret allies of the emperor, it being understood that as soon as he obtain a firm footing in Mexico he should, for valuable commercial considerations agreed upon, acknowledge the independence of the Confederate States, and uphold it by force of arms if necessary; it also being understood that the government which Davis and his associates were to establish at the close of hostilities should, in no wise, offend Napoleon's imperialistic ideas. The slave-holding class were to be a privileged one, and be the rulers, and the great mass of the people were to be subordinated to the interests of that class. Therefore, the triumphal march of the French invaders of Mexico, in the spring of 1863, was hailed with delight by the government at Richmond, while the great mass of the people were ignorant of the conspiracy on foot to deprive them of their sacred rights.
At the same time the perfidious emperor was deceiving the Confederate leaders concerning his real and deeper designs, which were both political and ecclesiastical. His political design evidently was to arrest the march of empire southward on the part of the United States. His religious design was to assist the Church party in Mexico, which had been defeated in 1857, in a recovery of its power, that the Roman Catholic Church might have undisputed sway in Central America. In a letter to the Spanish General Prim, in July, 1862, the Emperor, after saying that the United States fed the factories of Europe with cotton, and asserting that it was not the interest of European governments to have our country hold dominion over the Gulf of Mexico, the Antilles, and the adjacent continent, he declared that if, with the assistance of France, Mexico should have a "stable government"-that is, a monarchy - "we shall have restored to the Latin race upon the opposite side of the ocean, its strength and prestige we shall have guaranteed then security to our colonies in the Antilles, and to those of Spain; we shall have established our beneficent influence in the centre of America; and in this influence, by creating immense openings to our commerce, will procure to us the matter indispensable to our industry" -that is, cotton. This contemplated blow against our great cotton interest was a prime element in Napoleon's scheme, for the consummation of which he coquetted with the Confederate leaders, and deceived them.
The Confederate government, greatly elated by the events at Chancellorsville, ordered Lee to invade Maryland again. His force was now almost equal in numbers to that of his antagonist, and in better spirits than were the Army of the Potomac. By a sudden flank movement, Lee caused Hooker to break up his encampment on the Rappahannock and move toward Washington, after some sharp cavalry fights above Fredericksburg. General Ewell, in command of Lee's left wing, was sent into the Shenandoah Valley through Chester Gap, and sweeping down toward the Potomac, drove General Milroy and seven thousand National troops across that stream, on the 15th of June. Meanwhile Longstreet, with a strong force, moved along the eastern bases of the Blue Ridge, watching for an opportunity to fall on Washington city; while Hooker moved in a parallel line to thwart him. Several cavalry engagements