Today in Texas History – October 7

From the Annals of the Red River – In 1759, Spanish soldiers under the command of Diego Ortiz Parilla fought a losing battle near a fortified Taovaya village on the Red River.  Ortiz Parilla was leading an expedition to punish the Indians responsible for the embarrassing destruction of Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission in March 1759.  The Spaniards faced a combined force of  Comanches, Yaceales, and Tawakonis who outsmarted the Spaniard.  Ortiz Parilla did not know exactly how close he was to Indian village.  When his forces were  charged from woods by sixty or seventy warriors who quickly withdrew, he ordered a pursuit not realizing that the purpose of the attack was to lead the Spaniards into a well-laid trap. Pursuing their attackers, the troop found itself sinking in a sandbank at the edge of the Red River, before the Indian fortifications. As darkness fell, Ortiz Parilla led an orderly withdrawal from his difficult position.  However, he was forced to leave a pair of cannons behind  on the river sandbank where the Spaniards had found themselves pinned down.  And more critically lost nineteen men killed, fourteen wounded, and nineteen by desertion.  The humiliating defeat led to his replacement as commandant of San Luis de las Amarillas Presidio by Felipe de Rábago y Terán.  The Spaniards held onto the fort near present-day San Saba for another decade but failed to make any significant inroads into north central Texas for almost 50 years.

Painting of the destruction of the San Saba Mission.

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