6. Founding the Royal Spanish Post of San Agustín del Tucson, 1766–1779


Up: Contents Previous: PART II. THE PRESIDIO Next: 7. Fighting Apaches: Offense and Defense, 1778–1782


[page 55]

PART I DEALT WITH a kind of Spanish Borderlands history familiar to many people because a number of eminent historians have chronicled and analyzed the role of the Christian mission as a frontier institution. Part II now turns to a less familiar sort of Borderlands history, that of (the military post or presidio as a frontier institution.)This part analyzes on the one hand “the influence of military officials and presidial garrisons in the internal history”1 of the Tucson area. In presenting these data, the chapters in this second part also exemplify the function and achievements of all the military garrisons on the northern frontier of New Spain in the last quarter of the 18th century and the first two decades of the 19th.

Spanish colonial military authorities laid the foundations of modern Tucson's ethnic diversity when they established a post a short distance across the Santa Cruz River from the Native American Pueblo of Tucson. Royal defense policy moved the military arm of Spanish imperialism into the Tucson area in the latter third of the 18th century. The garrisons stationed at the new post included not only Mestizo and detribalized Native American troops, but also veterans and non-commissioned and commissioned officers born in Spain and other parts of Europe. Many of these Europeans, moreover, brought their wives and families with them to the post of San Agustín del Tucson.

The Christian missionaries who had insured the survival of Tucson as a Native American settlement did not initiate permanent European settlement at or near that mission outpost. The Roman Catholic requirement that its clergy remain celibate militated against missionary priests founding families of Europeans, or even contributing European genes to the Native American population.2 Thus, it remained for the Spanish frontier defense forces to institute permanent European settlement, and permanent Mestizo settlement (including mulattos3) in the Tucson area.

Even before the military post was established opposite Piman Tucson, the Native Americans there had gained some experience with royal Spanish troops. Not only did passing missionaries usually travel with military escorts, but a small detachment from Tubac was stationed at Bac for the protection of its missionary. Captain Nicolás de Lafora visited Tubac in 1766, and reported that a detachment was maintained at Bac and Piman Tucson for the safety of the Jesuit laboring there.4 That protection policy continued after Franciscans took over the Pimería Alta missions. It will be recalled that Friar Francisco Garcés wrote to Captain Anza that the soldiers were behaving “divinely” and setting the Native Americans a good Christian example.5


[page 56]

Some small force was undoubtedly kept at Bac until the Tubac garrison moved north to protect the exposed mission and its branch as well as the overland route to California in 1776. Then the Tucson natives met Spanish soldiery at mission headquarters at Bac or in their own ranchería.


The Move from Tubac to Tucson

One positive reason for the selection of Tucson as a garrison site was provided by the Native Americans themselves. The social structure of colonial Spanish America had been erected upon a base of food-producing Native Americans. Defense officials could count, they assumed, upon the Native American gardens at Tucson providing the garrison with at least some of its food requirements, in addition to the pasturage and firewood resources noted by Jesuit missionaries in 1752.

The immediate stimulus leading to establishment of a Spanish military post in this particular forward area was, on the other hand, a negative kind of military defense. Characteristically, Spanish colonization of its northern borderlands in New Spain late during colonial times occurred chiefly for defensive motives.6 New Mexico, first settled in 1598, resulted from initial imperial momentum. New Spain expanded its northern frontiers into Texas, Arizona and Upper California during the 18th century, however, primarily to block the path of England, Russia and other European powers to its riches. Thus, military posts founded in the Santa Cruz River Valley met first a Northern Piman Indian military threat, and later an immediate Apachean threat and remoter Russian threat to Spain's New World empire.

