The Period of Grace: 1821 to 1833


The military situation in the Frontier Provinces, particularly in the northwest, remained as stable and relatively peaceful as it had been at the end of colonial times for approximately a decade after independence was achieved. For a few years more the Mexicans retained control of the situation and then the balance of power tilted against them and a long period of defeat and retreat, attrition and contrition set in.

At the beginning the military situation looked very good, indeed, especially by comparison with the high cost of revolution paid by the United States and France. The frontier posts came through the change of sovereignty unscathed by fighting. The process of revolution by nearly unanimous treason described 535in the last chapter insured that the presidial garrisons came to Mexico practically intact. They were trained, experienced units-in-being, though somewhat deteriorated through lack of active campaigning which had merely to carry on as they had been for many years. They did not have to be created from the ground up as in the United States nor largely reconstituted as in France.

The officer corps, since its members led the coup d'etat which achieved independence, came over to Mexico virtually in a body, so the professional, experienced leadership the frontier troops required to be effective stayed right on the spot. Officers did not have to train themselves from scratch by making errors in battle as did the revolutionary army officers of the United States; the professional officer class was not decimated as in revolutionary France. It remained very nearly intact, with very high esprit de corps because of its successful role in making the revolution, commanding it, and receiving its major rewards.

1. Colonel Arvizu's Proposals

One index of the high morale and optimism of the newly independent Mexican nation in the period immediately after 1821 was a series of proposals made by Colonel Ignacio Arvizu to the national government in 1823.

The general tenor of the Arvizu proposals was that the Sonoran frontier military posts should be relocated in new536positions in advance of their existing locations. He suggested, for example, that the fort at Altar be moved to the town of Sonoita where the short-lived Jesuit mission founded in 1750 had been destroyed by the Pima Revolt in November of 1751. The aim of such a move would be to push Mexican civilization closer to the desert dwelling Pápago Indians, the Gila River Pimas and the tribes living on the Colorado River (Escudero 1849:73).

2. The Colorado River Expedition of 1825

One of the operational indices of the continued excellence of the frontier forces was a large-scale military expedition undertaken by General José Figueroa with over 300 men in the year 1825 (Figueroa October 22, 1825) which at least laid the preliminary groundwork for implementing the Arvizu proposals. Part of the Figueroa force seems to have come from Tubac, which was left with only a standby garrison.

Although the Yaqui Indians were on the brink of rebellion in the middle of the long, unwieldy State of the West (modern Sinaloa and Sonora), General Figueroa led his troops on a northern jaunt through Tubac and Tucson to the Gila River Pima villages and down that stream to the Colorado River where he expected to meet a contingent coming east from coastal California (Figueroa November 5) 1825).

The fact that this expedition could be mounted at all indicates the relatively high level of military efficiency 537maintained in Sonora up to the end of 1825, and the very high morale among the troops of the newly independent nation. A comparable undertaking had not occurred in northern Sonora since the Zúñiga expedition to New Mexico in 1795.

On the other hand, the early indications of military deterioration were already apparent in this expedition. In the first place, the contingent which had been ordered assembled in Upper California to come to the Colorado River to join up with the Figueroa expedition failed to effect a junction at the appointed time. It is doubtful whether such a failure would have occurred in colonial times: discipline was not such as to encourage such evasion of responsibility. In the second place, General Figueroa declined to cross the Colorado River to seek the California contingent when it did not show up (ibid.). Colonial expeditionary commanders such as Juan Bautista de Anza or Pedro Fages would have pushed across the river to find out what had happened to the California force. The quality of field commanders was not as high as it had been.

