From the Annals of the Missionaries – In 1709, an expedition led by Franciscan fathers Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares and Isidro Félix de Espinosa reached the site of current day San Antonio. Olivares and Espinosa were escorted by Capt. Pedro de Aguirre and fourteen soldiers. The small expedition left San Juan Bautista on April 5 with the goal of contacting Tejas Indians living on the lower Colorado River. The Fathers encamped at site near the springs that they christened as San Pedro Springs. The expedition continued on and reached the Colorado near Bastrop on May 19. However, the Tejas were living further east and the Fathers did not have authorization to proceed farther than the Colorado. , They had also learned that the Tejas were likely hostile to the Spanish and the expedition returned to the Rio Grande.
From the Annals of New Spain – In 1721, an expedition led by José de Azlor y Virto de Vera, the Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo, crossed the Rio Grande near present day Eagle Pass in an attempt to re-establish Spanish control of East Texas. The expedition was a response to the French incursion into Texas two years earlier. Aguayo’s force consisted of about 500 men – called the Battalion of San Miguel de Aragón. The expedition established a base in San Antonio de Bexar and a small force under command of Domingo Ramón occupied La Bahía del Espíritu Santo near present-day Goliad. Upon arrival in East Texas, the expedition met no resistance from the French or Native Americans. In fact, the French commander Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, agreed to withdraw to Natchitoches. With the essential mission accomplished, Aguayo left 219 of his force at various presidios in Texas, with the remainder returning to Coahuila. Aguayo’s expedition increased the number of missions in Texas from two to ten, and established three new presidios. Spain’s claim to Texas was never again seriously disputed by France.
From the Annals of Spanish Texas – In 1813, the Battle of Rosillo Creek was fought near present day San Antonio. The fight was between the Republican Army of the North led by José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara and Samuel Kemper and a Spanish royalist force under Texas governor Manuel María de Salcedo and Nuevo León governor Simón de Herrera. The battle was for control of the far northern province and the Republicans were seeking a break from New Spain and an independent republic in Texas. The battle involved remarkably large numbers as the Republican army was comprised of between 600 to 900 men and the Royalist forces may have numbered as much as 1500 men. The Republicans were advancing along the road from La Bahía to San Antonio when they were engaged by the Royalists. The Republicans inflicted heavy losses on the Royalists in the one-hour battle. The Royalists lost somewhere between 100 and 300 men as wells most of their arms and ammunition, six cannons, and 1,500 horses and mules. The republicans lost only six men. The battle of Rosillo resulted in the capture of San Antonio and the establishment of a first “Republic of Texas.” The Republic was short-lived as the Republican forces were soundly defeated five months later at the Battle of Medina.
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.
From the Annals of New Spain – In 1736, Carlos Benites Franquis de Lugo arrived in San Antonio to serve as ad interim governor of Spanish Texas. Franquis was extraordinarily unpopular due to his high-handed approach to administration. One of his first acts was file criminal charges against Manuel de Sandoval who had been in charge of Texas. He arbitrarily cut the number of guards at the missions leaving them vulnerable to attack. He failed at almost every aspect of administration such that the province was near bankruptcy under his rule. Ultimately he was arrested and accused of “arrogant behavior” a charge that has sadly fallen from favor in the world of criminal jurisprudence. He stepped down as governor in September 1737, but was found not guilty of the charges against him.
From the Annals of New Spain – In 1716 Martín de Alarcón was appointed Spanish governor of Texas. This was Alarcon’s second stint as Spanish Governor of Coahuila y Tejas having previously served from 1705 to 1708. He is considered to be the founder of San Antonio in 1718 with the establishment of the San Antonio de Valero Mission (later known as the Alamo) and the municipality of Bejar which became San Antonio. His second term was marred by difficulties with the far-flung missions in East Texas which were poorly supplied and failing in their essential mission of converting native peoples such as the Hasanai to Christianity. The ambitions of the French also troubled his administration as French troops continued unchecked military adventures in Texas. He was removed from office in 1717.