Foundation of the Royal Fort at Tubac


On June 2, 1752, Diego Ortiz Parrilla, Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Armies, Proprietary Captain of the Dragoons of Veracruz, Comandant of those stationed in the City of the Angels, governor and Captain-General of the Provinces of Sin aloa and Sonora in the Kingdom of New Andalucia, their frontier forts and coasts on the south (Pacific) Sea for His Majesty, had decided what to do about locating the new force he had raised. Exercising the powers delegated to him by the viceroy at the end of January, Governor Ortiz Parrilla settled the questions raised by the Sonoran frontiersmen as nearly to their satisfaction as possible.

In a lengthy decree, Governor Ortiz Parrilla reviewed his procedure in seeking consultation with the experienced pioneers of northern Sonora, summarizing the recommendations of the open meeting at San Ignacio Mission (Ortiz Parrilla, Ju ne 2, 1752:105-106v) for an increase of complement and creation of two posts, the corroboration provided by the junior officers of Fronteras (ibid., f. 106v-107), and the Jesuit missionaries (ibid., f. 107-109). Then the governor condensed Captain Juan T. de Beldarrain's recent report on the practically complete pacification of the northern Pimans (ibid., f. 109-110). Finally he came to the heart of the matter and issued the orders the northern Sonorans had been awaiting. As a result of all these considerations, wrote the governor, "I ought to declare, and I do declare:

157That for the present Captain Juan Thomas de Beldarrain shall locate and station himself with the new company of fifty soldiers in the Post of Tubaca, in order that, managing his conduct under the orders and instructions and regulations most pertinent, and fitting to the object of its creation and destiny, he shall be able to discharge his obligations. In regard to that region of the North, it is reported and represented throughout the aforesaid Opinions and Counsels that that place is deemed advantageous with regard to the conveniences necessary for the maintenance of the troops, and also adapted to support the exigencies of its destiny. It is also influenced by the circumstance of its being near the citizenry of the Valley of San Luís, which although composed of a small number should be sufficient to reinforce the troops, or be reinforced by them, in cases of necessity and urgency which demand it.

Whereas, broad foresight requires that the western towns should not lose sight of the respect-inspiring aspect of our arms, but that the latter should be quickly readied in that area in such disposition that they shall be able to operate opportunely meeting their obligations;

Whereas, in the same Opinions it is extensively proposed with respect to the place of Ocuca that it is located some distance from the very numerous citizenry which inhabits the post of Santa Ana, which should be able to contribute to our arms moderate reinforcement promptly,

Therefore I should order and do order that said 158Captain Don Juan Thomas de Beldarrain shall be and is under the obligation of maintaining a detachment of twenty soldiers of his company with one subaltern officer fixed in the above-mentioned place of Ocuca. This party shall alternate monthly and operate under the corresponding regulations, instructions and monitions which comport with its best direction.

Whereas there has until the present been maintained in the town of San Ignacio by my order a detachment of eight soldiers,

Whereas having given the proper meditation on certain goals of the service of His Majesty which convenience dictates promoting at present,

Whereas the Reverend Father Rector Gaspar Stiger, Minister of that town had given said Captain to understand that being satisfied of the fidelity of his Indians he wished to give them no motive for presuming that he has any distrust of them, and whereas said Captain has informed me in the same terms of his message,

Wherefore I should order and do order that said detachment shall withdraw.

All that results from this decision is to be understood as being temporary in nature and provisional, in which intent the respective orders shall be issued.

All these Testimonies of Action being in authorized form, the originals shall be remitted to His Excellency the viceroy of these realms with a separate report in order that his superior and most elevated comprehension, informed of 159that which they contain, may deign to resolve what may be his sovereign pleasure in regard to the denomination with which in the future the said new company should be distinguished and known, as well as the site or place in which it ought to be established, and if it should best be fixed in only one or divided in two, as is advised and proposed by the informants, or whatever may be his justified sovereign will, which as always will be the best. Thus I testified, ordered, and signed with the witne sses who assist me.

