DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, November 23, 1863.
Major General N. P. BANKS,
Commanding Department of the Gulf, Brownsville, Tex.:
GENERAL: I have received and have submitted to the President your three dispatches of the 6th, 7th, and 9th instant, respectively. I have great pleasure in congratulating you upon your successful landing and occupation upon the Rio Grande, which is all the more gratifying because it was effected at a moment of apparently critical interest to the national cause. You have already found that the confusion resulting from civil strife and foreign war in Mexico offers seductions for military enterprise. I have, therefore, to inform you of the exact condition of our relations toward that Republic at the present time. We are on terms of amity and friendship and maintaining diplomatic relations with the Republic of Mexico. We regard that country as the theater of a foreign war, mingled with civil strife. In this conflict we take no part, and, on the contrary, we practice absolute non-intervention and non-interference. In command of the frontier, it will devolve on you, as far as practicable consistently with your other functions, to prevent aid or supplies being given from the United States to either belligerent. You will defend the United States in Texas against any enemies you may encounter there, whether domestic or foreign. Nevertheless, you will not enter any part of Mexico unless it be temporarily, and then clearly necessary for the protection of your own lines against aggression from the mexican border. You can assume no authority in Mexico to protect citizens of the united States there, much less to redress the wrongs or injuries committed against the United States or their citizens, whether those wrongs or injuries were committed on one side of the border or the other. If consuls find their positions unsafe on the Mexican side of the border, let them leave the country, rather than invoke the protection of your forces. These directions result from the fixed determination of the President to unlawful enlargement of the present field of war. But at the same time you will be expected to observe military and political events as they occur in Mexico, and to communicate all that shall be important for this Government to understand concerning them.
It is hardly necessary to say that any suggestions you may think proper to give for the guidance of the Government in its relations toward Mexico will be considered with that profound respect which is always paid to the opinions which you express.
In making this communication, I have endeavored to avoid entering into the sphere of your military operations, and to confine myself simply to that in which you are in contact with the political movements now going on in Mexico.
I am, general, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
November 23, 1863-1 p. m.
Brigadier General CHARLES P. STONE,
Chief of Staff:
SIR: This morning I sent you a telegram, advising you of the state of affairs here. Nothing new has transpired. I am making a reconnaissance on the west side of Bayou Grossetete. As soon as the party returns, shall at once advise you of whatever I may learn.