First, the northern military frontier advanced to defend missionaries against the very Native Americans they tried to convert to Christianity. The Sonoran provincial governor founded the posts at Tubac and Altar in the aftermath of the Northern Piman Revolt in 1752.7 Later, the distant threat of Russian colonization on the Pacific Coast of California and the actuality of hostilities with the non-sedentary Apaches loomed more important in official policy-making. Frontier officials enthusiastically supported the colonization of Upper California by Portolá, Serra and Anza to counter a Russian southward advance.8

Once Spanish outposts dotted Upper California, protection of an overland route from Sonora to that frontier province dictated orders to the Tubac garrison to move. Officials sent it north down the Santa Cruz River to the site across that stream from Piman Tucson that Sedelmayr, Stiger and Segesser had recommended a quarter of a century earlier. As a post protecting a communication line against hostile Indian attack, Tucson initially performed precisely the same task the first presidios established on New Spain's silvermining frontier had been designed for beginning in 1555.9

The final advance of the Tubac garrison down the Santa Cruz River to Tucson stemmed directly from an inspection of New Spain's northern frontier posts. The Marqués de Rubí10 carried out that tour of examination in 1766– 1767 as a special assignment from King Charles III. After completing his personal inspection tour, the marqués recommended realigning the conglomerate


[page 57]

of posts originally located for local tactical reasons. He envisioned the foremost military problem on the northern frontier of New Spain by that time as keeping hostile Apaches out of settled areas. The marqués thought that could be accomplished by establishing the frontier garrisons at the most defensible points along a line designed to repel hostile Indian incursions and also to guard against invasion by forces of another European power. The king's inspector wanted the frontier posts relocated to form a fairly straight line from the Sea of Cortez to the Gulf of Mexico.11 King Charles III ordered the Rubí plan put into effect in September of 1772.12

The viceroy of New Spain appointed Hugh O'Connor as commandant inspector to carry out the new regulations.13 Among the changes recommended by the marqués had been the relocation of the garrison stationed at Tubac since 1752, but O'Connor had his hands full in Texas where he was ordered to begin working. O'Connor campaigned almost constantly against various Apachean groups and examined post sites on the eastern sector of New Spain's northern frontier.14 Not until 1775 had O'Connor made sufficient progress on the Texas-Coahuila border sector to deal personally with Sonora on the west. Meanwhile, O'Connor in 1774 sent Antonio Bonilla to inspect the Sonora military posts and to plan improved defense there.15 In the course of his inspection, Bonilla examined the proposed site at Aribaca where the presidial garrison located at Tubac was to move according to the Rubí plan. Bonilla reported that spot to be unhealthy, as Sedelmayr had noted 22 years earlier. Bonilla therefore recommended against sending the Tubac garrison there.16

At the same time, Captain Juan Bautista de Anza rendered the Marqués de Rubí's conception of the western section of the frontier line obsolete when he succeeded in opening a land route from Sonora to Upper California with the assistance of Friar Francisco Garcés. To protect the new supply route, Spanish posts farther north than Rubí's envisioned straight line from gulf to gulf became necessary.


“El Capitán Colorado”

Credit for founding Spanish colonial Tucson and fixing the multi-ethnic character of its population goes to a red-headed Irishman serving the Spanish king. Hugh O'Connor became famous to the Native Americans of Texas as El Capitán Colorado, “The Red Captain,” from his flaming red hair.

Hugh O'Connor burst brilliantly upon the scene in military and Indian affairs in northern New Spain during the decade 1768 to 1778. As a captain, he had commanded the Presidio of Adais and acted as interim governor of Texas from 1768 to 1771. Promoted to lieutenant colonel and named inspector of military presidios in Coahila, Nueva Vizcaya and Sonora by Viceroy Bucareli, O'Connor took command on 12 December 1771.

He threw himself energetically into campaigns to defeat the hostile Apache tribes and to relocate the frontier presidios to enable them better to deal with enemy Native Americans. It fell to O'Connor to carry out the policies recommended by the Marqués de Rubí and embodied in the king's


[page 58]

1772 New Regulations for the presidial forces. His dedicated performance of this six-year task eventually won him military and civil honors.17

When he finally was able to select new sites for military posts on the western sector of Rubí's defense line, O'Connor determined the location of the post from which grew the modern city of Tucson. Carrying out his duties as commandant inspector of the Frontier Provinces of New Spain, O'Connor finally entered the Province of Sonora on 22 May 1775. By early September, O'Connor was back in Chihuahua. In less than four months, he relocated the four presidios forming the Sonoran sector of the defensive alignment of posts.18 O'Connor inspected the Tubac garrison, its arms, clothing, accounts, etc., from the 9th to the 18th of August in 1775.19

One portion of the lengthy reports then prepared for O'Connor tells something about the type of soldiery that would soon move to Tucson. Table 3 in the Appendix of this book presents data about the ages, birthplaces, ethnic classification and economic situation of troopers known to have served later at Tucson.

