I shall demand a report of Captain Benavides of this affair, and you may depend upon my doing ample justice to all parties.
I also inclose you a copy of my letter of Governor Lopez, in reply to his letter of complaint and demand.
I desire that you will lay these facts before Governor Vidaurri, and assure him of my sincere regret at their occurrence and my most position disavowal and disapproval of them.
I am, most respectfully, &c.,
H. P. BEE,
Brigadier-General, Provisional Army.
HEADQUARTERS WESTERN SUB-DISTRICT OF TEXAS,
Fort Brown, March 16, 1863.
His Excellency ALBINO LOPEZ, Governor of Tamaulipas:
SIR: I had the honor to receive at 7 o'clock last evening your communication of that date, and hasten to assure you of my great regret that the events of which you inform me should have occurred.
The arrest of the person you call Macdoch occurred when I was personally present at the Boca del Rio, and under circumstances that I thought gave me the right to make the arrest. The boat was within a few feet of the left bank of the river, and within what I deemed to be the jurisdiction of Texas. I will, with the permission of Your Excellency, take a little more time to examine the questions involved, and inform Your Excellency of my determination. It is proper, however, to state that the person arrested claims to be a citizen of the Confederate States, and has a passport from those authorities, and I am at a loss to see in what way he claims any other protection. The conduct of Captain Santos Benavides at Nuevo Laredo will be officially inquired into so soon as I receive his report. Your note conveyed to me the only information I have on that subject.
As to the unfortunate occurrence at the Boca del Rio on yesterday, I have the honor to assure Your Excellency that neither as commanding general nor as an individual did I know anything about the affair until after it occurred. I disavow the act as a military movement by the soldiers of the Confederate States, and tender to you, as the representative of the authorities of Mexico, my regret at its occurrence and my disavowal of all intent on the part of the authority that I represent to offer any indignity to the Mexican Government; and I also assure Your Excellency that I will use every means in my power to punish the offenders.
The occurrence may be considered the legitimate result of the scandalous conduct of the consul of the United States in openly enlisting soldiers for the military service of that Government in the streets of Matamoras, in defiance and contempt of the neutrality of Mexico. It was a collision that might have been expected to occur at any moment, when only a narrow river divided two bodies of men, both essentially military in their organization and embittered by the sanguinary nature of the struggle between their nationalities, as I had the honor to warn Your Excellency in a personal interview as most likely to ensue. Yet, so determined was I that no conflict should arise, that upon the appearance of the Federal transport off the mouth of the river, and the consequent necessity on my part to strengthen the picket at that place, I went there in person, in hopes that the obnoxious party would embark for their destination, and that thus all danger of a collision would be