Maximilian in Mexico - A Woman's Reminiscences of the French Intervention 1862-1867
by Sara Yorke Stevenson
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As this was sung the audience laughingly turned toward him—a fact which did not tend to make him more amiably disposed, although he bowed gracefully enough, and pretended to enjoy the fun.

Altogether, the play, if more than a success as a performance, added nothing to the popularity of the quartier-general. It, however, created far more comment than its literary merit warranted—if this may be said, without detracting from the credit of the author, who himself, looking back upon it later in his career, said that it read as though it had been "written on a drum."

Sadowa had been fought and lost; but it would have been difficult, to make out from their attitude whether or not the sympathies of the officers of the Corps Expeditionnaire were honestly with their Austrian allies. Strangely enough, the news had been received by them as though it involved no serious warning to France. The full significance of the new mode of warfare, of the needle-gun and other new implements of war, was obscured in their eyes by their naive Jingoism. The French officers in those days underrated all other nations; and even the superior armament and discipline of the Germans, as exhibited in that short campaign, failed to impress them as they should. They sang:

L'aiguille est un outil Dont je ne suis en peine Tant que j'aurai la mienne [the bayonet] Au bout de mon fusil. Vous qui ehantez victoire, Heros de Sadowa, Rappelez-vous l'histoire D'Auerstadt et d'Iena.

Alas! the time was drawing near when the cannon of Reichshofen was to change the merry tune of the French chanson into a dirge for many of the brave, light-hearted fellows, then so unmindful of the storm slowly gathering in the east.

The pomp and dignity of the court had vanished, and social life in the capital no longer centered about the imperial palace.

Even previous to the departure of the Empress, the Monday receptions had been discontinued, without their loss being seriously felt. At best they had never been other than dull, formal affairs. The ball-room was a large hall, always insufficiently lighted, and narrowed in the middle by the platform where stood the imperial throne under a canopy of velvet. Here, after their new guests had been officially presented in an adjoining hall, the Emperor and Empress took their seat. Before supper they made a solemn tour of the ball-room. The dancing then ceased, and the crowd stood in chilled expectancy, and made way for them, each in turn receiving from them, as they passed, a smile, a nod, or some commonplace word of greeting.

Maximilian was happy in his remarks on such occasions. Naturally affable and kindly, like most princes trained to this sort of thing, his memory for names and faces was remarkable. We were presented at court on the first of the imperial fortnightly Mondays, and with us, of course, the larger number of the guests present; and yet, some weeks later, when making his tour of the ball-room, the Emperor stopped before us, and inquired about an absent member of the family, apparently placing us exactly. Many other instances of his memory and power of observation in such small matters were related by others.

He was tall, slight, and handsome, although the whole expression of his face revealed weakness and indecision. He looked, and was, a gentleman. His dignity was without hauteur. His manner was attractive; he had the faculty of making you feel at ease; and he possessed far more personal magnetism than did the Empress.

Hers was a strong, intelligent face, the lines of which were somewhat hard at times; and her determined expression impressed one with the feeling that she was the better equipped of the two to cope intelligently with the difficulties of practical life. It is probable that, had she been alone, she might have made a better attempt at solving the problems than did Maximilian; at least such was Marshal Bazaine's opinion, as expressed before me on one occasion, during her brief regency, when she had shown special firmness and clear judgment in dealing with certain complicated state affairs.

She, however, was reserved, somewhat lacking in tact and adaptability; and a certain haughtiness of manner, a dignity too conscious of itself, at first repelled many who were disposed to feel kindly toward her. It is more than likely that under this proud mien she concealed a suffering spirit, or, at least, the consciousness of a superiority that must efface itself. Who will ever know the travail of her proud heart and the prolonged strain under which her mind finally succumbed! For notwithstanding the prudence and decided ability with which she had conducted the difficult affairs of the realm during the Emperor's absence in 1864, it was hinted that on his return she was allowed little weight in public affairs, and that her advice when given was seldom followed. After her departure even the semblance of a court disappeared.

On the other hand, the quartier-general had lost much of its animation since the marshal's second marriage. His first union had been childless, and his delight in the joys and cares of a tardy paternity absorbed all the leisure left him by the military and other responsibilities of his position.

Indeed, the growing ill feeling existing in political circles was spreading rapidly, gradually destroying good fellowship. A tragic incident resulting in the death of a brave French officer, Colonel Tourre (May, 1865), stirred French circles to their very depths.

One night a house was on fire. A lieutenant and some Zouaves of the Third Regiment went in to save property. As the flames grew in intensity the colonel arrived on the scene, and realizing the danger of his men, rushed in to help and direct them. Shortly after he entered, the floor on which he stood gave way, and the unfortunate man was plunged into a fiery grave. The men managed to escape from the building, but the lieutenant and one Zouave were horribly burned, and died in a few hours. The impression made upon society was profound. Every one turned out for the funeral.

The marshal and his staff, on foot and bareheaded under the tropical sun, followed the remains, and did them as much honor as though the dead had been of the highest rank. It so happened, however, that the cortege, upon its passage, was insulted by some ruffians in the crowd, and the incident aroused more indignation and national feeling on both sides than the strictly limited nature of the incident warranted. One of the offenders, a student, was apprehended, and the clemency of Maximilian, who forthwith pardoned him, was regarded as a deliberate insult at French headquarters.

Another incident, equally limited in its origin, produced a still more serious scandal among the allies, as it gave rise to a report that the Austrians and the French quartered at Puebla were actually coming to blows. One morning a party of Austrians, one of whom was Count de la Sala, entered the Hotel de las Diligencias at Puebla. Some Frenchmen were present. One of these, a sergeant, taking umbrage at the count's manner, became surly, and called him ANIMAL, whereupon the young Austrian slapped him in the face. Others interfered, and the Frenchman left the room. Presently, however, he returned, holding a revolver in his hand, and walked threateningly toward the count, who, anticipating the attack, jumped upon him, and, seizing his arm, made the weapon useless. The sergeant, bent upon avenging the blow received, then struck at the count with his free hand, on which he wore a set of brass knuckles, inflicting an ugly gash over the left eye. Things were getting serious for the count. His companions were keeping watch at the door to prevent interference from the outside and to see fair play. The bystanders had fled. Blood was streaming down his face, almost blinding him. The sergeant struck at him a second time, when the count drew his sword and ran him through the body. There was now no suppressing the affair, which caused a profound sensation. The first reports that reached the capital magnified the occurrence into something very like a riot, and on both sides the real bitterness of the feeling so long suppressed blazed forth for a time undisguised.

Indeed, it is only recently that, meeting the count in Egypt, I heard from him how very limited the incident was. Count de la Sala, who afterward entered the service of the Khedive and now lives in Cairo, still bears the mark of the Frenchman's brass knuckles upon his forehead. In 1866 the irritation had reached such a point that Maximilian, disregarding the feelings of his allies, gave a pension to the widow of General Zaragoza, the hero of the "Cinco de Mayo." This act of the monarch for whose cause the battle had been fought by them was not unnaturally regarded as a wanton insult by the French.

Society now scarcely deserved the name, and the sociability of the capital was confined to small groups of people who privately met for enjoyment in the most informal manner.

A number of officers had invited their wives to join them in Mexico, and among them were some charming and clever women, such as the Comtesse de Courcy, the Vicomtesse de Noue, and Mme. Magnan, who by throwing open their salons greatly contributed to the general enjoyment.

Other women of various nationalities formed a background to these, and added to the local interest. One of them afterward played a conspicuous part in the closing scene of the empire. Prince Salm-Salm and his handsome American wife came to Mexico in 1866. They found serious difficulty in gaining admittance into either the social or the official circles of the capital. The relations of Prussia with Austria were anything but cordial at the time; and soon after their arrival the war broke out which culminated at Sadowa. A Prussian subject, the prince was naturally looked upon with distrust by the Austrians, who showed him scant respect. He had brought letters from Baron Gerold, the Prussian minister at Washington; from Baron de Wydenbruck, the Austrian minister; and from the Marquis de Montholon: but these seemed unable to win for him even a hearing from the Emperor.

The French, on the other hand, had little sympathy with a German prince who, having hired his sword to the republic of the United States, had now come in search of a new allegiance, to offer his services to imperial Mexico's Austrian ruler.

