CHAPTER III:Historical Sketch Of New Mexico
Country little known.—Situation.—First Knowledge of Spaniards.—Baca and Companions.—Their Adventures.—Negro goes to Cibola.—Nizza.—Coronado's Expedition.—Arrives at Cibola.—Tignex.—Cicuyé. —Querechos.—Quivira.—Fate of Expedition.—People of the Country.—Route of Coronado.—Situation of Cibola.—Espejo. —His Description of the People.—Oñate colonizes the Country.—His Petition and Grants.—Treatment of Natives.—Rebellion of 1680. —Popé.—Santa Fé taken.—Retreat of Spaniards.—Otermin attempts a Reconquest.—Fails. —Bargas.—Revolution quelled and Peace restored.
There is no country protected by our flag and subject to our laws so little known to the people of the United States as the territory of New Mexico. Its very position precludes an intimate intercourse with other sections of the Union, and serves to lock up a knowledge of the country within its own limits. The natural features differ widely from the rest of the Union; and the inhabitants, with the manners and customs of their Moorish and Castilian ancestors, are both new and strange to our people. For these reasons, reliable information of this hitherto almost unknown region can not fail to be interesting to the public.
This territory occupies that central region of North America lying between the rivers Arkansas on the east and the Colorado on the west, and is bounded by Texas and Mexico on the south, and Utah and Kansas on the north, and contains an area of two hundred and seven thousand square miles. It was obtained from Mexico under the treaty of Guadalupe de Hidalgo, with the exception of a narrow strip along the southern border, purchased
It is not my intention to write a history of New Mexico in this volume, but merely to give the reader, in the present and the next succeeding chapter, a sketch of the leading historical incidents that have transpired in the course of more than three hundred years, since its first discovery and exploration by the Spaniards.
The first knowledge the Spaniards of Southern Mexico had of this country was about the year 1530, when it was known as the country of the seven cities. At that time Nuño de Guzman, the governor of New Spain, had in his employ an Indian, said to be a native of the province of Tejas, who gave him information of an extensive and rich country to the north, of which he related the most marvelous accounts. He said that his father had formerly traded there as a merchant, and that the country abounded in the precious metals, and contained seven large and beautiful cities. Guzman was so much interested in the account of the Indian that he immediately organized an expedition for the exploration of this new region. The adventurers marched from the city of Mexico
About the year 1538 the Spaniards received further information of the country of the seven cities from Alvar Nuñes Cabeza de Baca, who, with three companions, arrived in Culiacan, and were the first Europeans who passed through the country. They were the survivors of the unfortunate expedition of Pamfilio Narvaez, who sailed from San Domingo the eleventh day of April, 1528, for the conquest of Florida. They landed in safety and proceeded some distance inland, leaving instructions for the fleet to follow along the coast, and to await their coming at some safe and convenient harbor. Instead of obeying these instructions the vessels sailed for Habaná, and left Narvaez and his companions to their fate. The adventurers returned to the coast after a brief absence, but neither finding the vessels nor hearing any thing of them, they constructed boats in which they intended coasting along the gulf to the River Pacuno, whence they hoped to be able to reach the Spanish settlements in Mexico. They converted their stirrups, spurs, and every other piece of metal into saws, nails, &c.; they cut up and sewed together their shirts for sails, and made cordage of the tails and manes of their horses; and they killed their horses, and dried the flesh for provisions for the voyage. Thus equipped, they launched their frail barks upon the almost unknown waters of the gulf. They coasted in safety beyond the mouth of the Mississippi, when they encountered a furious storm, which wrecked some of the boats, and drove others out to sea, which were never heard of afterward. The boat commanded by Baca was thrown upon a low, sandy island near the shore, whence he and his companions were fortunate enough to
The survivors directed their course toward the interior, and, after wandering about the country for several years, they reached the Spanish settlement of Culiacan, in New Galicia, on the eastern shore of the Gulf of California. Their route across the continent can not be traced with accuracy at the present day. They are supposed to have been wrecked on one of the low, sandy islands that skirt the coast of Louisiana or Texas, and to have pursued a northwesterly course until they reached the plains frequented by the buffalo, on some of the western tributaries of the Arkansas, whence they took a southwest direction toward the frontier settlements of New Spain. Coronado, in his subsequent expedition through the country, visited a point where Baca and his companions had probably passed, being told by the Indians that a small party of white men had been there some time before, who had blessed their buffalo-skins.