Diego Ortiz Parrilla
Martín Cayetano Fernandez de Peralta
Witness: Manuel Joachín de la Carra
(ibid., f. 110-112v).

By this decree by the governor permanent European settlement north of the present international boundary line between Mexico and the United States was initiated. This was not the first European settlement within the boundaries of modern Arizona, but it was the beginning of permanent settlement. Franciscan missionaries had entered Arizona during the previous century to live and work among the Hopi Indians in the northeastern part of the state, but the Hopis had slain all the missionaries in their villages during the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. After the recolonization of New Mexico in 1692, the Spaniards proved unable to restore the Hopi missions. Thus eventual Spanish colonization within modern Arizona came from the south rather than the east. Missionaries began living in Arizona at the beginning of the eighteenth before 160the Pima Revolt. But that Indian uprising terminated all European occupation of the area north of the actual international boundary. Therefore the posting of troops to Tubac by Governor Diego Ortiz Parrilla on June 2, 1752, initiated permanent European settlement in modern Arizona. Never after that date was modern Arizona to be wholly aba ndoned by non-Indians. Thus Governor Diego Ortiz Parrilla, Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Spanish Armies, etc., founded in an administrative sense the nuclear settlement in modern Arizona from which all later Spanish and American settlements sprang.

As the governor's order just translated indicates, he attempted to satisfy the two-post desires of the Sonoran pioneers without going beyond the powers delegated to him by the viceroy. He lacked power to add ten men to the new company's authorized strength, but he could stretch his instructions and create two de facto posts. That he accomplished by ordering Captain Beldarrain to maintain two-fifths of his garrison at Ocuca instead of Tubac.

More the governor dared not. In his long report to the viceroy (Ortiz Parrilla, June 3, 1752), he scrupulously detailed all that he had accomplished and all that he had done to carry out the orders of the viceroy within his delegated po wers. But he left the Sonoran pleas for ten more men to speak for themselves in the numerous documents reporting on the San Ignacio meeting, the conferences with Escalante and Moraga, and the letters from the three Jesuit missionaries. Ortiz Parrilla knew that the workings of Spanish colonial 161bureaucracy were such that the viceregal officials in the City of Mexico would read through these documents or nearly as long summaries of them and come upon the proposal.

Lieutenant Colonel Diego Ortiz Parrilla has not been highly regarded by historians. The principal writer on the Pima Revolt of 1751 labeled him a Martínet (Ewing 1945:270).  This author seems not to have grasped the peculiar relationship between the frontier fort comandants and the provincial governor which became an acute problem under Ortiz Parrilla's predecessor and prompted the viceroy to send the Attorney-General out to the province to restore royal authority over the unruly captains, followed by Ortiz Parrilla as interim governor with the same objective. Whatever Ortiz Parrilla's personal proclivities, he carried out his orders and mission, and if doing so gave him the appearance of a Martínet he could hardly he lp it.

From Sonora Ortiz Parrilla was sent to Texas where he had the misfortune a few years later to command as unreliable a frontier force as ever assembled there which was sent to attack an Indian village where he was unable to prevent his force being soundly thrashed. Modern historians have tended to fix much of the blame on procrastination and poor tactics by Ortiz Parrilla. That he was not a fast-acting field commander is apparent, but his long councils of war prior to the decisive battle were probably calculated mostly to shore up the waning spirits of his subordinates and to discover their estimates of the capabilities of their men.

162The real reason for the defeat of Ortiz Parrilla's force was the nature of the enemy. This battle marked the first occasion when Texas Indians routed regular Spanish troops, but they did so with an abundance of French trad e guns which were better than the firearms Ortiz Parrilla's troops carried.  The Indians were strongly fortified in European-style earthworks and manoeuvred in squads according to European principles.  If not actually commanded by Frenchmen, they were officered by Indians dressed like Frenchmen, riding horses like Europeans, employing French-style flag signals and drum signals during the battle. The Spanish and French colonial frontiers had met and clashed, and Spain had been defeated.

This fact was apparently realized by Ortiz Parrilla and his superiors at the time, and not a great deal of blame was assessed to him for this defeat. He enjoyed a long career as a post comandant farther south at Santa Rosa de Sacramento, and became governor of Coahuila (Chapman 1919:229).

