Hook, I explained to Captain Alden that my mission was ended,
because I believed by substituting myself for General Grant I had
prevented a serious quarrel between him and the Administration,
which was unnecessary. We reached Havana on the 18th, with nothing
to vary the monotony of an ordinary sea-voyage, except off Hatteras
we picked up one woman and twenty men from open boats, who had just
abandoned a propeller bound from Baltimore to Charleston which
foundered. The sea was very rough, but by the personal skill and
supervision of Captain Alden every soul reached our deck safely,
and was carried to our consul at Havana. At Havana we were very
handsomely entertained, especially by Senor Aldama, who took us by
rail to his sugar-estates at Santa Ross, and back by Matanzas.
We took our departure thence on the 25th, and anchored under Isla
Verde, off Vera Cruz, on the 29th.
Everything about Vera Cruz indicated the purpose of the French to
withdraw, and also that the Emperor Maximilian would precede them,
for the Austrian frigate Dandolo was in port, and an Austrian bark,
on which were received, according to the report of our consul, Mr.
Lane, as many as eleven hundred packages of private furniture to be
transferred to Miramar, Maximilian's home; and Lieutenant Clarin,
of the French navy, who visited the Susquehanna from the French
commodore, Clouet, told me, without reserve, that, if we had
delayed eight days more, we would have found Maximilian gone.
General Bazaine was reported to be in the city of Mexico with about
twenty-eight thousand French troops; but instead of leaving Mexico
in three detachments, viz., November, 1866, March, 1867, and
November, 1867, as described in Mr. Seward'a letter to Mr.
Campbell, of October 25, 1866, it looked to me that, as a soldier,
he would evacuate at some time before November, 1867, all at once,
and not by detachments. Lieutenant Clarin telegraphed Bazaine at
the city of Mexico the fact of our arrival, and he sent me a most
courteous and pressing invitation to come up to the city; but, as
we were accredited to the government of Juarez, it was considered
undiplomatic to establish friendly relations with the existing
authorities. Meantime we could not hear a word of Juarez, and
concluded to search for him along the coast northward. When I was
in Versailles, France, July, 1872, learning that General Bazaine
was in arrest for the surrender of his army and post at Metz, in
1870, I wanted to call on him to thank him for his courteous
invitation to me at Vera Cruz in 1866. I inquired of President
Thiera if I could with propriety call on the marshal. He answered
that it would be very acceptable, no doubt, but suggested for
form's sake that I should consult the Minister of War, General de
Cissey, which I did, and he promptly assented. Accordingly, I
called with my aide, Colonel Audenried, on Marshal Bazaine, who
occupied a small, two-story stone house at Versailles, in an
inclosure with a high garden wall, at the front gate or door of
which was a lodge, in which was a military guard. We were shown to
a good room on the second floor, where was seated the marshal in
military half-dress, with large head, full face, short neck, and
evidently a man of strong physique. He did not speak English, but
spoke Spanish perfectly. We managed to carry on a conversation in
which I endeavored to convey my sense of his politeness in inviting
me so cordially up to the city of Mexico, and my regret that the
peculiar duty on which I was engaged did not admit of a compliance,
or even of an intelligent explanation, at the time. He spoke of
the whole Mexican business as a "sad affair," that the empire
necessarily fell with the result of our civil war, and that poor
Maximilian was sacrificed to his own high sense of honor.
While on board the Susquehanna, on the 1st day of December, 1866,
we received the proclamation made by the Emperor Maximilian at
Orizaba, in which, notwithstanding the near withdrawal of the
French troops, he declared his purpose to remain and "shed the last
drop of his blood in defense of his dear country." Undoubtedly
many of the most substantial people of Mexico, having lost all
faith in the stability of the native government, had committed
themselves to what they considered the more stable government of
Maximilian, and Maximilian, a man of honor, concluded at the last
moment he could not abandon them; the consequence was his death.
