Jessie Scouts Battle Merovingian Vampires

Many websites claim the Merovingian bloodline a.k.a. the Rose Line, is infested with Vampires and Satanic Dragon folks who love to mess with world famous artists, bid them to render secret symbols and messages. Many authors claim this artisitic Rose Line has been busy influencing world events, but, they all fail to give a valid example of these covert opperations. The only example I find worthy is John and Jessie Fremont’s war against the Hapsburg Emperor of Mexico, and Napoleon the third. Below are declassified CIA documents that reveal the secret war the Jessie Scouts fought against Napoleon’s invasion forces in Mexico. Napoleon has been linked with the Rose Line, thus the Arcadian Bear. Consider Fremont’s Bear Flag Revolt that delcared California (a goddess) a Republic, a sovereign state that Fremont had no intention of joining to the United States. Would Fremont be King of California, and Jessie, the Queen -or Empress?

“The result is an Independent California belonging to niether The US or Mexico. The original design is updated as OTL, but instead the words California Republic are replaced with República de California. A second star is added, representing the nations two ideals. Freedom and Sovereignty. A border is also added.”

Little is revealed about Fremont’s French ancestry. I see Fromond or Fromont. What does the red star represent? Is it a Star of David? The addition of a second bloody star, and the French words, suggest a link has been made with French sovereigns. Consider Jessie Benton’s close ties to the Beauharnais family who are of Merovingian descent. I suspect this family gave Jessie secret information about Napoleon’s plans to sieze California and Oregon, then plant his Arcadian Bear flag in American soil.

A movie has just come cout about Abe Lincoln the Vampire Slayer. It is said that John Fremont forced Lincoln’s hand, he freeing the slaves of Missouri lest they be used by the Confederacy that was in league with much European Royalty to overthrow the entire United States of America.

Jon Presco

Copyright 2012

It is very likely that the Jessie Scouts assisted in the delivery of funds from Sheridan’s headquarters to Juarez in what Sheridan described as a “covert program” of supporting the Mexican liberals against Maxmilian’s army. What is known is that large amounts of weapons were transferred from captured Confederate depots, as Sheridan said, “30,000 stand of muskets from the Baton Rouge Arsenal alone,” to Juarez’ army as they began to win victories. The magnitude of this “covert” operation was enormous and Grant made arrangements for General Schofield to take a leave of absence to command all of the liberal forces in their war against the French and their allies.

Bear Flag Revolt,  (June–July 1846), short-lived independence rebellion precipitated by American settlers in California’s Sacramento Valley against Mexican authorities. In 1846 approximately 500 Americans were living in California, compared with between 8,000 and 12,000 Mexicans. Nonetheless, early in June a group of about a dozen Americans seized a large herd of horses from a Mexican military commandant. On June 14 another group captured Sonoma, the chief settlement north of San Francisco. Led by William B. Ide, the Americans issued a declaration of independence and hoisted a flag, its white ground emblazoned with a grizzly bear facing a red star. On June 25 Capt. John Charles Frémont arrived at Sonoma and gave his support to the Bear Flag Revolt. And on July 5 the insurrectionists elected Frémont to head the “Republic of California.”

Before entering Notre Dame, Napoleon was vested in a long white satin tunic embroidered in gold thread and Josephine similarly wore a white satin empire style dress embroidered in gold thread. During the coronation he was formally clothed in a heavy coronation mantle, made from crimson velvet, lined with ermine; the velvet was covered with embroidered golden bees, drawn from the golden bees among the regalia that had been discovered in the Merovingian tomb of Childeric I, a symbol that overleapt Charlemagne, ancestor of the Bourbons, to link the new dynasty with the more ancient Merovingians; the bee replaced the fleur-de-lis on imperial tapestries and garments. The mantle weighed at least eighty pounds and was supported by four dignitaries.[6]:299 Josephine was at the same time formally clothed in a similar crimson velvet mantle embroidered with bees in gold thread and lined with ermine, which was borne by Napoleon’s three sisters.[nb 1] There were two orchestras with four choruses, numerous military bands playing heroic marches, and over three hundred musicians.[6]:302 A 400-voice choir performed Paisiello’s “Mass” and “Te Deum”. Because the traditional royal crown had been destroyed during the French Revolution, the so-called Crown of Napoleon, made to look medieval and called the “crown of Charlemagne” for the occasion,[5]:55 was waiting on the altar. While the crown was new, the sceptre was reputed to have belonged to Charles V and the sword to Philip III.

“The stars must be aligned in a specific way in order for Set [Satan] to be properly invoked.”
— Kenneth Grant, Grand Master, OTO
“The three constellations develop the truth. What is now called Ursa Minor is the Lesser Flock; Ursa Major gives us The Sheepfold and the Sheep; while Argo, The Ship, shows the travellers and the pilgrims brought safely home—all conflict over.” (Bullinger) – 939  
Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are the constellations of the Great Bear and Little Bear. They are commonly known today as the Big and Little Dipper, although they extend beyond the Dipper constellations. In spite of the fact that these constellations are represented in the Greek zodiac by wild beasts, Bullinger, Kennedy and other proponents of the false ‘gospel in the stars’ theory maintain that Ursa Major and Ursa Minor represent sheepfolds.
    “The meaning [of Cancer] is made even clearer as we consider the three decans. On a planisphere Ursa Minor is found near the center of the ecliptic and is called today The Little Bear. However, this is not the ancient meaning of the constellations Ursa Minor and Ursa Major. In fact, never did a bear have such a tail as that! Actually, there is no bear in the planisphere or zodiacs of the Chaldeans, Persians, Egyptians, or the Indians. Rather, what we have here is a sheepfold, which is believed to be the original meaning of Ursa Minor.
    “The figure of a sheepfold probably comes from the fact that one of the brightest stars in Ursa Major is the star Dubheh, which means a ‘Herd of Animals’ and is very similar to the word Dob or the Hebrew Dowb, which means ‘The Bear.’ This could be the reason the sign changed over time. But it is really referring to a little fold and a great fold. God’s Church is the little flock–the gathering together of his people…
    “The second decan [in the sign of Cancer] is Ursa Major, probably the best known of all of the constellations in the sky. We don’t know it as the Great Bear, as the Greeks called it, but we call it The Big Dipper… Like Ursa Minor, Ursa Major is neither a dipper or a bear. Rather it is the greater sheepfold, as pictured in the most ancient planispheres or zodiacs of the various nations…
    “Other stars in Ursa Major are El Alcola, ‘The Sheepfold’; Cab’d al Asad, ‘Multitude of the Assembled’; El Kaprah, ‘The Protected,’ or in Hebrew ‘The Redeemed’ or ‘Ransomed.’ A more familiar star, Callisto, again means ‘The Sheepfold.’…” – 872:109-114

“The Sicambrians, ancestors of the Franks, were known as the ‘people of the Bear’ for their worship of the bear-goddess Arduina [Diana/Artemis]. The word ‘Arcadia’ comes from Arkas, patron god of that area of Greece, the son of the nymph Callisto, sister of the huntress Artemis. Callisto’s constellation is also known to many as Ursa Major, the Great Bear.
“The name ‘Arthur’ comes from the Celtic arth, related to ‘Ursus’ — namely, ‘bear.’ In legend, the Merovingians were said to be descended from the Trojans, and Homer reports that Troy was founded by a colony of Arcadians.
“The ‘Prieure documents’ claim that the Arcadians were descended from Benjamites driven out of Palestine by their fellow Israelites for idolatry. ‘Arcadia’ was also known as the source of the River Alphaeus, the ‘underground stream’ which figures so prominently in Coleridge’s poetry and in esoteric literature.” (491)
According to the Mysteries of Rennes-Le-Chateau, the overthrow and extermination of the Merovingian Dynasty was never fully accomplished. It seems that the son of Dagobert II, the last Merovingian king who was assassinated, left a son:

One of the most important functions of the cavalry during the Civil War involved the collection of intelligence. Skilled volunteers were selected from many cavalry regiments and these brave men moved in the advance or on the flanks of their regiments in order to prevent any surprise attacks. Frequently, they moved independently to collect information on the presence, condition, and intentions of the enemy forces in their vicinity.

In order to do this effectively, many of these men began to wear the enemy’s uniform as they conducted their operations. While in the enemy’s clothing, the volunteer scout was placing his life in his hands. The commonly applied rules of war defined his presence within the opposition’s lines. Wearing the wrong uniform was defined as an act of espionage, punishable by death. Their secret service to their country involved hazardous activities and could lead to summary execution, if apprehended. Dangers other than summary execution awaited the volunteers, but both armies continued to locate volunteers to perform the dangerous duty.

One of the volunteers for scout duty, Arch Rowand, explained how he made his decision to become a scout during an interview with a Harper’s reporter that happened long after the end of the war.