In 1774 Ortiz Parrilla returned to service in the European army of Spain, attached to the Valencia brigades as a brigadier general (ibid., p. 363). The verdict of Ortiz Parrilla's contemporaries was that he merited reward rather than censure-and they saw far more of the whole situation than carping recent historians looking only at small segments of his career. Whatever Ortiz Parrilla's personal qualities may have been, he proved to be a very important personage in the history of what was to become the state of Arizona. For Diego 163Ortiz Parilla accomplished one unforgettable thing during his tour as interim governor in Sonora: he ordered the foundation of the nucleus of permanent European settlement in modern Arizona .

1. The Viceroy Approves

With the northern Piman revolt subdued, the menace which drove the governor's dispatch rider to the capital in six weeks no longer spurred messages on their way. It was three months before the viceregal cabinet took up Governor Ortiz Parrilla's temporary provisions for the Upper Pimería Com-pany. Dr. Antonio Andreu y Terras immediately spotted the important point of the Sonoran desire for an additional decade of troops and division of the reinforced company between Tubac and Tupo (Andreu Sept. 6, 1752-114v). Moreover the perspicacious fiscal deduced that inasmuch as the governor, sophisticated in the ways of bureaucracy, had actually set up two de facto posts and had nowhere in his reports given any infor mation against the pioneers' proposals, Ortiz Parrilla favored them. So Dr. Andreu sent the dispatches to the viceroy with his recommendation that the latter give the necessary orders to the governor to place the company on the proposed footing (ibid., f. 115). The report from the governor that really caught the attention of the fiscal and roused his enthusiasm, however was Ortiz Parrilla's statement that he was having prepared a map of the province. This was something sorely needed at 164viceregal headquarters, and Andreu urged the viceroy to write the governor that he was awaiting this highly desirable item (ibid., f. 115v).

When the royal auditor went over the dispatches and the fiscal's report, he, too, provided evidence of the befuddlement at the capital over the geography of Sonora. For he, too, urged on the viceroy the wisdom of having Governor Ortiz Parrilla "remit as quickly as possible with the greatest specification, distinction and clarity the map which he mentions of that province..." (Altamira Sept. 11, 1752).

The viceroy agreed with his cabinet officers and ordered his secretariat to prepare letters to Governor Ortiz Parrilla for his signature (Revilla Gigedo Sept. 13, 1752). In the formal letter dispatched to the governor, the sixty-man strength of the new company was referred to almost in passing (Revilla Gigedo Sept. 15, 1752:117) and the viceroy concurred in all the measures suggested. The lively cabinet interest in Ortiz Parrilla's projected map came through very clearly, on the other hand: (ibid., f. 117v):


It has seemed to the two Ministers and me very useful and to the mark that Your Honor should resolve to send formally the Map descriptive of all the Province, from which all of it will be better comprehended....


The formality of a Council of the Royal Exchequer had still to be gone through, however, and the same group of colonial165notables which had gathered to ponder the emergency created by the northern Piman revolt in January gathered on October 9 to wind up the business created in its aftermath. After reviewing Governor Ortiz Parrilla's dispatches and the cabinet's recommendations, the council resolved to place the stamp of administrative approval on most of the governor's acti ons.

a. Pay for Tubac. The matter before the Council of the Royal Exchequer which was of most immediate concern to the troopers of the new company at Tubac was the question of their pay. The governor had requested that they be placed on the payroll as of the first day of April when they began their service. The council decided that the soldiers were entitled to payment from the day on which they enlisted, reckoned as the date of the review (ibid., f. 145). This meant in effect March 26, and also meant those soldiers who had enlisted from the emergency militia or were transferred from other units received double pay for the last seven days of March.

b. Ten Men Maybe. On the score of adding ten more soldiers to the Upper Pimería Company, the members of the council were less generous. These royal officials had always to counterbalance frontier pleas for always more troops against the income to the royal treasury. Therefore they tended always to be economy minded. In this case they were swayed by the governor's reports of the complete pacification of the northern Pimans and extinction of the Seris. If the northern Pimans were indeed pacified there should be no need for 166additional troops, the council members felt, and some of the fifty men already authorized might be excused. Recognizing that a few "relics" of the Series still existed despite the governor's campaign on Tiburon Island, the members of the council expected that with their total extinction the fort at San Miguel de Horcasitas would become superfluous and the one company suffice to maintain the defense of the frontier (ibid., f. 145v).