Riding north from Tubac, O'Connor personally inspected the Tucson area and marked off the future location of the Royal Post of San Agustín del Tucson. His reasons for choosing this particular site he clearly set forth in his brief report of inspection translated here:


CERTIFICATION

Don Hugo O'Conor, Knight of the Order of Calatrava, Colonel of Infantry in His Majesty's Armies, and Commandant Inspector of all the frontier posts of this New Spain for the King, Our Lord (whom God protect):

I certify: that having carried out the examination which Article 3 of the Royal Instruction inserted in the New Royal Regulation of Presidios issued by His Majesty on the tenth of September of 1772 prescribes for the removal of the company of San Ygnacio de Tubac in the Province of Sonora, I chose and marked out, in the presence of the Reverend Father Friar Francisco Garcés and Lieutenant Don Juan de Carmona, for the new situation of said presidio, with the denomination of San Agustín de Toixon, the place of this name situated at a distance of eighteen leagues from that of Tubac, because the requisite conditions of water, pasture, and wood occur, as well as a perfect closing of the Apache frontier.

In order to certify I sign this with the Reverend Father mentioned and Lieutenant Don Juan de Carmona, in the Mission of San Xavier del Bac on the twentieth of August of 1775.

DON HUGO O'CONOR

FR. FRANCISCO GARCÉS

JUAN FERNANDEZ CARMONA20

As is apparent in this report, O'Connor seems to have adopted “San Agustín de Toixon” as the proper local place name and ordered the new post to adopt the same designation as native Tucson (stjukshon). In other words, the “old place name took precedence.”21


[page 59]

The red-haired Irishman did not linger at Tucson nor even Bac on this initial inspection tour. Nonetheless during his brief visit the captain did obtain from Friar Francisco Garcés a pledge that the Native Americans of Bac and Piman Tucson would help to build the new post buildings.22

Two days after O'Connor selected Tucson as the future site of the post then at Tubac, he inspected Santa Cruz with the Tubac commander, and decided that the Terrenate garrison should move there.23 Three days later, he selected the San Bernardino site for the fourth Sonoran unit, again with Lieutenant Oliva as witness.24

Then, moving eastward, O'Connor wrote to Viceroy Antonio María Bucareli on August 29 and again on September 7 from Janos, recommending that the Tubac garrison be moved to Tucson. The viceroy approved on October 18, and O'Connor received his message at Carrizal by December 2.25 O'Connor then ordered the move for December 10, 1775.26 Consequently, according to Friar Pedro Font, the “following year of 1776 the presidio of Tubac was transferred hither, where it remains still, and is called the Presidio of San Agustín del Tuquison.”27


Old Commander, Young Ensign

Lieutenant Juan María de Oliva commanded the Tubac garrison at the time of its relocation at Tucson.28 The titular commander of the post, Juan Bautista de Anza, was at the time absent on his second California expedition.29 This left Oliva as senior officer present. Oliva had come up through the ranks of the Tubac garrison over the long years that had passed since he joined the then newly organized frontier defense company in 1752. Oliva excelled as a frontiersman and field commander, but he suffered from certain handicaps in background when called upon to exercise independent garrison command. This officer was not literate, for one thing, so depended upon others to handle the abundant correspondence which a Spanish post commandant had to carry on with his superiors. One possible consequence of Oliva's inability to write, and the recommendation O'Connor made that the only subaltern on the post be cashiered, might be that no written report on the precise date the Tubac garrison actually moved to Tucson ever was made to Oliva's superiors.30

