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The 30th

After Mass, we started out for the Pueblo of Acoma, hav-
ing arranged the return to the Villa (Santa Fe) of two sol-
diers and four militia who were ill and having proclaimed
an edict upon the procedure of each man when we succeeded
in attacking the enemy. 6

The 31st

The whole group set out for a place which is called La
Cebolla under the command of First Lieutenant D Manuel
Delgado and I remained at Laguna suffering from a severe
pain. I ordered them to wait for me there for three or four
days, during which time I hoped to recover enough to make
the journey. I also bled myself twice which served to alleviate
the pain.

September 1st

I began to feel some relief.



292 NEW MEXICO HISTORICAL REVIEW

The 2nd

I left Acoma with an escort of eight men whom I had re-
tained and at sunset I arrived at La Cebolla where the troops,
who had arrived that same day, received me with great dem-
onstrations of joy. Delgado reported that nothing had hap-
pened during my absence. 12

The 3rd

We left the place called La Cebolla at four in the after-
noon, traveled southwest and stopped at eight at night on a
plain where we found water. 6

The 4th

We left this place at dawn and traveled south-southwest
as far as a marsh with plenty of water which is called El
Presidio by some and by others La Cienaga de San Bartolome.
We stopped at two in the afternoon. 10

The 5th

At dawn today, I sent out forty eight men as spies guided
by the Navajo, Antonio el Pinto, who is acquainted with the
country.

At one o'clock we all started out toward the south a quar-
ter southeast in search of a spring of water which Antonio
himself told us would be found at the foot of some mountains.
Another Navajo who had been left with us for this purpose
by Antonio guided us to this place. We arrived at 5 :30 and
found abundant grass and plenty of good water. This place
was named Ojo del Oso because a bear was found here.

This place is about 85 leagues from the Villa, 50 from
Zurii and 70 from El Paso. The Gila and Mimbres Apaches, on
their frequent raids into the Province, and especially into the
part called the Rio Aba jo, pass by here and it is the most
suitable place to establish or place a garrison to punish them
or hold them in check. The amount of wood as well as the
location of the place are exceptional. 12

The 6th

We started out from here at dawn and entered a wide can-
yon running in the direction of south and a quarter southwest



FERNANDO DE LA CONCHA DIARY 293

and about half way through the mountains it ended. We fol-
lowed another, after climbing a slope, and traveled south
southeast until we reached a plain which is called the Plain
of San Agustin 2 where we made camp at two in the afternoon
with plenty of permanent water and good grass.

At 4 o'clock in the afternoon, Antonio el Navajo and his
scouting party rejoined me and reported that no more than
four old trails of the enemy had been found. 10

The 7th

At dawn, another party of forty eight men started out on
a scouting trip, led by the same Navajo and by the interpreter
of this same nation, Francisco Garcia, leaving another
Navajo and the Acoma Indian named Casimiro to guide us
to the place which he had designated.

At eight o'clock, after having heard Mass, I started out
with the entire expedition and we traveled toward the south-
southeast until 12 o'clock. Then, crossing a plain, we de-
scended into a canyon which ran southwest which direction
we followed until 9 at night when we stopped to make camp
near a spring with little water which we called Ojo de los
Alamos since there were cottonwood trees in the vicinity.

A short time afterward, the scouts arrived saying that
they had come across only two trails of Apache hunters. How-
ever, I had ordered them followed previously since I had
found them too. 15

The 8th

Those who had been following the Indian trails returned
and advised me that they had gone into the mountains.

At nine in the morning, I sent some men out on foot to
find out whether there were any tracks on the route which we
were to follow.

At 12, 1 started out in the direction of some rough moun-
tains toward the southwest which, according to Antonio, was
the Sierra de la Gila.



2. The San Agustin Plains were well known to the Navajos since the abundance of
antelope furnished excellent hunting. After firearms began to be used, the numbers
decreased and were practically exterminated by the heavy snows of 1888.