The relation of their adventures by Baca and his companions created a deep interest among the Spaniards in Mexico, and raised a desire to penetrate these unknown regions, as well to seek adventure as to possess the country for the crown of Spain. In order to obtain a better knowledge of the country, Vasquez Coronado, at that time Governor of New Galicia, sent three monks, with the Arab negro who had accompanied Baca, in the direction where the country of the seven cities was said to lie. The negro went in advance of the monks, and crossed the desert to Cibola in company with a party of friendly Indians. He was kindly received, and treated in the best possible manner; but, presuming upon their mild disposition, he began to make very unreasonable demands upon them. His conduct finally became so bad that they
In a short time an army of three hundred Spaniards, horse and foot, composed of the adventurous cavaliers of the times, and eight hundred friendly Indians, was raised for the expedition and duly organized, the whole being placed under the command of Coronado, with the title of captain general. The troops assembled at a place called Compostella, whence they marched to Culiacan, where they arrived the day after Easter, in the year 1540. After remaining here a few days to complete their arrangements, they resumed their march for Cibola, driving along with them one hundred and fifty head of European cows and a large number of sheep for the support of the troops, and also to assist in the colonization of the country.
Coronado, with an escort of sixty men under the command of one Jaramillo, and accompanied by the monk Nizza as guide, set off in advance of the main army. They took a northwest direction, nearly parallel with the shore of the Gulf of California, and at the end of thirty-eight days they came to the edge of a desert bordered by a chain of mountains. They crossed the mountains, and entered upon the desert, over which they marched for thirteen days in a course a little to the east of north, crossing several rivers on the way, at the end of which time they reached the first village of what was called the country of the Cibola. The villages were six in number, situated in a valley six leagues long, and the houses were three and four stories high, built of mud and stones, with terraces running around them. The whole province was subjugated. From this place Coronado continued his march to a neighboring province called Tignex, a few leagues to the northeast. Here he was soon afterward joined by the main army, when they went into winter quarters, and remained there until the following spring. The winter was a very severe one; snow lay upon the ground three and four feet deep, and the river which ran by the town was frozen so that horses could cross upon the ice. When the main army reached Tignex, the inhabitants were in a state of rebellion, caused by the heavy tribute Coronado had levied upon the province, and the bad treatment their women received from the Spaniards. The arrival of the additional force enabled the general to subdue them in a short time, when their villages were captured, and a large number massacred and made prisoners.
When the spring opened they resumed the march, but not before the neighboring provinces had been brought to submission. The army left Tignex on the twenty-fifth day of May for the province of Cicuyé, twenty-five
When Coronado marched from Tignex in the spring, it was with the intention of visiting the country of Quivira, which had been represented as abounding in gold and silver, and where was situated a beautiful city with broad streets, and houses three and four stories high; but he was deceived by his guide, and conducted out upon the plains. He obtained a new guide from some of the roving tribes, who professed to be acquainted with Quivira, and determined to march that way on his return
It was the intention of Coronado to renew his explorations in the following spring, and penetrate farther into the country of which the Indians had spoken so much and given such flattering accounts, but several causes operated to prevent an expedition of the kind. Soon after they went into winter quarters he was severely hurt by a fall from his horse, which confined him to his bed for some weeks, during which time the discipline of his troops had, in a measure, been relaxed, and they became discontented. He was also becoming home-sick. He had left behind him a young and lovely wife, and great wealth; and having been sadly disappointed in not finding the rich and populous countries he had expected to discover, he began to pine to return home. The dissatisfaction among the officers and men increased as their hardships multiplied, and they desired to be led back to the pleasant valleys of New Galicia. A council of war was held to determine what should be done under the circumstances, and it was thought best to evacuate the country, which they carried into effect as soon as spring opened, when they returned to Culiacan. The returning adventurers were received without favor by the viceroy, and the conduct of Coronado was so highly censured that
An account of this expedition to the Cibola country was afterward written by one Castañeda, who accompanied it, in which he gives an interesting description of the country they passed through, with the manners and customs of the inhabitants. The villages were all built on the same plan, and consisted of one or more blocks of houses in the form of a parallelogram, and were from two to four stories in height, with terraces. There were no doors on the ground floor, but they were entered several feet above, by means of ladders, which the inhabitants pulled up after them and secured. The ascent was made in this manner from one terrace to another, there being no internal communication between the stories. Some of the houses had balconies of wood, and opened upon an interior court, which added to their strength in time of an attack. The houses were large, and some of them could accommodate three and four hundred persons. They were built of mud, made hard by drying in the sun, and for lime they made use of a mixture of ashes, earth, and coal. In each village there were well-constructed baths, the males and females using separate ones. Some of them were built with considerable taste, the roof being supported with large wooden pillars and the floor paved with stone. In each village was also an estufa, built under ground, and which was used for both political and religious purposes. They assembled here to discuss all the affairs of state, and for all other matters of grave deliberation. Their sacred fires were kept burning within the estufa, and were never allowed to go out.