Failing to hear of Juarez, we steamed up the coast to the Island of
Lobos, and on to Tampico, off which we found the United States
steamer Paul Jones, which, drawing less water than the Susquehanna,
carried us over the bar to the city, then in possession of the
Liberal party, which recognized Juarez as their constitutional
President, but of Juarez and his whereabout we could hear not a
word; so we continued up the coast and anchored off Brazos
Santiago, December 7th. Going ashore in small boats, we found a
railroad, under the management of General J. R. West, now one of
the commissioners of the city of Washington, who sent us up to
Brownsville, Texas. We met on the way General Sheridan, returning
from a tour of inspection of the Rio Grande frontier. On Sunday,
December 9th, we were all at Matamoras, Mexico, where we met
General Escobedo, one of Juarez's trusty lieutenants, who developed
to us the general plan agreed on for the overthrow of the empire,
and the reestablishment of the republican government of Mexico. He
asked of us no assistance, except the loan of some arms,
ammunition, clothing, and camp-equipage. It was agreed that Mr.
Campbell should, as soon as he could get his baggage off the
Susquehanna, return to Matamoras, and thence proceed to Monterey,
to be received by Juarez in person as, the accredited Minister of
the United States to the Republic of Mexico. Meantime the weather
off the coast was stormy, and the Susquehanna parted a cable, so
that we were delayed some days at Brazos; but in due time Mr.
Campbell got his baggage, and we regained the deck of the
Susquehanna, which got up steam and started for New Orleans. We
reached New Orleans December 20th, whence I reported fully
everything to General Grant, and on the 21st received the following
WASHINGTON, December 21,1866.
Lieutenant-General SHERMAN, New Orleans.
Your telegram of yesterday has been submitted to the President.
You are authorized to proceed to St. Louis at your convenience.
Your proceedings in the special and delicate duties assigned you
are cordially approved by the President and Cabinet and this
EDWIN M. STANTON.
And on the same day I received this dispatch
GALVESTON, December 21, 1866.
To General SHERMAN, or General SHERIDAN.
Will be in New Orleans to-morrow. Wish to see you both on arrival,
on matters of importance.
LEWIS D. CAMPBELL, Minister to Mexico.
Mr. Campbell aarived on the 22d, but had nothing to tell of the
least importance, save that he was generally disgusted with the
whole thing, and had not found Juarez at all. I am sure this whole
movement was got up for the purpose of getting General Grant away
from Washington, on the pretext of his known antagonism to the
French occupation of Mexico, because he was looming up as a
candidate for President, and nobody understood the animus and
purpose better than did Mr. Stanton. He himself was not then on
good terms with President Johnson, and with several of his
associates in the Cabinet. By Christmas I was back in St. Louis.
By this time the conflict between President Johnson and Congress
had become open and unconcealed. Congress passed the bill known as
the "Tenure of Civil Office" on the 2d of March, 1867 (over the
President's veto), the first clause of which, now section 1767 of
the Revised Statutes, reads thus: "Every person who holds any civil
office to which he has been or hereafter may be appointed, by and
with the advice and consent of the Senate, and who shall have
become duly qualified to act therein, shall be entitled to hold
such office during the term for which he was appointed, unless
sooner removed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, or
by the appointment with the like advice and consent of a successor
in his place, except as herein otherwise provided."
General E. D. Townsend, in his "Anecdotes of the Civil War," states
tersely and correctly the preliminary circumstances of which I must
treat. He says: "On Monday morning, August 5, 1867, President
Johnson invited Mr. Stanton to resign as Secretary of War. Under
the tenure-of-civil-office law, Mr. Stanton declined. The President
a week after suspended him, and appointed General Grant, General-
in-Chief of the Army, to exercise the functions. This continued
until January 13, 1868, when according to the law the Senate passed
a resolution not sustaining the President's action. The next
morning General Grant came to my office and handed me the key of
the Secretary's room, saying: "I am to be found over at my office
at army headquarters. I was served with a copy of the Senate
resolution last evening." I then went up-stairs and delivered the
key of his room to Mr. Stanton.
The mode and manner of Mr. Stanton's regaining his office, and of
General Grant's surrendering it, were at the time subjects of
bitter controversy. Unhappily I was involved, and must bear
testimony. In all January, 1868, I was a member of a board ordered
to compile a code of articles of war and army regulations, of which
Major-General Sheridan and Brigadier-General C. C. Augur were
associate members. Our place of meeting was in the room of the old
War Department, second floor, next to the corner room occupied by
the Secretary of War, with a door of communication. While we were
at work it was common for General Grant and, afterward, for Mr.
