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HISTORICAL SOCIETY

OF NEW MEXICO,
No. 8.

THE

DEFEAT OF THE COMANCHES
in 1717.



BY

AMADO CHAVES.



SANTA FE, N. M.:
NEW MEXICAN PRINTING COMPANY

1006.



HISTORICAL SOCIETY

OF NEW MEXICO,

No. 8.



THE

DEFEAT OF THE COMANCHES
in 1717.



BY

AMADO CHAVES.



SANTA FE, N. M.:

NEW MEXICAN PRINTING COMPANY

1906.



/r



V



EXCHANGE



OFFICERS

OF THE

HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF NEW MEXICO.

1905.

President Hon. L. Bradford Prince, LL. D.

Vice President Hon. William J. Mills.

Recording Secretary William M. Berger.

Corresponding Secretary Miss Bertha Staab.

Treasurer Max. Frost.

Curator * Henry Woodruff.



595215



PUBLICATIONS OF THE SOCIETY.

No. 1. 1881 Inaugural Address of Hon. W. G. Ritch.
No. 2. "Kin and Clan," by Adolph F. Bandelier.

No. 3. 1896 "The Stone Idols of New Mexico."
(Illustrated.)

No. 4. 1903 "The Stone Lions of CochitL" by Hon.
L. Bradford Prince.

J5o. 5. 1904 Biennial Report; English.
No. 6. 1904 Biennial Report; Spanish.

No. 7. 1906 "The Franciscan Martyrs of 1680."
No. 8. 1906 The Defeat of the Comanches in 1715.



THE DEFEAT OF THE (MANCHES

IN THE YEAR 1717.



I am writing this letter in the old home of Captain
Sebastian Martin, at Villita, Rio Arriba County, which
is occupied at present by some of his descendants and
is in an excellent state of preservation. This is the
very spot in which the said Captain Martin pitched
his tent many years ago. To be precise as to dates, it
was on Saturday the 10th day of August, 1710, that
Captain Martin, accompanied by his family, w hich con
sisted of his wife, Dona Maria Lujan, and their eight
children, and a large number of servants, arrived ar
took possession of the land which two years after
wards was donated to him as a royal grant* The
tract contains some fifty-one thousand acres, and is
one of the richest in the Territory. It is traversed by
the Rio Grande and the land on both sides of the
river is in a high state of cultivation.

At that time, the savage tribes, such as Navahos,
Utes, Apaches and Comanches were on the war path
and the lives of the Spanish settlers were in
great danger at all times. The inhabitants of the
Pueblo of San Juan, being the nearest neighbors, be
came very friendly to the Spaniards and the Governor
of that Pueblo frequently sent large numbers of war
riors to stay for days at Villita to aid the new settlers



6

to repel the attacks of the savages. Two of the
daughters of Don Sebastian were married about that
time, Margarita to Don Juan de Padilla and Angela
to Don Carlos Fernandez. These young men became
famous in the history of those days as the most in
trepid and spirited soldiers and Indian fighters.

In the course of time, more Spaniards arrived, and
to them all Don Sebastian gave lands, and soon the
Rio Arriba settlements in what is now the beautiful
La Joya valley, were the most prosperous in the Pro
vince of New Mexico. The Comanche tribe was the
most aggressive, and its warriors were constantly
committing depredations and carrying into captivity
Spanish children from all over the Province. At last
it was determined to put an end to such raids and a
general meeting was held in Santa Fe, to devise means
for a campaign against the Comanches, and to rescue,
if possible, the numerous Spanish captives whom they
had in their possession. The meeting took place in
1717 and was attended by representatives from all the
settlements in the Province, and it was determined to
organize a volunteer army to go against the dreaded
Comanches. The officers selected to command the
expedition were Don Juan de Padilla, first, Don Carlos
Fernandez, second, and Don Pedro Pino, of Santa Fe,
third. It did not take long to secure five hundred
young men, and after careful preparations the cam
paigners" started from Santa Fe. All the men were
mounted and had pack mules. They carried their
provisions and camping outfits. While many of the
men carried fire arms, yet the greater number had
only machetes, lances, bows and arrows.



