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E. 6. Escort and Protection Mission

Duty in the frontier presidios was often a dull, unexciting routine although productive of nervous strain because of the ever-present possibility of Apache attack. For large stretches of duty time were spent detached from the fort garrison escorting supply trains and horse remount herds to the post, on guard against Apache attempts to make off with either. Longer tours took soldiers and non-commissioned officers away from the fort to guard duty at Indian missions where small detachments protected the lives of the missionaries and the property of the mission industrial plant, farms and ranches.

The tough presidial soldier, with his Western arms was more than a match for an equal number of Indians. Therefore the fort proper could be held with a comparatively small detachment and the mission guards numbered only one to half a dozen soldiers (Mattison 1946:281). At Tubac a post guard detail of five dismounted troopers rotated daily (Treutlein 1949:294) when available men permitted.

217The royal fort at Tubac, despite the small size of its garrison, always had the responsibility for furnishing escort detachments and mission guards. Escort duty was particularly onerous in the period immediately after the founding of the post, following the Pima Revolt. When Father Francisco Pauer embarked on one of his frequent forays to Bac and the north country, a military escort went with him (Libro de Bautismos y Casamientos de los Pueblos de Visita...de Santa María Soamca, f. 10v). Sometime between 1754 and 1757 while Juan María de Oliva was still an ensign, he led a fourteen man detachment at Bac. About 200 Apaches attacked and this guard detail killed fifteen of them (Oliva Aug. 13, 1775 No. 8). At other times the detachment stationed at the Mission of St. Francis Xavier at Bac was under the command of a corporal. This little unit had the confidence and fortitude to pursue immediately Apaches who drove off the entire herd of mission cattle in the spring of 1766. Not only did they pursue, they were able to recover the herd of around 300 head (Anza Mar. 17, 1766:112). This detachment was small in numbers but long on courage and notably efficient at blooding the collective Apache nose (Lafora 1939:155). In the final days of the Tubac post it numbered only four men (Oliva Aug. 1, 1775).

Except when the Apaches had driven them all off, there were always horses to be guarded against such attacks at Tubac. Even when a detachment rode off on campaign, the troopers left part of their horse-strings behind to recruit and 218provide fresh mounts on their return (Treutlein 1949:291-292). Remount guard duty absorbed the largest detachment of the garrison, fifteen to twenty men watching wearily for two weeks at a tour. Tedium bred carelessness, and the Apaches often could surprise the remount guard detail and drive off all or part of the horses (ibid., p. 294). Unequal rotation of remount guard duty bred resentment among the troopers at Tubac (Rubí Dec. 21, 1766).

The fifty-one man company of 1766 had available to it in December a total of 313 horses, thirty-three of them with the eleven-man detachment on the Seri frontier (ibid.). The total herd was often over 1,000 head of stock, however, since horses, mules and cattle from the two missions nearest Tubac plus San Ignacio, and those belonging to civilian settlers at the post were thrown in with the fort's remounts on Captain Anza's orders (ibid.). In August of 1775 the garrison had 229 horses and thirty-four mules on hand which the acting commander rated in good condition (Oliva Aug. 13, 1775), but the Comandant-Inspector considered only average. This was sixty-nine horses and fourteen mules short of the required seven horses and one mule per man (O'Conor Aug. 18, 1775).

Another distasteful detail the troopers drew frequently was that of escorting the train of pack animals sent to bring in firewood and similar housekeeping tasks at the post (Rivera Dec. 26, 1766; M. Acuña Dec. 23, 1766; Baez Dec. 26, 1766). All provisions not grown or grazed at the post had to be packed in under armed escort, which further burdened the 219troopers with onerous escort duty (M. Acuña Dec. 23, 1766). Neither Beldarrain nor Anza paid the troopers for riding escort on their goods and provisions, even when the latter were destined for consumption in the captains' own households (Cota Dec. 22, 1766; J. M. Acuña Dec. 23, 1766). The royal inspector (Rubí Dec. 31, 1766) ordered this practice terminated.

Under Lt. Oliva's command the Tubac company deteriorated to the point where its garrison was occupied solely with guarding the remount herd and the post, aside from the small detachment at Mission St. Francis Xavier at Bac and another equally small at Terrenate. The great subaltern Indian fighter ignored Apache incursions of which he was informed as an independent commander, much to the justifiable disgust of the settlers of the upper Santa Cruz River Valley (O'Conor Aug. 18, 1775).