When, six months after his arrival in Mexico, the most unremitting efforts on his part at last obtained for him a commission, and he was given (July, 1866) the rank of colonel in the auxiliary corps—under General Neigre, he was treated with no special cordiality. He then applied to the minister of war for permission to pass into the Belgian corps. From this time he and his attractive wife obscurely followed the fortunes of Colonel Van der Smissen, whose personal regard they had won, until the withdrawal of the French and the Austro-Belgian armies, by clearing the stage for the last scene, brought them in full relief, under the search-light of history, by the side of the imperial victim.

At the time of which I now speak, the princess, as well as her husband, had donned the silver and gray of the Belgian regiment, and cheerfully shared the fatigues and dangers of camp life in war time—like a soldadera, contemptuously said her proud sisters in society; for this mode of existence naturally drew upon her the criticism of the more conventional of her sex in the Mexican colony. But for all that, she and her husband bravely stood by the Emperor to the bitter end, when older and more valued, though less courageous, friends had dropped away, and had left him, stripped of the imperial purple, to struggle for existence, an adventurer among adventurers.


The denouement was drawing near. On October 10 General Castelnau landed in Vera Cruz, on a special mission from Napoleon III. He was accompanied by the Comte de St. Sauveur, his officier d'ordonnance, and by the Marquis de Gallifet.

His arrival created considerable excitement and some anxiety, not only at the palace, where Maximilian was expecting news from France much as a man awaits his sentence, but also at the quartier-general.

Information had come that the course taken by the marshal had not proved satisfactory to Napoleon. It was whispered that he had not shown sufficient zeal in the task required of him under the new policy; that his sovereign was seriously annoyed at what he conceived to be wilful procrastination in the withdrawal of the army; and that he was now sending his own aide-de-camp to cut the Gordian knot in the tangled skein of Mexican politics.

The marshal's popularity in his command was no longer what it had been. The intrigues carried on both in France and in Mexico, with the purpose of setting up General Douay in his place, had resulted in ill feeling that had been turned to account by the Mexican Imperialists.

There were those in the army who did not fear to impute unworthy motives to the commander-in-chief's actions. His Mexican marriage had not added to his prestige among the French. It was hinted that his lenient dealings with the empire and with Maximilian were due to the fact that the handsome property at San Cosme must be left behind in the event of his return to France; and even worse calumnies, too ill founded to mention, were circulated with regard to the selfishness of his policy.

The fact that General Castelnau, who found himself intrusted with superior powers, extending, if necessary, even to the actual superseding of the commander-in-chief, was, from the military standpoint, the marshal's subordinate, seemed likely to add considerably to the chance of new difficulties.

Meanwhile the general seemed in no hurry to enter upon his thankless mission. Unmindful of the natural suspense of those who were awaiting him, he and his little party traveled leisurely. A martyr to the gout, he lingered on his way, no doubt making good use of his time as he went for the study of the situation which he was called upon to clear up. A fortnight thus elapsed before he approached the capital.

Serious events had taken place during his journey from the coast which at first seemed somewhat to simplify the difficulties of his mission; and upon his arrival in the capital affairs had reached an acute crisis which men cleverer than himself and his colleagues, working in harmony, might perhaps have turned to favorable account for France.

On October 18, three days before General Castelnau reached the capital, a telegram, sent from Miramar via New York by the Comte de Bombelles, brought to Chapultepec the news of the illness of Empress Charlotte. This last blow fell with crushing weight upon the suffering Emperor. This was about the time when the return of the Empress was expected, and he had made his plans to travel toward the coast to meet her on her homeward journey. Some days earlier Colonel Kodolitch and his Austrian hussars had been summoned to the capital to form his body-guard. Maximilian now at once resolved to leave Chapultepec, and to retire to Orizaba.

As soon as this was known, an uneasy feeling spread over Mexico caused by a rumor that the empire was at an end, and that Maximilian was leaving the city, never to return. The result was a panic. The new cabinet and other clerical loaders flocked to the castle to get some assurance as to the Emperor's intentions; but he was ill, and denied himself to all visitors, even to the Princess Iturbide, who, it is said,* resented the slight in violent language.**

* See Basch, "Maximilien en Mexique," p. 56.

** In 1866, the imperial couple being childless, Maximilian bethought himself of establishing a dynasty. One of the Emperor Iturbide's sons, Angel, was married to an American woman, and his child, a mere infant, became the basis of a remarkable agreement which excited much comment.

By the terms of this contract, and for certain important pecuniary considerations, the uncles, aunt, and father of the boy agreed that the Iturbide family, including the parents, should leave the country, and that Maximilian should become the guardian of the child, the aunt, Dona Josefa Iturbide, the masterful mind of the family, remaining as his governess. The consent of the mother was wrenched from her, and the contract was duly signed. Its execution was not carried out without considerable resistance on the part of Princess Iturbide who, however, was finally sent out of the country.

The ministers, terror-stricken at the thought of being left alone to face a revolution, tendered their resignation in a body; and Senor Lares declared that if the Emperor left the city there would no longer be a government.

Looking back upon the event, it would now seem that by threatening the ministers with summary measures if they did not reconsider their decision, Marshal Bazaine had lost his one opportunity to clear the tables for a new "deal," and thus become master of the situation. But it is only fair to state that the conditions were bewildering. The concentration of the army had not been perfected, and scattered detachments were still at considerable distances. Rumors of Sicilian Vespers once more floated in the air. The exasperation of the clerical party against the French was now far more violent than that of the Liberals. Indeed, it seemed difficult to calculate the extent of the conflagration which a single spark might kindle. Moreover, no one then doubted Maximilian's resolve to abdicate. To-day, however, it would seem that by stemming the torrent at this time Marshal Bazaine defeated his own end. This may fairly be inferred from the part played by the priest Fischer in the transaction.

Father Fischer was an obscure adventurer of low degree, and of more than shady reputation, whose shrewdness and talent for intrigue had impressed themselves upon the weakened mind of the Emperor in the latter days of his reign. Utterly unscrupulous, with everything to gain for himself and his party, and with absolutely nothing to lose but a life which he took good care to save by avoiding danger, he insinuated himself into the confidence of Maximilian, and became the Mephistopheles of the last act in the Mexican drama. Having but recently risen to the confidential position he now occupied near the person of the Emperor, the latter's abdication was obviously against his interests. When the ministers threatened to resign, he is stated to have represented to them that their action was likely to precipitate the catastrophe which they sought to avoid; that by such a demonstration of their own helplessness they must only confirm the Emperor's determination; and he persuaded them that it the Emperor were not allowed temporarily to retire to Orizaba he might without further delay return to Europe.

It is claimed by Dr. Basch* that the priest's arguments had as much to do with bringing the ministers to resume their portfolios as the marshal's firmness. However this may be, the crisis was avoided. On October 2, Maximilian, Senor Arroyo, Father Fischer, Dr. Basch, and Councilor Hertzel, under the escort of Colonel Kodolitch and his Austro-Hungarian regiment, started from Chapultepec at three o'clock in the morning. There was no doubt in any one's mind that his departure for Orizaba was the first relay in the Emperor's journey to the coast.

* See Basch, loc. cit., p. 61.

There is something profoundly pathetic in this chapter of his life. It forms a fitting introduction to that tragedy the threatening outline of which even then faintly appeared upon the horizon as a dreadful possibility.

The friends whose society had enlivened the earlier days of his reign in his adopted land were now scattered like straws at the first approach of the cyclone. The Empress had gone upon her hopeless mission, never to return; and the faithful Comte de Bombelles was with her to advise and protect. Court and political intrigues had loosened the bond that had united the Emperor to the great clerical leaders who had made the empire.

Whatever his dreams may have been, the reality was pitiful. The gilding thinly spread over the Mexican crown had worn off; the glitter had disappeared. The treasury was empty, courtiers were now few, and the successor of the Montezumas, the descendant of the Hapsburgs, the popular archduke, the Austrian admiral, was now reduced to the intimacy of a corrupt adventurer in priestly garb, who had stolen into his confidence upon the shortest acquaintance, and of his German physician, Dr. Basch, whom he had known only one month. These two, with his still faithful followers, the councilor Hertzel and the naturalist Bilimek, were his only confidential advisers during the terrible crisis upon the issue of which depended life and fame.