294 NEW MEXICO HISTORICAL REVIEW

At 3 o'clock in the afternoon we found two fresh tracks
of men on foot. I detached Lieut. Don Manuel Delgado to
follow them with thirty men and at 4 o'clock I sent Pablo
Sandoval with thirty more to aid the first named in case he
should come upon the rancheria toward which the tracks were
headed. At 5 o'clock, I found them together behind a hill
where they had remained out of sight of the enemy. They
assured me that the enemy was in a canyon nearby, which
they pointed out. Since there was abundant water and grass,
I halted and made a guarded camp and detached seventy men
on foot and 24 cavalrymen whom I turned over to the same
Delgado and Sandoval to reconnoiter and attack the place
mentioned. At nightfall they left for this purpose.

At exactly the same time, I sent the soldier Baltasar Ri-
vera in the opposite direction to cut sign and then advise me
of any new developments. 14

The 9th

At dawn, I sent out spies to look for tracks not only in
the direction which we were to take but also in other direc-
tions being ready to start out as soon as the detachment
should return.

At seven the soldier Rivera returned with his party and
advised me that they had gone five leagues without finding
any tracks.

During morning prayers, Delgado's party arrived and in-
formed me that they had followed the canyon which showed
signs of enemy occupancy, that the latter had fled from the
corn fields and camps and that they had followed their trail
until it became lost in impenetrable canyons.

After all my forces were together, I had Antonio el Navajo
called in and asked him what hour he considered the best to
start out on our march. He had the greatest objections to
crossing the mountains and assured me that I would lose the
supply train and horse herd; however, he was willing to
lead me.

The 10th

At dawn, I separated half of the force with two horses
each and the other half, along with the train and horse herd,



FERNANDO DE LA CONCHA DIARY 295

I sent to the place called Fray Cristobal under the command
of Don Clieto Miera to await my arrival there. At 11 o'clock,
after they had gone, I started out on my way guided by the
same Navajo without any encumbrance. He led us south-
southwest through canyons which were not too rough until
we came to a valley of considerable width in which was a
river which, since it ran west-southwest, could well have been
the San Francisco. There he told me that I could halt. Before
we could unsaddle, our spies reported that there was an In-
dian camp in the vicinity. Immediately a Comanche and a
Navajo appeared saying that the Apaches were very near
and would escape if we delayed.

Under the circumstances, in spite of the fact that it was
five in the afternoon, I decided to attack the enemy immedi-
ately, detaching one party to the right and another to the
left to cut off the retreat of the enemy and charging up the
center with the remainder. I left the camp and horses well
defended under the orders of Sergeant Pablo Sandoval and
with the officers, troops, civilians and loyal Indians, I ad-
vanced at a moderate pace but after a short time I was unable
to restrain the enthusiasm of the people who charged head-
long upon the enemy who took to flight up a narrow canyon.
In spite of the rough terrain, the enemy was overtaken and
beaten to such an extent that we counted eighteen dead war-
riors and four were taken prisoners ; unfortunately the non-
combatants, who naturally would accompany them, escaped
because of the darkness and the rough ground and we were
not able to follow their trail as the battle did not end till
after vespers.

All of the officers, troops, civilians and Indians conducted
themselves with valor and the soldier Juan Antonio Bena-
vides distinguished himself extraordinarily. 6

The llth

Considering that it would be futile to hunt for the fami-
lies, both on account of the time which had elapsed and be-
cause of the innumerable number of canyons which there
were in the vicinity, impassable even to men on foot, I decided
to continue my original idea of crossing the range to emerge



296 NEW MEXICO HISTORICAL REVIEW

on the other side. But when I called Antonio el Navajo to dis-
cuss this purpose, he made excuses to me, saying that he did
not feel at all well because of a blow which he had received
as he was killing a Gila Apache on the previous night. I ex-
plained to him what an honor it would be for him to guide
us just that one day and offered him rewards in order to win
him over but it was not possible. In view of his determination,
I became equally determined to take him by force if he would
not go willingly and for this purpose I charged Delgado and
the Navajo interpreter to take him aside to advise him to
reconsider such a grave error. These managed to convince
him to go willingly and I set out at six in the morning. We
traveled southeast until 10 and having climbed a very steep
slope, we came upon a level mesa about half a league long
which extended toward the east-southeast. We then entered
several exceedingly rough canyons and finally into one from
which we emerged by climbing a very steep slope up which
we had to travel in single file since the defile is extremely
narrow and the sides incredibly steep and heavily wooded. It
is about a league and a half long before arriving at the top
of the slope. We then followed a wide ridge and a short dis-
tance ahead of us saw a very long range which no one recog-
nized. We continued descending and shortly thereafter
discovered a peak to the east which Delgado assured me to
be that of the Mimbres and thereafter recognized all the
ranges which came into view as parts of the Mimbres. We
came out of the Gila Range opposite the shoulder of the one
called the Sierra del Cobre. 3 Also we discovered to the east
and behind the Mimbres, the Sierra de la Florida. We de-
scended by way of a short, flat ridge which separates the Gila
range from the Mimbres and stopped at a river with but little
water. At this point, I asked one of the Apache prisoners how
far we were from the Gila River and he told me that across
the foothills it was only a day's journey. I wanted to investi-
gate that place but as we had only two horses each and since