“Why did you ever begin?”

“It was as I told you – Company K [1st West Virginia Cavalry] had been on detached service – scout duty – for some time. When the company was drawn up in line, and the captain called for volunteers for ‘extra dangerous duty,’ I looked at Ike Harris and Ike looked at me and then we both stepped forward. They took us to headquarters and gave us two rebel uniforms – and we wished we had not come.”

“But why did you volunteer?”

looked at me over his glasses. “I don’t know! We were boys – wanted to know what was the ‘extra dangerous duty,’ and” – chuckling to himself at a hidden recollection, “when we found out, we hadn’t the face to back down.” And that’s how it all began.

By the end of the war, Arch Rowand had led a life of adventure, winning a Medal of Honor in the process. He would be one of the few scouts selected to accompany Sheridan to Texas at the end of the Civil War for the purpose of entering Mexico to collect information. He and others would wear their old Confederate uniforms across the Rio Grande as they collected vital information on the activities of the French, Austrian, Belgian, and Mexican Imperial troops previously engaged in support for the Confederacy.

Ike Harris would continue to scout until May, 1864, when he would be killed in an attempt to rescue a fellow scout, a volunteer from the 5th West Virginia Cavalry, C.W.D. Smitley. Harris was shot through the heart on May 11, 1864, while he and Smitley were operating near Wardensville, West Virginia.

The concept involving the use of enlisted Union soldiers as scouts, in enemy uniform, collecting information while operating in small groups and raids when grouped in larger formations, developed early in the war at St. Louis. These “Jessie Scouts” were named in honor of General John C. Fremont’s wife, Jessie Benton Fremont, and they accompanied Fremont to Wheeling, West Virginia, early in 1862. Soon after Fremont resigned his command, the scouts came under the control of General Robert H. Milroy until General William W. Averell was assigned command of what was to become the Fourth Separate Brigade, composed of many of the West Virginia regiments formerly under the command of Milroy.

When Philip H. Sheridan was assigned to command in the Shenandoah Valley, he ordered Averell to send him his oldest scouts. Averell sent Rowand, Joseph McCabe, and four other men from his brigade. A seventh man, Jim Campbell, from the Army of the Potomac’s 2nd New York Cavalry was also assigned to become one of Sheridan’s headquarters scouts, the nucleus of what was to become a much larger scout unit.

A reporter for Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper encountered two of these scouts as they prepared to move into Confederate territory during the night of December 8, 1864. He wrote:

“…Denny’s guests were congregated in his parlor …when the flow of conversation was interrupted by the entrance of two men in Confederate uniforms and overcoats who without even passing the compliments of the evening took seats by the fire and removed their hats to better enjoy the warmth, a proceeding that somewhat surprised the press while exciting their curiosity.

“We were not long however in becoming acquainted with the status of the mysterious visitors equipped for the warpath as revealed by the pistol butts from their holsters convenient for instant use.

“Their identity was revealed to us covertly by our host, as members of the secret organization known as the “Jessie Scouts” upon whom General Sheridan relied to be kept informed as to the enemy’s plans and movements and that these two men, who were as dumb as oysters, would abide with him till the midnight hour and steal away on their perilous mission.

“This was my first contact with this mysterious band, who could well say they carried their lives in their hands, and as they sat there in the play of the firelight, with lips sealed, for instinctively none questioned them, they riveted my gaze and started my fancy and they rose in my mind as heroes of the highest magnitude for the spy must of necessity be a noble and courageous character. He must be patriotic, quick-witted, intelligent and terribly in earnest or he will never undertake the Secret Service of the Army.

“How unjust, I thought, that with all these qualifications and more, that if captured, that he cannot share even the lot of his fellow captives of the rank and file, the lot of the prisoner of war. His position is disgrace, insult and speedy death. On the altar of his country, he has laid his all, and yet his country is united with all other countries in maintaining an understood international law that dooms him to a dishonorable grave. Shame on such a law. The spy is a soldier that daily bears the heaviest burdens and risks. Let him, say I, have a soldier’s honor.

“Possibly others in the room were occupied with similar thoughts about the strangers and speculated as to whether this would be their last mission in their country’s cause; whether a rope or a volley from a file of men, would reward their venture. It is not pleasant to one with a prospective doom hanging over him to have it anticipated in the unconcealed glance of the solicitous friend, hence fearful that they with whom my mind was filled would read my thoughts intense, I sought another part of the room.

“The ‘Jessie Scouts,’ named in compliment for the accomplished Jessie Benton Fremont, were under the command of Major Young…”

The initial Jessie Scout unit formed in St. Louis early in the war as the plan to develop independent scouts was implemented. The first man to command the scouts was Charles Carpenter once he convinced Fremont that he possessed special qualifications. First, Carpenter claimed to have escaped capture and trial during John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry by crawling through a covered drainage ditch. He was able to build on his initial claims by actually going on secret operations into Confederate territory. There is a map drawn in red pencil on plain brown wrapping paper made by Charles Carpenter after he had scouted along the Mississippi River.

It appears that Carpenter actually penetrated into the defenses of Forts Henry and Donelson while wearing a Confederate uniform. After receiving a letter of commendation from General McClernand, he used the letter to establish himself with other Union commanders as he began to embark on a career as a swindler. One report mentioned his “fondness for anything that wasn’t tied down.” Carpenter was able, however, to remain in favor and he accompanied Fremont to Wheeling in early 1862.

Reports about these “Jessie Scouts” began to appear in newspapers soon after they arrived in the East. The Wheeling Intelligencer tells about scams pulled by these rascals in their black velvet uniforms. One article told of one of the scouts caught trying to evade a hotel bill, with his female companion, by loading their baggage with that of departing musicians. The scout was described as wearing a velvet uniform and was forced to pay his bill, but he soon departed for St. Louis.

Later, Charles Carpenter was ordered to be arrested by General Schofield and the arrest report describes a man wearing a “velvet uniform with an overabundance of brass buttons.” One of Carpenter’s business cards is in the National Archives. He had made himself into a “Special Military Detective” as he continued to swindle people out of both money and possessions. Schofield was less easy to impress that was McClernand and Carpenter was soon expelled from the state of Missouri.

Others of the original group that came east with Fremont were soon back in Missouri where at least one, a lieutenant, was arrested for the confiscation of other people’s property and jailed.

Once Fremont resigned, the scouts who remained in the east fell under the command of Robert Milroy and reports of Jessie Scout activity emerge wherever Milroy served. One account of a Jessie Scout was written by Confederate General Hood’s chief scout, Jack Cussons, who described the capture and interrogation of a scout during the battle of Second Manassas. The scout had attempted to deliver a false verbal message to Hood to keep him from marching to the assistance of Stonewall Jackson and the scout, once revealed, was hanged for his trouble.

The scout had been well prepared. He had a good cover story that was discarded as the hostile interrogation intensified. In an effort to divert his interrogators from his actual mission, he confessed to the minor crime of impersonating an officer to impress a girl. It is likely he would have survived the fatal interview through the use of both his skill and wits, but the discovery of a dying Confederate courier nearby, the man who he was impersonating, sealed his fate. What is interesting to note is the evidence that these scouts reached this level of sophistication in about one year.

During the initial study of the materials related to the Jessie Scouts, it became apparent that these reports may have also been bogus, developed by soldiers involved in telling impressive “war stories,” such as those told by Charles Carpenter as he attempted to bilk citizens out of their personal possessions. A second doubt involved C.W.D. Smitley. If he was so good as a scout, why didn’t he serve with the scouts selected to operate directly under Sheridan? There were essentially only two other scouts identified in the available literature to examine, Arch Rowand and Ike Harris. Material on Rowand consisted of a few short letters and an article written by a Harper’s reporter, William Gilmore Beymer. It was possible Rowand had expanded on his exploits.

The story of the Jessie Scouts became a great deal clearer with the discovery of Smitley’s post-war letter to Franz Sigel. He had not been ordered to Sheridan’s headquarters in late Summer, 1864, and was missing from the patrol with Ike Harris. Harris was dead and could not have served with Sheridan’s scouts. Jessie Scouts, who were called “Walking Arsenals” by one observer who totally distrusted them, had become a generic name for any Union scouts operating while wearing a Confederate uniform. But there was actually one group of men who operated more or less as a single unit until they were assembled in one command by Philip Sheridan.

During the period prior to serving under Sheridan, there are reports of excellent scout activity associated with Averell and his raids inside West Virginia. During his winter Salem Raid in December, 1863, there is a report of scouts kidnapping a country doctor, forcing him to lead Averell’s column along little known country roads to safety. Later, two Jessie Scouts were reported to have captured Bradley Johnson’s pickets near Moorefield, an act that led directly to the largest surprise cavalry attack in North American history. Bradley Johnson’s Maryland men were decimated while John McCausland’s brigade was also severely damaged.