It so happened that, a day or two after the Emperor's departure, as we were passing Chapultepec on horseback, a friend invited us to enter the palace to look at the costly improvements made in the last two years by the Emperor. While there we were shown the private apartments. No one had as yet straightened out the place. A certain disorder still reigned, as though the imperial inmate had just left. His clothes hung in open closets, and the condition of the rooms betokened a hasty departure, and formed a dramatic mise en scene for the opening of the last act of his life.

A coincidence brought General Castelnau and his party to Ayotla, on their way to the capital, as the Emperor and his escort stopped there for breakfast. Maximilian, however, refused to see the envoy. It is said that he even declined to see Captain Pierron, his own secretary, then traveling with the general.

At this time the unfortunate prince seemed utterly crushed under the repeated blows dealt him by fate. According to his physician, then his daily companion, his imagination shoved him his own conduct as a noble effort to regenerate the country by the establishment of an empire resting upon the will of the nation. This effort had been frustrated "by the resistance of the Mexicans [!] and the vexations of the French."

The journey was a dreary one. The Emperor most of the time remained silent. On the way he generally accepted the hospitality of priests.

A certain apprehension was felt as to his safety, and the road was well guarded, as it was feared that he might be kidnapped. That such fears were not wholly unfounded was proved by an incident which took place at Aculzingo. After a short halt, when the imperial party was about to proceed on its journey, it was discovered with dismay that the eight white mules forming the Emperor's team had been stolen.

At Orizaba he received his last ovation; but these public demonstrations had lost their charm. He withdrew to the house of Senor Bringas, a violent reactionary, most inimical to the French. There he denied himself to every one. Of his military household he retained only two Mexican officers—Colonel Ormachea and Colonel Lamadrid. Later he retired to the hacienda of Jalapilla. While here even letters were not sure to reach him. His correspondence passed through interested hands, and was sifted under prying eyes, before being placed before him. No one was allowed to see him without the knowledge of the priest, who was rapidly obtaining over him an influence that was to lead him to his death. Those who approached him at this time reported him as completely under the influence, almost in the custody, of Father Fischer.

So complete was his mental collapse that it was said, and by some believed, that during their residence at Cuernavaca, prior to the departure of the Empress, a subtle poison known to the Indians of that region, and the action of which was through the brain, had been administered to the imperial couple.*

* An attempt is said to have been made upon his life in July, 1866. The affair was hushed up, but is said to have made a deep impression on his mind. See D'Hericault, "Maximilien et le Mexique: Histoire des Derniers Mois de l'Empire du Mexique," pp. 29, 54.

The condition of the Empress, the prolonged fits of depression to which Maximilian was subject when he resolved to remove his residence to Orizaba, away from the presence of his hated allies, his extreme listlessness, which betrayed itself in the carelessness of his attire and in his lapses of etiquette and of memory, gave color to the report. But there was quite enough in the unfortunate prince's situation to account for the abnormal condition of his mind without having recourse to romantic fancies.

All this time the Austrian frigate Elizabeth was at anchor off Vera Cruz, awaiting his pleasure, ready to take him back to Trieste, and part of his baggage was already on board.

His own countrymen looked upon the game as lost. The empire, which for some time had been caving in at the center, was now everywhere crumbling at the edges. Only the most unblushing personal interest could advise, and the most inconsistent folly consider, the retaining of a crown which, under circumstances even less inauspicious, he had only a short time before wisely resolved to surrender.

Unsuccessful in his attempt to govern with French financial and military support, how could he contemplate reigning alone, without allies, money, or credit? The mere thought seemed madness. After insisting upon a plebiscite to sanction his reign, how could he honorably remain now that the country in arms was everywhere falling away from his standard?

On November 6 the rumor of his abdication was circulated in New York; and the London "Post" and "Star" published it as a fact. But intrigue and folly prevailed.

It has been claimed that a communication from his former secretary, the Belgian Eloin, now his agent abroad, had a decisive effect upon his final resolution. In this letter, since published by M. de Keratry, M. Eloin warned Maximilian against affording the French an easy way out of their difficulties by yielding to General Castelnau's wiles. He urged upon the Emperor the maintaining of the empire after the departure of the foreigners, a free appeal to the Mexican nation for the material means of sustaining himself, and, in case of failure, the return of the crown to the people who gave it. Thus, and thus alone, in the opinion of the secretary, could the Emperor return with credit to Europe, with an untarnished fame, and "play the part which belonged to him in every respect in the important events that could not fail to occur" in Austria.

The hints at the general dissatisfaction with the present order of things at home, at the discouragement of Emperor Francis Joseph, at the popularity of Maximilian both in his native country and in Venetia, show that, in the mind of his secretary at least, the possibilities of Maximilian's political career were by no means confined to the sovereignty of Mexico. In reading this remarkable letter, one's mind involuntarily turns to the family scene enacted at Miramar, when Maximilian, compelled by his brother to renounce his rights to the Austrian throne, clung to them with a tenacity that seriously loosened the close bond that hitherto had united the two men.

This letter also explains the insistence of Francis Joseph, through his ambassador Baron de Lago, when the possibility of his brother's return was discussed, that Maximilian, once upon Austrian soil, should drop the imperial title.* However this may be, from this time Maximilian's mind seemed made up. He determined to risk his all upon the promises of the clerical leaders.

* Compare "L'Empire de Maximilien," M. de Keratry, p. 220. vol. iii, p. 404) It has been stated by M. Domenech ("Histoire du Mexique," that Maximilian's mother also wrote an urgent letter, advising him not to return to Europe yet.

General Castelnau and his party arrived in the capital on October 21,1866. A few days after their arrival, Mme. Magnan invited a number of us to take supper at her house, after the opera, to meet the newcomers.

The general was a tall, middle-aged man of prepossessing mien and soldierly bearing. A charming talker, his manners were those of one accustomed to the best society. He readily fell into our easy life.

He constantly invited us to his box at the opera, and at first arranged pleasant parties; but later, when the gravity of the situation weighed upon him, and his health suffered under it, while he often placed the box at our disposal, he came to it only when equal to the exertion.

Notwithstanding many admirable qualities, the general was scarcely strong enough for the part which he was called upon to play. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how any representative of the Emperor of the French, at this stage, could have assumed control of events. Looking back upon it now, it would seem as though, under existing conditions, arbitration alone could have stemmed the current of human passion then hurrying all involved toward the final catastrophe.

The knowledge that Napoleon III, who had set up his throne, was now in accord with the United States government and with the Liberal leaders to tear it from under him, stung Maximilian to the quick. He not unnaturally felt a strong desire to remain a stumbling-block in the way of negotiations which to him seemed treacherous and infamous. When General Castelnau arrived he was hesitating. The presence of Napoleon's aide-de-camp was not calculated to soothe his feelings. The return of General Miramon and General Marquez at this crisis again turned the tide of events.

These men, formerly set aside through French influence, felt a resentment which added strength to their party feeling. The confidence of the Emperor in their ability once more to rally the people about his banner, through the influence of the clergy, triumphed over his indecision. Senor Lares had promised him the immediate control of four million dollars and of an army ready to take the field. Now here were old, experienced leaders to take command.

He hesitated no longer. Breaking with all declared principles of policy, he threw himself into the arms of the clerical party, and pledging himself to reinstate the clergy and to return to the church its confiscated property, prepared to play his last hand without the French.

The marshal was anxiously awaiting the promised documents which were to announce the final terms of abdication. Instead of these, Colonel Kodolitch was sent by the Emperor to arrange the preliminary details for the return of the Austro-Belgian troops. The letter announcing his arrival (October 31) was, moreover, sufficiently ambiguous in its wording to leave Maximilian a loophole by which to escape from his former declared intention. The negotiations were now opened anew. A meeting of the council of state was called at Jalapilla, to which the marshal was summoned, "to consider the establishment of a stable government to protect the interests that might be compromised," etc. The French government had, however, already come to an understanding with the United States, and the French agents in Mexico deemed it best that the marshal should not be present.

After a three days' session, the meeting at Orizaba resulted in a plan of action calculated to bring about a complete rupture between Maximilian and his former allies.

On December 1 Maximilian issued his official manifesto, in which he announced his intention to call together a national congress, and his determination, upon the representations of his council and his ministers, to remain at the head of affairs.