Commandant Inspector O'Connor recommended on 18 August 1775 that Oliva, who was then 60 years old with over 29 years of service beginning on September 4, 1749,31 be retired with his salary.32 On October 27, the viceroy endorsed O'Connor's recommendation,33 and on 28 February 1776 the king signed the order retiring Oliva with the rank of captain.34 On 27 May 1776, the viceroy forwarded to O'Connor the king's retirement commission.35

Given the usual rate of transmission of royal mail, Oliva probably learned of his retirement about the beginning of August in 1776. Quite possibly he still had to retain command of the post until relieved, a situation complicated by Anza's continued absence. The post commandant journeyed to Mexico City from California to report personally to viceregal officials. Writing to the viceroy on 20 November 1776, Anza referred to “the garrison in my command” stationed at “San Agustín del Tuczón.”36 This reference clearly establishes


[page 60]

that the garrison moved no later than a month or so before that 1776 date, and that it had only its acting commander in residence.

After Anza had drained Tubac of its best personnel for his California expeditions, the only subaltern Oliva had left while awaiting retirement was an ensign whose principal claim to office at that period lay in being Anza's godson. This ensign, Juan Felipe Beldarrain, was a son of the original captain of the Pimería Alta company and founder of Tubac, Tomás Beldarrain. Yet the younger Beldarrain's performance during the pioneer Spanish years at Tucson left a good deal to be desired, as will become plain later.

The Spanish pattern of primary dependence upon genetic and ritual relatives to gain advancement clearly operated on the Sonoran frontier in such a way as to place men of questionable competence in responsible commands from time to time when members of the provincial elite succeeded in obtaining royal commissions for their real or fictive relations. On one occasion, a Spanish priest who was provoked by Beldarrain's callous report of Apache depredations accused him of doing nothing but dance, gamble, and sport fancy clothes.37


First Physical Structures

For several years following removal of the presidial garrison from Tubac to Tucson, the garrison lived on an open post. A fort was not built immediately at the new location, even though various Apache bands had been stealing horses and killing settlers near Spanish posts farther east since 1773.38 The first actual fortifications thrown up apparently consisted of a wooden palisade erected by order of the energetic young captain, Don Pedro Allande y Saabedra, after he took command on 12 June 1777.39 Allande claimed later to have erected a palisade of rough logs with four bulwarks, magazines and a guardhouse without cost to the royal exchequer.40 The Allande palisade did not, however, enclose all of the dwellings. When Adjutant Inspector Don Roque de Medina inspected this post in the spring of 1779, he reported:

The area of the presidio houses and jacales is fortified with a wide ditch roundabout and a palisade of logs which Captain Don Pedro Allande ordered built, and two ramparts on which the cannon are emplaced. Some of the houses of citizens and soldiers are outside the palisade and under only the defense of the artillery and the low works raised at one side at a greater distance from the water than they could have been put.

Allande built this fortification to follow the specifications laid down in the 1772 New Regulations, even though his stockade was temporary. It has been concluded that such bastions distinguish posts resulting from the 1772 reforms from both earlier and later structures.41

At this time, the construction of a permanent fortification languished half-finished, largely because of very poor financial management by the subaltern who had been acting as quartermaster of the presidial company with inadequate supervision from the illiterate former commanding officer.


[page 61]

According to Medina, “Only on two walls is the material structure of this presidio to the height of a scant yard and a half, and it is of adobes. In it there has been consumed, according to the account rendered by Don Juan Felipe Beldarrain, the ensign who was quartermaster, 1,801 pesos 6 reales.”

The unfortunate Beldarrain owed the construction fund some 2,150 pesos 2 reales. After selling his property to pay off his total debts, this officer still owed 6,176 pesos 1 real 2 maravedis in the spring of 1779! His default was attributed to lack of experience in handling finances, to poor conduct, lack of an accountant, and lack of a literate superior officer to help him.

