E. Military Characteristic of the Royal Fort at Tubac
The lives of the soldiers of the royal fort at Tubac can perhaps be appreciated best by examining the activities in which they participated and the material and ideational equipment they brought into play during those activities.
1. Indian Chasing Cavalry
Once the Tubac garrison was operational, it did not sit around the post waiting for hostile Indians to come knocking at the door to arrange a tilt. Most of its campaigns were in the nature of retaliatory raids following Apache or Seri incursions, but the hardriding Sonoran cavalrymen did carry the fight to the enemy.
a. Apache Offensive in 1752. Captain Juan Thomas de Beldarrain evidently did not require much time to shake his new cavalry troop down into a battle-ready outfit. Although the company was mustered only on March 26, he was using detachments to ride hard on the potentially hostile northern Pimans at least by early May (Beldarrain May 13, 1752). Then the governor's order to locate thirty men at Tubac dated June 2 created a moving and construction job, yet within two months Ortiz Parrilla ordered Beldarrain to undertake a campaign against Apaches to the east (Ortiz Parrilla Aug. 7, 1752:107). Captain Beldarrain was at the royal fort of Fronteras on September 11 in the course of that campaign (Beldarrain Sept. 11, 1752) with an unknow n number of his Tubac troopers.
177b. Seri Offensive in 1757. After Visitor Gallardo's attack on the Seris and Governor Diego Ortiz Parrilla's investment of their Tiburon Island refuge in 1749 and 1750 the Spaniards assumed they had just about exterm inated that refugee group of tribal remnants. The durable Seris disabused them before long, and went over to the attack. On November 3, 1757, a war party of Seris and rebel northern Pimans struck the settlement of San Lorenzo a short distance south of San ta María Magdalena, killing thirty-two persons (Libro de Entierros de Santa María Magdalena de 1702, p. 52-53). This brazen affront called for military reprisal, and the Spaniards collected troops to chase the offenders back to the Gulf once again. In that campaign troopers from Tubac participated and Manuel Ignacio Carizosa died at Santa Ana on December 30 from wounds received earlier in the month (ibid., p. 54).
c. Seri Offensive in 1760. After young Captain Juan Bautista de Anza took over command of the Tubac post in 1760 his first campaign was into Seri country near the Gulf of California. During this affair, he participated with credit in one of the epic incidents of Indian warfare under the somewhat unintelligent command of the then-governor of Sonora who later managed to get himself killed by such tactics. The Seris refuged in strength in the Sierra Prieta and the Spaniards advanced toward the canyon known as Prickly Pear Cactus Canyon (Cajon de la Nopalera) only to be drenched by a heavy rain. That night they spent standing to arms because of the proximity of the enemy, and next morning fifty-one men marched into 178the narrow canyon. The arroyo was so narrow and rocky that they had to march single-file past the high slopes affording the Seris perfect vantage on either side. Captain Bernardo de Urrea led the advance guard of six soldiers, followed by Governor Mend oza keeping him in sight, the military chaplain, Captain Anza, Captain Mena, a sergeant major, and the remainder of the detachment (Garcia Nov. 23, 1760:108-109).
The Seris finally scared some discretion into Governor Mendoza and he withdrew. Captain Anza covered the retreat with four troopers (ibid., p. 115).
After this futile campaign the Spaniards marched back to San Miguel de Horcasitas, and the governor conceived the idea of detailing Captain Francisco Elias Gonzalez (comandant at Terrenate) with fifty regular troops including a detachme nt of fifteen from Tubac to ride back and forth between San Miguel de Horcasitas and the port of Guaymas, checking the water holes and trails for fresh tracks to follow (ibid., p. 118).
