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CHAPTER VI:
THE ROYAL FORT OF ST. IGNATIUS AT TUBAC

E. 4. Armament

The basic weapons of the fort were the personal arms of 207the garrison but there was an arsenal of personnel weapons with which to arm the citizenry during emergencies and there were a few heavy weapons used for defending the post. Tubac was protected by 1766 with four cannon. These were four-pounders made in New Spain so of inferior workmanship. Two of the Tubac guns were entirely useless as a result of cracks in their breeches. The frontier soldiers possessed little knowledge or skill in the use of these cannon (Lafora 1939:127) which was probably just as well considering the poor quality of manufacture and danger to be apprehended from exploding breeches. Tubac still mounted four useless four-pounders in 1775, not unlikely the very same cannon (O'Conor Aug 10, 1775).

The Tubac garrison was essentially an offensive unit rather than a defensive garrison tied to its post. It had been founded as a cavalry troop (Ortiz Parrilla Mar. 26, 1752c:48) and a cavalry troop it always remained. The men were frontiersmen grown hard in the saddle from riding on cattle roundups and busting broncos from childhood. They were expert horsemen and not given to fatiguing easily-recruits were screened on the basis of horsemanship. In fact, little training was given the successful applicant (Treutlein 1949:290).

a. Lance. Cavalry weapons employed by the Tubac troopers included a long lance for use in the saddle, a musket, a long broad sword. The cavalry lance was the primary 208weapon and really the only one the troopers of the original garrison could handle with skill. Their ability to wield the lance made them deadly in a cavalry charge over open country but the hostile Indians quite intelligently seldom allowed themselves to be surprised in open enough country for the troopers to use their mounts to full advantage (Treutlein 1949:291). The skill of the Tubac troopers with the cavalry lance impressed even a field marshal from Spain (Rubí Dec. 21, 1766). The Lances used at Tubac varied in length (O'Conor Aug. 16, 1775) very likely to suit the strength and tastes of various troopers if not the geometric eye of inspecting officers pleased by uniformity.

b. Firearms. Recruits in the frontier posts lacked experience in the use of firearms because these were so scarce in farther New Spain, according to the Jesuit Missionary Ignaz Pfefferkorn. He saw some who could not even load their arms properly-if the troopers weren't joshing the good padre (Treutlein 1949:.291). Pfefferkorn's memory may have misled him with regard to the quality of the Tubac troops-he certainly forgot to mention that he had been stationed at Guebavi at all, an understandable omission since that was where he became so sick he had to be removed. Or Captain Juan Bautista de Anza achieved a remarkable improvement in the Tubac company after he took command. By the end of 1766 he had whipped his men into very good shape. Not only could they ride well, they could also drill better than average well on foot under Anza's commands. Moreover, that Captain had put his men to work maintaining their weapons and other equipment until it was all in good shape unless quite broken or worn out. Two of the cannon had burst and four rifles required repairs, but Anza had re-armed his men with Catalan carbines instead of the unwieldy muskets first issued the company (Rubí Dec. 21, 1766).

The Catalan carbine was considered the best firearm which could be procured for Spanish troops at that time. Not all the troopers were using this arm and Field Marshal Rubí suggested to Captain Anza that he persuade all his men to employ this same weapon, molding bullets only in its calibre. The preferred carbine measured two feet seven inches length in a twenty-calibre weapon-this shorter rifle worked better than the three-foot nine inch model (Rubí Dec. 31, 1766a).

In 1766 one of the Tubac soldiers named Miguel de Apodaca was a gunsmith. The Marques de Rubí suggested to Captain Anza that Apodaca be excused from daily duty with the troop except during campaigns so that he could devote himself to the repair and maintenance of the guns "without any cost" since he was already on the payroll and not a contractor (ibid.). Another armorer named José Antonio Ureña had just been recruited in 1775 (Oliva Aug. 13, 1775 No. 2). This twenty-nine year old Spaniard from Aguas Calientes (ibid., No. 3) already had accumulated the largest credit 210balance of any enlisted man in the company-forty-nine pesos (ibid., No. 7) suggesting that he was paid extra for his gunsmithing.