The armament of the new post in 1779 included four bronze cannon, for which 66 balls were available. A dozen others sent to the post had been made into musket balls. The powder magazine was built a gunshot's distance from the post where it would not endanger it if this structure caught fire, but the adjutant inspector considered the practice of closing its doorway with adobes quite unsuitable. A new magazine to have a door with two locks was being built in accordance with the 1772 Royal Regulations.42 A large enough supply of powder was on hand for Captain Allande to sell the settlers at the former Tubac post 25 pounds at one peso per pound. The powder reserve was 694 pounds. Over a three-year period, 140 pounds had been used up in exercises, target practice and actual engagements.43

In 1780, reports of Apaches referred still to the stockade.44 In the report of 27 December 1788 post inspection, Lt. José Maria Abate was commended for “having at his own cost walled the Presidio on the very terms he offered.”45 Thus, the earthen wall evidently was completed in 1783. When ultimately finished, the presidio walls of sun-dried bricks stood some ten or twelve feet high and three feet wide at the base,46 although it melted away to a lesser dimension as rains eroded it.47 A Welshman who settled in Tucson in 1858 remembered the wall when describing it 27 years later48 as eight to sixteen feet high enclosing 300 square yards.


Settlement and Social Patterns

When colonial authorities stationed a military garrison across the river from Tucson, they determined the specific location of the modern city and set its pattern of early urban development. The post was built as a compact village. A stockade and then an earthen defensive wall surrounded the military post buildings, although both members of the garrison and civilians built houses outside the wall. All clustered together in a compact settlement, however, and the farmers, the ranchers, and even the military guards assigned to protect grazing remount herds all walked or rode from their homes to their fields and pastures to labor.49 The Spanish presidio followed royal plans drawn up in emulation of Roman military colonies centuries earlier.50 In practice, Apachean attacks upon the royal Spanish presidio at Tucson gave reality to a constant military threat to that post's population, fostering social solidarity.51

Furthermore, the garrison and civilians alike shared a single religion, with an ordained Roman Catholic priest living on post most of the time as


[page 62]

military chaplain. The chaplain and the presidial commander shared the social leadership of Tucson. They represented king and Pope, sharing an identification with an older prestige.52 While not all post commandants possessed a formal education, most had some, so that they stood out as superior to their subordinates and the civilian satellites of the post. Even the illiterate Lieutenant Juan M. Oliva stood out as an Indian fighter. The chaplains possessed considerable formal learning, of necessity. Thus, both military and ecclesiastical leadership at Tucson lay in the hands of men superior in techniques highly approved by Hispanic society — oral facility in Spanish, formal learning, and rather extraordinary physical fighting powers exemplified by such men as Oliva, Pedro de Allande, José María Abate and Ygnacio F. Usarraga.

By keeping the productive population in “ready touch” with the officers and ecclesiastical leaders of Tucson, the compact presidial settlement facilitated cooperation. The size of the garrison and its direct royal financing allowed the religious institution to function on this far frontier of Christendom much as it did in more peaceful urban places.53

The Native Americans who farmed along the river felt major social impact from the presence of the presidio. Once established at Tucson, the military post became the primary institution of cultural contact and exchange54 involving Spaniards and the Santa Cruz River Valley Indians, as well as many Northern Pimans dwelling on the arid lands north to the Gila River and west to the mountains bordering on the Colorado River.

Defense officials in New Spain had garrisoned the new post with a troop of frontier cavalrymen who relied primarily upon the lance to fight Native Americans who possessed few firearms and less ammunition. Arrival of this garrison therefore augmented the cultural alternatives colonial Spain offered to Native Americans on its northern New World frontier. One side of the Santa Cruz River showed imperial might exemplified in the lance wielded by cavalry troopers stationed at San Agustín del Tucson. On the opposite bank of the stream, imperial Christianization policy found its symbol in the baptismal shell of the missionaries who served Piman Tucson from Bac.

Hostile Western Apaches posed a real physical threat to inhabitants of both Tucsons. This seemed to generate inter-ethnic exchange and solidarity. Civilians cooperated with the garrison to defend the post and conduct offensive actions, yet their Hispanic individualism probably survived intact. The Native Americans at Piman Tucson across the river cooperated in defense and raiding, thus forging the kind of social alliance that was fundamentally important in culturally assimilating Northern Pimans into colonial society.55

The Santa Cruz River Valley environment imposed one constraint on individualism among Tucson farmers that fostered inter-familial and even inter-ethnic cooperation. That constraint was semi-aridity that required irrigating crops. Many modern studies document how fundamental cooperation between irrigators is for their mutual success.56 Inasmuch as Native Americans at Piman Tucson quarreled over irrigation water even before the Jesuit 1767 expulsion, one may be sure that settlement of Spanish farmers near the


[page 63]

presidio forced inter-familial and even inter-ethnic cooperation in irrigation water management57 as water demand increased. At the same time, Spanish settlement generated inter-ethnic conflicts over water allocation, as least at a later date than the founding of the post.