3. The Sierra de Cobre is now called the Santa Rita Mountains, now the site of the
open pit operations of the Kennecott Copper Co. The existence of copper at that place
was known long before the reputed discovery of the mines in 1804. Originally, pure
copper in sheets lay on the surface. There is reason to believe that both gold and silver
were mined there before copper was worked.



FERNANDO DE LA CONCHA DIARY 297

the march of the day had been especially long and over very
rocky canyons, they were very footsore and it was impossible
to undertake it. 16

The 12th

At 7 o'clock I started out and shortly thereafter I entered
the Mimbres Mountains through a wide, level valley which has
no rocks and which runs to the east for a distance of about
one league. We encountered the beginnings of a stream which
soon becomes a river and further down a cornfield of the
enemy which they had abandoned. It was already half ma-
tured and I had the green ears pulled off the stalks and
trampled by the horses before the eyes of three Apaches who
were on top of the mountain. We traveled the length of the
valley which is very fertile and contains many walnut trees,
crossing the river seven times until we came to another
cornfield which was in the same condition as the one before
and which received the same treatment. I continued my
march with the expectation of halting one league below this
last cornfield but when I came to that point I discovered that
it had become a swamp 4 and that there was no way of water-
ing the horses because of the mire ; thus it was necessary to go
back as far as the last cornfield where the swamp begins to
form and this is where I stopped at two o'clock in the after-
noon.

On this day, several Apaches appeared on the hilltops
and one of them recognized Antonio el Navajo and spoke to
him, although at a considerable distance, complaining that he
had shown us their territory and saying that all the Apaches
were in the gravest consternation on that account ; ending by
challenging him and uttering threats.

These circumstances are advantageous, as much because
of the fear which our knowledge of the area inspires in them
as because of the hatred against the Navajos which it has
produced.

Today, as on all previous days, I dispatched spies to all

4. This swamp is the Cienega del Mimbres. Expeditions from garrison towns in
Mexico had penetrated this far into the mountains from the south but never ventured
further. It was near the present town of Dwyer.



298 NEW MEXICO HISTORICAL REVIEW

likely places to look for tracks and examine the terrain but
nothing new occurred and the effort had no results. 6

The 13th

At 7 in the morning, we started traveling to the east on
the north side of the swamp and at a distance of two leagues
we again saw the river running in the direction southwest
of the Picacho. 5 From this point onward, I took a northeast
direction through several barren valleys in order to examine
tracks in the Sierra de los Mimbres, keeping the Sierra de
los Pinones 6 on my left and intending to proceed to examine
the Tecolote and San Mateo Mountains. This same Navajo
led me to a spring of water which rises from one of the valleys
and runs in the same direction which we were following at a
distance of five leagues from the Rio de los Mimbres. Here
we stopped at 2 o'clock in the afternoon without any special
occurrence.

I sent out spies but found no tracks. 7

The 14th

We started out in the same northeast direction through
a very narrow canyon which is the same one in which we
found the water and of which the very narrow part, with in-
numerable rocks of extraordinary height on the sides, is
three leagues in length. After this distance, it opens into a
valley for about a league and then into another with a spring
of water which runs to the east. We stopped at this point and
my spies, who were on foot, reported that they had come upon
no tracks. 4

The 15th

At dawn we left this camp and traveled among bare hills
and, in places, over level ground following a northerly direc-

5. The Picacho is now called Cooke's Peak, highest point of Cookes Range which was
once considered the southern end of the Mimbres mountains. This granite monolith is
visible for many miles in every direction. The lower ridges of the range still show wide-
spread vestiges of the ashes from former Apache signal fires.

