427From the time the southern Athapascans, reeling from decisive defeats inflicted by Caddoans and Comanches and perhaps other Plains tribes armed with firearms and ammunition supplied by French traders operating in the Mississippi Basin (Secoy 1953:81-82), commenced their life-or-death infiltration of the Spanish northern borderlands, a mutual no-surrender, no-armistice policy developed on both sides of the theatre of conflict.
When the Apaches became a serious border problem, the Spaniards simply continued operating in terms of long-established policy without thinking much about it consciously. They had long absorbed tribes which surrendered and treated those which did not as blood-enemies to be conquered or exterminated. This policy was successful as long as the Spaniards were dealing with relatively sedentary Indians with large populations. It became gradually less successful as they approached the final effective limits of colonial expansion, for the tribes encountered became less and less sedentary, less defeatable and less exterminatable. The Apache and the 428Comanche constituted the ultimate defeat for this Spanish policy, for neither the displaced nor the victorious Plainsman could be defeated nor could they be exterminated.
The southern Athapascans had relatively little choice: they were being hard pressed from behind by the better-armed Comanches and Caddoans, Pawnees, etc. As long as the Spaniards chose to harry them, they could only fight back, raiding for horses and mules to eat and ride, for firearms and munitions, for iron with which to tip lances and arrows, for maize they had little time to cultivate in their tenuous defensive position between two major military colossi, to neither of which were they equal in pitched battle.
A. The New Apache Policy of Viceroy Galvez
The geopolitical situation with the southern Athapascans providing a resilient buffer which prevented direct military clash between Spanish power and Anglo-French military power personified by the Plains Indians armed by English and French traders continued to grind up Apaches and stall the Spanish frontier advance for decades until a high echelon Spanish bureaucrat broke the mold of traditional colonial thinking with a realistic new approach to Apache policy.
This bureaucrat was the Count of Galvez who became Viceroy of New Spain in 1785 (Bancroft 1884:I:639), relative and protege of José de Galvez who had been raised to the nobility 429as Marques of Sonora and made the King's secretary for New World affairs. The younger Galvez had actually served in Sonora during the Marques' inspection tour. Apparently a man with considerable imagination and intuition, he grasped the essential truth that the southern Athapascans could never be a contained by realizable improvements in administrative and military apparatus in New Spain. Galvez realistically admitted that New Spain would never be able to obtain the thousands of men and the millions of pesos of equipment and supplies they would require to undertake a full-scale military attempt at conquering the Apaches once and for all. It is even possible that Galvez realized that such Indians could never be defeated no matter how many Spanish regulars were thrown into action against them, since extermination of the southern Athapascans would only open the way to the Comanches and so on.
Whatever his reasoning process and factual basis for it, Galvez did grasp that the only way the Spaniards could hope to contain the southern Athapascans was to change radically the basis of their contacts with the hostile Indians. He realized that the Apache threat could be diminished by making it more rewarding for those Indians to live peacefully with the Spaniards than to fight them.
In order to produce a different system of rewards which would motivate the southern Athapascans to live at peace, Galvez had to achieve thorough-going reforms in Spanish policy. 430First of all the Viceroy had to discard the hoary policy of no quarter. He ordered that Apache bands which sued for peace be granted peace and mutual non-aggression pacts.
Next Galvez had to provide rewards for the pacified Apaches. He ordered that bands which signed peace agreements be subsidized to remain peaceful. They were to be given food rations, clothing, even arms for hunting, and a liquor ration. These issues were designed to make a peaceful life objectively more profitable to the peaceful bands than was raiding to the hostile bands. They were to be contingent upon the peaceful band living a semi-sedentery life settled close to one of the frontier military posts where the Spaniards could keep check on them and make sure they were not raiding on the side. Thus Galvez's new Apache policy approximated the reservation system adopted in the United States many years later under similar circumstances.