When Cortez, after landing upon the coast of Mexico, decided to burn his ships, he did not more thoroughly cut off his retreat than did Maximilian when, throwing himself into the hands of the reactionaries, he wrote his final letter to Marshal Bazaine, and published his manifesto. All personal relations now virtually ceased between the Emperor and the marshal. Official communications were carried on through the president of the council of state.

On the very day when the imperial proclamation was issued, General Sherman and Messrs. Lewis, Plumb, and Campbell arrived in the port of Vera Cruz, on board of the Susquehanna. The event caused genuine surprise.

A few days before their arrival, the marshal had received from the Marquis de Montholon a notice of their departure on a mission having for its object the reinstatement of the government of Juarez without conflict with the French, the abdication of Maximilian being then regarded as a fact.

General Magruder, who met the American envoys in Havana, reported to them that at the date of his departure from Mexico, on November 1, Maximilian was on the eve of retiring; that he had been detained at Orizaba only by the arrival of Generals Miramon and Marquez; and that the common understanding was that the government had been handed over to Marshal Bazaine.

The American consul, Mr. Otterburg, called upon the commander-in-chief, and told him that his government was acting in concert with the Tuileries to restore the republic, and that General Porfirio Diaz was the leader into whose hands the care of the capital should be transferred in order to avoid possible bloodshed. He therefore urged upon the marshal the expediency of inviting General Diaz to advance near to the city. According to M. de Keratry, Mr. Otterburg even informed him that arrangements had been made with the bankers of the capital to assure one month's pay to the troops of the Liberal leader. This episode plainly illustrates the lack of concert and of mutual understanding so characteristic of every attempt made at this time by the French leaders at home and abroad to steer out of the cruel position in which the national honor had been placed.

The unlooked-for result of his negotiations was a severe blow to General Castelnau. He had not once been summoned to the Emperor's presence, and the principal object of his mission had utterly failed. The gravity of the situation, as well as its annoyances, weighed upon him, and he was ill and depressed.

A last attempt was made by the French representatives, on December 8, to demonstrate to Maximilian, in a joint note, the impossibility of sustaining himself without the French army. General Castelnau announced to him that the return of the troops would take place during the first months of 1867. A few days later (December 13) the effect of this communication was heightened by a despatch from Napoleon III, then at Compiegne, peremptorily ordering the return of the foreign legion.

By the treaty of Miramar, the services of the legion were insured to Maximilian for six years; but what did Napoleon then care for treaties!

General Castelnau made one more personal effort to save the situation. Accompanied by M. Dano* and the Comte de St. Sauveur, he started on December 20 for Puebla, where Maximilian was the guest of the archbishop of the diocese.

* A strong feeling existed against M. Dano, the French minister, who was openly accused of selfishness in his policy. He had married a young Mexican woman, whose rich dowry was derived from the mines of Real del Monte, and it was urged by the Imperialists that his weight was cast in the scales on the side of the Juarists, with a view to safeguarding his Mexican interests.

According to a note received by me from one of the travelers, they were at first sanguine of success, so impossible did it seem that the Emperor would seriously persevere in his resolve. But although they remained several days, and did their utmost to win over the Emperor's Mexican advisers, nothing came of this supreme attempt.* They were reluctantly admitted to an audience by Maximilian. In the course of this interview he recognized the fact that he probably must leave Mexico, but declared himself the best judge of the proper time for him to lay down his crown, and claimed the right to turn over the reins of government to the administration that must succeed the empire.

* Father Fischer, it is said, was offered thirty thousand dollars to urge Maximilian to abdicate. (D'Hericault, p. 39).

Little show of good feeling existed now between Napoleon's special envoy and the quartier-general. Indeed, the lack of harmony was spreading to officers of lesser rank. Severe criticism was indulged in on both sides. Never was the cynical old French saying so fully borne out by fact: "Quand il n'y a pas de foin au ratelier, les chevaux se battent." There was no success or even honorable failure possible; and the racked brains of the leaders found relief in unjust blame of one another, and in mutual accusations, which served only to lower the plane to which the great impending disaster must fall in the eyes of posterity.

The alluring mirage of a neo-Latin empire had completely vanished from the Western horizon. Where it had stood, the dissatisfied French army, under inharmonious leaders, now saw only a heavy bank of clouds and every sign of the approaching storm.

It will be remembered* that as a result of the new agreement with France, signed by Maximilian July 30, 1866, mixed regiments had been formed with the debris of the disbanded auxiliary corps and with liberated French soldiers. It had originally been intended to form with the Cazadores de Mejico an effective force of fifteen thousand men, to which it was planned to add ten regiments of cavalry. The first of these was commanded by Colonel Lopez. In December, 1866, three companies of gendarmes, numbering in all some twelve hundred men, were organized under Colonel Tindal. A regiment of red hussars, composed of the debris of the disbanded Austrian hussars and uhlans, about seven hundred men, was placed under the command of Captain Khevenhuller;** and this, with the Austrian regiment of Colonel Hammerstein,*** completed the new organization. A large number of Frenchmen, the best of whom had been detached from the military service with the official sanction of their government, had thus entered the imperial army and received from the Mexican government their equipment and the advertised premium offered. They had formed the framework and backbone of the new regiments, for the equipment of which Maximilian had strained every nerve, going so far as to sacrifice even his own silver plate.

* See above, "foreign legion." ** Now Prince Khevenhuller.

*** Colonel Hammerstein was killed in the trenches during the siege of Mexico on May 25, 1867. He commanded the defense of the western approach to the city by Vallejo and San Lazaro, as well as Peralvillo to the north, facing Guadalupe, In his defense of the latter position he was supported by General O'Horan, who was at a later date taken and put to death by order of President Juarez.

In the beginning of January, 1867, the marshal, under orders received from Paris, issued a circular withdrawing the consent of the French government to these enlistments, and offering to all such enlisted soldiers and officers the means of returning to France. A few days later, on the 11th, this offer was extended to all French subjects, and even to the Austro-Belgian auxiliaries should they wish to avail themselves of it.

In his circular the marshal recalled the law which deprives any Frenchman serving under a foreign flag of his rights as a French citizen. This placed in the position of deserters French soldiers and officers who in good faith had accepted service in the new Mexican army. It practically forced them to break their oath of allegiance to Maximilian, and to despoil the treasury of the premium received and already spent, or to become outlaws in the eyes of their own country. The false position in which these men were placed was, a few weeks later, cruelly emphasized when General Escobedo, after his victory over Miramon at San Jacinto, took advantage of the legal quibble thus offered him, and caused French prisoners to be shot as declared outlaws under Marshal Bazaine's circular. Notwithstanding all this, out of the remainder of the Cazadores a battalion was formed, and eventually placed under the command of Prince Salm-Salm, and later under that of the Austrian commander Pitner. These did magnificent service at Queretaro.*

* See above, "Cazadores de Mejico."

After the departure of the French army, an effective force of some five hundred men was organized of French deserters and such Frenchmen as, for some cause or other, had remained in Mexico. This formed a contre-guerilla, which, under the orders of Commandant Chenet, eventually did good service in the defense of Mexico. But the marshal's circular, by removing the better element among the officers of the newly enrolled corps, ruthlessly broke up the organization of the little army of twenty thousand men so laboriously collected by Maximilian, and became the latter's bitterest and perhaps best-founded grievance against his former allies.

Urged by General Castelnau, the marshal was steadily concentrating his troops. The foreign representatives were fast leaving the country. Unmistakable symptoms of a final collapse were everywhere visible, and all who had been in any way conspicuous in their sympathy with the intervention or the empire were anxiously preparing for the catastrophe.


The cheerfulness of the imperial capital had faded away in the suspense and anxiety of the moment. All wore grave, anxious faces. Those who were going first were busy and bustling. The Mexicans whom one met in the street looked sullen and often hateful. It did not seem safe freely to express one's opinions; but thoughtful people felt that the close of the intervention, if it did not carry with it that of the empire, opened up possibilities that one shuddered to contemplate. Young and old, Mexicans and foreigners, realized that they were playing a part in the opening scene of the last act of a tragedy the denouement of which no one dared to guess.

A serious personal problem was now before us. What were we to do? Closely connected as we had been with the invaders, we could expect little favor. Nor could we even depend upon the protection of the United States flag, as the Imperialists would for some time, at least, remain in possession of the capital. Yet to leave Mexico was a serious step for us to take; it meant abandoning considerable property, and at such a time this meant its loss.