The first night the war party slept at the Pueblo of
Pecos and from there it went by the way of Anton
Chico to the Staked Plains (Llano Estacado), in what
is now western Texas. The members of the party
traveled a long distance on the Staked Plains, which
were then full of buffalos. At last they came to a
beautiful valley, where the scouts and trailers who had
gone ahead were awaiting them. They had the wel
come information that the Comanches were camped
in great numbers a few leagues ahead. Immediately
arrangements were made for a night march in order
to attack the enemy at the'break of day. All the arms
were examined by the officers, and powder and ball
were issued to the men who had guns. No fires were
built that night, and they only ate pinole and jerked
buffalo meat for supper. They were soon on their way
to find the enemy.

In those days the Spaniards wore their hair long
similar to the Indians, but tied in the back. Before
starting all the men painted their faces red with
almagre and let their hair down in order to look as
much like Indians as possible. At break of day, they
were close to the Comanche camp and hundreds of
tepees were in sight. A charge was ordered and with
the war cry of Santiago, the men charged and sur
prised the enemy. Many of the Comanches thought
when they first saw the Spaniards that they were
bands of their own tribe returning from a victorious
campaign, but were soon undeceived.

The slaughter of Indians was terrible. Hundreds
perished and seven hundred prisoners were captured.
Most of the Spanish captives were there and were



rescued. The Comanches had been there in great
numbers and had had a series of war dances and
feasts, awaiting the return of various war parties that
were raiding the country occupied by the Spaniards
and by the Pueblo Indians. So severe was the pun
ishment inflicted upon the Comanches that they never
again went on the war path against the Spaniards.

The victorious party started on its way home and
when it arrived at the Pueblo of Pecos, then a large
and prosperous community, its members sent a mes
senger to Santa Fe to notify the Captain General of
the success of the expedition and that they would
reach the capital the next day. When the messenger
arrived the Captain General and all the people were
in the church of San Miguel, it being a holiday. When
the services were over and the people commenced to
walk out of church, their attention was attracted by
a young man dressed in buckskin, much sunburned,
and holding a horse by a riata. When the Governor
General came out, the messenger delivered to him a
letter which he carried, signed by the officers. The
news soon spread and there was great rejoicing. The
next day the Governor General and nearly all the
population went quite a distance out of town to
meet the returning soldiers. When they arrived, the
whole expedition proceeded to the Parish Church
where a Te Deum was sung, and then rendered thanks
unto the Almighty God.

It was a serious problem what to do with so many
prisoners and it was finally decided that the best to
do would be to send them to Spain. This was even
tually done. The prisoners, under the care of Don



Pedro Pino and a company of Spanish soldiers, were
taken to the port of Vera Cruz in Mexico, and from
there they were taken to Spain; and when they arrived
they were presented to the Queen, whose heart was
much moved at the sight of so many Indians, men
women and children, and, in the goodness of her heart
she ordered them to be taken to Cuba where lands
were given to them and every measure taken for their
comfort. It did not take very long for the climate of
Cuba to do the work of extermination. In a few years
there was not a Comanche left to tell the tale. Up TO
a few years ago there were yet in the hands of the
Pino family in Santa Pe old letters from Spain
addressed to Don Pedro Bautista Pino, a New Mexico
representative to the Spanish Cortes, giving full
accounts of what was done with the Comanche
prisoners.

That expedition ended the wars between the
Spanish settlers and the Comanches for all time.
Whenever the young bucks wanted to start a war
against the Spaniards the gray haired old men would
take them to las "Orejas del Conejo" where in former
times that great fight took place and show to them
the pile of bones and skulls and repeat to them the
story of that famous fight and the fact that so many
of their ancestors were taken beyond the sea never
to return, and that would cool their desire to tight.

The story of this famous campaign was written in
verse by one of the members of the expedition, and up
to this day it is acted at some places in the territory
during the Christmas Holidays as a play very much
like the matachines.



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Online LibraryAmado ChavesThe defeat of the Comanches in 1717 → online text (page 1 of 1)