3. Federal Frontier Fort Policy

Early in the spring of 1826 the Mexican national congress formally recognized the system of frontier military posts inherited from the Spanish colonial army. The presidial companies were officially adopted as the defensive units for the State of the East, State of the West (including Sonora), and 538the Territory of New Mexico (Gomez Pedraza March 21, 1826: Art. 1). The State of the West which had been organized out of the Western Frontier Provinces was allotted nine presidial companies by the federal congress, compared to three in New Mexico, five in Chihuahua, seven in Coahuila-Texas and two in Tamaulipas (ibid., Art. 2). An additional militia force of fifteen companies also received the congressional stamp of approval (ibid., Art. 3), Sonora and Sinaloa rating three of these like Tamaulipas and Chihuahua, whereas Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Texas, and the New Mexico Territory were allowed only two each (ibid., Art. 4). The militia companies were ordered organized on the basis of one captain, one lieutenant, two ensigns, one first sergeant and two second sergeants, a trumpeter, six corporals and ninety enlisted men (ibid., Art. 5).

Six of the regular Sonora-Sinaloa companies remained "white" units, and three were frozen as Indian companies as during colonial times. The half dozen white-mestizo outfits garrisoned Fronteras, Santa Cruz, Tucson, Altar, Buenavista and Pitic (shortly to become Hermosillo), the first four with an authorized strength of ninety-four men and six officers, the last two with sixty-four men and six officers. The three Indian companies recognized were the Opata units at Bacuachi and Babispe and the Pima Company stationed at Tubac. Each of these Indian outfits was authorized one veteran lieutenant commanding, one veteran ensign, one captain of Indians, two 539veteran sergeants, one veteran drummer, four veteran corporals, and seventy-four Indians. The national congress authorized expenditure of part of the payroll to recompense a missionary for serving these units as acting military chaplain (ibid., Estado 2).

The Sonora-Sinaloa Indian-fighting companies were placed under the command of an InspectorGeneral Commanding with headquarters at Arispe (ibid., Art. 9), and an annual pay of 4,,000 pesos (ibid., Art. 10). This commander was given one Adjutant Inspector with the rank of lieutenant colonel and annual pay of 3,000 pesos (ibid., Art. 11).

What the national Mexican congress proposed circumstances on the frontier frequently disposed of. The difficulty of the State of the West in maintaining the authorized strength of the presidial and militia companies may be inferred from the twelfth law of the legislature of that northwestern province in 1826, close on the heels of the federal act of recognition of frontier forts and militia. Faced with a rebellion by the Yaqui and Mayo Indians whose lands divided the Sonoran and Sinaloan parts of the State of the West, its legislators decided to draft into the permanent militia recalcitrants who refused in any way to aid the state government in its Indian war (Elías June 18, 1826, Art. 1). This measure undoubtedly had the social affect of branding many if not all militiamen as criminals, and probably quite seriously dried up the source of recruits among socially aspiring lower 540class men to whom the colonial army had been a means to social mobility. This law was published even in far-off Tubac.

4. The Great Land Rush in the Santa Cruz Valley

Another index of the continuance of peaceful conditions and efficient military operations on the Sonoran frontier immediately after independence was the large-scale land rush which occurred in the Santa Cruz River Valley and adjoining areas-even the San Pedro River Valley which had been abandoned because of the proximity of hostile Apaches since 1762.

The unsettled conditions of the royal colonial government during the Napoleonic Wars and the years of change leading up to independence combined with successful pacification of the Apaches had already led to a significant increase in the number of applications for grants of land on the Sonoran frontier and the number of grants made (Mattison 1946:294-295; 299; Britton & Gray 1884:29-30). After 1821 the number of applications and grants jumped as ambitious Mexicans saw opportunities for profiting from the grazing and farming lands in the Santa Cruz River Valley, the San Pedro River Valley, and intervalley montane areas.

These frontier land grants would not have been eagerly sought had the frontier military posts not been carrying out their protection and pacification mission very successfully.  This index dates the end of the period of grace very accurately, for the deterioration of the frontier military situation 541destroyed the desirability of frontier land grants and only one grant was made after the year 1833 (Mattison 1946:288-9).

By about 1833 the period of grace was over and it became apparent that the problems which had to be solved by newly independent Mexico in order to continue the era of peace on the frontier had not been solved, and the situation deteriorated into open warfare with the Apaches once again, and a long marked decline set in.

