The true story of the actual construction of the Tucson presidio and the events surrounding its first decade of existence are perhaps best told in a petition drawn up by Allande in the form of a service memoir and sent to the king early in 1786. Allande asks for reassignment to an easier post in view of an injury and generally failing health. There were also internal problems and dissension within the Tucson presidio. The report is actually three documents brought together as one when Jose Antonio Rengel, commandant general of the northern provinces, sent the entire dossier to the king. Rengel's covering letter appears first, then Allande's memoir and petition to the king, and last a preliminary petition Allande had addressed to Rengel asking for temporary relief. The Allande military memoir adds a hitherto unconsidered but undeniably important component to the success of Bernardo de Gálvez' 1786 Apache peace policy, which anticipated the Apache reservation policy of the United States. Allande's ruthless warfare against the Apaches disposed them to accept the Gálvez arrangement of free rations and permanent settlement. General George Crook would follow the same tactics a century later.

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Chihuahua City.
January 28, 1786.


The author of the petition and service memoir that follow is Pedro Allande y Saavedra, commander of the royal presidio of San Agustin del Tucsón. The valor of this petitioner against the Apaches is well known and beyond question. He richly deserved the promotion to lieutenant colonel which Your Majesty afforded him in 1784. His troops, however, have suffered from his violent disposition, aggravated by his tireless campaigns and the wound that partially disabled him some time ago. For all of these reasons, I recommend that Your Majesty grant him a better and easier assignment.


[no date]


Pedro de Allande y Saavedra, lieutenant colonel of cavalry and commander of this royal presidio of San Agustin del Tucsón, calls to your royal attention, prostrate at the feet of Your Majesty with the greatest respect and veneration, that he has completed thirty-one years of service to Your Majesty as cadet, guard-de-corps of the Spanish Company, lieutenant of the Mexican Dragoons, captain and lieutenant colonel, and on one occasion general recruiter for both the Spanish Dragoons and the Mexican Dragoons. He has seen action against the Moors,

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fought in the war against Portugal, and in 1767 came to this province of Sonora to effect its pacification against rebel Pimas, Seris, and Suaquis. He penetrated the fastnesses and heights of the Cerro Prieto seven times and succeeded in routing the enemy each time, killing many and taking prisoners.

Since the day he was appointed captain of this Tucson presidio, February 19, 1777, he has spared no effort to make it a success. He supervised the building of the walls and the houses of adobe in the two settlements here. He has been the very first in this area to insist on frequent practice maneuvers for troops, training them in marksmanship and drilling them both on horseback and afoot. He surrounded the presidio with a palisade of rough logs, since it lacked a fortified gate and wall, and erected four baluartes [bastions] for the guards. He constructed its magazine and guardhouse and built a fine church at his own expense. All of these building operations he accomplished without recourse or burden to the royal treasury.

During the year 1778, he conducted an Apache campaign. Troops were scarce, so he organized a company of Indian allies, maintaining them at his own expense.

He launched another campaign in the Santa Catalina Mountains in 1779 and was able to destroy two Apache settlements, killing many Apaches and taking six prisoners. He has paid local Pimas and Papagos, as well as Gila Pimas, from his own salary, to conduct Apache campaigns on their own. On November 6, 1779, when the palisade was under construction, he pursued 350 Apaches with only fifteen men. He caught up with them after an extended chase. Among the Apaches he killed were the brother of Chief Quilché and another war captain, whose head he cut off before the very eyes of the enemy. Then he charged the Apache line single-handed, with the head stuck on his

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lance. The maneuver took the enemy off guard and they stampeded.

On May 1, 1782, 600 Apaches tried to wipe out the two settlements at Tucson and massacre the entire population. He valiantly defended the presidio with only twenty troops. Among these was his only son, Pedro Mariá de Allande, then a cadet but now second ensign of this presidio.

The Apaches were able to commandeer many houses outside the fort. From these they were able to conduct both their offensive and defensive operations. They used them as hospitals and carried their dead and wounded into them.

Despite our sentries and the impenetrable outer palisade, the Indians were able to effect considerable damage with their first assault, mortally wounding a retired soldier, another soldier, and a settler. They cut into the right leg of the present petitioner in a number of places, though he was able to kill two of them with his own hand, even after he was wounded. Using another soldier as a crutch, he continued his rounds of the stockade and sentry bastions to direct gunfire so devastating that the enemy was forced to retire with great losses. One of our Pima women was captured by the Apaches and later escaped to tell us that the Apaches themselves admitted that thirty Indians died in that one action.

Though the present petitioner was on the verge of collapse, since a nerve was severed in one of his wounds, he refused medical attention until the complete victory was won and the honor of Your Majesty was vindicated. He received a commendation of valor from our commandant general, the Caballero de Croix, who promised to bring this to the attention of Your Majesty.