d. Seri Offensive of 1761. After the impetuous Governor Mendoza got himself killed by Seris enroute to his new assignment as governor of Puebla (Almada 1952:464), interim Governor José Tienda de Cuerbo called a council of war of his four frontier post commanders at San Miguel de Horcasitas. They and other persons the governor approached offered large sums of money and the Jesuit Visitor of the province offered stores of provisions from the missions for a great offensive to punish the pestiferous Seris. The frontier posts were 179denuded of troops: thirty-seven from San Miguel, thirty-three from Altar, thirty-four from Fronteras, forty from Terrenate and the same number from Tubac. Captain Anza evidently took nearly his whole company on this campaign, helping to make the total 184 soldiers who were aided by 217 friendly Indians and twenty citizens. This force moved out of San Miguel on November 7, scouted the Cerro Prieto without finding a Seri. For three months the Spanish force then ran down scattered Seris making for the coast and the island of San Juan Bautista. The Spaniards and their Indian allies succeeded in slaying forty-nine Seris and capturing sixty-three, while recovering 322 horses. The total allied loss was one soldier and one Indian killed, and twelve wounded who recovered. Once again a Sonoran governor hoped that he had vanquished the valiant Seris. But as soon as the big expedition withdrew from the coastal plain, the furious remnants of the Seri returned to the attack like a river breaking a dam. Meanwhile the Apaches had been making the most of the absence of troops to raid at will (Tamarón 1937:268).
e. Apache Offensive of 1766. During February and March of 1766 Captain Juan Bautista de Anza led a combined force from several posts plus some northern Piman scouts east into Apache country. "It was like a hundred other campaigns ; forty captives in all were taken and distributed by lot among the captors..." (Bancroft 1884:I:559). Anza took a detachment from Tubac and thirty Pima auxiliaries east to the San Pedro River to rendezvous with detachments from the forts 180at Terrenate and Fronteras. Then he continued eastward across the Willcox Playa to the Florida Mountains (Anza Mar.17, 1766:109). Unable to precipitate a battle with twenty Apaches he found on the summit, Anza retreated in feigned disorder, turning horses l oose to tempt the enemy and setting up an ambuscade in a small canyon. When the Indians fell into his trap, Anza charged his cavalry at their flank, but the uneven ground hampered the horses and most of the damage was inflicted by infantry fire (ibid., p. 110). Sure from the abundant smoke signals they were sending up that all the Apaches in that vicinity were warned of his presence, Anza marched for San Simón and found a seventywarrior ranchería on top of another mountain. Two of the Apaches were killed in his attack, and the rest fled so precipitously that Anza's command collected much loot including nearly forty captives but few horses (ibid., p. 111). Anza concluded his campaign by sending small detachments sweeping through the San Vicente Mountains to frighten the Apaches living there on the borders of Sonora to flee northward toward the Gila River. He returned to Tubac after three weeks in the field because of an epidemic among his Piman Indian auxiliaries (ibid ., p. 112).
f. Seri Campaign of 1766. In December of 1766 Lt. Juan M. Oliva had a detachment of a corporal and nine enlisted men from the Tubac company on duty on the Seri frontier keeping watch and ward over those hostiles (Rubí Dec. 21, 1766). The Seris were at that time holed up in the Cerro Prieto, tying down the Tubac detachments and others (Rubí Dec. 31, 1766a).
g. Elizondo Expedition. In 1768 Sonora was galvanized by the greatest military effort yet seen in that Spanish frontier province. The cause of the great upheaval was the arrival of the giant Elizondo Expedition with hundreds of troops from southern Mexico, even 100 Catalan Volunteers from Spain, and the concentration of frontier fort forces to undertake a full scale war against the Seri and other Gulf Coast Indians. This all-out military effort to dispose of the Indian threat on the western flank of Sonora had been decided upon by José de Galvez, (Bancroft 1894:I:660-662), King Charles III's personal inspector-reformer of conditions in New Spain (Priestley 1916:404). Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and part of his Tubac garrison were mustered into the large force assembled in the central part of the province to wage offensive war against the coastal peoples.
1768 Campaigns--In the opening campaign Colonel Domingo Elizondo employed European tactics with complete futility. In late May and early June of 1768 he moved from Guaymas toward the Cerro Prieto stronghold with one column of seventy men while Urrea and Cancio marched in from Pitic and Buenavista with two others to drive the Seris into one area where a decisive battle could be fought. The three columns advanced until the horses gave out in the desert and Elizondo had to admit failure (Rowland 1930:142-143).