The route of Coronado can be traced with much greater accuracy than the previous trip of Baca and his companions across the continent. Leaving Culiacan on the river of the same name in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, they marched about parallel with the Gulf of California, passing through what is now the State of Sonora, until they arrived nearly at the head of the gulf, when they changed their course toward the northeast. They continued in this direction, and are supposed to have struck the Gila River near the present ruins known as Casas Grandes, as Castañeda mentions, in his journal, that just before they entered the desert they passed a large ruin called Chichilticali; and the barren region which leads to the point where I locate Cibola begins on the north side of the Gila. Leaving these ruins, they crossed this desert, and reached the country of the seven cities, or
There has been much speculation in reference to the situation of the Cibola country, some locating it where are now found the seven villages of the Moquis, and others in a still different region of country; but after a careful investigation of the subject, with the aid of some old manuscript documents found in the archives in Santa Fé, I believe the valley of Zuñi to have been the true location of Cibola. In giving an account of the march of the Spaniards in 1540, Castañeda mentions that a few miles before they arrived at the first village, which bore the name of the province, they came to a small river, which, on account of the reddish hue of the water, they called Rio Bermajo. The present pueblo of Zuñi is on the north side of the Rio Colorado Chiquito (Little Red River), which name was probably given to it on account of the color of the water. He also describes the village as being situated upon a high rock, which was the case with the old pueblo, and the distance of it from the river is about that mentioned by the Spaniards, while the new village is immediately upon the bank of the stream. Zuñi is northeast of the point where they are supposed to have crossed the Gila, with several hundred miles of barren country intervening; and it is the first Indian village, or the ruins thereof, to my knowledge, to be met with after you pass that river coming northeast. He also speaks of the province of Tusayan, twenty-five leagues from Cibola, and on the route to the great cañon of the Rio Colorado; from which province they took a guide, and marched in a westerly course to the cañon. Placing Cibola in the valley of Zuñi, it makes the location of Tusayan, both as to direction and distance, agree1 Now, as Philip was upon the throne within twenty years after the expedition of Coronado, and some of the men were still living who engaged in it, and that before his death other Spaniards visited the Cibola country, which was afterward named Zuñi, I think the evidence in favor of the latter province being the Cibola of Castañeda is quite conclusive. This location of Cibola aids us much in tracing the further course of Coronado, and also throws additional light upon an interesting point in history.
A party of Coronado's men, as before mentioned, visited, toward the west, a large river that flowed through a fissure in the rocks which was so deep that from the top the stream appeared like a thread of silver. This was undoubtedly the cañon of the Rio Colorado, which is looked upon as one of the most remarkable things in nature, and which, on account of its great depth and steepness of the sides, has never been descended to the water. The province of Tignex was most probably situated in the valley of the Puerco, as this is the first river you come to traveling northeast from Zuñi, and answers very well to the description given of the river of Tignex,
The exact location of the Quivira mentioned by Castañeda has never been satisfactorily determined, and the question is still one of speculation. There are to be seen, some distance south of the salt lakes mentioned, the ruins of a village now called Quivira, which has been in its present condition since the memory of the oldest inhabitant of the country. The ruins of a large church and convent are still in a good state of preservation, but they are evidently the work of white men, from the style of building and material, and the carving found upon the beams. They are probably the remains of an early Spanish mission, or the ruins of a pueblo where a priest was stationed after the Europeans took possession of the country, and which was abandoned by the Indians during some of the early wars between them and the Spaniards, and the village allowed to go to ruins. The Mexicans have traditions among them concerning Quivira, but they partake so much of romance that they are not worthy of narration.