Stanton to drop in and chat with us on the social gossip of the
On Saturday, January 11th, General Grant said that he had more
carefully read the law (tenure of civil office), and it was
different from what he had supposed; that in case the Senate did
not consent to the removal of Secretary of War Stanton, and he
(Grant) should hold on, he should incur a liability of ten thousand
dollars and five years' imprisonment. We all expected the
resolution of Senator Howard, of Michigan, virtually restoring Mr.
Stanton to his office, would pass the Senate, and knowing that the
President expected General Grant to hold on, I inquired if he had
given notice of his change of purpose; he answered that there was
no hurry, because he supposed Mr. Stanton would pursue toward him
(Grant) the same course which he (Stanton) had required of him the
preceding August, viz., would address him a letter claiming the
office, and allow him a couple of days for the change. Still, he
said he would go to the White House the same day and notify the
President of his intended action.
That afternoon I went over to the White House to present General
Pope, who was on a visit to Washington, and we found the President
and General Grant together. We made our visit and withdrew,
leaving them still together, and I always supposed the subject of
this conference was the expected decision of the Senate, which
would in effect restore Mr. Stanton to his civil office of
Secretary of War. That evening I dined with the Hon. Reverdy
Johnson, Senator from Maryland, and suggested to him that the best
way to escape a conflict was for the President to nominate some
good man as Secretary of War whose confirmation by the Senate would
fall within the provisions of the law, and named General J. D. Cox,
then Governor of Ohio, whose term of office was drawing to a close,
who would, I knew, be acceptable to General Grant and the army
generally. Mr. Johnson was most favorably impressed with this
suggestion, and promised to call on the President the next day
(Sunday), which he did, but President Johnson had made up his mind
to meet the conflict boldly. I saw General Grant that afternoon at
his house on I Street, and told him what I had done, and so anxious
was he about it that he came to our room at the War Department the
next morning (Monday), the 13th, and asked me to go in person to
the White House to urge the President to send in the name of
General Cox. I did so, saw the President, and inquired if he had
seen Mr. Reverdy Johnson the day before about General Cox. He
answered that he had, and thought well of General Cox, but would
say no further.
Tuesday, January 14, 1868, came, and with it Mr. Stanton. He
resumed possession of his former office; came into that where
General Sheridan, General Augur, and I were at work, and greeted us
very cordially. He said he wanted to see me when at leisure, and
at half-past 10 A.M. I went into his office and found him and
General Grant together. Supposing they had some special matters of
business, I withdrew, with the remark that I was close at hand, and
could come in at any moment. In the afternoon I went again into
Mr. Stanton's office, and we had a long and most friendly
conversation; but not one word was spoken about the
"tenure-of-office" matter. I then crossed over Seventeenth Street
to the headquarters of the army, where I found General Grant, who
expressed himself as by no means pleased with the manner in which
Mr. Stanton had regained his office, saying that he had sent a
messenger for him that morning as of old, with word that "he wanted
to see him." We then arranged to meet at his office the next
morning at half-past nine, and go together to see the President.
That morning the National Intelligencer published an article
accusing General Grant of acting in bad faith to the President, and
of having prevaricated in making his personal explanation to the
Cabinet, so that General Grant at first felt unwilling to go, but
we went. The President received us promptly and kindly. Being
seated, General Grant said, "Mr. President, whoever gave the facts
for the article of the Intelligencer of this morning has made some
serious mistakes." The President: "General Grant, let me interrupt
you just there. I have not seen the Intelligencer of this morning,
and have no knowledge of the contents of any article therein"
General Grant then went on: "Well, the idea is given there that I
have not kept faith with you. Now, Mr. President, I remember, when
you spoke to me on this subject last summer, I did say that, like
the case of the Baltimore police commissioners, I did suppose Mr.
Stanton could not regain his office except by a process through the
courts." To this the President assented, saying he "remembered the
reference to the case of the Baltimore commissioners," when General
Grant resumed: "I said if I changed my opinion I would give you
notice, and put things as they were before my appointment as
Secretary of War ad interim."
We then entered into a general friendly conversation, both parties
professing to be satisfied, the President claiming that he had
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