The Colonel, regular army though he may have been, was an intelligent man and learned from his experiences in the 182Sonoran desert. He and the governor changed plans, throwing out small pickets to harry the hostile natives into concentrating in one stronghold which could then be assaulted in strength (ibid., p. 146).
First Captain into the field to implement the frontier-style campaign agreed upon was Captain Juan Bautista de Anza. The young Tubac comandant rode out with fifty men and found three large Seri rancherías where his force killed several Indians, captured some horses and recovered a young Spanish captive, at the cost of one killed and several wounded (Rowland 1930:147).
After Anza's scout, Captain Urrea and the Colonel himself led the next troops out, Urrea striking west from Pitic with seventy men and Elizondo north from Guaymas with 210. A hundred of his men were infantry who were so exhausted after six day's marching he had to send them in to Pitic (ibid., p. 147-149). Urrea killed a few warriors, captured some women. Elizondo marched into a force of 300 archers on ground of their own choosing, and drove them from it.
These were small victories, however, and their result was merely attritional. A few Seris were killed and captured but the majority ran off to fight another day. Colonel Elizondo, trained in the decisive-battle school of European warfare, could hardly be expected to endure this sort of penny-ante fighting very long. He had been sent to Sonora to gain a knock-out victory over the coastal Indians-to exterminate 183them if need be. His whole military training cried out for a decisive action.
Therefore Elizondo kept trying to force the Seris into a decisive action (Bancroft 1884:I:663-664). The Indians, being reasonably intelligent as well as products of training in guerrilla hit-and-run and ambush style warfare rather than manpowerwasting toe-to-toe slugging matches, sensibly avoided being drawn into any such arrangement.
After the fall scouts, it appeared that Elizondo's moment had arrived, however, with a concentration of enemy Indians in the Cerro Prieto strongholds about thirty-five miles from Pitic (modern Hermosillo). Over six hundred regular soldiers were launched toward the mountains at the end of November in an effort to gain decisive victory (Rowland 1930:157-158). The various Spanish columns performed according to plan, but their achievement was practically nil-the Indians refused to be lured into the trap of standing up to the Spaniards in open battle (ibid., p. 159-160).
1769 Campaigns. Both Spaniards and Seris were tiring of this sort of warfare by the summer of 1769 when Visitor-General José de Galvez reached the theatre of conflict (Bancroft 1884:I:665). He ordered a general armistice to allow the Seris to come in and surrender on promise of complete amnesty for past deeds. Captain Anza returned the day after the armistice from a scout with a surrendered Seri as a guide during which he recovered one Spanish and two Indian captives 184and twenty-five horses his command had taken from the hostile Indians (Croix July 15, 1769:24).
The armistice was repeatedly extended to allow enemy bands a chance to make up their minds, and ran from May 8 through July 22, but the Seris end other hostiles stayed away from the Spanish towns in droves.
Then Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and other officers returned to the attritional style of frontier warfare, preparatory to another big push into the Cerro Prieto. Once again young Captain Anza was first field commander out after the armistice ended. This time he rode out with eighty dragoons at the end of July, guided by one of the few Seris who had decided for peace. The Seri naturally led Anza to an encampment of northern Piman apostates rather than his own tribesmen, but all the dragoons got for their ride was three prisoners and a collection of bows, arrows, and similar booty. Captain Anza ordered the foodstuffs collected at the ranchería which the Indians had fled to be burned. Continuing on into the coastal marsh country, Anza managed to bag a couple of Seris, but a ranchería nearby was warned by the noise of the scuffle and took flight. The column returned to Pitic on August 8 of that year 1769.