It was, however, under the command of Philip Sheridan that these scouts were able to demonstrate their actual capability. Their initial, and most significant, operation involved the recruitment of a young Quaker schoolmistress, twenty-two year old Rebecca Wright, who lived inside Confederate controlled Winchester, Virginia. Unable to approach her directly, even in their Confederate uniforms, one of Sheridan’s scouts located a slave, Thomas Laws, who had been issued a pass to pass through Confederate lines three times weekly to sell his produce. Laws delivered an initial message, rolled compactly inside a pellet of tin foil and carried inside his mouth, to Rebecca Wright.

Once Rebecca agreed to spy for Sheridan, her messages revealed the departure of a significant number of Early’s men, a full division of infantry and an artillery battalion sent to reinforce Lee at Petersburg. Based on her information, Sheridan ordered a general attack in September, 1864, that drove Early from Winchester and the much-exchanged town remained in Union hands for the rest of the Civil War.

Soon after the battle of Third Winchester, Sheridan decided to enlarge his headquarters scouts into a “full scout battalion” and he assigned its command to Major Henry Harrison Young, an officer from the 2nd Rhode Island Infantry Regiment. Sheridan made Young his “Assistant Aide de Camp,” a cover title to permit his chief scout to operate more freely. Assuming that his Winchester camp was fully penetrated by Confederate agents, Sheridan set the size of his “scout battalion” at 500 men, an act that was designed to magnify the actual number of scouts, which was less than sixty men.

Young designed one of the first operations of his scouts. There are two sources available that describe his daring act. Young took his men south into the Shenandoah Valley from Winchester toward Harrisonburg where they waited for a Confederate cavalry column to ride along. Dressed in Confederate uniforms, Young and his men actually joined with the larger cavalry unit and rode along with the column. Once the Confederates were comfortable with their presence and settled into a dozing ride, Young’s men struck. Firing shotguns and pistols into the surprised Confederates, Young and his men rode the entire length of the cavalry column, firing as they did so. Confederate casualties are unknown, but Young lost one scout in this daring operation. There is apparently a Confederate account of this operation. Once this is located, Young’s raid will be more completely understood.

Later in the winter, Young and his men rode to nearby Edinburg, Virginia, under the disguised mission of returning the body of a local Confederate for proper burial, but their actual goal involved intelligence collection. Once the true numbers of local defenders had been determined, Young ordered a general attack and captured over a dozen of the local soldiers.

Supported by nearly fifty regular Union cavalrymen from a New York regiment, Young was certain that his force could handle any group the Confederates could assemble to oppose his return to Winchester. Stopping for breakfast, Young refused to budge from his chair, in spite of warnings of the imminent arrival of a large force of Confederate cavalrymen. After completing his breakfast, Young left, but his horse was shot down and it was only through the intervention of Rowand and Jim Campbell that his life was saved. The faulty aspect of his plan was that the cavalrymen assigned to support his scouts were new, untried men, instead of the veterans that he requested and they ran when they came under fire. Young lost several men, including scout Tom Cassidy in Confederate uniform and whose body was never found.

It appears Sheridan developed a secret plan to go after partisan chief Hanse McNeil during the same period. The elder McNeil had become a significant thorn in Sheridan’s side as major destructive raids were led against the nearby Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. McNeil had been allowed to remain active with his partisan rangers, along with John Mosby, when the Confederate Congress ordered the other partisan ranger units to disband.

In October, 1864, McNeil was shot in the back by one of his own men while leading an attack on a bridge at Mount Jackson, Virginia. The man who shot McNeil, George Valentine, had been recently chastised by his commander for stealing chickens, but more information on the shooting has been located. Valentine was later identified as a “Jessie Scout” after the shooting of McNeil. The question remains: was Valentine a scout at the time of the shooting, infiltrated to kill McNeil or did he become a Jessie Scout after killing his commander? The answer has not been determined at this point, but there are indications that Sheridan and Young planned such operations. There is initial information that Young sent two of his men to enter Mosby’s camp as deserters to collect information on Mosby and a similar operation against McNeil’s Rangers is entirely plausible.

Once McNeil had been killed, Early sent Harry Gilmor, a man with considerable experience raiding against trains, to replace McNeil. Gilmor had once captured, but lost by escape, General Franklin on a train in the vicinity of Baltimore and he had been court-martialed after his men robbed a train. Once Gilmor’s arrival became known to Sheridan’s staff, Young developed a plan to capture him.

Two teams of Jessie Scouts, one led by Arch Rowand, rode into Moorefield to locate Gilmor and the home where he stayed. Once they fixed his position at the Randolph House near the river, the scouts returned to Winchester with their information. Once aware of Gilmor’s position, a large party of disguised scouts made up of twenty of Young’s men, including Rowand who was making his second trip to Moorefield in three days, moved on Moorefield with an escort of 200 experienced cavalrymen. Young had learned a lesson in the Edinburg disaster.

In the middle on the night, Gilmor and his cousin, Hoffman, were rudely awakened by armed scouts and escorted back to Winchester. Gilmor was taken to Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor, where he was confined for the remainder of the war. The Jessie Scouts had completed another successful operation.

They eliminated another threat on the outbound leg of the trip to capture Gilmor. Having located the home of Captain George Stump’s father, the scouts stopped and were able to capture Stump. He apparently resisted capture or attempted to escape. There are three separate accounts of this episode in the war, but regardless of the account, the results were the same. George Stump was shot dead. This must have occurred on the ride to capture Gilmor, as Gilmor makes no mention of the killing of Stump. Another captive of the Jessie Scouts, George Opie, described Stump’s body, blackened and frozen beside the road, as he was taken into captivity.

Stump was a serious secessionist who had sworn that he would never be taken alive. While the actual story of his death remains unknown, it is likely that he challenged the Jessie Scouts to a duel and lost. He was normally so heavily armed that his own men referred to him as “Stump’s Battery,” but his weapons didn’t save him. There is a report that the Jessie Scouts told Major Young that Stump was sick, too sick to ride and Young replied, “Make him sicker!” Another report exists that Stump tried to take a pistol from a guard while they were riding along and Young warned him that he would be shot if he made another similar attempt. Stump made another try to snatch a pistol, this time the one belonging to Young, who ordered his men, simply, “Plug him!” It is equally likely that the pugnacious Stump challenged the scouts to a duel and died in it.

The scouts under Henry Young continued to operate under Sheridan for the rest of the winter of 1865. Sheridan was later to note that there was little that he did not know about the enemy within fifty miles of his base because of the actions of his scouts. They were to play a part in a major deception plan in early 1865 as Sheridan prepared to move against Early who was located in the vicinity of Staunton, Virginia.

Sheridan’s camp was penetrated by Confederate spies who would get word of any preparations to attack Early, therefore the Union commander had to conceal his preparations or Early would be able to concentrate his forces before any Union attack. Many of Sheridan’s officers had been amusing themselves during the winter months by organizing fox hunts and Sheridan decided to use this as a ruse to surprise Early. Orders were given to organize a giant fox hunt and preparations were made, dogs collected by the scouts, and shoes put on many horses. A few enterprising scouts were even able to obtain a few foxes that were prominently displayed in the Federal camp. Soon after all was made ready for the hunt, Sheridan ordered his army to strike Early and within days, the Confederate army defending the Shenandoah Valley was defeated and nearly destroyed at Waynesboro. Sheridan had been ordered to strike south, capture Lynchburg, and continue forward until he was able to link up with Sherman’s army in North Carolina.

Sheridan was, however, given discretionary authority to join Grant at Petersburg, if he believed this to be the best course of action. Once Sheridan was near Lynchburg, he decided to ride to join with Grant. In order to inform Grant, as well as to request fodder his animals and food for the men, Sheridan had to send messengers through Confederate territory. He selected Young’s scouts to do the job.

Arch Rowand and Jim Campbell were given notes, wrapped in tin foil to be swallowed if they were captured, and sent on horseback toward Grant. Shortly afterward, Dominick Fannin and Frederick Moore were placed in a row boat and ordered to float downstream to Richmond, to walk on to Petersburg where they were to enter the Confederate trenches to fight against Grant’s army. They were ordered to desert at the first opportunity and deliver their message to Grant. Rowand and Campbell arrived first, after losing their horses and Rowand losing his pants. They delivered the message after walking the last five miles. Fannin and Moore arrived the following day with the duplicate message for Grant.

