Today in Texas History – October 7

From the Annals of the Red River – in 1759, a Spanish troop led by Diego Ortiz Parrilla was defeated by a group of Native Americans at a fortified Taovaya (Wichita) village near Spanish Fort. Parrilla’s expedition was intended to punish the Norteños (in this case the Tawakonis, Tonkawas, and Wichitas) for their destruction of Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission in1758. Parrilla’s force consisted of 400 troops from the provinces of northeastern Mexico and the Texas presidios and 176 mission Indians and Apaches.   The need for retribution was reinforced by continuing attacks.  In December 1758, a Comanche band accompanied by members of eleven other groups surprised a group of Apaches near the presidio and killed twenty-one. In March a native force reportedly made up of the same tribes responsible for the mission attack massacred nineteen men guarding the presidio’s horse herd, leaving only one survivor.

On October 7, the troop was attacked by sixty or seventy warriors who led the Spaniards into a well-laid trap.  In pursuit, the troop was led to a sandbank at the edge of the Red River, before the fortified Taovaya village.  The Spaniards attempted to withdraw to regroup but found the road cut off by mounted Indians firing muskets. The Spaniards were trapped in the sand with horses sinking up to their knees.  The resulting 4 hour battle went badly for the force.  Facing a superior force of Comanches, Yaceales, and Tawakonis, and Taovayas, the Spaniards were attacked from the fort and the field.   The troop eventually unlimbered two cannons but they did not affect the course of the engagement. The Apaches, Mission Indians and a number of Spaniards deserted. As darkness fell, Ortiz Parrilla managed an orderly withdrawal, leaving the cannons on the field but with losses of nineteen men killed, fourteen wounded, and nineteen by desertion.

Ruins of San Saba Mission from Texas Escapes.

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