5. The Problems of Independence

While the momentum of the Spanish colonial system carried the frontier provinces along peacefully and enjoyably for approximately a decade, numerous very serious problems faced independent Mexico if peace and prosperity were to be preserved past the period of grace when the momentum was used up.

a. Attrition in Officers. One of the problems faced by Mexico, and particularly in the frontier companies, soon became the replacement of skilled and experienced officers. While Mexico was extremely fortunate in having its pre-independence officer corps nearly intact, it had to solve the problem of replacement beginning immediately. There had been a few officers who remained loyal to their king and returned to Spain, creating vacancies which had to be filled. Next there was the fact that however much the creoles may have resented the Peninsular-born officers constantly sent to New Spain to fill high positions, those officers had supplied a significant 542proportion of the top commanders. With independence they came no longer, so those top command posts had to be filled by promoting junior officers-one of the goals of the revolution. Institution of republican forms of government siphoned more well-known officers off into the national and state legislatures, along with bishops and similar experienced leaders. These promotions and departures created vacancies for junior officers, and their promotions created gaps in the lower ranks for which new officers of less experience and frequently less ability had to be recruited. There had, moreover, always been a stream of emigration from Spain or other colonial possessions to New Spain which included a significant number of upper class Spaniards whose gentlemanly class status allowed them no career outside the armed forces, big business or the church. The Sonoran provincial elite had been founded by just such Spanish emigres and reinforced by later additions such as the García Condes and Narbonas. Now as Mexico barred loyal subjects of the Spanish king in order to safeguard its newly won independence, it necessar-ily shut off this traditional source of officers.

The net effect of this attrition of trained officers, while it may have been democratizing was also a gradual deterioration of quality in the presidial officer corps. As officers of the Elías Gonzalez family moved into command positions at the provincial level in keeping with their socio-political status in the provincial elite, they left vacant the presidial commands where their socio-political prominence 543had been won and from which they had run the province at a secondary level for decades. As good republicans as their successors may have been, they lacked the long experience in presidial management possessed by the members of the provincial elite. They lacked the virtually inbred military abilities of the elite officers and certainly the cultural inheritance of military technique and social graces and command presence which were taught the infants born into the provincial elite group almost automatically as part of their familial and group culture.

In other words, post independence commanders and subalterns were simply not as effective as their predecessors and the top-flight officers were spread thinner and thinner.

b. The Problem of Succession. The real miracle of the revolution which created the United States of America was that which provided an orderly method of peaceful succession in political office by electoral procedures. The miraculous quality of this method of succession is acutely accentuated by a comparison with the unhappy and anything but peaceful experience of the French and Mexicans in attempting to solve the same problem of transferring political power from one man to another or from one political party to another

This problem was very acute in Mexico at the national level. The first solution after independence was a five-man regency which lasted from the end of September of 1821 (Bancroft 1885:IV:735) until mid-May of 1822 (ibid., IV:770-773). 544Next came a substitute monarchy with Agustín de Iturbide as emperor. This attempt at solving the problem of succession endured less than a year for Iturbide was forced to abdicate an March 19, 1823 (ibid., IV:800).

Adopting the forms of republican government after the overthrow of Iturbide, the Mexican political leaders were unsuccessful in achieving the reality of peaceful electoral succession. Although experienced officers were spread thinner and thinner on the frontier, there were entirely too many high ranking officers in the vicinity of the City of Mexico who thought they were capable of ruling if not actually entitled to do so. The juxtaposition of such ambitions and the means to effectuate them in the form of troops all too often precipitated changes in governments or abortive attempts to change governments which absorbed the attention of the government in power in putting down revolts and preventing them from tackling other problems facing the country.

These caudillos also, in effect, increased the number of officers and troops in the central areas of the country far above the colonial levels, thus weakening the frontier forces and preventing their effective reinforcement.

Most of the states suffered the same problems of determining political succession without resort to arms that the nation suffered, and Sonora was foremost among those plagued by men on horseback. A brief resume of the rapid rise and fall of national governments will make the point sufficiently for purposes of this report.