The matter was decided for us at military headquarters. Our friends were clear that the future was too uncertain for any one to remain who had in any great degree been connected with the intervention. All earnestly urged us to go; and the remembrance of our early experience in Mexico made us dread renewed exposure to increased anxieties.

Every one was preparing for the exodus. Remates, escorts, and other details of travel were the common topics of conversation. One heard of little else than of the safest and most comfortable way of getting down to the coast. Bands of Liberals were said to be everywhere closing in upon the neighborhood; and although, of course, "diplomacy" had made the retreat of the French secure, some forethought must be exercised by travelers in order to insure safety on the journey.

January 2 was fixed upon as the most auspicious day for our departure. At this date the first detachment of the army was to be directed toward the coast, and we were to follow in its wake. Moreover, all along the road word had been sent to the military authorities to look after our safety in their respective jurisdictions, and everything was done to smooth our way.

For some evenings before our departure there was a round of simple festivities in the little colony. We were to leave first, but all must scatter soon. To me these entertainments seemed as lugubrious as a prolonged "wake." It was as though we were launching out in the night, and, like children in the dark, we sang aloud to keep up our courage.

For several days our patio rang with the clanging of swords, as our numerous military friends—I was about to say "comrades"—came to bid us Godspeed and to offer their services.

On our last night in Mexico a friend gave us a midnight supper, from which we were to step out at three o'clock in the morning to meet the stage which was ordered to stop and pick us up at the corner of the Paseo. This was intended to be a jolly send-off; only our nearest friends were asked. But what a mockery of mirth!

For three mortal hours we strove to affect what Henri Murger so wittily describes as the "gaiete de croque-mort qui s'enterre lui-meme"; and it was a relief when the moment came to make our last preparations.

The small party escorted us to the place where we were to board the coach. Oh, the gloom of that early start in the darkness of the morning! The dreariness of every one's attempt at cheerfulness! And then the approaching noise of the mules, and the rumbling of the wheels, as the somber mass neared the spot where we stood in weary expectancy. Exclamations of good will, kind wishes, a pressure of the hand, a last kiss, a farewell, a lump in the throat, a scurry, and a plunge into the dark hole open to receive us. At last the start, and, looking back, some whitish specks waving in the distance against the dark, receding group of friends left behind; and five years of my life, all the youth I ever knew, were turned down and closed forever! What was before me now?

We breakfasted at Rio Frio. Later in the day, at Buena Vista, between Puebla and the capital, we came upon a military encampment. It turned out to be the last remnant of the Belgian corps, then awaiting orders to proceed to the coast. As our stage halted, we had a few words with Colonel van der Smissen and other officers. There was in our party a Belgian captain who was on his way home. While chatting together, we saw at some distance, against a background formed by the Belgian camp, Princess Salm-Salm, in her gray-and-silver uniform, sitting her horse like a female centaur—truly a picturesque figure, with her white couvre-nuque glistening under the tropical sun.

The colonel had just received the intelligence that Maximilian, with his escort, would pass Buena Vista on the morrow, making his way to the capital.

Before we left Puebla, where General Douay was in command, we were told that the Emperor had started upon his journey to Mexico. He was escorted by a squadron of Austrian cavalry. A body of French Zouaves, which was to be relieved of duty upon his reaching the capital, was protecting the road. Besides the officers of his household, his physician, and his confessor, Father Pischer, Maximilian had with him General Marquez and his staff.

The prince was returning to the capital to prepare for the final struggle. He was determined to take his chances. These had been presented to him in as hopeful a light as the imagination of his interested councilors could place them. Now the time had come when he must arouse himself to action.

At Orizaba we learned that the Liberals were closing in at every point upon the ever-narrowing empire. The French having seized upon the Vera Cruz custom-house in payment of the war indemnity, the only source of supply was cut off, and the stress for money was terrible. The promise of financial relief mysteriously held out by the new cabinet had turned out to be delusive, and, it was soon found, was based upon the hope of a lottery! When the time for action came, the promised millions melted away, and all that the unfortunate monarch could scrape together, on the eve of entering upon a campaign on which hung his life, was a paltry fifty thousand dollars!

The troops were moving down. A large number of transports was waiting, and a fleet under Admiral la Ronciere le Noury was in readiness to escort the marshal and the army on the homeward journey.

Upon our arrival at Vera Cruz, we stopped at the Hotel de Diligencias to await the departure of the next outgoing vessel to New Orleans.

Here we were immediately called upon by Colonel Dupin, the commander of the region, who invited us to a breakfast to be given in our honor. He strongly impressed upon us the necessity of keeping indoors and avoiding exposure to the sun. This did not prevent our accepting an invitation to visit the Magenta, the flagship of Admiral Cloue, then in the harbor, upon hearing of which the colonel called again to remonstrate with us with regard to what he deemed an imprudence. Having been requested from headquarters to look after us, he regarded us as under his care, and evidently felt the burden of the responsibility.

Colonel Dupin was a picturesque figure. He was already an old man when I met him, and was regarded in the army as a brilliant officer of undaunted courage, but of questionable methods and of almost savage harshness.

He had taken part in the Chinese war, was present when the French and British allies entered Peking, and had a share in the sacking of the Summer Palace. He returned to France laden with a rich booty, including precious objects of artistic value, which he boldly exhibited for sale in Paris. This was against all military traditions, and in consequence Colonel Dupin's connection with the army was severed. Time had elapsed since this episode, however, and against Maximilian's expressed wishes he had been sent to Mexico by Napoleon himself to take command of the contre-guerilla formed for the defense of the coast region against the depredations of the Mexican bands. It was a relentless warfare, in which the vindictiveness of the Mexicans met with cruel reprisals. The most exaggerated stories were told of the brutality of the French commander, who, in order to intimidate the inhabitants, always in league with the guerrillas then infesting the region, treated them as accomplices whenever outbreaks occurred causing loss of life and property. This treatment, if it insured the submission of the people, was not likely to engender loyalty. Moreover, it earned for Colonel Dupin the title of "Tigre," of which, strange as it may appear, he seemed, I thought, rather proud.

The French army, with the marshal, made its final exit in state from the capital on February 5. At the last, and in order to insure their own safety, the French had surrendered the points held by them directly to the Liberal leaders.

Thanks to this prudent but unchivalrous policy,* the retreat of the army was as uneventful as had been the movement of concentration. The Liberal forces offered no opposition, and their guerrillas did not even harass the rear-guard of the retreating French. Several thousand men, mainly from the foreign legion, however, deserted. It is said that the marshal claimed them, but General Marquez replied that if he wanted them he might come and fetch them.

* Commandant Billaud was censured by his superior officers for having, in his retreat from Mexico to Puebla, beaten back a body of Liberal troops who had taken possession of the town of Chalco. See D'Hericault, loc. cit., p. 41.

On March 3 the marshal arrived in Vera Cruz with his last detachment, having lingered on the way, in the hope that the misguided Emperor might reconsider his decision and still be induced to join him. Orizaba and Cordoba were already in the hands of the Liberals, and all communication with the capital had virtually been cut off. The Commander-in-chief had not even heard of what had taken place since his departure.

Letters from members of the marshal's staff, received after we sailed from Vera Cruz, convey a graphic impression of the last days of the intervention.

From one under date of February 28, 1867, I quote the following passage:

Vera Cruz is overcrowded; many of the troops are on board their transports. The marshal is expected tomorrow. The Liberal army is already in Tacubaya, and bands are at Tacuba and all around the valley of Mexico ready to enter the capital. Every one thinks that the Emperor must leave very soon. Our orders are to hurry off our last detachments; perhaps we dread lest a cry for help should come from Mexico. Terrible confusion prevails here. Lodgings have given out, and officers sleep anywhere in the streets. Last night Vicomte de Noue slept on the staircase, having secured for his wife a room in which four beds were made for her, her three children, her two maids, her two dogs, and her three parrots! The price for such miserable accommodations is so exorbitant that everybody prefers going immediately on board. . . .

Another letter, dated March 4, says:

The marshal is as unpopular as ever with the army. His methods are censured by every one. The transports are here. With a better system our men might be shipped as soon as they arrive in this God-forsaken hole. Instead of this, however, unnecessary delay results in sickness among the rank and file. According to my orderly, who saw them, fifteen men were picked up this morning whom the surgeons had declined to embark. . . .