Sheridan soon arrived with his huge cavalry force and was able to find Lee’s right flank at Five Forks, the beginning of the end for Lee. During the final stages of this battle, Young and his men rode up to a Confederate officer, General Felix Barringer, and reported that they had located a camp for him and his staff for the night. Once the Confederate general and his staff was separated from their brigade, Young’s men pulled pistols and captured all of them.

It was Jim White, one of Young’s scouts who had originally been assigned to the 1st West Virginia Cavalry, who managed to ensure Lee’s defeat at Appomattox, instead of allowing Lee to escape to continue the war. White had captured one of Lee’s couriers with a telegram ordering trains to move from Lynchburg with rations to meet the army near Appomattox. White kept the telegram and intercepted the first train, impersonating Lee’s courier, and told the train engineers to follow him down the tracks where all four trains were captured by cavalry under Custer. Lacking food and supplies and with his route to safety blocked, Lee chose to surrender his Army of Northern Virginia.

Grant ordered a large element of his army to continue toward Sherman and the anticipated battle with Joseph Johnston. The scouts were able to assist in a very unusual manner. Blocked by a wide river, the cavalry was being out-marched by the infantry on the opposite side of the bridgeless stream. Scouts were sent up and downstream with orders to confiscate all ferry boats in the area and have them poled to a central location. Once there, the ferry boats were chained end to end, forming a long, curved bridge over which the cavalry crossed. The cavalrymen were able to catch up with the infantry through the fine, innovative efforts of the Jessie Scouts. Their actions in constructing this temporary bridge would have become a legend if it had occurred as part of a war time campaign. As it was, they did this just after the end of the Civil War when everyone was distracted by both peace and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Young and at least two scouts, Arch Rowand and Jim White, and probably a few more, were ordered to accompany Sheridan to Texas immediately after the cessation of hostilities. Sheridan was sent west to force the final remaining Confederate, Kirby Smith, to surrender, but he was also ordered to place a strong force on the border with Mexico.

During the Civil War, France had occupied Mexico, ostensibly to force repayment of a large debt, and soon, Napoleon III had placed an Austrian nobleman on an imperial throne in Mexico City. Maximilian and his Belgian wife, Carlota, ruled Mexico with the support of the French army, which was augmented by Austrian troops, the Belgian Legion, and Imperial Mexicans. Together, they had managed to force the liberal army under the leadership of Benito Juarez to retreat far from the capital city. By the conclusion of the Civil War, Juarez was able to control only a small section of territory along the international border near the present-day city of El Paso.

The Imperial Mexicans and the French had actively supported the Confederacy and at the height of the Union blockade, the Mexican port of Matamoras was providing a great amount of the Confederacy’s imports. With their history of support for the Confederacy and the movement of large numbers of former Confederate soldiers into Mexico, Grant began to be alarmed about the possibility of renewed hostilities from a Franco-Mexican-Rebel League that appeared to be forming. Once this possibility was recognized, Grant convinced Secretary of War Stanton and President Johnson of the potential danger they faced of a renewed war.

Sheridan was ordered to place his strongest formations on the border as a demonstration of their intention to prevent any moves by the French, one of the world’s superpowers at the time, toward the United States. At this time, Sheridan began to send his “trusty scouts,” as he referred to them in telegraphed reports to Grant, into northern Mexico to collect information on the French army and their allies. Young, Rowand, and White were soon back into their old Confederate uniforms as they rode across the Rio Grande, posing as Confederate soldiers seeking to escape from the Union army’s occupation of their home state.

Most of the reports of their scouting operations were lost or safely filed away as they were all classified. The little that has emerged from the research shows that multiple trips were made into Mexico and, at one time, they were actively planning to kidnap the Imperial commander in Matamoras, General Meijia, as they had done with Harry Gilmor. Sheridan wrote to Grant that the loss of Meijia would have a major disrupting impact on the imperial defenders in that border city.

It is very likely that the Jessie Scouts assisted in the delivery of funds from Sheridan’s headquarters to Juarez in what Sheridan described as a “covert program” of supporting the Mexican liberals against Maxmilian’s army. What is known is that large amounts of weapons were transferred from captured Confederate depots, as Sheridan said, “30,000 stand of muskets from the Baton Rouge Arsenal alone,” to Juarez’ army as they began to win victories. The magnitude of this “covert” operation was enormous and Grant made arrangements for General Schofield to take a leave of absence to command all of the liberal forces in their war against the French and their allies. Interestingly, Secretary of State Stanton opposed their plans and worked behind the scenes to bring about a diplomatic solution, going as far as securing the services of Schofield as an emissary to Paris.

Late in 1866, possibly in December, Lt. Col. Henry Young escorted a large group of veteran soldiers into Mexico where they had volunteered to serve as a body guard for one of Juarez’ commanders, General Escobedo. Sheridan later wrote that Young had done this on his own, as a private citizen, and he, Sheridan, had loaned money to him for the expedition. Sheridan also told two slightly differing versions of this story.

Young had signed for the funds advanced by Sheridan, official funds from the Secret Service Fund managed by Sheridan. A hand receipt exists in the National Archives that records the transfer of $3,000 from the Secret Service Fund to Young “for any purpose” and Young signed this as “Lt. Col. Henry H. Young, US Army.” Young’s mission was official, not a private expedition.

Regardless of the source of inspiration or funding, Young was killed as his small element crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico. A large group, described by Sheridan as “renegade rebels and Mexicans,” attacked Young’s party in an attempt to take the money in Young’s possession. Young’s body was lost in the river and never recovered.

Rowand had been ill and was discharged from the army. He returned to his home in Pittsburgh, but he wrote immediately to Sheridan when he received news of Young’s death. It is a measure of the high regard Sheridan had for these Union privates when his response to Rowand was located.

The Jessie Scouts were down to possibly a single man, Sergeant Jim White, a man who would soon embark on an adventure closely approximating that taken by a fellow West Virginian, Andrew Rowan, as he carried the famous “Message to Garcia” just prior to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. Secretary of State Seward had been asked by the European powers to intercede on the behalf of Maxmilian, who was losing the war with Juarez and in danger of execution.

Lacking a minister, a diplomatic presence inside Mexico, Seward requested the assistance of Sheridan in getting a message to Juarez’ generals deep in the interior of Mexico. Sheridan sent for Jim White, formerly of the 1st West Virginia Cavalry. White was placed on a chartered ship, the Black Bird, that sailed to either Vera Cruz or Tampico and he rode to Queretaro, located 100 miles north of Mexico City and delivered his message. He was also able to ride to safety back in the United States, completing the last operation of the Jessie Scouts.



22 SEPT 93


The story of a critical intelligence finding almost unrecorded in the history of French intervention in Mexico during and after the Civil War is reconstructed here from official records in the National Archives.


Edwin C. Fishel

The years 1864-67 saw the United States facing one of the severest international problems in its history: an Austrian prince ruled Mexico and a French army occupied the south bank of the Rio Grande. It was toward the end of this period that the Atlantic cable went into permanent operation. Thus the United States had both the motive and the means for what was almostcertainly its first essay in peacetime communications intelligence.l

The nation had emerged from the Civil War possessing a respectable intelligence capability. Union espionage activities were generally successful, especially in the later stages of the war; Northern communications men read Confederate messages with considerable regularity (and received reciprocal treatment of their own traffic from the rebel signalmen) ; and there were intelligence staffs that developed a high degree of competence in digesting and reporting these findings.2


1 No earlier use of communications intelligence by the United States in peacetime is known to the writer. Any reader who knows of one is urged to present it.

2 At the beginning of the war the government’s conception of military intelligence work was so limited that it employed Allan Pinkerton, by that time well known as the head of a successful detective agency, as the chief intelligence operative in Washington. Pinkerton proved effective in counterintelligence work, but his intelligence estimates so greatly exaggerated Confederate strength that he is commonly given a large share of the blame for the super caution that caused his sponsor, General McClellan, to stay close to Washington with far superior forces. Pinkerton left the service with McClellan in 1862, however, and long before the end of the war competent intelligence staffs, entirely military in character though composed of men drawn from civil life, served the principal headquarters.





A Cable From Napoleon

With the war over in 1865, this new capability was turned against Napoleon III and his puppet, Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. In the struggle to get the French army out of North America and Maximilian off his throne, this government had the use of an intelligence enterprise which, though conducted on a small scale, turned out to be very effective. Up to the last weeks this intelligence operation consisted of competent reporting on the part of espionage agents and diplomatic representatives; but when a crisis developed at that point, these sources were silent, and it was a cablegram from Napoleon to his commanders in Mexico that yielded the information needed by the nation’s leaders.

As an intelligence coup the interception and reading of this message were hardly spectacular, for it passed over fifteen hundred miles of telegraph wire accessible to United States forces and, contrary to later assertions that it had to be deciphered, it appears to have been sent in the clear. Nevertheless, the event was an outstanding one in the history of United States intelligence operations, not simply because it represented a beginning in a new field but also because the message in question was of crucial importance.