He could not have been going east. He was traveling downstream and to the
southwest.

6. No one in the vicinity of Santa Rita has heard the name of Pinon applied to a
mountain. He probably refers to Mimbres Peak which is not in the Mimbres Mountains
but on the opposite side of the river. It was once heavily wooded with juniper and pinon
until the trees were cut to supply firewood for Santa Rita and other nearby towns.



FERNANDO DE LA CONCHA DIARY 299

tion until we came to a wide and very watery marsh where
we stopped. Shortly thereafter the scouts arrived, advising
me that they had found no fresh tracks. An Acoma Indian
named Casimiro, who had been a captive for many years,
guided me along this route.

About an hour after we halted, one of the sentinels on
the mountain top sent word that he had seen an Apache on
horseback. I ordered the location examined for tracks; I
was informed that some fresh ones led toward a canyon. I
immediately sent out a detachment under Sergeant Pablo
Sandoval, composed of twenty horsemen and twenty on foot,
to follow them. They informed me that they were following
the trail which was fresh ; I sent out another party of twenty
four men on horses with Corporal Juan de Dios Pena who
caught up with the Sergeant who had lost the trail but when
they were about to return, they found the tracks of the Taos
Indians who had separated from the first detachment and
were following the enemy. After having gone a short dis-
tance, they met the Taos Indians who were returning with
a saddled horse and a captive girl and who reported that the
Apaches had disappeared into some very rugged country.

As soon as they arrived in camp, the War Captain of the
Taos Indians turned over to me the captive girl and the two
horses of two Apache warriors which they had caught up,
having also taken the horse of another who had abandoned
it as he scrambled up the mountain. 6

The 16th

Sending the regular spies ahead, I left this place guided
by the same Acoma Indian and traveling in the same north-
erly direction through a plain with a few hills which were
occasionally quite high and across very deep canyons. About
three leagues from the starting place, we found a small river
with permanent water. I afterwards saw four more. We
found another of the same description but with more water
and four leagues beyond this one still another with plenty of
water and there we stopped. On this day, as well as the last,
we were constantly traveling through the foothills of the
Mimbres Mountains.



300 NEW MEXICO HISTORICAL REVIEW

From this base, we examined very carefully the Sierras
del Tecolote, San Mateo, and Cavallo 7 and over the top of
this last one, the Sierra de los Organos and the Sierra Blanca.
After becoming well acquainted with everything, I decided to
send back to the encampment all of the footsore horses with
a detachment of fifty men commanded by the Sergeant Sando-
val along with the Navajos who were impatient to return
home. He had orders to return with fresh horses immediately
in order to march to the Tecolote ; he also took the five pris-
oners and other equipment necessary for the security of the
train and horseherd. 10

The 17th

I sent spies in various directions and they returned with-
out having found any tracks, although they had found and
destroyed a cornfield in the direction of the Tecolote.

The 18th

I stayed in the same place awaiting the fresh horses which
the detachment was to bring me from the herd. I sent out
spies in various directions but they found no tracks.

At twelve, midnight, Sergeant Sandoval arrived and re-
ported that he had not found either the camp or the horseherd
at the place at Fray Cristobal which I had designated to the
commander; nor did he find them at the Bosque del Apache 8
which is one day's journey up the river. From the latter place
he had sent back the Navajos in company with the Indians
from Cia, Santa Ana and Jemez since my detachment had
gone off for this purpose, along with the lieutenant from
these Pueblos. He also sent off the five prisoners, returning
with the rest of his party and the lame horses.

This incident broke up all of my plans, not only because
of the bad condition of the horses but also because my men
were without provisions and obliged me to decide to march

7. The San Mateo and Caballo Mountains still have the same names. The Tecolote
Mountains are frequently mentioned in early New Mexico archives, usually with reference
to the Indians who lived there. Little can be found to establish a location. It was probably
the range now called Cuchillo Negro since it was near Salsipuedes.