The council left a loophole large enough for the governor to send ten men through, however. While it denied an increase of new recruits, it left to the discretion of the governor the power to transfer ten men from the fort of San Miguel de Horcasitas to the new company should urgent circumstances demand more men in Upper Pimería (ibid. f. 146).

c. Two Posts for the Price of One. By the language of its report, the council approved the division of the new company into two separate detachments, but at the same threw the decision on location right back in the governor's lap. It sharply reminded the governor of the general policy of encouraging civilian settlement at frontier forts so a town would grow up strong enough to defend the area and allow the advancement of the military post and frontier (ibid., f. 146v).&nbs p; In this decision, the council made plain that the sites Selected for the two new posts would be regarded at headquarters as merely temporary sites for the attraction of settlers until a farther advance was made feasible. Thus the role of 167 Tubac as the mother settlement for European occupation of southern Arizona was established from its very beginnings.

d. Adobe Walls. The members of the council agreed that the governor should order the construction of adobe walls around all of the frontier posts for their easier protection, Terrenate and Fronteras exempted because of imminent transfer elsewhere (ibid., f. 147).

e. Royal Arms for Citizenry. The Council of Royal Exchequer slapped down Governor Ortiz Parrilla's objections to its plans for a store of firearms, swords and lances, with powder and balls, in each frontier post for emergency arm ing of civilians. It reaffirmed the instructions evolved during the previous meeting. The capital city officials did accept one frontier criticism of their plans: they admitted that cannon were not necessary for Indian warfare and removed them from the list of required post armament (ibid., f. 147v).

f. Viceregal Approval. Don Juan Francisco de Guemes y Horcasitas, Count of Revilla Gigedo and Vice King in His Majesty's realm of New Spain, had of course sat in the Council of Royal Exchequer as president and guided its deliberations. Five days later he gave its resolutions the force of law by his viceregal decree (Revilla Gigedo Oct. 14, 1752). He did not bother repeating the decisions of the council, merely stating "I concur completely with the result of the Royal Council..." and sending off the file of documents to the interim governor for his guidance.

168So the viceroy passed the buck back to his provincial governor in Sonora with regard to deciding the location of the two detachments of the new Upper Pimería Company. If the places chosen primarily with a view to containing enemy Indian incursions were endowed with ample farming lands and irrigation water, well and good, they should continue in use. If not they should be changed (Revilla Gigedo Oct. 9, 1752:146v). Tubac met the necessary requirements.

D. 2. Primary Military Mission

Although the founding of the Upper Pimería Company was authorized by the viceroy to meet the Pima rebellion emergency, the military necessity for troops to engage the northern Piman rebels had disappeared by the time the authorization reached Governor Diego Ortiz Parrilla. This fact encouraged the northern Sonoran settlers to turn the troop windfall to good account and divert it against the troublesome Apaches. The northern Pimans were unlikely to risk rebelling again for a long time, until the lesson of Aribaca had dimmed in the passing years. Furthermore the partial power vacuum created by the retreat of Spanish arms and concentration of all available troops and militia to stabilize the Spanish withdrawal at San Ignacio Mission invited assault from the avaricious Apaches on the eastern borders of northern Pimería. The northern Pimans probably experienced heavier Apache raiding during their brief period of recovered independence 169than before, and were ready to welcome Spanish assistance against their main enemies again when peace was re-established.

a. Developing Apache Pressure. The date of the arrival of the southern Athapascans in the American Southwest has long been a subject for debate among historians and anthropologists. There is no space in this report to review the question, although it is a critical one in the history of Tubac. All that can be done here is to present some evidence concerning one relatively small area in the upper Santa Cruz River Valley and let its bearing on the larger question speak for itself.

