that he had just been raised to the post of Great Officer in the Legion of Honor; that he was coming back to favor, and that at the arrival of the first steamer he would probably receive the diplomatic powers of which he had been momentarily deprived. He added that it was more advantageous to the good result of my mission to treat directly with Mr. De Saligny,as General Forey occupied himself with nothing out of military affairs.
It would not be amiss here for me to mention that in Havana the sympathizers with the Confederacy are many, in spite of the number of the Yankees, and the public opinion in our favor is overwhelming.
It was to it that I was thankful of the discovery of a Yankee spy,in whose good company I rejoiced until my departure from Vera Cruz, but who certainly did not pay the cost of the trips at my own expense.
On the 28th of February, at 8 a.m. I arrived at Vera Cruz. My first care was to inform myself of the whereabouts of the admiral. The answers to my questions were very contradictory. I therefore went to the commander-in-chief of the city, who apprised me that the admiral was at Bahia de Sacrificios; and he, being the brother of one of my intimate friends, procured for me the means to reach the admiral.
The same say I went on board the Dryad, which carried the admiral's flag. Having introduced myself to him, I was well received, and after a conference, which lasted two hours, and in which I developed the object of my mission, I found in him a great sympathizer in our cause, and a man well convinced of the importance of the proposals which I carried.
In order to give you a better view of the friendly terms of our meeting, I lay his answer before you in as short a way as possible, viz:
If I was invested with the necessary power and men, I would not hesitate a moment to carry out immediately an expedition against Matamora, and take possession of it. It is clear, after all the proofs, that it is the most advantageous offer for commerce, the cotton trade of France,and its maritime trade, and also to contribute to the success of our expedition in Mexico. But I must confess that the best intelligence does not exist between the chief of the expeditions and myself.
General Forey would like much for the French naval force to take possession of the Mexican ports. But he requires also that, after taking these ports, I must hold possession of them, to which proposition I cannot accede, as my duty is only to take the ports.
I see every day the number of my fleet diminishing little by little on this coast, which officers no safe anchorage. The yellow has reduced the numbers of my men in a deplorable way. There are of the men-of-war that have lost two-thirds of their crews, so as almost to stop the maneuvers, and I cannot follow up, under these circumstances, this much-desired undertaking, when the land forces are on the plateau of the interior, in a healthy region, and only exposed to the harmless balls of the Mexican soldiery. I have demanded to be recalled.
I am waiting daily for my successor, and, in reality, outside of my marines, I have not 25 soldiers under my command. I am sorry to tell you that I doubt much that General Forey will understand you; a gallant chieftain,his views do not extend any farther than the immediate circle of his military operations. I fear that your mission will prove a failure if you have to deal with him.
However, if, as it is generally believed,one of the first mails from France re-establishes Mr. De Saligny in his diplomatic powers, you will be quickly understood. In any case, your duty compels you to carry out your instructions, notwithstanding the difficulties in view, and I advise you to do it. As for the protection that I may give you, if you travel by yourself, it cannot consist of more than an escort of 20 or 25 men, and I cannot hide from you that you run the risk of being attacked by bodies of several hundreds, and that it would he highly imprudent for your to undertake the trip. As for the means of transportation that I can furnish you, they are absolutely nil. I have not a carriage of any kind to offer you, and, having myself to go to Orizaba, I had to do so on horseback, and God knows that I am a very poor horseman.
At this moment the courier must have arrived at Vera Cruz from the interior. He starts back to-morrow. See if in that short time it is possible for you to procure some means of transport, and, if you cannot do so, I advise you to wait for the first