8. The Bosque del Apache is south of San Antonio on the Rio Grande. Now a Wildlife
Preserve, the original cottonwoods have been largely replaced by salt cedars.



FERNANDO DE LA CONCHA DIARY 301

with the whole expedition on the following morning to look
for the supply train.

The 19th

I started out in search of the Rio Grande, traveling very
slowly in order not to leave tired horses behind and neverthe-
less it was necessary to kill one which could not keep up.

We traveled over the broken ground of various canyons
from which the Picacho de las Mimbres was always in sight
to the south. We came to the river and stopped there close
to a mesa of the Sierra de Fray Cristobal. 8

The 20th

Before dawn we began our march, traveling northwest
toward Fray Cristobal where we assumed the supply train
and horseherd would be according to the report which the
Navajos had given. But upon arriving there we found
nothing. In spite of the bad condition of my horses it was
necessary that, after three hours of rest which we gave them,
to set out again since my men had nothing to eat and we had
lost hope of finding the supply train before reaching the
Province.

At this place, a tired horse was killed so that the Jicarilla
Apaches and the Pueblo Indians would have something to
eat. 12

At three in the Afternoon we left Fray Cristobal, travel-
ing toward the Province and at eight at night we stopped at
San Pascual. 8

At ten o'clock that night a party of thirty men arrived,
sent by the commander of the supply train and horseherd
to inform me that he was at the place called Casa Colorada
and that he had not been able to go to Fray Cristobal, as he
had been ordered, since ever since he had left me the Apaches
had alarmed the camp every night so that he had not seen fit
to proceed to that place and that nothing had happened ex-
cept the straying of two horses.

The 21st

Since the party which had arrived had not brought any
help, I prepared to set out before dawn toward the camp



302 NEW MEXICO HISTORICAL REVIEW

which was thirty leagues away. I traveled until eleven in the
morning and stopped a short distance above Luis Lopez. At
two I started out again and at eight I halted at Hoya de Va-
lencia 9 without having found any Apache tracks that day. 20

The 22nd

I left this place and marched to Casa Colorado 9a where I
arrived at 11 o'clock and joined the supply train and horse-
herd which gave me no more news than that which I had al-
ready heard. 10

The 23rd

I selected one hundred and fifty men and despatched
them under the command of Don Antonio Guerrero to recon-
noiter the Sierra de San Mateo and other places in the
vicinity.

The 24th

At sunset today, I detached First Corporal Juan de Dios
Pena with seventy four men to reconnoiter the Sierra
Obscuro.

The 25th

No new occurrences.

The 26th

No new occurrences.

The 27th

I left Casa Colorada and came to a halt at the place which
is called La Bolsa without any new occurrences.

The 28th

Nothing new.

The 29th
Idem.



9. This was not the present town of Valencia but La Joya de Sevilleta. now shortened
to La Joya. It was repopulated after the reconquest by a group of Spaniards and Indiana
but the depredations of the Apaches forced its abandonment before 1788.

9a. Casa Colorada. The house which gave this place its name was near the present
town of Turn. The vicinity was execrated by early drivers on the Camino Real since ft
steep and sandy hill forced them to double their teams to reach the top.



FERNANDO DE LA CONCHA DIARY 303

The 30th

At ten o'clock in the morning Corporal Cavo returned,
reporting that no incident had occurred. He informed me that
he had traveled over the whole Sierra Obscura, examining the
places where the enemy usually live and that all the tracks
were very old. 65

October 1st

No new occurrence.

The 2nd

At nine o'clock in the morning Ensign Guerrero returned,
reporting that he had gone over the Sierra de San Mateo, the
Hot Springs 10 and the place which is called Salsipuedes. 11
In the vicinity of this place he saw three Apaches who, when
they caught sight of the party, fled into the rough part of
the mountains so that they could not be caught.

He carefully examined the place called Salsipuedes and
went into the depths of the canyon which has been considered
inaccessible until now. There he found signs that the enemy
had abandoned it, perhaps through fear at the time that my
detachment was traveling through the foothills. I am sure
that they have always lived there.

He found only old tracks in the other places which he
passed over and he caught one of the king's horses and a mule
belonging to a soldier; animals which had wandered away
from my detachment. From his, he lost two of the king's
horses, two belonging to settlers and one belonging to a


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