Captain Don Pedro de Allande y Saabedra

Fortunately for historians, and evidently for the Tucson garrison, a literate and energetic regular army officer assumed command about a year after the founding of the new post. Captain Don Pedro de Allande y Saabedra was assigned the command of the Tucson post on 11 February 1777, at the age of 35 or 36.58 His regular commission was dated 12 June 1777,59 and by coincidence he actually assumed command of the post on that date. Five days later he reported to the commandant of the Frontier Provinces the sad condition in which he found the presidio.

Allande y Saabedra was evidently a martinet, a spit-and-polish officer who was very different from Oliva. Allande had been a lieutenant in the Dragoon Regiment of Mexico and wanted to be reassigned to that outfit. An inspector in 1779 reprimanded him for using cruel and improper punishments to maintain discipline, and for employing soldiers and Indian scouts in his private business affairs, yet he was not then transferred.

Allande y Saabedra was a nobleman born in Spain. He had entered the royal army as a cadet in the Navarre Infantry at the age of 14, and had spent 22 years in the service by the time he assumed command of the presidial company at Tucson. Allande was a veteran of Spain's war with Portugal in 1762, battles against the Moors, and the drawn-out Sonoran campaign against the Seri Indians on the Gulf of California Coast between 1767 and 1777. Probably Allande y Saabedra's behavior was not mitigated by his being a widower when he reached Tucson. Allande belonged, in a word, to that group of frontiersmen developing during the 18th century which has been seriously neglected by historians.60


The Soldiers of Tucson

The human component of the Royal Fort of San Agustín del Tucson seems to have been little better or worse in the late 1700s than in the other frontier posts of New Spain. The officer who inspected the presidio in 1779 found a great deal to criticize. Few actual changes of a serious nature were made, however, so it appears that the situation was little worse than that in other posts.

Captain Allande had under his command in the spring of 1779 77 men, but only 59 effectives. His lieutenant served at San Miguel de Horcasitas because of his special knowledge of the still-hostile Seris. Ex-ensign Felipe Beldarrain was in the guard house under arrest and not numbered among the effectives. This left two ensigns and the chaplain, with whom Allande did not get along, for officers.


[page 64]

Lieutenant Miguel de Urrea

Captain Allande's second-in-command was 12 years older than he, and undoubtedly much wiser in frontier Indian warfare. Lieutenant Miguel de Urrea was a native Sonoran, son of Captain Bernardo de Urrea, founder of the Royal Post of Altar. The Urrea family followed a tradition of service to the Crown and produced many competent officers.

Miguel de Urrea had in 1779 spent his entire 37 years of army service in Sonoran frontier posts. This gave him a detailed knowledge of warfare with specific Native Americans, but his provincial birth and service worked against him in the promotion lists. Apparently Allande had recognized the desirability of replacing Lieutenant Oliva with another experienced Indian fighter when the latter retired. Urrea transferred to Tucson five months after Allande took command, after spending 23 years as a lieutenant in the Urrea family operation at Altar.61 Those years close to the Seri frontier motivated Urrea's transfer to San Miguel, where he could lend Allande no assistance in 1779. Whatever role Urrea's relatives played in obtaining a commission for Miguel, his ability as an Indian fighter seems unquestionable.