State of the Union, 1861-65

The crisis in which America’s intelligence capability asserted itself did not come until after the nation had spent five anxious years watching the European threat develop.

Napoleon had sent an army to Mexico late in 1861, assertedly to compel the payment of huge debts owed by the government of Mexico. His object, however, was not simply a financial one: a new commander whom he sent to Mexico in 1863 received instructions (which leaked into the press) to the effect that the Emperor’s purpose was to establish a Mexican government strong enough to limit “the growth and prestige of the United States.” 3 At a time when the American Union appeared to be breaking up under pressure from its southern half, such a statement meant to American readers that Napoleon had no intention of stopping at the Rio Grande.


‘3 J. Fred Rippy, The United States and Mexico (New York, 1926), p. 261, citing Genaro y Carlos Pereya Garcia, Documentos ineditos o muy raros para la historia de Mejico (20 vols., Mexico City, 1903), XIV, pp. 8-20.




A Cable From Napoleon


In June 1863 French arms swept the Liberal government of President Benito Juarez from Mexico City, and in the summer of 1864 Napoleon installed the Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, thirty-two-year-old brother of Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, on the new throne of Mexico. During this period the Northern people, their belligerence aroused by the Southern rebellion, were clamoring for action against France – action that might well bring disaster upon them. Aggressive behavior by the United States might give Napoleon the popular support he needed to join hands with the Confederacy in a declaration of war, a development that could provide Secession with enough extra strength to prevail.

While the Civil War lasted, Congress and the public were held in check largely through the prestige and political skill of the Federal Secretary of State, William H. Seward. But when the War was over – by which time the government had reason to believe that Napoleon had become disenchanted with his puppets in Mexico – Seward was ready to turn his people’s aggressive demeanor to advantage, and he warned Napoleon that their will would sooner or later prevail. Before this statement reached Paris, however, the United States Minister there, John Bigelow, who had been mirroring Seward’s new firmness for some months, had in September 1865 obtained a tentative statement from the French that they intended to withdraw from Mexico .4

While Bigelow was shaking an admonitory finger at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an American military fist was being displayed before the French along the Rio Grande. Promptly upon the silencing of Confederate guns, General Grant sent Philip Sheridan, second only to William T. Sherman in the esteem of the General-in-Chief, to the command of the Department of the Gulf, with headquarters at New Orleans. A considerable force was posted along the Mexican frontier and designated an “army of observation.”


4Rippy, op. cit., pp. 264-65 and 269-72; Seward to Bigelow, September 21, 1865. All diplomatic correspondence sent or received by United States officials that is cited herein will be found in the Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs Accompanying the Annual Message of the President to the First Session, Thirty-Ninth Congress (covering the year 1865), Second Session, Thirty-Ninth Congress (1866), and Second Session, Fortieth Congress (1867-68).





A Cable From Napoleon

Sheridan and Intelligence

Sheridan, thirty-four years old and the possessor of a reputation as a gamecock, adhered strongly to an opinion prevalent in the Army that a little forceful military action now would save a full-scale war later. The audacious statesman who was directing foreign policy at Washington was, to Sheridan, “slow and poky,” and the general found ways of giving considerable covert aid to the Juarez government, then leading a nomadic existence in the north of Mexico.5 Sheridan and Seward, though the policy of each was anathema to the other, made an effective combination.

One of the ways in which Sheridan could exercise his relentless energy against the Imperialists without flouting Seward’s policy was in collecting intelligence on what was going on below the border. There was an interregnum at the United States Legation in Mexico City, and all the official news reaching Washington from below the Rio Grande was that supplied by the Juarist Minister to the United States, Matias Romero, a scarcely unbiased source if a prolific one .6 Sheridan quickly undertook to fill the gap.

This task must have been decidedly to the general’s taste, for he had been one of the most intelligence-conscious commanders in the Civil War.7 He had achieved something of an innovation in organizing intelligence activities when, during his 1864 campaign in the Shenandoah Valley, he established a group of intelligence operatives under military control. His previous sources of information, local citizens and Confederate deserters, had both proved unreliable. “Sheridan’s Scouts” were a military organization in a day when it was customary to have civilians perform most of the intelligence-gathering tasks other


5 John M. Schofield, Forty-Six Years in the Army (New York, 1897), p. 381; Philip H. Sheridan, Personal Memoirs (2 vols., New York, 1888), II, pp. 215-19;Percy F. Martin, Maximilian in Mexico (London, 1914), p. 432.

6 Dozens of examples of this intelligence will be found in the Romero-to-Seward correspondence in the Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs described in footnote 4.

7 When a division commander in 1862-63, Sheridan had exercised an initiative in intelligence collection that was more likely to be found in an army commander. His Memoirs reveal a constantly high interest in intelligence activities.




A Cable From Napoleon


than battle-zone reconnaissance. After the war, Major Henry Harrison Young, the Scouts’ commander, and four of his best men went to the Gulf Department with Sheridan.

Sheridan also, in common with numerous other commanders North and South, had an acquaintance with communications intelligence as it was produced in the field command of that day. By the time the Civil War was well advanced, Signal Corpsmen in every theater had learned how to solve the enemy’s visual-signaling alphabets, and they derived much information for the commanders by keeping their field glasses trained on enemy signal stations.8 There was not likely to be any opportunity for such methods along the Rio Grande, however, and no more likely was the possibility of tapping telegraph lines carrying useful information.

Young and his four men were dispatched to important points in northern Mexico to report on movements of the Imperial forces and the various projects of ex-Confederates who were joining Maximilian’s forces and attempting to establish colonies under his flag.8 Judged by the accuracy of the reports reaching Sheridan and the strong tendency of the Southerners’ projects to abort after coming under his notice, the work of these five men was most effective.10

1866, Year of Telegrams and Tension

The critical question – whether the French would tire of their venture and withdraw -was, however, one to which no intelligence service could divine an answer, for the French for a long time did not know the answer themselves. In 1865 Marshal Franois Achille Bazaine, now Napoleon’s commander in Mexico, was informed by the Minister of War that he must bring the army home, and at about the same time he received


8War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, 1884-1901) contains hundreds of decipherments resulting from such interceptions, chiefly in the operations of 1863-65 in Tennessee and Georgia, the operations along the South Carolina coast beginning in 1863, and the Richmond-Petersburg siege of 1864-65.

9 Sheridan, op. cit., II, p. 214.

10 See, for example, intelligence reports sent by Sheridan to Grant, March 27, May 7, June 24, July 3 and 13, 1866. All Army correspondence cited hereafter in this article will be found in the United States National Archives, except where otherwise indicated.





A Cable From Napoleon

word to the opposite effect from the Emperor himself.11 Napoleon’s treaty with Maximilian by which the latter accepted the throne of Mexico contained a secret clause providing that French military forces to the number of 20,000 were to remain in Mexico until November 1867.12 As events were to prove, however, this compact was less likely to determine Napoleon’s course of action than were the pressures on him represented by the United States’ vigorous diplomacy and the rising military power of Prussia.

In April 1866 Minister Bigelow succeeded in pinning Napoleon down to a definite understanding, to the effect that the 28,000 French soldiers in Mexico would be brought home in three detachments, leaving in November 1866 and March and November 1867. Seward’s reply to this promise was characteristic of his tone at this time: dwelling only briefly on the diplomatic niceties, he suggested that the remaining period of occupation be shortened if possible. The Secretary was in high feather; in the same month a protest by him induced the Austrian government to abandon an effort to send substantial reinforcements to the small Austrian force in Maximilian’s army.13

In June Maximilian received a studiously insolent letter from Napoleon containing the stunning announcement that the French would withdraw. Attention now focused on whether he would attempt to hold his throne without French arms. The unhappy sovereign reacted first by dispatching his Empress, twenty-six-year-old Carlota, to Paris in a vain attempt to change Napoleon’s mind. He soon decided to abdicate, then determined to remain on his throne, then wavered for many weeks between abdicating and remaining. 14

Napoleon meanwhile had to contend not only with his protege’s indecision but with some apparent recalcitrance on the


11 Philip Guedalla, The Two Marshals (London, 1943) p. 130.

12 Ibid., p. 112.

13 Seward to de Montholon, April 25, 1866; Seward to J. Lothrop Motley (United States Minister to Austria), April 6, 16, 30, May 3, 30, 1866; Motley to Seward, April 6, May 1, 6, 15, 21, 1866; James M. Callahan, American Foreign Policy in Mexican Relations (New York, 1932), p. 235.