After the unsuccessful expedition of Coronado, it was some years before another attempt was made to explore and take possession of New Mexico. During this time a few friars, who always formed the vanguard in the discoveries and explorations in Spanish America, penetrated the country, and made an effort to Christianize and civilize the Indians. In the reign of Philip the Second of Spain, a Franciscan friar, named Marcos de Niza or Nizza, with a few companions, penetrated the country as far as the province of Zuñi, which I have already located as the ancient country of Cibola. This priest is said to have been a native of New Mexico, and may have been a son of the same friar Marcos de Nizza heretofore mentioned, who, it will be recollected, attempted to reach
Espejo gives an interesting account of the country; and I have translated the following extract from De Larenaudière's History of Mexico: ‘‘The people were somewhat advanced toward civilization, with many manners and customs similar to those of the Aztec. Many of the men and women wore long gowns of cotton, tastefully painted, and some had coats of cloth colored with blue and white, similar to the manner of the Chinese. They were adorned with feathers
These flattering accounts of the province received from Espejo determined the Viceroy of Mexico to take permanent possession of, and colonize the country. For that purpose he sent a new supply of provisions and a re-enforcement of troops to Espejo, under the command of Don Juan de Oñate, toward the close of the sixteenth century.2 Oñate was a native of Zacatecas, and appears to have been a man of some note in his day. He conceived the idea of planting Spanish colonies in New Mexico; but whether he moved in the matter before or after he conducted the re-enforcements for the protection of the missions I have not been able to determine. For this purpose he presented a petition, dated September 21st, 1595, to the Viceroy of New Spain, asking permission to colonize the country. He pledged himself to introduce into the country two hundred soldiers, horses, cattle, merchandise, and agricultural implements. As a remuneration for these services he demanded large grants of land; the ennobling of his family; a considerable loan of money, a fat salary, and to be furnished with arms and ammunition; besides the permission to reduce the natives to obedience, which meant to make slaves of them. He also stipulated that the government should supply the colony with "six priests, with a full complement of books, ornaments, and church accoutrements." The petition was granted, with the exception of some of his most extravagant demands, and in accordance therewith he introduced the colony into the country. The decree of the King of Spain, Philip the Third, is dated the
For three quarters of a century after the first permament settlements were made, I have not been able to obtain any reliable history of the operations of the Spaniards. Several villages and missions were established, principally in the valley of the Del Norte; and the settlers turned their attention to the cultivation of the soil and the means of living, while the priests occupied themselves in converting the natives to Christianity. The first mission is said to have been established at a place called El Teguayo, and up to the year 1608 as many as eight thousand Indians had been baptized. All the territory conquered from the natives was united in one province, and was at first called New Granada, but afterward the name of New Mexico was given to it. In the year 1611 Oñate made an expedition of exploration toward the east, and discovered the Cannibal Lakes, and also a red river which was called the River of the Cadaudachos, or that of the Palisade. The situation of these lakes is not known at the present day, but the river spoken of is probably the Canadian fork of the Arkansas; and the name Palisade was given to it because of the deep rocky fissure it flows through, in some parts of its course, and which they must have seen.
The Spaniards entered the country by the way of El Paso del Norte, and thence extended their settlements up the valley of the river toward the north. They were at first well received by the simple-minded inhabitants, for they were of an amiable disposition, and averse to
The natives had other cause of complaint. It has always been the policy of the Spanish government to change the religion as well as the political institutions of every people whom they conquer. In accordance with this rule of action, as soon as Oñate had established himself in the country, he ordered the Indians to give up the faith of their fathers, to which they were deeply attached, and embrace that of himself and his followers—Catholicism. This was a compliance cruel in the extreme, but force obliged them to submit; and in a short time they saw their ancient rites prohibited, their temples of worship closed, and their heathen gods destroyed. They could not understand the religion of the white man, and considered it a great hardship to be obliged to profess what they did not believe. This united with the physical sufferings they were compelled to endure in the mines, was more than they could bear, which caused wide-spread discontent, and made them ripe for rebellion. They made several attempts at revolt, but the watchful care of the Spaniards prevented any of them being carried into effect until the year 1680, when success, for a time, crowned their efforts.
In the latter year, a deliverer from the yoke of their hard task-masters came in one of their own number. An able and eloquent Indian, said to have belonged to the pueblo of Taos, named Popé, planned a general rising against the Spaniards, and united all the villages in its execution.3He pretended the gift of supernatural powers, and made his simple-minded brethren believe that the devil had ordered all the whites in the country to be massacred. He was obliged to resort to great secrecy and much cunning to elude the vigilance of the Spaniards, but he was fully equal to the occasion. He communicated with distant pueblos by means of knots tied in a rope made of the fibres of the palm-tree, which was carried from village to village by their fleetest runners. All their arrangements were made without exciting the suspicion of the Spaniards, and they were so fearful of betrayal that not a woman was admitted into their confidence. The time fixed upon for the rising was the tenth day of August, 1680, when an indiscriminate slaughter was to be made of all the Spaniards in the country.