This sort of harrying continued until the European-trained officers and Visitor-General José de Galvez felt the time ripe for another attempt at precipitating a decisive battle. This time no less than four large columns marched toward the Cerro 185Prieto. Matias de Armona struck in from the north with 105 soldiers plus 120 Indian auxiliaries. Diego Payran came up from the south with 130 soldiers and 100 native auxiliaries. Gabriel de Vildósola took the third column of 137 soldiers and 150 friendly Indians in on the eastern flank. The expedition commander also moved in from the east with 144 troops and 150 Indians (ibid., p. 198-199). The result was no different than before (Bancroft 1884:I:665) if as good (Rowland 1930:204).
From experience Elizondo and the other European trained officers learned what the presidial officers had known along: the Spaniards really had no choice. In terrain of their own choice, the coastal Indians could not be defeated by masses of troops. A decisive single engagement was in fact impossible unless it occurred by sheer accident, and the Spanish expedition was much too large to take advantage of such an accident should one occur. The only real alternative Elizondo had was to pour his resources into the type of attritional campaign the frontier officers had been leading.
When Visitor-General José de Galvez was taken ill with a severe and incapacitating fever, command of the great expedition devolved entirely upon Colonels Elizondo and Pineda, the provincial governor. They were by then convinced the attritional campaigns of the presidial captains were the only prospect for success in the campaign to break the 186troublemaking potential of the Gulf of California coastal tribes.
Once more Captain Anza came to the forefront as he led one of the first three columns of fifty men sent out under the revised plan of operations. One force found no Indians, the second captured a few and Anza had a battle. He ran onto a northern Piman ranchería where his force killed seventeen warriors, capturing several women and children. The commander himself was wounded in the face by an arrow in the first flight fired by the defenders, but he rode at the three Indians concentrating on him and they broke and ran from the pistol shot he fired at them (ibid,. p. 209).
Captain Anza reported to the governor on November 10 of 1769 that he had scouted the Cerro Prieto as ordered, locating the assembled Seri host in the Canyon of the Nopalera. He would have attempted an assault had his water not given out, but his campaign was not a total loss for he recovered a total of 126 horses from the enemy Indians. He was able to get 124 of them back alive, distributing eight as spoils of war to the Piman scouts and citizens accompanying him, and asked permission to distribute the remainder among the troops as was customary (Anza Nov. 10, 1769:116). Anza had been charged with locating water sources, and he explained that the dry lakes were as dry as though they had never been filled, wells excavated to a depth of a dozen yards yielded very little flow, and the springs were failing, being more mud than water (ibid., p. 116-117).
1871770 Campaigns--The attritional campaigns continued into 1770 until toward the end of March the first break in Indian resistance came at Pitic. Two Seris came in to sue for peace and pardon, which was granted, so forty-three of their band gave up the struggle and accepted Spanish peace conditions. The chief of this group revealed that germs had been fighting for the Spaniards over the winter. The most numerous of the three tribal groups involved in the fight had been decimated by yellow fever and reduced to the smallest of the three in numbers (Rowland 1930:214).
In the middle of March the Elizondo headquarters received word from Altar of Pápago cattle stealing so Indian-Agent Juan Bautista de Anza was given sixty of the presidial troops operating with the expedition to go tend to his "friendly" Indians (ibid. p. 215). After a trip north to his post at Tubac and beyond to settle Indian affairs among the allied northern Pimans at Tucson and Bac in May (Anza May 19, 1770:118-120), Captain Anza returned to the Gulf Coast Campaign.
During July Captain Anza with Captain Joséph A. Vildósola led 120 men into the Gulf Coast region scouting for Seris. After following the tracks of thirty Indians toward the coastal salines for twentyfour hours without water, the captains had to withdraw for safety's sake (Croix Sept. 25, 1770).
In August the Tubac comandant set off with seventy men to scout along the Gulf coast again. Lack of water forced him to turn back again and columns under Vildósola and Gallo 188suffered the same fate (Rowland 1930:224). Later in the fall Captain Anza, out on another scout, was able to catch off-guard some Seris who foolishly returned to the mainland from their Tiburon Island refuge. Ten Indians died (ibid., p. 25). Other scouting parties continued to carry the war to the isolated bands of hostile Indians who still remained, and the tide had definitely turned in favor of the Spaniards as the disease-weakened Indians rapidly surrendered.
