September 13 (September 3, o.s.)

Massachusetts: Ebenezer Babson of Gloucester appears before the Salem magistrates and files charges against Margaret Prince of Gloucester and Elizabeth Dicer of Piscataqua, Maine, for bewitching his widowed mother, Eleanor Babson.  Also appearing before the magistrates is Mary Marshall of Reading, who files witchcraft charges against Mary Taylor, Jane Lilly, and Mary Colson, all of Reading.  The magistrates duly issue warrants for the arrest of all these women.

New Mexico: At around 2:00 am Roque Madrid, in compliance with Governor Vargas’s orders, assembles the men camped at the arroyo just outside of Santa Fe where the governor is waiting to make a dawn raid on the town.  They are fully armed and mounted by 3:00 am, when Madrid goes to Vargas to tell him that they are ready to go.  The governor therefore mounts his own horse and leads the men in the direction of Santa Fe.  After a short while, they come across an abandoned hacienda, which Madrid says was his before he had to flee during the revolt of 1680.  Vargas orders a halt at the hacienda so the men can regroup and he can ensure that they are all there, since it is a very dark night and the terrain is rough.  Once he is assured that everyone is together, he orders a continued march.

The governor orders another halt at a plain a little bit further along, so the men can regroup again.  While they are stopped, he asks one of the Franciscan missionaries accompanying the expedition to grant absolution to him and any other soldiers who want it.  The priest complies, and the march continues until the men reach the open country just before Santa Fe, where they halt to prepare for the attack.

Vargas now gives his final orders to the men, telling them that they are to enter the plaza and all say in unison “Praise be the blessed sacrament of the altar” five times.  They are not to make any movement to begin the attack until the governor gives the signal by unsheathing his sword.  Once these orders are given, the governor orders the march to continue in close formation.  The expedition soon reaches the fields surrounding the plaza, and the inhabitants of the town, seeing them approach, come out onto the ramparts of the fortress next to the plaza.  Men, women and children line the ramparts from one end to the other.  The Spanish soldiers recite their prayer in unison as ordered, and the expedition’s interpreters speak to them in their language, Tewa, explaining that the expedition has come not to destroy them but to bring them back to the Catholic faith and allegiance to the king of Spain.

The people on the ramparts reply to the interpreters that they don’t believe the invaders are Spanish at all, but that they suspect they are Apache and Pecos liars only pretending to be Spanish to trick them.  Vargas responds by reciting a Spanish prayer to them and having the interpreters translate it, but the people aren’t buying it.  They ask why, if the newcomers are Spaniards, they are not shooting, and demand that the governor fire a gun into the air.  He responds that he is a Catholic and they should just calm down and wait for the sun to come up, when they will see the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the expedition’s standard.

The people are still not convinced, and demand that the Spaniards sound a bugle to prove their identity.  This time the governor acquiesces, and orders the bugle and the war drum to be sounded, while at the same time passing word to the soldiers that none of them should take this as a signal to fire.  He also orders the main squads of soldiers to spread out to the corners of the fortress to see if there are gates other than the one he is in front of and, if so, to secure those gates while he stays in place with the military leaders and the interpreters.

When the drum and bugle are sounded, the people on the ramparts finally accept that they are talking to Spaniards, and they call out that they are ready to fight for five days and must kill them all without letting any escape as they did in the initial revolt in 1680.  They then begin shouting and keep it up for over an hour while they furiously go about the ramparts repairing weak and broken sections and gathering objects with which to fend off the Spaniards if they try to take the fortress.  Some of the leaders begin shouting insults at the Spaniards in Tewa, which the interpreters duly translate for Vargas.  He orders the interpreters to reply that the expedition is not there to do them any harm, to which they say that they should therefore not let their horses eat from the fields, and Vargas says that he has ordered men to guard the fields and keep them from being damaged.

At this point the sun rises and Vargas advances toward the fortress with an interpreter and his chief officials.  He tells the people that he has been sent from Spain by the king to pardon them and bring them back to Christianity, to keep the Devil from once again leading them astray.  He insists that they should believe him when he states his good intentions because of the image of the Virgin Mary on his standard, which they should recognize as a witness to his honesty.  The people reply that if this is true and Vargas is the new governor he should take off his helmet and show his face.  Vargas complies and advances further so that they can see him clearly.