545After the fall of Iturbide the reinstalled national congress on March 31, 1823, appointed an executive triumvirate of Generals Nicolás Bravo, Guadalupe Victoria and Pedro Celestino Negrete (Bancroft 1885:V:2). The task of formulating a permanent form of government was completed with the publishing of a national constitution on October 4, 1824 and the election of a constitutional president (ibid., V:17).

The elected president, Guadalupe Victoria, and vice-president Nicolás Bravo took office on October 10, 1824 (ibid., V:27). This first elected administration struggled through three years with fair success, but in December of 1827 the vice-president revolted against the president (ibid., V:38-39). The rebels were easily defeated, the vice-president impeached and the rebel leaders exiled (ibid., V:40).

Cabinet minister Manuel Gomez Pedraza won the 1828 election (ibid., V:41). The defeated candidate, Vicente Guerrero, revolted (ibid., V:42) and Gomez Pedraza resigned his right to the presidency and sailed for London in March of 1829. Guerrero took office in April, the new constitution having been successfully ignored and precedent set for rule by revolution rather than constitutional election (ibid., V:44). Guerrero's presidency did not last long for his vice-president Anastacio Bustamante proceeded to revolt on December 4, 1829 (ibid., V:88), assuming formal office on January 1, 1830 (ibid., V:94). Hardly had the new administration executed the ex-president when it in turn had to begin putting down new revolutions (ibid., V:103), which it did with an actual improvement in the financial and industrial condition of the country (ibid., V:106 fn 14). On January 2, 1832, however, the Vera Cruz garrison demanded dismissal of the government ministers (ibid., V:107), bringing back into the field of national politics Antonio López de Santa Anna who had been living quietly on his estates. Shortly thereafter Tampico troops revolted, followed by forces in San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas and Jalisco (ibid., V:111). Bustamante resigned on September 19 (ibid., p V:115), after a series of defeats for his government's forces, and congress appointed an ad interim president General Melchor Muzquiz, who began functioning on August 19th (ibid., V:116). Taking command of government troops in person, Bustamante won a resounding victory on September 18 (ibid., V:117), but even in victory he evidently read the signs of ultimate defeat since he resigned the next day. Santa Anna went over to the offensive from Vera Cruz (ibid., V:118), and Gomez Pedraza, who had returned to Mexico once before and been re-expelled, returned again and won immediate support from several states (ibid., V:120). Bustamante gave up the losing struggle and on December 23, 1832, a peace treaty between the contending factions recognized Gomez Pedraza as legally president until the expiration of his constitutional term on April 1, 1833 (ibid., V:123).

This was the chronicle of futile struggles for personal power at the national capital during the period of grace on the northern frontier, the sad tale of wastage of national 547military and financial resources on a lavish scale in internecine party warfare of Mexican against Mexican. In these political wars the power needed in Sonora and the other frontier states to hold the Indian frontier was dissipated. The closing months of Bustamante's rule at the capital city saw the wholesale defection of hitherto Peaceful Apaches from the frontier posts and the swift conversion of the northern frontier from prosperity to war-wracked ruin.

The political struggle at the national center continued long after the vindication of Gomez Pedraza. In the election of February, 1833, López de Santa Anna and Valentin Gomez Farias, secretary of the treasury in Gomez Pedraza's brief cabinet, were elected to the presidency and vice-presidency (ibid., V:127). The vice-president was inaugurated on April 1, 1833 (ibid., V:129) due to the absence of Santa Anna,, who did not assume authority until May 16th (ibid., V:131). The energetic reforms proposed by the vice-president aroused opposition among extremists who resorted to armed force as was becoming habitual, so on June 3 Santa Anna took the field, leaving administration again to Gomez Farias (ibid., V:132). After the extremists were defeated through little action on his part, Santa Anna took office again June 18 but turned it back to the vice-president on July 5 (ibid., V:134). In October Santa Anna once again took office after defeating rebel forces, only to turn it back to Gomez Farias on December 16 (ibid., V:136) and reclaim it April 24, 1834 (ibid., V:137). Gomez Farias abided by constitutional forms even though he 548had evidence that the president planned to do away with them, which he proceeded to do by ruling as dictator without a congress, cabinet or even state legislatures (ibid., V:141). On January 28, 1835, Santa Anna again surrendered executive office, this time to General Miguel Barragan (ibid., V:143). Barragan had to deal with the military problem raised by revolt of the North American immigrants in Texas, and died in office on March 1, 1836. José Justo Corro was elected by the congress on February 27, during Barragan's final illness, to become acting president (ibid., V:178).