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During the month of December of 1782, a large contingent of Apaches made off with all of the livestock. The present petitioner launched a campaign, recovered the livestock and killed ten Apache braves. The soldiers cut off seven of their heads, as is our custom.

During the month of March of 1783, a campaign brought back two Apache prisoners. During June of the same year, another campaign killed four Apaches. During December of the same year, another killed eleven Apache braves, renowned for their courage, and took nine prisoners between the Santa Teresa and La Florida Mountains. The action began at three in the afternoon and lasted into the night. Apache volleys pierced the clothing of the petitioner and wounded his horse in a number of places.

During January of 1784, he rode out again on campaign. In the valley of La Florida five braves and four women were killed and twenty-four women and children were made prisoners. One of our Pima women who had been captured was recovered. The Apache settlements were destroyed.

On March 21, 1784, a large group of the enemy attacked our horseherd and carried it off. We recovered it, killing seventeen of their braves.

During the month of April of that same year, the petitioner went out on another campaign into the mountains of La Florida, Santa Teresa, La Piedad, Dos Cabezas, and Babocómari. Nine braves were killed, together with three women and four children, though two children were taken alive. Many other Apaches were wounded. The Pima woman who testified to the killing of thirty braves on May 1, 1782, was recovered on this occasion.

During September of the same year, the petitioner led another campaign up the heights and crags of the

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Arivaipa Mountains, where he killed three women and a witch doctor.

In 1785, during the months of March and April, he conducted a campaign into the mountains of Babocómari, Peñascosa, Huachuca, Santa Catalina, and Santa Rita, where he killed eight valiant braves and wounded many more. The horses and mules stolen from the mining settlement of Cieneguilla were recovered. The Apache settlements were stripped and their weapons surrendered. The petitioner killed braves in hand-to-hand combat on this occasion to inspire his troops. This can be verified in the certified diary, drawn up by his officers and forwarded to the commandancy general.

In summary, all of the Apache attacks on this presidio have been repulsed with heavy losses to the enemy. Lines of countless Apache heads have crowned the palisade. The petitioner has endured untold fatigues in his campaigns. Then there were the cold nights without a campfire, which has always been his policy so as more surely to surprise and punish the enemies of Your Majesty. Often the water was bad and the intense heat of the climate here has caused him continuous pains in his stomach, at times convincing him that the end of his life must be near. The wounds in his right leg have many times swollen and burst, prompting the sympathetic officers of his campaigns to urge him to turn back. He has never once done so.

For these many reasons, the present petitioner prostrates himself at the feet of Your Majesty and begs for assignment as governor of Puebla or some other position in a regiment of cavalry or dragoons where he can continue his illustrious career with less stress on himself and his family.


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[no date]


Pedro de Allande y Saavedra, lieutenant colonel of cavalry of the royal armies and commander of the royal presidio of San Agustin del Tucsón, calls to your attention with all due respect and veneration that he has served His Majesty for thirty-two years as cadet, guard-de-corps of the Spanish Company, lieutenant of the Mexican Dragoons, captain of this presidio, and lieutenant colonel as his present commission.

In all of the functions mentioned, he has had the honor of fulfilling all obligations attached. When the generosity of the king distinguished him as captain of this company and presidio at Tucson, he continued with this policy of fulfillment of all obligations and endeavored to instill in its soldiers and settlers the fear of God and a most exact observance of orders and zeal for the royal service. This policy of his has resulted in open rebellion. The subjects in question have impugned his very honor by their conspiracies to live in undue freedom. They have plotted to thrust him from the presidio, even resorting to threats of violence. He in turn has had recourse many times to your predecessors to request return to the regular army, as can be readily verified in the archive of your commandancy general.

The health of this petitioner is in deplorable condition. The wounds he received in his right leg on May 1, 1782, in the glorious defense of this presidio against the Apaches, have rendered impossible his continued service on this frontier. The New Royal Regulations for Presidios provides that the king be informed of officers who

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are rendered unfit by ill health, old age and other impediments from further service on the frontier in order that they be reassigned.

YOUR LORDSHIP ENJOYS VICEREGAL AUTHORITY AND You ARE EMPOWERED TO USE IT. You can legally remove the petitioner from his present position, pending the decision of the king, in light of the persecution he is suffering, the extended family he is supporting, the ill health he is plagued with, and the outstanding services he has rendered, not least of which were the building of the church here at his own expense and the construction of this presidio, which is nearing completion, at no cost whatsoever to the royal treasury. The petitioner would be satisfied with an administrative position in government or in the army in any regiment of cavalry or dragoons, either here or in Spain. Above all, he requests that while His Majesty resolves this problem, YOU PERMIT HIM TO RETIRE IMMEDIATELY FROM THIS POST TO AVERT THE Ruin OF HIMSELF AND HIS FAMILY.


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Desert Documentary by Kieran McCarty - Chapter 10
Tucson, Arizona: Arizona Historical Society, 1976.

© 1976 The Arizona Historical Society. All Rights Reserved.

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