Powder for the troops was supplied by the post comandant as part of his commercial monopoly until the New Regulations of Royal Forts of 1772 went into effect. Under the new royal instructions army powder magazines furnished the powder directly to the troops even in the distant Frontier Provinces. The New Regulations, which went into effect at Tubac on June 1, 1774 (O'Conor Aug. 11, 1775, No. 11) also provided that eight pounds of powder per soldier be kept in the post magazine (O'Conor Aug. 16, 1775). Six boxes held the post's powder in 1775 (O'Conor Aug. 10, 1775).

Despite the recommendation of the Marques de Rubí with regard to employing guns of the same calibre, the royal inspector of 1775 found the Tubac garrison armed with poor quality rifles of various calibres and these considerably mistreated (O'Conor Aug. 16, 1775). This change probably resulted from Anza's draft on the post's arms for his expedition to Upper California and the lax command of the acting post comandant, Lt. Juan M. Oliva, plus years of hard usage which wore out the Catalan carbines. For in 1775 the garrison was armed with Barcelonan rifles which were more or less serviceable and some guns made in New Spain which were almost useless, all of different and small calibres (O'Conor Aug. 18, 1775).

The firearms employed by the Tubac troops took paper cartridges-that is, paper-held powder loads to propel the lead balls. These cartridges were made locally at the fort and apparently by the troopers, who were charged for the paper which went into their manufacture as well as for the lead they used in casting balls (O'Conor Aug. 16, 1775). It was no wonder that the soldiers preferred the cavalry lance to rifle fire for fighting hostile Indians! Every shot they fired cost them money, and a soldier's pay was never high enough to buy all he and his family might desire. Thus there was real economic as well as habitual basis for the preference for using lances against Indians displayed by the Tubac cavalrymen.

c. Swords. Swords rusted in their scabbards in the Sonoran frontier posts or were so dull and notched as to be useless according to Father Pfefferkorn (Treutlein 1949:291). At Tubac the Marques de Rubí found only three swords which not in proper shape-they had been cut down (Rubí Dec. 21, 1766). Inasmuch as the Marques was an experienced general officer from Europe, likely to have been very keen on clean equipment, his description can hardly be doubted. Either Pfefferkorn's dislike for the Spaniards ran away with his objective memories, or Anza had greatly improved the post between his departure and the Marques' inspection. In 1775 the swords were of a variety of sizes, but were not ordered replaced because new weapons for all the frontier posts were on order (O'Conor Aug. 18, 1775).

212Being a cavalry outfit, the Tubac company had to keep lots of saddles and horse gear in shape, and the royal inspector found it doing a very good job under Anza, although some of its riding gear was worn out (Rubí, Dec. 21, 1766). The stirrups used by the Tubac cavalrymen were often wooden affairs. A change to closed stirrups was ordered by the royal inspector in 1775 in compliance with the New Regulations (O'Conor Aug. 16, 1775). All the rest of the Tubac troop's horse gear the Comandant Inspector found in serviceable shape (O'Conor Aug. 18, 1775)-one of the few matters with which that perfectionist could find no fault.

d. Militia Weapons. The royal fort of St. Ignatius at Tubac throughout its existence stored firearms, cavalry lances and swords with which to arm civilians during an emergency. These arms had been purchased by order of the viceroy of New Spain dated January 31, 1752 (Revilla Gigedo, f. 21-21v). The Royal Exchequer paid for these arms and protective armor for the citizen-soldiers, and they were supposed to be maintained in a state of constant readiness for emergency issue. At the time of the 1766 inspection by the Marques de Rubí this store was at issue strength in guns and lances but short on swords and body armor (Lafora 1939:127). By the end of by the Marques de Rubí this store was at issue strength in guns and lances but short on swords and body armor (Lafora 1939:127). By the end of the post's existence this royal store of arms had considerably diminished. On August 10, 1775, the acting comandant reported in his possession (Oliva Aug. 10, 1775 No. 6) thirty-one rifles of which fifteen were good and sixteen useless, twenty two new swords, six useless lances and ten suits of medium quality armor.

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