Anastacio Bustamante came back to win election as president in 1837 after his return from exile (ibid., V:179) and began an eight-year term on April 19th (ibid., V:180). As usual, revolts soon broke out all over the republic (ibid., V:182), but the situation became serious in 1840 when the president was surprised in bed on July 15 and held prisoner for a time by the perpetual revolutionary General Urrea from Sonora and ex-president Gomez Farias (ibid., V:220). This coup d'etat failed, but Generals Paredes y Arrillaga and López de Santa Anna again rose against the elected government, so President Bustamante again resigned and went into exile once again early in October of 1842 (ibid., V:235). Antonio López de Santa Anna took over as provisional president October 9th (ibid., V:236) with ex-president Gomez Pedraza as minister of interior and foreign relations. On the 28th of that same month he turned over the administration to the president of the council (ibid., V:254) so he could retire 549to his estate again to avoid executive responsibility. Manipulating affairs from behind the scenes, Santa Anna secured his indirect election to the presidency on January 2, 1844, although he stayed in seclusion on his estate for another six months (ibid., V:259), entering the capital only an June 3d (ibid., V:260). He departed again after the death of his wife later in August (ibid., V:261 fn 32). By the end of that year opposition piled up to the point that a temporary president General José Joaquín Herrera, was installed, (ibid., V:273). The dictator was arrested in flight toward the coast and exile early in January of 1845 (ibid., V:277), but shared the benefits of a general amnesty on May 24th (ibid., V:279) and sailed for Cuba on June 3d (ibid., V:280).

In the fall of 1845 a new election put General Herrera in office as constitutional president, inaugurated on September 16th (ibid., V:288). In the face of popular clamor for war against the United States over Texas, Maríano Paredes y Arrillaga raised the familiar standard of revolt, proclaiming his candidacy on December 15th. He won widespread support, and the constitutional president surrendered office December 30th, Paredes entering the capital city on January 20 1846 (ibid., V:292).

No sooner did Paredes achieve supreme power than new disputants appeared (ibid., V:296), and on July 28 he left the troublesome government in the hands of vice-president Bravo and set out for the fighting front, only to be arrested by the army, which also deposed the vice-president and 550installed General José Maríano de Salas as supreme executive (ibid., V:299-300).

The wheel now turned full circle, and exiled Antonio López de Santa Anna was sent for. He landed at Vera Cruz with the connivance of blockading United States ships (ibid., V:301) in midAugust and on September 28th left the capital for the front in command of 3,000 men (ibid., V:303). December 23 he was chosen ad interim president with Gomez Farias as vice-president and acting chief executive (ibid., V:304). Gomez Farias' energetic war-financing measures roused revolt again (ibid., V:305), but this ended with the vice-president's retirement and Santa Anna's arrival at the capital on March 21, 1847 (ibid., V:306).

The great demagogue remained in the presidency only until April 2 when he turned it over to General Pedro María Anaya and took command of the army (ibid., V:524). On May 20 López de Santa Anna returned and traded places with Anaya (ibid., V:525). Finally the vicious play was interrupted by the president of the Supreme Court, Manuel de la Peña y Peña who took office as provisional president on September 26th in defiance of Santa Anna's attempt to personally order the succession (ibid., V:527). A congress which managed to assemble at Querétaro after the City of Mexico fell to the United States Army named Pedro M. Anaya president November 9th and he took office on the 12th (ibid., V:534) for a term specifically limited to January 8, 1848, when Peña y Peña returned to office (ibid., V:535). Thus it was Manuel de la Peña y 551Peña who ultimately signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with the United States on February 2, 1848 (ibid., V:540).