Ensign Diego de Oya

The first ensign of the Tucson company in 1779 was Diego de Oya, then 57 years old. A native of Europe, Oya was another veteran of the Portuguese War. He had served 14 years as a soldier and corporal and 5 as a sergeant before becoming an acting ensign on 30 March 1776. The king signed his regular commission on 31 August 1776. Oya took the place vacated by the dismissal of Juan Felipe Beldarrain.62 When Oya first arrived in Sonora, Lieutenant Colonel Anza prevailed upon the governor not to approve him, reportedly thus winning time for his godson Beldarrain. Oya's superiors then ordered him back to his assigned post and had Beldarrain cashiered.63


Ensign José Francisco de Castro

The second ensign of Tucson in 1779 was José Francisco de Castro, only a year older than Allande and a native of Mexico. Like Oya and Urrea, Castro came up through the ranks, where he spent nearly 14 years before becoming an acting ensign in the Tucson company on 30 March 1778. Castro earlier fought in the Caribbean and served as a sergeant with the Dragoon Regiment of Mexico under Hugh O'Connor. King Charles III signed Castro's commission on 26 August 1778.64


The Troop

Allande's leather-armored or heavy cavalry consisted of 37 troopers with 2 second corporals paid the same as privates, 2 first corporals and a sergeant plus a master armorer. The light cavalry included 17 soldiers under 2 corporals and a sergeant. The company had 10 Indian scouts under a corporal. Five


[page 65]

of the corporals and 29 of the soldiers were Spaniards, the heavy cavalry sergeant a Roman, and the rest were mixed-bloods or detribalized Native Americans.

The list of Tubac troopers who later served at Tucson (Appendix Table 3) gives some interesting insights regarding Spanish colonial ethnic and social perceptions. One column is headed “Social Class,” but in fact indicates ethnic make-up. This usage reflects the fact that colonial authorities in 1775 employed the term class in a sense very different from the socio-economic group meaning it acquired during the French Revolution and later. In 1775, it meant ethnic status to residents of New Spain. The peninsular Spanish dominant minority in the colonies held the ethnically mixed population in low esteem. Manuel Abad y Queipo, Bishop of Michoacan, in 1799 characterized the people created by miscegenation as “drunks, incontinent, lazy, without honor, grace nor loyalty, without a notion of religion, nor of morality, without class, polish nor decency.…”65

Racial categories included in Appendix Table 3 are Spaniard, Coyote, Morisco, and Mulatto. The latter term carried the same meaning that it did in the English-speaking colonies in North America: the mating of a Spaniard and a Negro produced a Mulatto. The person termed a Morisco in colonial New Spain would be socially defined as a black in the United States 200 years after this document was written. A Spaniard who mated with a Mulata produced a Morisco.66 Both Mulattos and Moriscos would be socially defined as Negros in modern Tucson.

The term Coyote probably denoted a person three-fourths Native American and one-fourth European. By a complicated series of matings, a Coyote could also be 7/64 Indian, 257/512, Negro and 271/512 European.67 It is questioned, however, whether the refined conceptualization required to so define a “Coyote” was employed on the Sonoran frontier.

Clearly race mixture was well advanced in this garrison. Two Opata Indians served in the heavy cavalry. Their presence indicated that in addition to service in three special ethnic Opata companies,68 these Native Americans now had another social route by which they could lose their tribal identity in their eager adoption of Spanish culture.

Opata Indian scouts were listed in the inspection report with Spanish baptismal names and both Opata and Spanish surnames, reflecting the European standardized system of identifying individuals “as impersonal units” in the military service.69 Officers clearly assigned Indian scouts serving with Spanish units Spanish names if they did not already possess them. Thus, army service functioned as one of those institutions of cultural contact between Spaniards and friendly Native American tribesmen70 which facilitated the acquisition of Hispanic traits by the latter, including personal names as well as more complex patterns.

Military Commandant of Sonora Don Juan Bautista de Anza had attached 20 Opatas to the Tucson company in 1777 for service against the Seris. When Adjutant Inspector Don Roque de Medina reviewed the post in May of 1779, he dismissed those Opatas from the service. The summary of Medina's inspection


[page 66]

of the Tucson garrison showed the force listed in Appendix Table 4.71

Twenty-six of the 58 enlisted men in the Tucson company in 1779 (excluding Indian scouts) can be identified as having belonged to the unit in August of 1775 perhaps six months before it moved. This was only 45% of its 1779 complement. There had been a very large turnover in personnel, apparently, just before or just after the garrison moved.