And the last, from another friend, under date of March 12, on board the Castiglione, says:

We sail to-day at eleven o'clock. For twenty-four hours out of Vera Cruz we are to form an escort to the Souverain, on board of which are the marshal and his wife, in order that their Excellencies may sail out of port in state. After this we will make straight for Toulon. All our men are at this moment on board their transports. The Mexican colors are flying over the citadel. The French intervention has come to a close, and is now a thing of the past. . . .




The end is known. On February 13 the Emperor, with Generals Marquez and Vidaurri, at the head of a column of some two thousand men, sallied forth from Mexico to establish his base of operations at Queretaro.

After his defeat at San Jacinto (January 27), General Miramon, with the remains of his army, had fallen back upon Queretaro, then held by General Mejia with nine hundred men, and it was urged that Maximilian should there join his faithful generals. This plan, evolved by Senor Lares and the clerical leaders, had for its ostensible object to spare the capital the horrors of a siege. But it was more than suspected that a certain distrust had arisen between the Emperor and his Mexican supporters. They feared lest he also might make terms with the national party; and they wished, by inducing him to leave the capital, to put it out of his power to sacrifice them or their cause. Had he not once before, after accepting the crown at their hands, thrown himself into the arms of their enemies by calling Liberal leaders to his councils? However worthy in the eyes of posterity may appear Maximilian's attempt to reconcile opposing elements in the interest of peace and order, such a course was not calculated to inspire confidence in his personal loyalty to the once discarded extremists, now become his only supporters. Miramon and Marquez were not likely to forget that, in the hour of triumph of the monarchy erected by their hands, they had been sent, as wags then put it, one to study the art of fortification in Prussia, the other to watch the progress of civilization in Turkey.

It is difficult to penetrate all the hidden causes that governed the extraordinary policy followed at this time; but there is little doubt that individual interest and personal distrust played too large a part in its adoption. However this may be, it was at Queretaro that the last scene of the tragedy was enacted.

The auxiliary regiments, Maximilian's most trustworthy dependence in his extremity, were, by the advice of Marquez, left behind. The Emperor, he urged, must now throw himself entirely upon the Mexican nation. Thus Colonels Kodolitch, Khevenhuller, Hammerstein, and others, remained in Mexico, and only a few of the Emperor's foreign supporters followed him.

General Quiroga's division was withdrawn from San Luis and brought to Queretaro, while the veteran division of General Mendez, who had victoriously held Morelia and the Michoacan against the forces of Generals Regules and Corona, was likewise ordered, on February 13, to abandon that section of the country and to hasten to the Emperor's support. These leaders, with Generals Miramon, Marquez, Mejia, and Castillo, and General Arellano, who commanded the artillery, were the most conspicuous among the Imperialist officers gathered around Maximilian at this time.*

* A. Haus, "Queretaro: Souvenirs d'un Officier de l'Empereur Maximilien," pp. 11, 17.

During the cruel weeks of mingled hope and despair that had elapsed since he had left Chapultepec, Maximilian had conquered self. Now the ambitious Austrian prince, the weak tool of intriguing politicians, the upholder of religious and political retrogression, disappears; and where he had stood posterity will henceforth see only the noble son of the Hapsburgs, the well-bred gentleman who, aware of his failure, was ready to stand by it and to pay the extreme penalty of his errors.

Before the figure of Maximilian of Austria, from the time when he took command of his little army and resolved to stand for better or worse by those who had remained faithful to his fallen fortunes, all true-hearted men must bow with respect. From this time forth his words and acts were noble; and in his attitude at this supreme moment, his incapacity as a chief executive, his moral and intellectual limitations as a man, are overlooked. We forget that he was no leader when we see how well he could die.

It is noteworthy that, with the exception of General Miramon, those who had most urged upon him the last sacrifice were not with him to share it. Father Fischer disappeared from the stage of history almost as abruptly as he had entered it. Senior Lares and the cabinet, who were responsible for the last plan of action carried out by the Emperor, had remained in Mexico at the head of affairs. General Marquez, when the republican forces closed in upon the doomed empire, was sent from Queretaro with General Vidaurri, under an escort of cavalry led by General Quiroga, to raise supplies and reinforcements. He was vested with supreme authority as lieutenant of the empire, and had pledged himself to return with relief within twenty days. The Emperor wearily counted the hours as time went by; but, like the raven sent out from Noah's ark, General Marquez found enough to occupy him in the satisfaction of his own greed, and was never again heard from by him who sent him.

Overruling General Vidaurri, he deserted his imperial master in his extremity. He used the extraordinary powers given him to establish himself in the capital, where, for his own ends, he subjected the wretched inhabitants to the most cruel extortions. Routed at San Lorenzo* by General Diaz, who at once proceeded to besiege Mexico, he unduly prolonged the resistance of the city after the final downfall of the empire, exposing it to the unnecessary hardships of a four months' siege, the horrors of which were mitigated only by the generosity and forbearance of the Liberal commander.

* In the difficult retreat which followed these defeats, General Marquez fled with a body of two hundred cavalry, leaving his beaten army, then pursued by sixteen thousand men, to extricate itself as best it might. Colonel Kodolitch then assumed command, and fighting his way through the enemy, brought back the debris of the imperial forces, now reduced to one third, to the capital, where the general had preceded him.

It is said that this extraordinary conduct on the part of their official leader caused the indignant foreign officers no little concern with regard to the future. In order to guard against similar accidents, a council was held by the foreign leaders, Colonel Kodolitch, Captain von Wickemburg, Captain Hammerstein, Commanders Klickzing and Chenet, etc., who resolved that, although it was deeply humiliating for them to serve under a general who did not blush to desert his command under fire, as their service was needed by the Emperor they would retain their respective commissions; but in the moment of danger they would regard themselves as under the orders of Colonel Kodolitch. They further decided, should the city surrender, not to share in the terms of a Mexican capitulation, but to make their own terms, or, if necessary, to cut their way through to the sea.

See Charles d'Hericault, "Maximilien et le Mexique," page 231 et seq.

When at last the starving people rose in indignation, and would stand him no longer, he suddenly vanished. It is said that on the eve of being delivered into the hands of his enemies he managed his escape by concealing himself in a freshly dug grave. Twenty-seven years elapsed before the Mexican "Leopard" dared show his face once more in his native land, now transformed by the triumph of the men and of the institutions against which he had so desperately fought.

General Marquez, who, strangely enough, seems to have enjoyed the full confidence of his sovereign, had opposed with all his influence General Miramon's desire to conduct the war aggressively and to attack in detail the enemy's forces before they could unite to invest Queretaro.*

* A. Haus, loc. cit., page 164.

Gradually the republican divisions, arriving from all points of the country, were allowed to concentrate, until the imperial army was completely hemmed in. The heroic sorties with which the weary monotony of those weeks of expectancy was broken could now only result in the gradual exhaustion of the besieged and of their supplies. General Miramon, fretting under the restraint imposed upon him, saw the circle growing closer and stronger, until it was too late to make a winning fight. Only the energy of despair could contemplate a bare escape from the trap in which the Imperialists were now caught.

After a siege of over two months (from March 4 to May 15), during which his army had been cruelly depleted by frequent sorties and by the typhus fever now raging in the town, having abandoned all hope of relief from without, starvation staring him in the face, and ammunition beginning to fail, Maximilian and his still faithful generals resolved to cut their way through the enemy's lines with the little army, then numbering about nine thousand men and thirty-nine guns. This course had been urged for some time, but General Miramon, ever sanguine of ultimate success, had opposed the idea.

Three o'clock in the morning of May 14 was the time agreed upon for the sortie. Colonel Salm-Salm was to form a body-guard for the Emperor with the Khevenhuller hussars, the cavalry under Major Malburg, and the regiment of the Empress, commanded by Colonel Lopez.* All was in readiness. The gold and silver in the imperial treasury were divided for safe-keeping among four or five trusted men,** one of whom was Colonel Lopez, military commander of La Cruz, who enjoyed the confidence of Maximilian and had just received from him a decoration for valor.***

* Dr. Basch. (loc. cit., p. 229) mentions fifty of the Khevenhuller hussars, eventually increased to one hundred by volunteers, and eighty men were commanded by Major Malburg. Count Pacuta was lieutenant-colonel of the cavalry regiment of the Empress, of which Colonel Lopez was commander. These, led by Prince Salm-Salm, were to protect the Emperor during the sortie.