Their secret, through treachery, became known to the authorities two days before the time agreed upon. Two of the San Juan Indians divulged the whole plan to Governor Otermin, and thus placed him upon his guard. As soon as the rebels knew that their conspiracy had been exposed, they immediately flew to arms, fearing further delay would endanger all. The authorities took every possible means to place themselves in a posture of defense. The Spaniards in the north were ordered to repair at once to Santa Fé, and place themselves under the orders of the governor, while those in the south were
The governor and authorities were alarmed, and endeavored to conciliate the savages. Messengers were sent out with offers of peace and the promise of kind treatment in the future; but the Indians treated all their overtures with contempt, and refused to make any terms. They told the messengers that they had brought with them two crosses, one painted red, which signified war, and the other white, which signified peace; that they might have their choice, but if they should select the one that indicated peace, it must be upon condition that they retire immediately from the country. The Indians saw a day of deliverance and retribution for nearly a century of grievous wrongs at hand, and they were not willing to place themselves again in the power of their cruel masters. Governor Otermin declined to accede to the conditions they imposed, but determined to attack them, and, if possible, defeat them before they received re-enforcements. He sallied out with his troops early in the morning, and made an impetuous assault upon the enemy, who received him with great bravery. The battle continued all day, with considerable loss on both sides, when, toward nightfall, their allies, the Teguas and other
The Indians were now in great force, and closely invested the place, shutting the garrison and inhabitants within their earthen defenses. The siege had continued nine days, and much suffering been caused among the Spaniards; the enemy had cut off the supply of water, and their provisions were also becoming scarce. In the night the garrison made a sortie from the town, cut their way through the enemy, and caused them to fall back a little distance, partially raising the siege. The Spaniards the next day held a council of war, composed of the military and principal citizens, to determine what course they had better pursue under the circumstances. There was no hope of succor from below, nor a probability of their being able to withstand the repeated assaults of their numerous enemy: they therefore deemed it to be their duty to retreat to El Paso del Norte, and leave the capital to its fate. They therefore made the necessary arrangements to evacuate the place as soon as possible, which they carried into effect on the twenty-first of the month, and took up the line of march for the south. The inhabitants followed the army on foot, and carried most of their baggage on their backs. Their sufferings on the march were very great, and it was with difficulty they could procure food enough to eat. As they advanced through the country they found the pueblos deserted and the farms laid waste, but no enemy opposed their march. They reached San Lorenzo, near El Paso, in the latter part of September, completely broken down by the hardships they had endured.4
Governor Otermin reported the rebellion in New Mexico to the viceroy, and asked for a re-enforcement to re-conquer the country. The desired aid was furnished, but was tardy in arriving; and it was not until the month of November of the following year, 1681, that he was able to take the field against the enemy. He took
Soon afterward Otermin was removed from office, and the reconquest of the country was intrusted to Don Diego de Bargas Zapata, who was appointed the governor and commandant of the province. The contest was continued, with varied success, for several years, the Indians making a determined resistance. In the year 1693, Bargas entered the country with a strong force, and, attacking pueblo after pueblo, finally whipped them into submission. Several thousand Indians had assembled in and around Santa Fé, which they made their headquarters. He advanced against them with his whole army, and after an obstinate battle, which continued the whole day, he drove them from the place, and entered and took possession of it. The Indians every where sued for peace, and for the time being seemed completely subdued. In the year 1698 another revolution broke out, but, as it was only participated in by a few of the pueblos, it was soon put down by the energy of Bargas, and without much bloodshed, and thus the reconquest was rendered complete.
1. The word cibola means buffalo, and is undoubtedly of Indian instead of Spanish origin.
2. There is a discrepance in the records as to the time that Oñate arrived in New Mexico. Padre Frejes, in his history of the conquest of the country, published in Mexico in 1830, states that Oñate arrived there in the year 1595; Mariana mentions that he set out from Mexico in 1598; while De Larenaudière, in his History of Mexico, published in Barcelona in 1844, states that he took possession of the country the last year of the sixteenth century—1599.
3. It is said that the pueblos of San Juan and Pozos remained faithful to the Spaniards, for which the former was afterward styled San Juan de los Caballeros, or San Juan of the Gentlemen.
4. It is said that the priest stationed at Zuñi neither was killed nor fled, but saved himself by abjuring his faith and turning Indian. That when the Spaniards went there at the time of the reconquest, about the year 1690, they inquired for the Padre, who answered in person that he was there; but, being dressed and painted like an Indian, they failed to recognize him, and asked him if he could write. He answered that he could, but had no paper. The Spaniards then passed up to him upon the rocky height where the pueblo then was situated a skin, upon which he made letters with charcoal. This satisfied them of his identity, when they demanded and received a surrender of the place. This is the tradition of the Indians, but is not correct, as I find, by an examination of the manuscript record of the times, that the Zuñians killed their priest at the time of the rebellion.