Many Mexicans regarded conclusion of peace with the United States as treason despite the apparent impossibility of carrying on the struggle, and personally ambitious men as usual revolted, but this time the government won (ibid., V:548-549)!

In 1848 ex-president José Joaquín de Herrera was re-elected to the presidency and Peña y Peña returned to the leadership of the supreme court on June 3, 1848 (ibid., V: 550). Herrera vigorously pursued badly needed internal reforms in all areas of Mexican life, and carried through his administration successfully until election of a constitutional successor, Maríano Arista, who assumed office on January 15, 1851 (ibid., V:596-597). During 1852 opposition to Arista appeared throughout the nation and on January 5, 1853, he resigned, turning the government over to a new Chief Justice, Juan Bautista Ceballos (ibid., V:613).

After dissolving congress, Ceballos faced the usual rebellion and Manuel María Lombardini was chosen by the powerful party opposition as provisional president (ibid., V:621). On March 17, however, the state votes for president were opened, and Antonio López de Santa Anna was restored to power (ibid., V:624). Under his new administration the Treaty of Mesilla or the Gadsden Purchase was concluded December 30, 1853 (ibid., V:652) and the political turmoil in the City of Mexico ceased to plague Tubac.

552This constant struggle for political power heightened the effects of independence on the attrition among skilled officers in the frontier provinces. Whereas during colonial times a brilliant officer could hope for action on the frontier which would bring him to royal notice and promotion-even though there was a strong tendency even then to prefer assignments in or near the capital city for social reasons-during republican times this situation radically altered.

The truly momentous political decisions were made at the capital, whether by force of arms or peaceful maneuvering. In any event the ambitious officer was drawn to the capital as a moth to the flame. The provinces offered him little or no opportunity for advancement or national fame-these were won by success in the constant struggles for power at the centre (although the national struggle was duplicated on a smaller scale in nearly every state). This continuous resort to arms to resolve the succession in office in effect produced multiple armed forces where only one had existed in colonial times, so that more officers and troops were actually deployed in or near the capital than before, to the detriment of the frontier commands.

The problem of succession in office in the State of the West and later Sonora was hardly less acute than that at the centre, and pulled able officers and large numbers of troops into the vicinity of Hermosillo and Ures where contests were generally decided.

553There was the difference that local commanders in Sonora were close enough to the scene of conflict usually to share somewhat in decisions on succession even in the frontier post. Ambitious officers were no more willing to accept the results of popular or legislative elections in Sonora than in the City of Mexico if they had sufficient troops under their control to make an issue of any selection which left them slighted. Thus officers who were not sucked into the vortex of combat at the national capital could not escape being drawn into the provincial conflicts, even if they happened to desire nothing more than to be left alone to fight the Indian enemy on the frontier.

Contestants for state office required troops to win, so they repeatedly levied upon the frontier garrisons under their control (Bancroft 1889:404), tying up regular troops in the struggles for power and preventing their employment against hostile Indians. Thus frontier posts suffered a serious deterioration in leadership, a diminution in manpower and frequent interference from higher echelons.

c. The Problem of Finances. One of the immediate effects of independence was a disruption of the flow of funds to and from the frontier provinces. In colonial times taxes had flowed into the royal coffers and been redistributed by the king's ministers in accordance with their estimates of requirements. Under that system the Frontier Provinces had not fared badly inasmuch as royal ministers were always motivated 554to expand or at least try to maintain intact the royal geographic patrimony. After independence, the tax collection system lost in efficiency when control passed to politicians who were not always as thorough and impartial about collections as the agents of the king had been. Further, the funds which flowed into the City of Mexico were not budgeted for expenditure in the frontier provinces with the generosity of colonial times. For one thing, the purse strings were controlled by elected representatives who were answerable to constituents who had an understandable desire to receive full value for their taxes, and who were seldom as aware of the importance to them of a well-defended frontier as the king's ministers had been. In addition, the intermittent struggles over succession in high office not only were costly in themselves, but created frequent opportunities for dishonest manipulations and outright robbery from the public monies, so that the taxes which flowed into the capital tended never to leave it again, at least for the frontier military posts.