** Colonel Lopez, Colonel Pradillo, Colonel Campos, Colonel Salm-Salm, Dr. Basch, and the Emperor's secretary, Senor Blasio. See Basch, loc. cit., p. 233.

*** Colonel Lopez was highly thought of by the French, who had conferred upon him the red ribbon of the Legion of Honor. He was appointed to act on the imperial escort when the monarch landed, at Vera Cruz, and made himself agreeable to him. The dragoons of the Empress, of which he was the commander, were regarded as one of the best regiments in the army.

The man's political past, however, did not bear investigation, and when Maximilian, whose favorite he had become, thought of promoting him to the rank of general, the best among the officers of the imperial army requested General Mendez to inform the Emperor of his record. It has been stated that his disappointed hopes influenced his conduct in the dark transactions through which his name has been handed down to lasting infamy.

When the generals assembled in council at ten o'clock on the evening of May 13 to decide upon the final details of the projected sortie, General Mejia stated that his preparations were not quite perfected, and it was decided to postpone the venture until the following night.*

* Salm-Salm, loc. cit.

At ten o'clock on the evening of May 14 the generals once more assembled in council of war with a view to arranging for the coming conflict; but again the execution of the project was postponed twenty-four hours.

It was past eleven o'clock when Colonel Lopez left the Emperor's room after talking over with his sovereign certain details connected with the service. Before he went out Maximilian asked him, should he be wounded in the sortie, to prevent his capture by blowing out his brains.*

* Basch, loc. cit., p. 233.

The Imperialist leaders had returned to their respective quarters. The Emperor, however, was ill with dysentery; the excitement of the approaching conflict kept him awake, and he did not retire till one o'clock. At 3 he was seized with violent pain, and sent for his physician. A profound stillness reigned over La Cruz as the doctor passed through its corridors, and no sign of the impending catastrophe attracted his attention.

But the angel of death was even then hovering over the group of brave men gathered within the walls of the old convent on that fateful night. The coming hours were pregnant with tragedy. At this very moment, destiny was at work ruthlessly clipping the threads of the web so painfully woven by them, and upon which hung their lives.

At 2 a. m. a young officer of artillery, Lieutenant Albert Haus,* to whose special care his superior officer had intrusted the handling of two pieces which, in the plan laid for the intended sortie, were to defend the entrance of the huerta, or garden, of La Cruz, was awakened, as previously arranged, by his old sergeant, as he slept, wrapped in his zarape, by the side of his battery.

* See "Queretaro: Souvenirs d'un Officier de l'Empereur Maximilien" (Paris, 1869).

For a while he paced up and down the platform, trying to overcome his drowsiness, as he took up his watch, and finally he sat down on one of the guns, feverishly awaiting the signal to prepare for the coming struggle; for he was unaware of any change in the orders given.

Suddenly he heard rapid footsteps coming toward him, and Colonel Lopez, recognizable in the dark by his uniform embroidered in silver, stood before him, followed at a short distance by a body of soldiers. Pointing to these, he said: "Here is a reinforcement of infantry. Arouse your artillerymen; have this gun taken out of its embrasure and turned obliquely to the left—quickly."

Believing that the time for the sortie had come, the lieutenant promptly called his men, while Colonel Lopez stood by impatiently, upbraiding in forcible terms the old sergeant, who, just aroused from his first sleep, was slow to obey. After repeating his orders, he hastily withdrew.

The lieutenant was surprised at the strange instructions given him, and although he reflected that the colonel must have good reasons for the command,—probably some cause to fear an attack on this point,—he instinctively felt a misgiving.

The platoon of infantry brought by Colonel Lopez had taken its stand behind the battery. After carrying out the colonel's orders, the lieutenant looked for his sword and his zarape, left by him on the ground where he had lain. They were missing. Suspecting the newcomers, he called their officer's attention to the fact. Then for the first time he noticed the strange demeanor of his new companions. The officer was utterly unknown to him. He seemed uncommunicative. There was something particularly unfamiliar in the men's appearance. Yet as a number of companies in the imperial army had been formed with city recruits or even with prisoners taken in the sorties during the siege, this alone would not have warranted serious suspicion. But when one of his artillerymen came up to him excitedly and complained that his musket had been taken from him, and when this complaint was promptly followed by another, he again went to the officer and inquired to what corps he and his men belonged. Without a moment's hesitation the stranger answered that he formed part of General Mendez's brigade.

Lieutenant Hans had long served in this brigade and knew all its officers. His doubts were at once aroused. The conviction gradually grew upon him that something unusual was taking place, and again he begged the officer to tell him the real cause of his presence at this post. The man answered that news had come that one of the battalions of the garrison of La Cruz had agreed to betray the place, but that fortunately the conspiracy had been discovered, and that all the posts were now being changed. This story tallied with the haste and peculiar manner of Colonel Lopez, the commander of the place, as well as with the unusual stir now visible farther along the line toward the pantheon. Anxious, however, to get at the truth, the lieutenant resolved to join the colonel, and asked the officer the direction which he had taken. The stranger silently pointed toward the pantheon.

As the lieutenant proceeded to descend from the terrace, a sentry, hitherto unnoticed, roughly stopped him, crying, "Halt, there!" The man evidently had his orders, and the lieutenant turned to the strange officer, requesting him to suspend them in his favor. The latter, however, evaded the question. This irritated him, and noticing just then a man holding one of the missing muskets, he attempted to tear it away from him, whereupon the soldier attacked him with his bayonet, and things might have gone hard with Lieutenant Haus had not the strange officer interfered.

"But," exclaimed the young man, "will you tell me what on earth is going on here?" "Do not worry," reiterated the strange officer." The truth is that we are part of General Quiroga's brigade. We have just returned from Mexico with General Marquez to relieve the place."

The palpable falsehood was enough to excite the young man's worst fears. General Quiroga, it was well known, had left his infantry at Queretaro. Moreover, it was quite impossible for troops to enter the closely besieged place without being heard and recognized by the besiegers. Something like the truth flashed through his brain. And yet how was he to account for the presence and words of Colonel Lopez, whose interest, as well as every tie of duty and gratitude, must bind him to the Emperor? In his bewilderment he exclaimed: "Amid so many falsehoods, I suspect treason." After a moment's hesitation the strange officer replied: "Have no fear, senor; you are in the hands of the regular army. We are not guerrilleros; we belong to the battalion of the supremos poderes of the republic."

For a moment the lieutenant stood petrified. The whole truth, in all its hideousness, burst upon him. The enemy was in possession of the place. What horrors would come next? And yet, Colonel Lopez—was it a hallucination? Could he have mistaken his identity in the darkness of the night? He called the old sergeant and asked him if he had recognized the colonel. "Yes," replied the sergeant, who, having been roughly handled by their superior officer, had good reason to remember.

"But then," cried the young man, beside himself, now that the terrors of the situation dawned upon his understanding, "he must be a traitor! He is going to deliver up the Emperor!"

"Are you only now finding this out?" sadly queried the old soldier.

Lieutenant Haus once more turned to the strange officer. "Then," he asked, "it is Colonel Lopez who introduced you here?"

"Certainly," he replied. And, smiling: "But, I repeat it, you need have no fear. We are of the regular army. No harm will come to you."

He looked toward La Cruz, the improvised stronghold where the Emperor had his headquarters, hoping to see some sign of a struggle—the flash of a musket, the noise of resistance, a movement, a signal. But no. The dark mass of the convent building detached itself with imposing grandeur against the night sky, and silence reigned everywhere.

He was a prisoner. The Juarists were in Queretaro, and treason even then was stealthily completing its loathsome task of destruction without his being able to give one word of warning to its victims.

The mysterious officer, guessing his thoughts, said quietly: "The whole convent is already in our power. Your emperor must be taken even now."

At this moment Captain Gontron, a Frenchman, appeared upon the scene, seemingly free, but in a towering rage.

"I wish," he said, "that you, who can speak Spanish better than I, would ask these black devils who have just come to relieve me at the pantheon why my sarape and my sword have disappeared. I believe they have stolen them. Anyhow, who are these filibusters that Colonel Lopez has brought here? If my sword does not turn up in five minutes, I will smash in the face of their rascally commander, who is anything but civil."