14 Martin, op. cit., pp. 266-267 and 272-273.




A Cable From Napoleon


part of Bazaine, who was variously suspected of having a secret agreement with Maximilian to remain in the latter’s support, of being secretly in league with the Mexican Liberals, of profiting financially from his official position, and of having hopes of succeeding Maximilian. (There is evidence to support all these suspicions.) 15 Soon Napoleon realized he had made a bad bargain with the United States; to attempt to bring the army home in three parts would risk the annihilation of the last third. Early in the autumn of 1866 the Emperor sent his military aide, General Castelnau, to Mexico with instructions to have the army ready to leave in one shipment in March, and to supersede Bazaine if necessary. Thus the evacuation was to begin four months later than Napoleon had promised, but to end eight months earlier.16

No word of this important about-face was, however, promptly passed to the United States government. At the beginning of November – supposedly the month for the first shipment – the best information this country’s leaders possessed was a strong indication that Napoleon intended to rid himself of Maximilian. This was contained in a letter written to Maximilian by a confidential agent whom he had sent to Europe; it showed the failure of Carlota’s visit to Napoleon. Somewhere between its point of origin, Brussels, and its destination, the office of Maximilian’s consul in New York, it had fallen into the hands of a Juarist agent .17 Soon after Minister Romero placed it in Seward’s hands, Napoleon’s new Foreign Minister, the Marquis de Moustier, wrote his Minister in Washington, de Montholon, that the evacuation timetable was raising serious difficulties but that in no case would the November 1867 deadline for its


15 Castelnau to Napoleon, December 8, 1866, quoted in Georges A. M. Girard, La Vie et les souvenirs du General Castelnau (Paris, 1930), pp. 112-124; Marcus Otterbourg (United States charge d’affaires in Mexico) to Seward, December 29, 1866; Martin, op. cit., pp. 298-99; Lewis D. Campbell (United States Minister to Mexico) to Seward, November 21, 1866.

16 De Moustier (Foreign Minister) to de Montholon (Minister to the United States), October 16, 1866, in Foreign Affairs; Bigelow to Seward, November 8, 1866; Martin, op. cit., pp. 56-57; Guedalla, op. cit., p. 133; Girard, op. cit., p. 122.

17 Romero to Seward, October 10, 1866; New York Tribune, January 4, 1867.





A Cable From Napoleon

completion be exceeded.18 This note should have reached Seward in early November (1866), but if it did, its strong hint that there would be no partial evacuation in that month was apparently lost on him.

When the French felt able to promise complete withdrawal in March, de Moustier revealed to Bigelow the abandonment of the three-stage plan. So alarmed was Bigelow by the prospect of a major outbreak of anti-French feeling in America that he refrained from sending the news to Seward until he had heard it from the Emperor himself, whom he saw on November 7. The November shipment had been cancelled for reasons purely military, the Emperor said, showing surprise that the United States had not known of the change. The order had been telegraphed to Bazaine and had been sent in the clear in order that “no secret might be made of its tenor in the United States.” 19 Undoubtedly the Emperor was perfectly sincere in implying that he expected the United States government to make itself a tacit “information addressee” on telegrams of foreign governments reaching its territory.

Receiving Bigelow’s report of this interview, Seward struck off a peremptory cablegram to Paris: the United States “cannot acquiesce,” he declared. The 774 words of this message unfolded before Bigelow on November 26 and 27, their transmission having cost the State Department some $13,000. On December 3 Bigelow telegraphed the Foreign Minister’s assurance that military considerations alone were responsible for the change of plans and his promise, somewhat more definite than the previous one, that the French “corps of occupation is to embark in the month of March next.” 20

So strongly had this government relied on Napoleon’s original promise that President Johnson had dispatched an important diplomatic mission to Mexico (republican Mexico, that is) – a mission that was already at sea, expecting, on arrival at Vera


18 De Moustier to de Montholon, October 16, loc. cit.

19 Bigelow to Seward, November 8, 1866.

20Seward to Bigelow, November 23, 1866; Dexter Perkins, The Monroe Doctrine, 1826-1867 (Baltimore, 1933), p. 534; Bigelow to Seward, December 3, 1866.




A Cable From Napoleon


Cruz, to find the French leaving and Juarez resuming the reins of government. The mission consisted of ex-Senator Lewis D. Campbell, newly appointed Minister to Mexico, and General William T. Sherman, sent with Campbell to give the mission prestige, to advise Juarez in regard to the many military problems that would be plaguing him, 21 and possibly to arrange for the use of small numbers of United States troops to assist the Liberal regime by temporarily occupying certain island forts .22

Evidence was accumulating that Maximilian and his European troops would soon be gone from Mexico, 22 but it stood no chance of general acceptance in Washington. Such was the degree of trust now accorded Louis Napoleon that his promise to evacuate Mexico would be believed on the day when the last French soldier took ship at Vera Cruz.

At this juncture Sheridan’s headquarters came into possession of a copy of a coded telegram to Napoleon from Bazaine and Castelnau. The message had left Mexico City by courier on December 3 and had been delivered to the French Consulate at New Orleans, from where it was telegraphed to Paris on the 9th. As will be explained below, there is every reason to believe that this message went unread by United States cryptographers. The possession of its contents would have been of great value, for the message (as translated from the version given by Castelnau’s biographer) said:


21 Seward’s instructions to Campbell, dated October 25, 1866, are perhaps the most impressive of the numerous masterful documents produced by the Secretary in the Mexican affair. Grant was the President’s first selection as the military member of the mission and was excused only after a number of urgent requests. Correspondence relating to the inception of the Sherman-Campbell mission includes: Andrew Johnson to E. M. Stanton, October 26 and 30; Grant to Sherman (at St. Louis), October 20 and 22; Grant to Johnson, October 20 and 21, and Grant to Stanton, October 27.

22 Sherman to Grant, November 3, 1866 (Sherman MSS, Library of Congress) ; Grant to Sheridan, November 4, 1866. Sheridan was directed to “comply with any request as to location of troops in your department that Lt. Gen. Sherman . . . may make.”

23 Campbell to Seward, November 21, 1866; unaddressed, unsigned military intelligence report dated at Washington, November 18.





A Cable From Napoleon

New Orleans, 9 Dec 1866

To His Majesty the Emperor Napoleon at Paris. Mexico, 3rd December.

Emperor Maximilian appears to wish to remain in Mexico, but we must not count on it. Since the evacuation is to be completed in March, it is urgent that the transports arrive. We think that the foreign regiment must also be embarked. As for the French officers and soldiers attached to the Mexican Corps, can they be allowed the option of returning?

The country is restless. The Campbell and Sherman mission, which arrived off Vera Cruz on November 29 and left December 3, seems disposed to a peaceful solution. Nevertheless it gives moral support to the Juarists through the statement of the Federal government.

Marshal Bazaine and General Castelnau 24

As December wore on, rumblings from Capitol Hill indicated that Congress – the same Congress that was even then moving to impeach President Johnson – might attempt to take the management of the entire affair out of the Administration’s hands. Word arrived from Bigelow that transports to bring the army home were ready to sail from French ports, but that information would by no means be convincing enough to reassure Washington. And that word was the last to be heard from Bigelow, as competent a reporter as he was a diplomatist. He was relieved as Minister by John Adams Dix, ex-senator, ex-general, who did not manage to turn his hand to report-writing until mid-February, after the crisis was past.25

Similarly, nothing that would clarify the situation was coming out of Mexico. General Grant received a report from Sherman, at Vera Cruz, containing two items of intelligence, highly significant and completely contradictory: two ships, waiting at Vera Cruz to take Maximilian home, had been loaded with tremendous quantities of royal baggage; and the Emperor had just issued a proclamation to the Mexican people announcing (continued on page 92)


24 Girard, op. cit., pp. 117-18.

25 New York Herald, December 7, 1866, p. 4, col. 3; Bigelow to Seward, November 30, 1866; Morgan Dix, Memoirs of John Adams Dix (2 vols., New York, 1883), II, 150; Dix to Seward, December 24, 1866.




A Cable From Napoleon


First and last pages of the five-page message to Napoleon III from his commanders in Mexico, reporting on the situation there and asking instructions concerning the evacuation of the European forces. The French clear-text version, as repeated by General Castelnau in a letter to Napoleon on December 8, 1866 (and quoted by Castelnau’s biographer), reads:

L’empereur Maximilien parait vouloir rester au Mexique, mais on ne peut y compter. L’evacuation devant etre terminee en mars, il est urgent que les transports arrivent. Nous pensons que le regiment etranger doit etre aussi embarque. Quant aux officiers et soldats frangais detaches aux corps mexicains, peut-on leur laisser la faculte de revenir? Le pays est inquiet. La mission Campbell et Sherman arrivee devant Vera Cruz le 29 novembre et partie le 3 decembre semble disposee a une solution pacifique. Elle Wen donne pas moins un appui moral aux Juaristes par la declaration du gouvernement federal.