This financial situation merely increased the desire of capable officers to migrate to the centers of decision-making in the states or the City of Mexico. They were motivated not only by ambition but by financial necessity! It required a very dedicated officer or a dullard to remain in the frontier posts such as Tubac. The plight of the troops was even worse as they sometimes went long periods without pay in the 1830's and 1840's, and their arms steadily deteriorated without adequate 555repairs or replacements, and their provisions concurrently diminished in quantity and quality.

The only surprising feature of the whole situation was that the momentum of colonialism carried the frontier through more than a decade without serious hostilities from the southern Athapascans, and that the frontier military units did not deteriorate more rapidly than was the case.

One of the effects of the deterioration in government financing was to terminate the effectiveness of the Apache reservation system originated by Viceroy Galvez. The cost of the food, liquor, clothing, arms, munitions and other rations and gifts issued to the Peaceful Apaches to keep them satisfied was tremendous. This subsidy program was one of the first casualties of the independent Mexican government, subject as it was to budgetary control by politicians committed to local interests and self-interest rather than a concept of the public good which allowed them to pour large sums into maintaining peace on the distant frontiers.

The frontier commanders who recognized the necessity for maintaining the ration system if peace were to be preserved managed to scrounge Apache rations out of their other allotments, but the colonial system jerked and strained, and late rations of poor quality did not keep the Apaches happy. Even so the Peaceful Apaches coasted along for a considerable period following habits developed during a long period of pacification, making out as best they could and undoubtedly hoping for improvement. Only gradually as conditions worsened 556without any realistic prospect for improvement did the Peaceful Apache bands reluctantly return to raiding as an economic necessity, thus accelerating the deterioration of the frontier settlements.

The year 1832 seems to have been the critical turning point when the habits of colonialism were finally abandoned in a widespread defection of Peaceful Apache bands (Velasco 185O:238).

d. The Problem of Ethnic Self-Determination. Another Indian tribe created a military problem for independent Mexico, and for Sonora in particular, which was no less serious than Apache hostilities although it was somewhat more sporadic.

The Yaqui Indians on the Yaqui River almost at the eventual line of partition between Sinaloa and Sonora had stopped the military forces of colonial Spain cold in the early years of the seventeenth century. Still undefeated, they had requested Jesuit missionaries who arrived in their country in 1617 and quickly reformed Yaqui society on strongly theocratic lines. Thereafter this proud people settled down to mission village life and the acquisition of many selected traits of Hispanic culture, with almost no resort to arms through the colonial period. Even though the Yaqui missions were secularized upon the expulsion of the Jesuit Order from New Spain, the reformulation of Yaqui culture and socio-political forms had been achieved in so thoroughgoing a manner that 557this enclave of perhaps 50,000 people remained a separatist subordinate subcultural society, with a considerable degree of actual self-government within the colonial system, and fairly effective protection of their homeland against non-Indian settlement and exploitation.

When the Spanish monarchy disappeared with independence, and republican Mexicans cast covetous eyes toward the Yaqui country, tribal war drums began to beat and a collective Yaqui cry for ethnic political independence went up.

Avaricious Mexicans eager for personal profit moved in on the Yaquis, incapable of assessing the long-term cost to themselves and their new country of their preoccupation with personal goals. By 1825 the Yaquis had received sufficient proofs of their likely fate under republican Mexican rule.  They struck for independence.

The Yaqui revolt was the first adverse result of independence in Sonora and marked the beginning of the deterioration of the military, economic, and political situation in that state and its northern frontier. The military threat of Yaquis sitting across Sonora's southern borders and capable of cutting it off from the rest of the Republic except by sea added a burden to the independent nation which had not existed in colonial times, and which could not be ignored whether these Indians were engaged in open warfare or biding their time for another attempt. Sixty bloody years passed before the Mexicans eventually defeated the Yaquis decisively-558long after Tubac and the rest of the Gadsden Purchase area had passed from Mexican sovereignty. In other words, the Yaqui problem remained near the fore of the military problems which resulted in the deterioration of Tubac and the other frontier posts over the years from 1825 right up to 1854. This problem was by no means decreased by the propensity of several unscrupulous Sonoran politicos to embroil the Yaquis in their internecine struggles for power.