Viceroy Galvez's original thinking on the subject of pulling the teeth of Apache military power went even beyond this. With a realistic appraisal of human nature which has usually been beyond the idealistic northwestern-European, Galvez ordered his fort commanders to see that the peaceful Apache bands were plied with liquor in order to create alcoholics and cultivate in all the Apache warriors such a taste for intoxicants that they would remain peaceful rather than lose their source of firewater. The viceroy further urged that all forms of gambling be taught the peaceful Indians as 431rapidly as possible in order further to debauch them and increase their dependence upon the Spaniards. The success of this particular measure may be gauged by the number of museum exhibits of Apache costumes and artifacts which include a pack of Apache-made playing cards created out of buckskin or other Indian materials but duplicating exactly the Spanish playing card symbols. The encouragement of drinking achieved cultural disorganization and modifications which continue to the present day and may be discerned in newspaper reports of "dynamite-party" drinking bouts and such like.
In the United States men of good will concerned over the welfare of conquered Indians dwelling on reserved areas under military or civilian control have repeatedly expressed disgust and disappointment at the speed with which the Indians acquired the vices of the "lower classes" of American society, such as an appetite for intoxicants, continual large-scale gambling, sexual license, etc. These idealists have generally been sincere advocates of the salutary effects of formal schooling, subsistence farming, hard work and small tradesmen's skills to improve the lot of the Redman, without grasping the fact that any subordinate subcultural group (Dobyns 1955) presented with a choice of cultural traits across only a partial spectrum of the dominant group's culture will necessarily adopt traits from the range made available to it, regardless of the attitude of idealists toward the undesirability of the particular syndrome involved.
432Viceroy Galvez was not an idealistic northwestern European, but a Spaniard which is to say a Mediteranean, culturally speaking, he descended intellectually and psychologically from the "devious Greeks" of the Byzantine Empire who so mystified and horrified the diamond-in-the-rough, idealistic but unrealistic Northmen from Britain and Scandinavia who furnished the palace guard of the Byzantine Emperors. He was thus intellectually equipped to assess Apache (or human) character realistically and put it to his own uses. Furthermore, those uses were anything but idealistic with regard to the southern Athapascans. Galvez was a Spaniard who regarded his culture, including his Roman Catholic religion and his feudalistic kingdom, as the best of all possible systems. His aims for the southern Athapascans were thoroughly and frankly adverse. The viceroy cared not a tinker's dam for the welfare of the Apaches-what he desired was militarily ineffectual Apaches. Like any general, he assessed the factors in the existing situation and decided the likeliest way to produce ineffectual Apaches was to debauch them with liquor, gambling, prostitutes and the dregs of European civilization. Galvez's estimate proved correct.
The viceroy did not suppose for a minute that his historic reversal of Spanish policy toward concluding peace with the Apaches would solve the military problem by itself, even if peace were made very attractive to the Apaches willing to chance it. He understood southern Athapascan warrior psychology 433well enough to perceive that a policy of apparent softness would not woo the arrogant, boastful sons of the Plains. Galvez set out to make the Apaches desire peace more than anything else. He accomplished this end by backing up his velvet glove peace policy with an extremely hard mailed fist underneath (Bancroft 1889:378-379).
Building on the firm foundation of Croix's reforms in the Frontier Provinces, Galvez ordered the new Commandant-General, Jacobo Ugarte y Loyola, to commit his entire military apparatus to a campaign of harrying the Apaches from pillar to post until a peace treaty would look overwhelmingly tempting to them, of trying to precipitate decisive engagements, of capturing as many Apaches as possible to cut down their population and obtain prisoners as bait for surrenders (Bancroft 1884:I:639).
The presidial forces were the foundation and the keystone in this stepped-up military effort in the Frontier Provinces following Galvez's promulgation of his new policy in 1786. In this era of feverish military reform and field campaigns a royal fort once again came to Tubac. The Indian company at the fort of Buenavista was transferred to Tubac in 1787. The reason for the move was simple: Tubac was closer to Apache country than the company's former post at San Ignacio Mission and the presidial garrisons had gone over to the offensive against the Apaches, requiring, the aid of the Pima Indian company which had been aiding anti-Seri campaigns to the south.
434For decades the royal forts had been operating as defensive posts conducting a gigantic holding operation aimed at keeping the settled country already absorbed as free from Apache incursions as possible. To that end periodic campaigns were made into the lands beyond the line of forts to scout out enemy concentrations, attempt to break them up, and keep the southern Athapascans nearest the settlements off balance and additional forays were made in retaliation for Apache raids. Inevitably such an operation had enjoyed only limited success as a policy, regardless of local successes superlative post commanders such as Captain Juan Bautista de Anza might achieve from time to time.