During the 1540's at the end of aboriginal times there was no southern Athapascan threat to the northern Pimans of any significance. Fray Marcos de Niza either did or did not approach the Pueblo of Hawikuh (modern Zuñi), but he did not encounter any hostile southern Athapascans in 1539 (Bandelier 1904:223,230). The great Vásquez de Coronado expedition found no opposition to crossing the area between the San Pedro River and Zuñi (Winship 1896:482, 487, 537). Since these journeys all involved large numbers of people which might scare off a small Apache vanguard, the fact that northern Pimans customarily traveled to Zuñi in pairs at this time is the most significant fact of all (Alarcon 1904:IX:307).  Such small parties would certainly have been attacked by Apaches had any lived in the area!

170Some of the aboriginal trading pattern survived into the next century. The Zuñis called the northern Pimans Cipias and preserved memories of them (Schroeder 1956:106). This was the term New Mexican Franciscans applied to northern Pimans they contacted in 1645 on the Magdalena River in Sonora, whom they also termed Ymiris (ibid., p. 103). The Zuñis slew a Franciscan who attempted to reach the Cipias from their pueblo (Coues 1900:II:375) probably because he violated a Zuñi shrine. At any rate, he was killed by Zuñis and not by southern Athapascans.

In the 1680's the northern Pimans remembered Spaniards coming from New Mexico to trade with then (Bolton 1948:II:257). Even in the early 1700's the northern Pimans remembered western Pueblos from the Hopi villages coming south to trade fairs until the northern Pimans killed some of them one year (Wyllys 1931:139). The trade terminated not because southern Athapascans cut it off, but because the northern Pimans proved untrustworthy trading partners!

The important point about all these trading expeditions between the Pueblo and northern Piman country is that they would have been impossible had the southern Athapascans been present in the area between the Pueblos and the northern Pimans. None of this trade survived into the eighteenth century and attempts to reach the Hopis from northern Sonora were repeatedly stymied by the hostile southern Athapascans. There is no reason to suppose that the Apaches changed 171attitude a round 1700 and shifted from a hitherto peaceful life to bitter warfare-the evidence just cited indicates that they simply had not yet reached the area between Pueblo and northern Piman territory.

The turning point in the Apachean advance southwestward was apparently the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 which furnished the Apache trading partners of the Pueblos with a new abundance of Spanish horses and arms, and the unheard of spectacle of Spaniards going down to bloody and only too human defeat at the hands of mere Indians-and inefficient fighters like the peaceful Pueblos at that! During the power vacuum in New Mexico between the revolt in 1680 and the reconquest in 1692, the southern Athapascans seem to have pushed far southwestward, and arrived at the doors of Sonora.

The Apache threat thus loomed on the northern Piman horizon at the same time that Jesuit missionaries reached them from the south. When Father Kino set up shop at Cosari in 1687 hostile Apache hosts were already just over the horizon. During the 1690's the experienced warriors of the Piman Sobaipuri groups living along the eastern frontiers of northern Pimería handily defeated the first Apache probes (Bolton 1948:I:179-181). The first Athapascans came into Pima borderlands as reinforcements of Jano, Jócome and Suma war parties. These were relatively small Indian groups inhabiting the territory between the New Mexico trail in Chihuahua and the Spanish settlements in Sonora (Wyllys 1931:138 and Bolton 1943:I:181). They may have been Opata in language or they may 172have been Lagunero or a southwestward extension of the very small language groups of Texas. They were almost certainly not Athapascan speaking Indians. They fought their northern Piman enemies in the aboriginal style as late as 1698 (Bolton 1948:I:179-180). That is, they came openly and challenged the Sobaipuris to battle. The Sobaipuris chose ten men to oppose a picked ten composed partly of Jócomes, partly of Janos and partly of Apaches-probably true southern Athapascans. These ten picked men on each side fought and when the Pimans won the enemy broke and with the victors in hot pursuit.  That was apparently the last battle the Apaches fought according to aboriginal Jócome-Jano-Suna rules. Thereafter, the battle conditioned southern Athapascans seem to have taken over direction of even combined war parties, and changed tactics from the aboriginal style of warfare they had been forced to abandon generations earlier in order to survive. After 1698 the Apaches, deprived of their Jano and Jócome and Suma allies, resorted to ambushes, sneak attacks, raids on fields and horse herds, and kidnapping, avoiding frontal assault or defense whenever possible.