The captain spoke in French, fiercely twisting his mustache. At any other time the humorous side of the situation must have struck the lieutenant, but just then he felt little inclination for mirth. He thereupon explained to the captain that they were prisoners, and that Colonel Lopez had introduced the enemy into the place.

The Frenchman for a while stood speechless; then recovering his speech with his philosophy, he said: "After all, it had to come to an end SOMEHOW."

As he spoke, a Juarist officer, with a detachment at his heels, rushed upon the terrace and ordered a gun turned upon the convent. His orders were that the artillerymen be made to serve the battery. Should they demur, they must be shot down. As for the captain and the lieutenant, they were to be conducted under escort before General Velez, who was then in the convent. They were made to start at once.

Upon arriving near La Cruz, they saw a republican battalion entering the edifice. At every moment they expected to hear firing. But no one seemed aware of what was going on. Nothing broke the oppressive stillness save the dull sound of the tread of the enemy's detachments as they quietly marched along, and the quick orders whispered by the officers in the silence of the night.

Failing to find General Velez, the escort marched the prisoners back to the garden. Day was dawning. Upon reaching the garden they met Colonel Guzman, who had just been made prisoner.

The unusual incidents which had accompanied Colonel Lopez's betrayal had not remained wholly unobserved. It has been stated* that at 1:30 A.M. Colonel Tinajero, on watch at the convent heights, had come to headquarters and reported an unusual stir in the enemy's camp. The same writer adds that, later on, another officer had come to report that the Juarists seemed to be entering La Cruz.* He was laughed at for his pains. How could such a thing take place without a single shot being fired!

* By M. Charles d'Hericault, loc. cit, p. 252.

Colonel Manuel Guzman, a member of the Emperor's staff, however, thought it wise personally to look into the matter. He went down into the court of the convent, intending to visit the outposts. Here his progress was barred by the enemy. He was forthwith arrested and placed under the same escort as Lieutenant Haus and Captain Gontron, who, in a few words, told him what had happened. The colonel's face grew ashy. "Impossible!" he said; "what you tell me is impossible."*

* I here follow Lieutenant Haus's narrative, as it is based upon personal experience. Loc. cit., p. 284.

The prisoners now stood again upon the terrace which three hours before had been guarded by the men of the command of Colonel Jablonski, the friend and accomplice of Colonel Lopez. They were led across to the other side and made to pass down some hastily disposed steps of adobe bricks, the recent origin of which was obvious. It was clearly at this point that the enemy had entered the place. A few moments more, and they were out of Queretaro, marching between a double hedge of republican bayonets, disposed as though expecting a long line of prisoners.

At 5 A.M. Dr. Basch and Prince Salm-Salm were each abruptly startled out of a sound sleep, the first by Colonel Jablonski, the second by Colonel Lopez. Having completed their preparations beyond the possibility of failure, the traitors now wished, if practicable, to conceal from their victims their contemptible share in the dastardly affair.

Prince Salm-Salm dressed hastily, and after sending word by the doctor to Captain Furstenwarther to order out his hussars, he ran to the Emperor's apartments. No imperial troops were to be seen. It was evident that the garrison of the place had been removed.

As Maximilian, his minister, General Castillo, and his secretary came forth to inquire into what had happened, they found themselves face to face with the Liberal colonel Jose Rincon Gallardo, who, with his command, was already in possession of the place. With him was Colonel Lopez. The Liberal colonel recognized the fallen Emperor; but, perhaps foreseeing the terrible complications involved in his capture, he feigned ignorance of his identity, and said to his men, "Let them pass, they are civilians" ("Que passen, son paisanos"), thus giving him a chance for his life.

Shortly afterward, having reached the street, Maximilian was endeavoring, by issuing orders to his scattered officers, to collect his remaining forces on the Cerro de las Campanas, where he hoped to make a last stand, when he was joined by Colonel Lopez, whom, according to Prince Salm-Salm, no one as yet suspected of being the author of the infamy. The colonel had come to persuade the prince to conceal himself; and as they talked, his horse was unexpectedly brought to him, ready for flight. It would therefore seem that in betraying his master's cause the wretched man had not planned his personal destruction.

As the betrayed men continued their progress through the streets, on their way to the cerro, they saw coming toward them a battalion of the enemy; and among the officers riding at their head again was Colonel Lopez. Upon seeing the Emperor, they slackened their pace, and once more he was allowed to pursue his way.

Had he cared to avail himself of the opportunities afforded him then, it is possible that, like Generals Arellano, Gutierrez, and others, he might have succeeded in escaping from Queretaro. But noblesse oblige: an admiral does not desert his ship or its crew. Maximilian remained at his post.

At last the cerro was reached, and here the last disappointment awaited him. Instead of his army, only a battalion occupied the place, and, singly or in groups, the deserted leaders assembled, unable to rally their men.

General Mendez had accepted the shelter of a friend's roof. The latter, acting, it is said, in concert with a member of his staff, sold him to General Escobedo.*

* It was General Mendez who, in October, 1865, had carried out the provisions of the Bando Negro in executing Generals Salazar and Arteaga and their companions. He could therefore expect no mercy from his antagonists. He was condemned at once, and, as a traitor, was shot May 19, with his back to the four soldiers who carried out the sentence. Struck with four bullets, but not killed, the general arose, and turning to the men, begged that he be despatched. A corporal then stepped forward and mercifully blew out his brains. General Mendez was a courageous soldier. Always victorious, he was beloved by his men and was highly spoken of by the French in Mexico.

General Miramon, the man of action, always hopeful to the very last, was still attempting to muster what troops he might for a last effort, when at the corner of a street he unexpectedly was faced by a detachment of the enemy's cavalry. The commanding officer drew a revolver and shot him, the bullet entering the right cheek and coming out near his ear. The wounded chief then sought refuge in the house of a friend—who delivered him to his enemies that afternoon!

In the bright sunlight of the May morning there suddenly burst forth upon the air, already vibrating with the noise of the unequal conflict, a peal of bells from the convent of La Cruz. This was the signal of the success of the conspiracy, agreed upon with the besiegers; and from the lines of the Liberal army the clarions rang in wild, exultant strains. Then the dense masses of the enemy's regiments marched forth; and as they approached, the doomed leaders saw their own followers go over and join them.

Hemmed in upon the cerro with a few faithful followers, every hope passed away. No help came. It was now impossible, with so feeble a force, to cut their way through the lines of the Liberals, and from every side the enemy poured fire upon the devoted band.

A flag of truce was sent, and Colonel Echegaray, on behalf of the Juarists, came to receive the Emperor as prisoner. At the latter's request, he was taken forthwith to General Escobedo's presence. To him he surrendered his sword.

He was then turned over to General Riva-Palacio, who showed him every courtesy, and had him incarcerated in his old quarters at the convent of La Cruz. Here he was visited by some Liberal officers, among others by Colonel Jose Rincon Gallardo and his brother Don Pedro, the former of whom spoke to him in contemptuous terms of the treason of Colonel Lopez. "Such men are used, and then kicked," he said.

By ten o'clock all was over. The Mexican empire, inaugurated with so much pomp and glitter exactly three years before, had wearily reached a miserable ending. The curtain then falling upon its closing scene was a death-pall; and of the young sovereigns who only a short time before had regarded themselves as the anointed of Heaven, sent by a higher power to strengthen the church and to uphold the principles of monarchy, one had gone mad, and the other now stood an expiatory victim about to be offered up to republican resentment.

It would seem that Maximilian had at first no thought that his life was in peril. This is shown by his attempts to make terms with General Escobedo on behalf of his foreign followers, requesting that they and himself should be safely conducted to the coast and embarked; in exchange for which he pledged himself nevermore to interfere in Mexican affairs, and to issue orders for the disarmament and immediate surrender of all strongholds now in the power of his followers.

Soon, however, he was removed to the convent of the Capuchins, where he could be more securely guarded; and the feeling began to grow that he must pay with his life for his brief enjoyment of the Mexican crown.

Brought up for trial on June 13 before a military tribunal composed of six captains and one lieutenant-colonel, which held its court on the stage of a public theater, he was ably defended by Mexico's foremost lawyers, Messrs. Mariano Riva-Palacio, Martinez de la Torre, Eulalio Ortega, and Jesus-Maria Vazquez; but his doom was already sealed. On June 14, at eleven o'clock at night, he was sentenced to death.

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