With victory in sight the frontier fort commanders were eager to return to their posts to begin evening accounts with the Apaches who had taken advantage of their absence in western Sonora. Captain Gabriel de Vildósola in the fall of 1770 requested the restoration of the Tubac and Terrenate presidial contingents serving with the expedition for duty against the Apaches. The request was seconded by the Expedition Quartermaster Pedro de Corbalán. Colonel Elizondo refused to detach any of the troops under his command, although he was somewhat agitated by these requests (Anza. Oct. 31, 1770:122). A decisive victory was too close to Elizondo's grasp for him to jeopardize it by letting up the pressure on the remnants of the coastal peoples.
For twenty-eight days, October 1 through 28, 1770, Captain Anza was in the field against the hostiles again, as were captains Urrea and Vildósola and another party under Vellido with one of Urrea's frontier-reared sons who ranked as an ensign to back him up, as well as one under Peyran 189(Anza Oct. 31, 1770:120-121). Anza was only able to kill four Seri warriors and capture twenty-one prisoners because the Indians had been alarmed by Urrea's previous sweep through their country. Anza was disgusted with Vellido for leaving a fresh track leading into barren mountains where Ensign Urrea was sure the enemy was holed up to go scout the vicinity of the settled towns where he found nothing (ibid., p. 121). Peyran thought that he had killed two men and two women of the apostate northern Pimans.
Success--The procrastinating northern Piman apostates were reluctant to surrender but a significant number gave up in January of 1771 and by the middle of spring so few enemy families remained at large that the Spaniards concluded the campaign was over and the mission of the greatest military expedition Sonora had ever seen was accomplished (Rowland 1930:226). Attritional warfare had won, aided by epidemic disease. The Elizondo expedition disbanded, leaving such of the Catalan Volunteers as had not gone to California in 1769 in Sonora to bolster the frontier posts (Bancroft 1884:I:667).
The rest of the regulars and special levies departed from the northwest province on the first of May and Mexico City welcomed them on August 11, news of the great achievement having been published at the capital on June 17. Colonels Eli zondo and Pineda were put up for brigadier generalcies and Pedro de Corbalán was rewarded with governorship of Sonora (Rowland 1930:230-231).
190The frontier post commanders and their contingents returned to the lonely Apache borderlands to take up again their never-ending struggle against another Indian enemy. They had participated in a great military adventure, met and dined and fought with great men, commanded the largest forces of their lives. The frontier posts must have seemed suddenly unbearably small and confining, the old familiar faces of presidial company complements irritatingly dull and boring. Had it not been for the leavening of fresh personalities in the Catalan volunteers, and the pride of accomplishment in wiping out the Indian problem on one flank of the province, and the air of reform blowing through the whole colonial administration from the throne of energetic King Charles III, the frontier post commanders and garrisons would have found life hardly bearable.
The skeleton forces left to hold the frontier forts against the Apaches during the Elizondo expedition had meanwhile fought their share of battles.
h. Apache Offensive in 1768. While Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and most of his men fought the Gulf of California coastal tribes, his ensign held the fort at Tubac and even managed to sally out against the Apaches (Bancroft 1884:I:663, fn. 4). Anza's subaltern somehow found twenty-six soldiers and fifty Indian auxiliaries to scout Apache country in December of 1768 (Croix Feb. 18, 1769:10). Unfortunately he encountered so many Apaches that he thought best 191to beat a hasty retreat although his lance-loving cavalrymen lanced to death two of the enemy and wounded others (Croix: Mar. 18, 1769:13).
i. Apache Offensive in 1769. On April 3 of 1769 Apaches attacked the eight Indians guarding the St. Francis Xavier at Bac Mission herds, forcing them to flee for their lives, leaving the animals to the aggressors. Informed of this assault the Tubac ensign sallied forth with ten troopers and fifteen citizens plus forty Piman auxiliaries and followed the trail of the marauders north to the vicinity of the Gila River. Scouting the terrain about an Apache ranchería the ensign decided the enemy was too numerous for his slender force and returned to Tubac to collect a larger one (Croix June 17, 1769:20).