With Viceroy Galvez instituting a new policy aimed at reducing the southern Athapascans to peace, however, the frontier posts were galvanized into a frenetic schedule of campaigning. Galvez changed from a defensive holding operation to a full-scale attempt to wage total war. He went over to the offensive and the presidial garrisons worked harder for their pay than ever before in their lives, marching farther and oftener and fighting more frequently.
B. The Pima Company
As the last residents of Tubac migrated to Tucson and in the aftermath of the debacle on the Colorado River in 1781, an innovation in raising troops for border service was tried 435in Sonora. A company of Piman-speaking Indians was recruited and stationed at San Ignacio Mission in 1782 (Villaescusa 1794) apparently beginning its service about July 1 (Errán 1794c).
It was only thirty years since the surrender of the northern Pimans following their revolt, and all of them over the age of forty would have remembered that revolt very well. A new generation of young men had grown up since then however, and they were recruited into the new unit. Commanded by a Spanish lieutenant with the assistance of a Spanish ensign and two sergeants, the new outfit was an experiment in raising effective Indian-fighting troops at minimal cost.
The experiment turned out very successfully-so successfully that it was repeated among the northern Opatas at Bacoachi in 1784 (Bancroft 1884:I:681), and later at Bavispe.
The Pima Company turned out to be a hard fighting outfit which bloodied the Apache military nose quite effectively. In March of 1783, for example, several parties went on scout after Apaches, and one of them attacked an enemy rancheria on the twelfth of that month, killing two and wounding three, forcing the rest to flee (Croix April 21, 1783).
On April 24th some cowboys near San Ignacio Mission sighted Apaches and rode for help. Lt. Pedro de Villaescusa sent out his two sergeants with sixty men, and this detachment caught up with approximately 400 Apaches the following day, only to be surrounded by their superior force. In a battle lasting from eight a.m until two p.m., the Pima Company 436lost both its sergeants and seventeen soldiers. The Pima loss was high because of the great numerical superiority of the Apaches and the fact that the soldiers in the new company still carried only native weapons. The Commandant General of the Frontier Provinces had not yet been able to provide them with firearms pending arrival of 1,621 carbines Croix had asked from the viceroy (Croix May, 1783). Evidently Pima non-commissioned officers were used also, and the two killed in this battle were Indians, for one of the Spanish sergeants of the unit, Benito Espinosa, joined it on July 1, 1782 (Errán 1794c) and lived to win promotion to ensign in 1795 (King July 19, 1795).
The next year Lt. Villaescusa led twenty of his Indians and twenty men from the fort at Altar on a probe north toward the royal fort at Tucson from March 1. On the 8th he encountered Apaches in the San Cayetano Mountains near Tubac, and ten days later he found another group at Tasagera. In the two encounters he killed one and wounded two Apaches, recovered a captive and captured seventy-six mules and horses (Neve April 5, 1784).
On September 5 the combined Altar-Pima force was operating in the opposite direction against the Seris and succeeded in killing a couple (Rengel Nov. 27, 1784).
In that same year 1784, the Franciscan missionary at San Ignacio, Fray Pedro Antonio de Arriquibar, obtained special dispensation from the Pope to become a military chaplain for this company (Stoner & Dobyns 1959). He had acted as supply 437chaplain for the Company of St. Ignatius at Tubac from early in 1775 until that unit transferred to Tucson early in 1776 as already related. Now he became a chaplain on an official basis, but did not follow the Pima Company south nor to Tubac, and did not leave his mission at San Ignacio to exercise his new status until 1794 (ibid.).
The Seri problem continued pressing, and sometime late in 1784 or early in 1785 the Pima Company was transferred from its northern post at San Ignacio Mission to the southern Sonora fort of Buenavista. The Buenavista garrison was harrying the Seris, and the Pima Company was sent to hold the fort in its absence in the field. At that time the company numbered eighty Pimas and two veteran (i.e., non-Indian) sergeants besides its officers, Lt. Pedro Villaescusa and Ensign Nicolás de la HErrán (Medina Nov. 26, 1785).