The Tucson cavalry troop had 289 horses and 52 mules. Its personal spit-and-polish seems not to have extended to horse gear, inasmuch as this was virtually ruined by poor care in the open, according to the inspector.

Medina viewed the Tucson troops as well-clothed. They had received new uniforms in November of 1778. As a result, they had not been receiving the two reales in cash per day to which they were entitled under the New Royal Regulations of 1772,72 because the company's funds had gone to pay for the uniforms. They seemed to be better-than-average musket shots at target practice, but lacked experience in firing pistols. The commandant general of the Frontier Provinces considered the Tucson unit the only one in Sonora well-trained in the use of firearms at this period.73 They also knew their close order and mounted drill to the satisfaction of the inspector.

Captain Allande considered eight of his men unfit for service in the spring of 1779.

The Roman sergeant, José de Tona, was 47 years of age at the time of the inspection, having served in the Spanish army since 1774. He had come from Tubac with the company, had been demoted to corporal in January of 1778 and made sergeant again in July, probably when Sergeant Pedro Márquez was promoted to ensign and transferred to the Pima Indian company then stationed at Buenavista.74

Tona's variations in rank sound typical of non-commissioned officers in other armies at other times and places. Clearly non-commissioned officers formed the backbone of this command as of many others in military history.

Allande seldom had more than a few men under his direct control on the post. Most of his troops served in detachments stationed at the former post of Tubac and the missions of Tumacacori, Calabasas and San Xavier del Bac for their protection. Other troops escorted the pack trains which brought provisions from those places to Tucson, and 25 men spent their time guarding the horse herd.

The large detachment stationed in the settlements farther up the Santa Cruz River Valley to the south represented Captain Allande's attempt to protect Tucson's supply lines. The depredations of hostile Apaches had made the threat to those places very serious. In October of 1777, the Apaches ran off the last of the cattle and horses of the settlers left at Tubac. In November, Apaches grazed their own animals on Tubac's fields with impunity, stealing maize from the milpas for three days. Captain Allande had set up stiff penalties for the settlers if they left or sold out, so he felt obligated to provide them with some protection.75

A Spanish presidio commander's powers included that of making grants of land within the military reservation. The frontier presidio constituted,


[page 67]

therefore, an institution specifically designed to foster civilian settlement on imperial frontiers, as well as a short-term military installation. Allande exercised this power at least once during 1779.76 In New Spain, military posts and missions became centers of ranching and farming development on generous land grants, and retired solders usually settled in the vicinity of their old posts. “Roman history was repeated” in Spanish royal land policy.77

Thus it happened that a civilian settlement remained at Tubac after the military garrison moved to Tucson. Moreover, the civil population at the post of San Agustín del Tucson grew, probably beginning with the transfer from Tubac, and certainly by 1779, as Allande's grant of land then shows. Inevitably, military land policy irked the Tucson Native Americans, who suddenly had to share fields and irrigation waters with strangers.

An idea of the financial status of the soldiers in the Tucson garrison under Allande may be gained from a report on their accounts with the company treasury as of the end of December in 1778. There are stated in terms of the nearest peso in Appendix Table 5. This company accounts statement provides an idea of the antiquity of certain surnames in the Spanish-speaking population of modern Tucson.

Later enumerations and other documents allow some determination of the fate of pioneer Tucson soldiers. Mission records reveal, for example, that Trooper Loreto Amezquita had less than a year to live at the time Medina inspected the garrison. Amezquita died on 7 February 1780, apparently while on detached guard duty at Tubac. About 45 years old at his death, Amezquita left a widow, María Phelipa de León. Friar Pedro Antonio de Arriquibar presided over his burial in the cemetery of Tumacacori Mission the following day.78 The fate of other members of the Tucson garrison remains shrouded in the fog of forgotten archives.


[page 68]

Up: Contents Previous: PART II. THE PRESIDIO Next: 7. Fighting Apaches: Offense and Defense, 1778–1782




© Arizona Board of Regents