6. Sonora Asks Federal Help

By the middle 1830's the frontier forts had fallen on evil days as a result of all the socio-economic factors outlined previously and the effective offensive of a resurgent southern Athapascan enemy. An index of the disintegration of the frontier posts may be found in the appeal made to the central government by Sonora's federal congressional delegation for the 1835-1836 term. The deputies pointed out that the presidial companies suffered serious desertion and the entire frontier was depopulating as settlers fled from continual Apache depredations (Velasco 1850:86). The state's representatives focused upon scapegoats rather different from the factors described above, however, in keeping with their cultural tradition of individualism and with the knowledge of their times. They tended to blame the commandant-generals of the state and the post quartermasters and the quartermaster system for all the ills of the frontier, unaware of the many 559broader and more powerful social processes at work draining the strength of the frontier.

"There is nothing which demoralizes troops more than arrears in their pay, lack of equipment and other aids," accurately observed the Sonoran deputies. They asserted that reinforcements generally had reached the commandant generals after the evil events calling for them had happened, and they had been dissipated in meeting necessities of the moment, leaving the backlog of necessity in the frontier posts unremedied. Thus a retrograde movement was accelerated until the posts had been reduced to a nullity, one disorder producing another (ibid., p. 92).

The Sonoran congressmen harkened back longingly to the late colonial presidial system as their economic ideal. Back when the captain of a com-pany could not open the post cash box without the key of the quartermaster and the key of the chaplain, neither he nor any of the other two had much chance to raid company funds. In the "good old days" equipment, cereals and other goods were supplied the troops in good quality and at a discount of up to twenty per cent under the current uncontrolled price. Furthermore the authority of the adjutant inspector over the quartermaster's operations had made it difficult for the latter to establish a monopoly on the supply of goods or to fix prices. The "good old days" were gone forever, lamented the Sonoran deputies (ibid., p. 93).

The day-to-day policy of meeting executive needs opened the door to all sorts of disorders and abuses. Alert businessmen 560had taken advantage of the situations which arose to sell sheeting ten or twelve per cent higher than its value in the open market. Farmers tacked an extra peso or two on the going price of grain per fanega, hiked the price of horses from six or seven pesos per head to eight (ibid., p. 94).

Prompt financing of the frontier troops would have gone far toward alleviating the situation and improving the defense of Sonora.

7. Sonora Prohibits the Sale of Government Property

The straits in which the presidial troops found themselves as a result of the breakdown in the pay system and responsible command is indicated by the fact that the Sonoran acting governor had to promulgate heavy penalties to attempt to halt the frontier soldiers from selling their very weapons for cash to sustain themselves! One of the Elías Gonzalez tribe, Rafael, was acting executive head of the state when he published this order on August 10, 1837. The state commandant-general had informed him that many of the presidial troops were selling their arms to private individuals for cash, a practice which could soon leave the posts completely defenseless!

In an attempt to remedy the situation and maintain frontier defenses, acting governor Elías Gonzalez resorted to repressive measures rather than trying to rectify the basic causes of the poverty of the frontier garrisons. He prohibited 561any inhabitant of the state from purchasing any weapon from soldiers of the presidial forces (Elías G., Aug. 10, 1837, Art. 1).

Trying to recover lost guns, the acting governor decreed that individuals who had already bought arms from presidial soldiers should return them within three days after publication of his decree either at the capital or to the nearest post commander if they lived in or near forts, or within eight days of publication if they resided elsewhere. They would be reimbursed for the price they had paid for a weapon if it did not exceed the legitimate value of the arm (ibid., Art. 2).

Those who attempted to retain weapons they had purchased from presidial soldiers were subject to seizure of such arms without recompense (ibid., Art. 3).

This decree was an excellent example of the typical reaction of Mexican officials in attempting to remedy effects rather than treat causes, either through inability to discern true causes or inability to act even if the real causes were recognized.

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