j. Apache Offensive of 1770. After Captain Anza quelled the Pápago unrest in March of 1770, he took the sixty presidial troops Colonel Elizondo had given him for that purpose and went Apache hunting (Rowland 1930:216). Then in December of 1770 Colonel Elizondo relented somewhat from his refusal to allow the frontier post contingents and captains to return to their forts to campaign against the Apaches. By that time the successful completion of his mission was even more clearly in sight than it had been in October when he turned down Vildósola. Moreover the impudent southern Athapascans had thrown the gauntlet direct by raiding the Tubac remount herd. Captain Juan Bautista de Anza asked permission to return north and received it.
192Colonel Elizondo permitted Captain Anza to take thirty men with him when he departed for Tubac (Rowland 1930:226). These were probably the bulk of the contingent from his company still operating with the Sonoran Expedition, perhaps all that were left. Very likely Anza pushed them north at a fast clip and set right out in pursuit of the Apache raiders who had taken advantage of his long absence and ensign's timidity to insult the post again.
Anza's December departure from central Sonora marked the end of his participation in the great military operation drawing to a close in western Sonora and his return to frontier warfare free to turn his attention entirely north for the first time since he took command at Tubac.
k. Apache Offensive of 1771. Late in July or early in August of 1771 Captain Juan Bautista de Anza rode out of Tubac with thirty-four troopers and fifty northern Piman Indian auxiliaries. On the ninth of August this column struck an Apache ranchería on the banks of the upper Gila River, killing nine, taking eight prisoners and recovering one Spanish captive besides wounding a number of Apaches who escaped. Lt. Juan María Oliva and two soldiers were wounded in the affray (Bucarely Oct. 28, 1771). Hardly had they returned when Anza was busy preparing for another campaign under Bernardo de Galvez. During September Anza was preparing for that action as were Captains Urrea at Altar and Vildósola at Terrenate. Anza and Vildósola planned to link up at San Simón in order to join the detachment entering Apache territory 193from Janos in Chihuahua (Anza Sept. 17, 1771). Anza was trying to obtain supplies at the Upper Pimería missions and felt he could raise a force of up to sixty Piman scouts.
l. Apache Offensive in 1772. The large scale operations continued into 1772 when an advance post was set up at San Bernardino within modern Arizona in order to carry the fight closer to the Apaches. The San Bernardino picket appears to have been a joint enterprise of the Terrenate and Tubac companies.
m. Apache Offensive of 1773. During the early part of 1773 Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and at least a part of his Tubac company operated out of the advance post of San Bernardino against the Apaches. During January of 1773 Ensign Phelipe Beldarrain sallied forth from San Bernardino scouting for Apache sign and encountered eleven Indians at San Simón and taking three of then prisoner (O'Conor Aug. 10, 1775 No. 9). Captain Anza was commanding San Bernardino when the viceroy's dispatch rider caught up with him on January 22 with the viceregal request for information on his exploration project (Bolton 1930:I:55). Anza had to request furlough to return to Tubac to consult his papers there.
Later on in the fall of the year Captain Anza turned his hand to the Apache campaign again, departing in October for the upper Gila River (O'Conor Aug. 10, 1775 No. 9).
n. Summary. The campaigns listed here comprised only a small percentage of all those undertaken by the troops stationed at Tubac from 1752 to 1776. Acting Comandant Lt. Juan 194María de Oliva noted on his own service record in August of 1775 that he had gone out on more than 100 campaigns under the captains of the Company of St. Ignatius at Tubac (Oliva Aug. 13, 1775 No. 8). Since Oliva had not gone on all the scouts made, certainly the total must have been well over one hundred, indicating a minimum average of five forays annually for each of the twenty-four years of the post's existence and actually somewhat more than that.