A Cable From Napoleon

(from page 90)

his intention to remain. Sherman and Campbell were facng a dilemma, in that they could not reach Juarez without crossing territory held by the Imperialists, with whom they were supposed to have nothing to do. Sherman invited Grant to instruct him to go to Mexico City to see Bazaine, who, he was sure, would tell him the truth about French intentions, but nothing came of this suggestion. Wrote the general of the colorful pen and the fervid dislike of politics: “I am as anxious to find Juarez as Japhet was to find his father, that I may dispose of this mission.” 26

Tension mounted in Washington early in January as the Senate prepared for a debate on the Mexican question, and a wide variety of reports circulated, the most ominous being that half of the French forces were to remain in Mexico through the summer, and that Assistant Secretary of State Frederick W. Seward, who had sailed mysteriously from Annapolis on Christmas day, was on his way to see Napoleon. (He was en route to the West Indies on one of his father’s projects for the purchase of territory.) 27 But on January 12, before the Senate got around to the Mexican question, the War Department received a message from Sheridan at New Orleans transmitting the following telegram:

Paris Jany 10th

French Consul New Orleans

for General Cast[elnau] at Mexico.

Received your dispatch of the ninth December. Do not compel the Emperor to abdicate, but do not delay the departure of the troops; bring back all those who will not remain there. Most of the fleet has left.



26 Sherman to Grant, December 1 and 7, 1866. Sherman, despite his reputation for hard-headedness, was not one of those who favored military action by the United States in Mexico. He wrote Grant, “I feel as bitter as you do about this meddling of Napoleon, but we can bide our time and not punish ourselves by picking up a burden [the French] can’t afford to carry.”

27 New York Herald, January 3, 1867; New York Evening Post, January 8, 1867; Frederick W. Seward, Reminiscences of a War-time Statesman and Diplomat (New York and London, 1916), pp. 348-55. Seward’s project, a very closely kept secret, was the acquisition of a harbor in San Domingo. A treaty was later concluded but buried by the Senate.




A Cable From Napoleon


Napoleon III’s “Bring the army home” message, and the one by which General Sheridan transmitted it in translation to General Grant. The notation on the Sheridan-to-Grant message “Recd 230 PM In cipher” refers to its receipt and decipherment in the War Department, and so does not bear on Sheridan’s later assertion that Napoleon’s message was sent in cipher.

The phrase “will not remain there” was a translation error. It was corrected to “are not willing to remain” when Sheridan forwarded a confirmation copy of his telegram by mail later on January 12. “Most of the fleet has left” (referring to the departure of transports for Mexico) would have been better translated “Most of the ships have left.”





A Cable From Napoleon

Here now was a conclusive answer to both of the pressing questions, the French evacuation and Maximilian’s future. The entire French force must be leaving; else there would scarcely be a question of compelling Maximilian to abdicate. And with the French gone, Maximilian, even if he remained firm in his decision to keep the throne, could hardly stand against the rising Liberals very long. The European threat to American soil could be considered virtually at an end.

How It Happened

Because of the historical importance attaching to the interception of this message and the Mexico-to-Paris message of a month earlier, the circumstances surrounding the interception are worth examining.

The two telegrams owed their existence to the successful installation of the Atlantic cable a few months before. The cable’s own history went back to August 1857, when the first attempt to lay it ended in failure. A year later a connection was completed and the cable was operated for eleven weeks before it went dead, apparently because the use of a very high voltage had broken down the insulation. Renewal of the attempt awaited the development of better electrical techniques and the end of the Civil War. In 1865 a new cable was laid from Valentia, Ireland, but was lost six hundred miles short of Newfoundland. Another was started July 13, 1866, and brought ashore at Heart’s Content, Newfoundland, on July 27. The ill-starred steamer Great Eastern, which laid it, then picked up the buried end of the 1865 cable and ran a second line to Newfoundland. Service to the public opened August 26.28

Thus Napoleon’s September message to Bazaine passed after the permanent operation of a telegraph line across the Atlantic had been a reality for only a few weeks, and it must be conceded that the United States was reasonably prompt in availing itself of this source of intelligence -despite Napoleon’s opinion to the contrary.


28 Robert Luther Thompson, Wiring a Continent (Princeton, 1947), pp. 299-301, 319-20, 323, 433-34; S. A. Garnham and Robert L. Hadfield, The Submarine Cable (London, 1934), pp. 19-40. The cable laying was the only success in the long career of the leviathan Great Eastern, which bankrupted a succession of owners as a passenger and cargo ship, as an exhibition ship, and finally as a gigantic dismantling and salvage operation. Its history is told by James Dugan in The Great Iron Ship (New York, 1953).




A Cable From Napoleon


Although the first interception took place only a month after the French Emperor had virtually invited this government to read his mail, it appears that Napoleon’s suggestion had nothing to do with it. The author of the intercept scheme, in all probability, was General Sheridan, and it is highly unlikely that Napoleon’s remarks would have been communicated to him. In any case, no instructions for surveillance of the telegraph lines to obtain French messages appear in the correspondence to the Gulf Department from Army Headquarters.29

Years later Sheridan explained how the job was done: his telegraph operator and cipher clerk, Charles A. Keefer, one of the numerous Canadians who entered the Union and Confederate telegraph services, had succeeded in “getting possession of the telegraph and managing [a] secret line,” 30 which presumably connected his office with the Western Union wires in New Orleans.

Keefer’s “secret line” may not have been so remarkable a thing as Sheridan’s cryptic account makes it seem, for there was a high degree of integration between the Military Telegraph system to which Keefer belonged and the commercial system over which the messages passed. Throughout the occupied areas of the South during and after the Civil War, the Military Telegraph service took over commercial and railroad telegraph facilities wherever they existed. These Military Telegraph offices accepted commercial as well as government business, and commercial offices of course sent and received thousands of military telegrams; many a telegraph circuit had a military office at one terminus and a commercial office at the other.

As the Reconstruction period advanced, this integration became even closer; when the wires were returned to the use of the companies that owned them, Military Telegraph officers remained on duty to take care of government business and exercise a loose kind of supervision over the commercial operations. At some places military and commercial operators worked side


29 Correspondence from August 1 to December 10, 1866, has been examined for evidence of such instructions. Sheridan’s papers in the Library of Congress appear to be incomplete for this period.

30 Unaddressed official statement signed by Sheridan December 8, 1877 (sic). William R. Plum, The Military Telegraph During the Civil War in the United States (2 vols.,Chicago, 1882), II, pp. 343 and 357, is authority for the information on Keefer’s nationality.





A Cable From Napoleon

by side. The fact that Keefer’s copies of the French telegrams were written on Western Union message blanks makes it appear that New Orleans was one of the cities where this arrangement was in effect. If it was not, and the Military Telegraph and Western Union offices there were located separately, they were nevertheless using the same wires for communication with distant points, which would have made it comparatively easy for Keefer to connect a “secret line.”

This integration of operations went all the way to the top of the two telegraph systems. General Thomas T. Eckert, who had been the second-ranking member and active head of the Military Telegraph service, continued to be closely connected with it after becoming Assistant Secretary of War in 1866. In the period now under study Eckert was apparently occupying his War Department position and at the same time resuming his activities in the industry as Eastern Division superintendent for Western Union at New York.31

Sheridan also credited Keefer with having solved the French “cipher,” 32 but there is strong evidence to the contrary :

(1) The amount of material Keefer could have had to work with was very small. The cable in its early years was used sparingly because of the very high tolls (note the $1,979.25 charge, in gold, that the French Consulate paid for the December 3/9 message). Thus Paris was still awaiting word from Castelnau at the end of November,33 although he had been in Mexico nearly two months. The only French messages referred to in any of the documents examined in the present study are the clear-text message that Napoleon said he sent Bazaine in September,34 the message of December 3/9, and the message of January 10. Accordingly, as the January message (to be discussed in detail below) was almost certainly sent in the clear,


31Plum, op. cit., II, pp. 345-48. The War Department records for 1866 and 1867 contain frequent cipher telegrams to Secretary Stanton from Eckert in New York; some of these messages bear dates subsequent to Eckert’s resignation from the Department.

32 From Sheridan’s statement of December 8, 1877, and his Memoirs, vol. II, p. 226.

33 Bigelow to Seward, November 30, 1866.

34 This message has not been found by the writer in either French or United States records available in Washington.




A Cable From Napoleon


it is highly probable that the December 3/9 message from Bazaine and Castelnau to Napoleon was the only encrypted French telegram that passed between Mexico and France during the entire period of the French intervention.35 It is extremely unlikely that the code – for the message was in code and not cipher -could have been solved from this one message of eighty-eight groups.

