War With France
Attack on Pensacola and Texas.—In January, 1719, as a result of European complications, France declared war on Spain. The war extended at once to the colonies, where a border contest ensued at various points all the way from Pensacola to the Platte River. In the course of the summer Pensacola was captured by the French of Mobile, recaptured by the Spaniards, and again taken by Bienville and Serigney. In June, Blondel, commander at Natchitoches, invaded eastern Texas, whence the Spanish missionaries and garrison retreated to San Antonio without a struggle. For two years thereafter the region was left unoccupied by Spain. While waiting at San Antonio Father Margil in 1720 founded there a new mission called San José, which later was called the finest in New Spain.
Spanish plans to fortify the Platte River.—In the course of the campaigns against the Indians to the northeast of New Mexico, constantly more disturbing reports had been heard of the French, who were now making their way up all the western tributaries of the Mississippi. In 1719 Governor Valverde pursued Yutas and Comanches across the Napestle (Arkansas) and heard that the French had settled on the Jesus Maria (North Platte) River. New significance was attached to these reports because of the outbreak of war between France and Spain a short time before. Valverde warned the viceroy of the danger; wild rumors spread through the northern provinces; and measures for defence were taken. In 1720, while plans were being made to recover Texas, the viceroy ordered counter alliances made with the tribes northeast of New Mexico, a Spanish colony planted at El Cuartelejo, in eastern Colorado, and a presidio established on the Jesus Maria River, that is, in Nebraska or Wyoming.
Destruction of the Villazur Expedition.—Although a truce had already been declared between France and Spain, Governor Valverde, perhaps in ignorance of this fact, sent Pedro de Villazur in June, 1720, at the head of one hundred and ten men to reconnoiter the French. Passing through El Cuartelejo, in August he reached the Jesus Maria. Not finding the French, he set out to return, but on the San Lorenzo (South Platte), in northern Colorado, he was killed and his expedition cut to pieces by Indians using French weapons. There are indications that tribes living as far north as Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin took part in the attack, a fact which illustrates the wide-reaching influence of these international contests. The Spaniards charged the massacre to the French, and there was a new panic on the frontier. But peace had been restored between France and Spain, and, in spite of appeals from New Mexico, the plans for advancing to El Cuartelejo and the Platte were dropped.
The Aguayo Expedition.—An offer to assist in the reconquest of Texas was made by the Marquis of Aguayo, governor and the most prominent figure of Coahuila. Abetted by Father Hidalgo, he had been interested in a new attempt to discover Gran Quivira, and the Texas crisis seemed to give him an opening. His offer was accepted, and before the end of 1720 he had raised, partly at his own expense, eight companies of cavalry, comprising over five hundred men and five thousand horses. By his instructions he was expected to reoccupy and strengthen the abandoned posts and occupy Cadadachos, on the Red River, and Bahía del Espíritu Santo on the Gulf.
Eastern Texas reoccupied.—The Marquis left Monclova in November, 1720, shortly after Villazur's defeat on the Platte. From the Rio Grande in January, 1721, he sent Captain Ramón with forty soldiers to take possession of Bahía del Espíritu Santo, to which a supply ship was sent from Vera Cruz. This was shortly before La Harpe attempted to reoccupy the place for the French. Because of swollen streams, Aguayo made a wide detour to the north, crossing the Brazos near Waco. Peace had been declared in Europe, and at the Neches he was met by St. Denis, who agreed to permit an unresisted reoccupation of the abandoned posts. It was learned here that St. Denis had recently assembled Indian allies with a view to seizing Bahía del Espíritu Santo and San Antonio, in coöperation, no doubt, with La Harpe.
Proceeding east, between August and November Aguayo reëstablished the six abandoned missions and the presidio of Dolores, and added a presidio at Los Adaes, facing Natchitoches, and garrisoned it with one hundred men. To this last act Bienville made vigorous protest. On the return to San Antonio the weather was so severe that of five thousand horses only fifty were left when Aguayo arrived in January, 1722. After establishing there another mission and rebuilding the presidio, he took forty additional men to La Bahía, and erected a presidio on the site of La Salle's fort. Having thus completed his work, he returned to Monclova.
Texas won for Spain.—Aguayo's expedition fixed the hold of Spain on Texas. He left ten missions where there had been but seven, two hundred and sixty-eight soldiers instead of sixty or seventy, and four presidios instead of two, two of them being at strategic points. Since 1718 Texas and Coahuila had been under the same governor, but now Texas was made independent, with its capital at Los Adaes (now Robeline, Louisiana) where it remained for half a century. The Medina River now became the western boundary of Texas. In 1726 the La Bahía establishment was moved to the lower Guadalupe River.
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