Even then the build up of Apache population in the farther Southwest did not pose a serious threat to the Sonoran frontier settlements. The southern Athapascan advance guard was still small and relatively weak. Probably Comanche and other Plains tribe pressure was not as hard during the early decades of the eighteenth century as it became during the latter half when European traders and settlers were shoving the Plains tribes west at a fast clip.

b. Fall From Grace. The Spaniards and northern Pimans enjoyed a period of grace following 1680. The southern Athapascans moved into the hitherto unpopulated territory between the Pueblos and the northern Pimans, and effectively cut off all possibility of resumed trade relations between those Indians and between Sonora and New Mexico by a direct route (Wyllys 1931:139). The occupation and study of this vast new territory absorbed the energies of the southern Athapascans for a period of years, however, and they were too busy, too few, and too little harassed in the rear to bother the Sonoran frontier seriously (ibid., p. 138). Evidence of this state of affairs was the ability of Spaniards to settle in northern Piman territor y in places they later abandoned because of Apache raids. The Upper Santa Cruz River Valley where it loops through Sonora was one such region. Numerous Spaniards settled there during the 1730's and 1740's (Libro de Bautismos, Santos Angeles de Guebavi). This was the principal area of Spanish settlement when the northern Pimans rebelled in 1751 and the northernmost area still held by Spaniards the morning after the revolt (Ewing 1945). When the Pimans returned to peaceful pursuits, the farming and ranching activities in the San Luís Valley or Buena Vista as the area was called at various times, resumed their even tenor, the settlers reassured by the founding of the royal fort at Tubac a short distance to the north (Ortiz Parrilla June 2, 1752:110v). Yet when the Marques de Rubí passed through the valley on his inspection tour in December of 1766, his mapmaker 174noted that the ranches were abandoned and their owners had taken refuge from Apache hostilities in the forts at Terrenate and Tubac (LaFora 1939:216)! Within fifteen years after the Pima Revolt, the Spanish outlying settlements had been abandoned in the face of Apache hostilities. Since children of citizens of the Valley of Buena Vista were being baptized as late as January of 1763 (Santos Angeles de Guebavi, Libro de Bautismos, p. 132), the valley was evidently occupied still at that time unless the priests continued to identify the refugees with their former place of residence, which seems unlikely.

175The net result of the abandonment of the San Luís Valley for Tubac was a slight increase in population from the refugee farmers and ranchers which strengthened the post, but a serious decrease in the amount of provisions produced nearby and a serious increase in geographic isolation. The settled San Luís Valley no longer afforded a pleasant and reassuring break in the long mail couriers' rides to other posts, no longer provided a way station for pack trains loaded with munitions and provisions, no longer provided congenial social life away from the post. Life at Tubac and in the entire upper Santa Cruz River Valley became more urban and more restricted, grimmer and less relaxed, more alert and military but less pleasant. Tubac and the missions at Guebavi and Bac and larger Indian villages became beleaguered outposts and their residents knew it.

c. Turn the Other Flank. As it happened, the Apache hordes hovering over the eastern horizon turned out to be only one of the military problems of the new garrison at Tubac. The Gulf of California flank of Sonora had not been secured as thoroughly as Governor Ortiz Parrilla thought following his sweep through Tiburon Island. Very soon after its foundation the Tubac garrison found itself fighting Seris who not only were not exterminated but had gone over to the offensive! One Seri campaign followed a Seri attack on San Lorenzo pueblo some three miles south of Magdalena in 1757 and at least one Tubac trooper died of wounds received in that December foray (Libro de Entierros de S. M. Magdalena de 1702 p. 54).

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