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rival candidates for power were as yet too much disturbed to allow of any calculation as to what would be the result of the session.
The recall of Mr. Trist about this time, and the revocation of his powers by his own government, were a source of regret to many who were pacifically disposed; and, had that gentleman implicitly obeyed his instructions, by returning home at once, it is doubtful whether any subsequent attempt at negotiation might not have been seriously embarrassed by those malcontents whose official existence depended upon maintaining a belligerent attitude on the part of the Mexican people.
The reinforcements gradually drawing towards the capital, and the activity of General Lane in routing the guerrilla bands from their fastnesses and occupying the towns which had hitherto afforded them protection, by proving even that system of warfare of little avail against American troops, also predisposed many influential Mexicans to a favourable termination of hostilities; but they were fearful of giving voice to their desires while the possibility remained of the war party regaining their former ascendancy.
The imposing position, however, which General Scott was enabled to assume by the occupation of the Mexican capital, the increase of his garrisons along the line, and the strong force which it was contemplated he would soon have at his disposal for operating against the states of the interior, began to make an impression even upon those defiant spirits who, residing hitherto remotely secure from the actual scene of warfare, were at length threatened with an actual participation in its evils. This favourable state of feeling was still further enhanced by a noble act of clemency on the part of General Scott.
After the capture of Vera Cruz and the victory of Cerro Gordo, the prisoners of war, both officers and rank and file, were released on parole. Unfortunately, this generosity was in many instances
LETTER FROM THE ARCHBISHOP OF MEXICO,
abused; and men of all stations were known to have dishonoured themselves by immediately resuming arms against their former conquerors. To correct this evil, those prisoners taken in the battles around Mexico were held in durance. These amounted to about eight hundred men, and the deplorable condition to which the families of many were reduced in consequence moved the venerable Archbishop of Mexico to intercede in their behalf. A correspondence alike honourable to both parties was accordingly opened between that prelate and the General-in-chief, and resulted favourably.
The letter of the Archbishop, and the reply of General Scott, are equally worthy of preservation, as indicating the esteem in which the American commander was held by the Mexican Church, and the frank and generous conduct by which this good opinion had been won :
ECCLESIASTICAL GOVERNMENT OF THE ARCHBISHOPRIC OF MEXICO,
Mexico, November 5, 1847. “ Most EXCELLENT Sır: The respect which your Excellency has manifested to the Mexican church (of which I am the unworthy head), in calling upon me, has induced me to take advantage of the favourable disposition of your Excellency to ask a favour which will perpetuate your memory, and will make known to the faithful members of my diocess the feeling of benevolence which you entertain towards them.
“A multitude of fathers, wives, children, brothers, and other relations of the prisoners who are now confined, under the order of your Excellency, loudly entreat their liberty; and the prisoners themselves vehemently lament the many evils which their confinement has brought down upon their families, who depend upon them for subsistence, and who, consequently, are reduced to misery, and in many cases to an absolute state of indigence. Were there any important political reason why these prisoners should not be liberated, I should not have been so bold as to ask it; but their
number is small, and distributed, as they will be, in different parts of the republic, their importance must be insignificant.
“ I ask their liberty, not only because it is a duty of my office, but my heart also impels me to solicit some real consolation for these unfortunate men whom the fates of war have reduced to so lamentable a condition. And, as if they were sheep of the flock most especially intrusted to my care, I considered myself called
upon to use my utmost endeavours in their favour, because in that character they have a right to demand my pastoral and most tender care. For the same reason, I wish to imitate the example of so many illustrious prelates, who, before now, have lent their good offices (not without success) in cases of the same nature. Neither would I hesitate to constitute myself a prisoner in their stead, and willingly I would be the ransom of their liberty, as my faith obliges me even to be anathematized for the sake of my brethren. In our days, the brave General Lamoriciere, by the mediation of the bishop of Algiers, obtained the liberty of a considerable number of French prisoners from the barbarous Abdel Kader, and I take the liberty to recall to your Excellency this notable trait of benevolence and magnanimity on the part of a man who is ignorant of the duties of Christian charity. General Scott, doubtless, has a heart equally noble and generous; nor to his Christian character, will be indifferent the mediation of a Catholic archbishop who entreats your Excellency, in the name of the church which he governs, to grant this favour. It is difficult to believe that after so many proofs of philanthropy, your Excellency will not lend yourself to an act of clemency and generosity which the church will remember as a great favour, and the annals of history as one of those noble actions peculiar to republican countries.
“ I entreat God Almighty to preserve your Excellency many years, and to incline your heart to grant to the Mexican prisoners the precious gift of liberty.
SCOTT'S REPLY TO THE ARCHBISHOP.
“I am, with respect, the servant of your Excellency, who loves you in Jesus Christ.
Archbishop of Cesarea. To the most excellent Don WINFIELD Scott,
Major General and Commander-in-chief of the Army
of the United States of the North, in Mexico."
The reply of General Scott, a few days afterwards, was as follows:
“Head-QUARTERS OF THE ARMY OF THE U. S. Mexico, Nov. 10, 1847.
} “Sir: The request of your grace, on the part of the holy church of which you are the head, that I should release, on parole, the prisoners of war remaining in the hands of the American army, is entitled to the highest consideration.
“I beg to state what have been, heretofore, my practice and endeavours on the subject of prisoners in this unhappy war between the United States and Mexico.
6 At Vera Cruz, I very willingly stipulated that the Mexican garrison should be permitted to return to their respective homes on parole, although I had it in my power to reduce the garrisons to unconditional submission.
« At Cerro Gordo, the Mexican prisoners who surrendered at discretion to the army under my command, were voluntarily and promptly paroled by me.
of the officers and men released on those occasions, encouraged by the late Mexican authorities, are known to have violated their paroles.
“Of the prisoners captured by the army in the basin of Mexico, not an officer remains in confinement, except one, who openly aypwed his intention to resume arms against us, if left at large.
f the general officers, who happened to be members of
« I am sorry
the Supreme Congress, I voluntarily discharged without exchange and without parole.
- July 12, from Puebla, I addressed a communication to the Mexican Minister of Foreign Relations, demanding the release of certain American prisoners of war, taken from the army of the Rio Grande, who had been exchanged by agreement between Generals Taylor and Santa Anna, immediately after the battle of Buena Vista, or Angostura, but who were still held in close confinement contrary to that agreement; and, at the same time, I proposed that commissioners should be appointed on the part of the two armies, to agree upon a cartel for the general treatment and exchange of all prisoners of war in future. To this communication I received
evasive reply, when I addressed another to that minister, dated the 29th of the same month. It is singular that the only reply received to my second communication I found here, in the palace, enveloped, sealed, and addressed to me, bearing date August.
“ In the armistice agreed upon by the belligerents, in August, there was a stipulation (article 8) for the immediate release of the same American prisoners mentioned above. But this stipulation was also evaded and wholly neglected by the Mexican government; and I have since, on terms very disadvantageous to the United States, been obliged to exchange for the officers of that party who were confined at Toluca. The rank and file of the same party were, at the time, confined at some place far in the direction of Tampico. I learn, unofficially, that they have been recently permitted to return home by the way of that port.
“ But the application of your grace comes to me under sanctions too high to be neglected.
“ I therefore beg to say, that if your grace will have the goodness to appoint some dignitary of the church to visit the Mexican prisoners of war (rank and file, or common men) now confined in this capital, and explain to them the customs and usag in such cases, viz: that prisoners, released on parole, a