(2) An examination of all available United States records that could reasonably be expected to contain such an item (if it existed) fails to uncover a decrypted version of the December 3/9 message or any other evidence that the government during the ensuing weeks had come into possession of the information it contained36

Somewhat surprising is the apparent fact that Sheridan did not send the message to the War Department cryptographers for study. On several occasions during the Civil War, these men had been able to read enemy messages referred to them. This experience (so far as it is recorded) was, however, limited to the solution of certain ciphers (some of which were relatively complex for that day) ,37 and the French code would have presented them with a strange and much more difficult problem. Union cryptographers at New Orleans had also once solved a captured message,38 a fact which may have induced Sheridan to rely on his own headquarters’ capability and not turn to Washington.


35 This message and the French version of the January 10 message are filed in the National Archives with telegrams sent from the military headquarters at New Orleans during the years 1864-69. This filing is clearly in error, for the messages are foreign to the rest of the material in this file and they bear none of the marks that an operator would have placed on them had he transmitted them. War Department and Army Headquarters records do not show their receipt.

36 Besides the government records cited elsewhere, the following collections have been searched for such evidence: the Andrew Johnson MSS, Sheridan MSS, Grant MSS, Edwin M. Stanton MSS, all in the Manuscripts Division, Library of Congress, and the contemporary correspondence between the War Department and State Department in the National Archives. Despite the extreme improbability that the message contents were obtained by solving the French code, this search took account of the possibility that the developments reported in the message were learned by other means.





A Cable From Napoleon

It was the January 10 message from Napoleon, the only message mentioned in Sheridan’s account of this episode, that the general said Keefer had solved. But there is every reason to believe that the French clear-text of this message is the message as received in New Orleans, and not a decoded version of that message. Note:

(1) The message heading. It is filled out in precisely the way that was standard procedure in telegraphic reception at that period. A considerably different format was used for the delivery of plain-text versions of friendly messages received in cipher, and since Keefer was also a Military Telegraph cipher clerk, he would probably have used that format or a similar one in writing up the plain text of a foreign cipher or code message. (This format is illustrated by the photostat of the deciphered version of Sheridan’s January 12 message, of which Napoleon’s message of the 10th was a part.)

(2) The difficulties that the copyist had with French spellings (Castelnau, décembre, forcez, abdiquer, navires). These are the difficulties of a telegraph operator receiving in a strange language. A cryptographer in writing up a decoded message would scarcely have made so many false strokes and misspellings; and with such a poor knowledge of the French language, he could scarcely have solved a coded message in French.

In addition to the above evidence, there is the extreme unlikelihood that this message added to the earlier one would have given Keefer enough material to have solved the code. There is also reason to believe, from Napoleon’s statement to Bigelow regarding the message he sent Bazaine in September,


37 The Confederates used two kinds of cipher, both involving the substitution of one character for another. What appears to be a representative if not a complete account of the cryptanalytic experiences of the Washington cryptographers is given by David Homer Bates, Lincoln in the Telegraph Office (New York, 1907), pp. 66-85. Bates was in the War Department telegraph and cipher office throughout the Civil War. The infrequency of such activity was plainly the result of the difficulty in obtaining intercepts (except at the front, where the traffic intercepted was almost always visual). All the cryptanalytic episodes reported by Bates involved intercepted courier and mail dispatches rather than messages obtained by wiretapping.

38 Plum, op. cit., I, pp. 36-39.




A Cable From Napoleon


that political considerations might well have induced the Emperor to send this message through the United States in the clear.

Impact and Epilogue

Rare indeed is the single intelligence item that is at once so important and so unmistakable in meaning as the intercept of January 10. Its effect on events, however, can only be estimated, for no reference to it appears in the records of the developments that followed.

On the 17th the French Minister came to Seward proposing that France and the United States enter into an agreement for the governing of Mexico during the period that would follow the departure of the French troops. France’s only stipulation was that the interim government exclude Juárez. The United States, having consistently pursued a policy of recognition of Juárez and non-recognition of Maximilian, could never have voluntarily accepted such a proposal. And since southern Texas was well garrisoned with troops remaining from the magnificent army that had subdued the Confederacy, involuntary acceptance was likewise out of the question. But Seward might reasonably have entertained the proposal and then engaged in time-consuming negotiations, awaiting news from Mexico that the French were gone. Instead, he dismissed Napoleon’s Minister with little ceremony; 39 his firmness probably stemmed largely from knowledge that the French withdrawal was already well advanced and the Emperor’s proposal could be only an effort to save face.

The effect that Sheridan’s communications intelligence enterprise had on international affairs, then, was probably this: it did not induce a change in policy or any other positive action, but it materially helped the government ride out a dangerous situation simply by sitting tight.

The Administration’s domestic position, however, was as weak as its international position was strong. When the Senate on the 15th got around to its foreign policy debate, an earnest effort was made to embarrass the Administration (although the threatened attempt to take foreign policy out


39 Seward to Minister Berthemy, January 21, 1865 (memorandum of conversation of January 17).





A Cable From Napoleon

of its hands did not materialize). The debate continued into the 16th, when Senator Charles Sumner, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, saw fit to announce that he had reliable information (including a copy of a dispatch to the State Department from the United States Consul at Vera Cruz) that the French were withdrawing. That ended the matter.40 Neither Seward nor the President seems to have said anything to counter the unfriendly speechmaking, having in Sumner a more direct means of silencing the opposition. Although the senator was no friend of the Administration, at least some of its intelligence information had been given to him for that purpose. From the conviction with which Sumner addressed his colleagues, one is tempted to believe that intelligence much more sensitive – and more convincing – than the consular dispatch had been confided to him.

Seward’s ability to close out the Mexican affair with firmness and sure handedness must have substantially bolstered the Presidential prestige, which in that year was at the lowest ebb it has reached in the nation’s history. Had the government’s resistance to the French intervention been anything but a resounding success, Andrew Johnson might well have failed to muster the one-vote margin by which the impeachment proceedings against him were defeated.

Before January ended, the intelligence conveyed by Napoleon’s cablegram was supported by details of the French withdrawal received from other sources, one of them an unnamed spy who was sent by Sheridan to the Vera Cruz area and returned with convincing evidence of preparations for the embarkation of the Army.41 Bazaine led the last remnants of the French force out of Mexico City on February 5. Two weeks later embarkation had begun at Vera Cruz, and by March 11 it was complete.

Maximilian’s regime quickly collapsed. He foolishly bottled up his small army of Mexicans, Austrians, and Belgians in Querétaro, a hundred miles northwest of the capital. An agent


40 Congressional Globe, January 16, 1867.

41 Sheridan to J. A. Rawlins (Chief of Staff to Grant), January 4, 1867. The ordinary period for transmittal of mail would have caused this dispatch to arrive in Washington perhaps a week later than the January 10 telegram from Paris via New Orleans.




A Cable From Napoleon


of Sheridan, with this army by permission, late in February reported the Imperialists marching out of Querétaro and driving the enemy before them, but the offensive was short-lived. Soon Maximilian was back in Querétaro under siege, and on May 19, as a result of treachery by a Mexican Imperialist officer related by marriage to Bazaine, the garrison was captured. 42

Seward had literally “scolded Napoleon out of Mexico,” but if the final issue of l’affaire Maximilien was a triumph for American diplomacy, the fate of the unhappy sovereign himself was a sorry story of nonperformance of duty by an American diplomat. After Sherman had been excused from further participation in the mission, Minister Campbell stationed himself at New Orleans and determinedly resisted repeated efforts by Seward to get him into Mexico. In April, when it had become plain that the siege of Querétaro would end in the capture of Maximilian, Seward sent an urgent plea for Maximilian’s life, instructing Campbell to find Juárez and deliver the message in person. It was delivered to the head of the Mexican government not by Campbell, ex-colonel, ex-senator, but by James White, sergeant. Such pleas delivered later on by a diplomatic Chief of Mission were heeded, but this one was of no avail, and Maximilian lost his life before a firing squad at Querétaro on June 19, 1867. Four days earlier, too late to affect the fate of the misguided prince, Seward had given Campbell a new title: ex-Minister. 43


42 Martin, op. cit., 295-97; unsigned letter to Sheridan from his agent in Querétaro, February 26.

43 New York Herald, December 7, 1866; Seward to Campbell, December 25, 1866, January 2, 8, 23, April 6, June 1, 5, 8, 11, 15, 1867; Campbell to Seward, December 24, 1866, January 2, 7, February 9, March 12, and June 3, 6, 10, 15, and 16, 1867; Martin, op. cit., pp. 408, 411; Sheridan, op. cit., II, p. 227.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Jessie Scouts Battle Merovingian Vampires

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.