The people, now satisfied that Vargas is indeed the new governor appointed by the king, point out that when the Spanish were in New Mexico before they made peace with the Apaches and later went out and killed them, which makes them skeptical about whether he won’t do the same to them.  Vargas replies that the Apaches are non-Christian traitors who took advantage of the peace to attack the Pueblos and steal their property, implying that the Pueblos would be safe from any such treatment from the Spanish if they accept Christianity and behave.  He then points to the image of the Virgin Mary on his standard once more to demonstrate his sincerity, and pulls out his rosary beads as a further witness.  He insists once more that he has come only to pardon them for their betrayal and apostasy.  They reply that when the Spanish were there before they had believed what they were told about loyalty and Christianity, but that the Spanish settlers and missionaries had forced them to work very hard to build churches and homes for the newcomers and whipped them if they disobeyed orders.  They name three settlers in particular, Francisco Javier, Luis de Quintana, and Diego López, and ask if they have come back with the expedition.  Vargas replies that they have not, and that he knows nothing about them, not even if they are alive or dead.  He assures the people that they will not return.

The remainder of Vargas’s men now arrive with the supplies for the party that move to slowly to have accompanied the initial raid.  Vargas orders them to halt and make camp on a plain just beyond the fields and to keep the artillery pieces at the campsite.

After dealing with the newly arrived men, Vargas turns once again to his negotiations with the people of Santa Fe.  They now begin dealing with him through one of their number, Antonio Bolsas, who is fluent in Spanish and can converse directly with the governor without the need for interpreters.  He says that the current group of Indians should not be blamed for the 1680 revolt, since the leaders of that uprising have died and most of his compatriots had been young men at the time.  Vargas responds that he has come to pardon them and that it doesn’t matter to him what exact role they may or may not have played in the revolt, and he once again points to his standard with its holy image to attest to his honesty.  In response, one of the men comes out of the fortress and approaches Vargas fully armed with lance, bow and arrow, and leather shield.  Vargas tells him to relax and shake hands, but he refuses and, in response to some words to him in Tewa from the people on the ramparts, says that two of the missionaries should come into the building, then goes back in himself.  Francisco Corvera and Cristóbal Barroso immediately dismount in response and begin to to enter, but Vargas shouts to them “Your reverences, stop!” and orders them to return.  They come back and Vargas explains that they would be too vulnerable if they went in alone at this point, since the Indians, who still seem quite rebellious and influenced by the Devil, could easily kill them and he could do nothing to protect them.

The squads of soldiers who spread out to cover the corners of the fortress now see men coming in both on foot and on horseback from the nearby Pueblos to reinforce the people of Santa Fe.  They are armed, mostly with metal lances, and Vargas, when he hears the news, concludes that they intend to outflank his troops.  He therefore orders the squads to intercept the newcomers, without moving too far from the fortress, which they do.  The people on the ramparts, seeing reinforcements arriving and the Spanish moving to block them, become belligerent, and tell Vargas repeatedly that their men are on the way and he will see what will happen when they arrive.  He replies that he doesn’t fear them, even with reinforcements, but rather pities them, because they do not believe in his good intentions.  He further says that if he wanted to kill them he would have gone ahead and done so as soon as he arrived, without making a sound, rather than marching in and speaking to them as he is doing.  They are unconvinced by his protestations that he is only there to pardon him, and begin gatherin g stones, painting themselves red, and making threatening gestures.

Vargas now notices that there are several reservoirs near the gate of the fortress, but that they are empty, implying that they feed into the fortress’s internal water system.  He therefore orders four of his men to divert the water that feeds into the reservoirs.  When the people notice this, they are angry and ask Vargas why, if he comes, as he says, in peace, he is cutting off their water supply.  He answers that as far as he can see peace is certain and what he needs to do is get them to accept it, by forcing them to come out of their fortress if necessary.  They remain defiant, however, and repeat their request for the missionaries to come inside.  They missionaries are only too happy to comply, but Vargas still refuses to allow them to take the risk.

It is now around 11:00 am, and Vargas decides to issue an ultimatum.  He tells the people that he is giving them one last chance to accept his offer of peace and pardon, and that they have an hour to decide to accept it.  If they do not, he will return and attack them.  They reply that he can do whatever he wants.

What he wants to do, at least immediately, is have some breakfast.  He orders the men with him to return to the campsite where the supplies are, and when they are there he distributes chocolate and biscuits to them and sends some to the soldiers still at their posts as well along with additional ammunition.  He also orders the men with him to load the artillery pieces and take them to the plaza.

After about two hours of eating and preparing for battle, some of the soldiers arrive at the campsite with three Indians, two on horseback and one on foot.  Vargas greets them cordially and they explain that they are from the Pueblos of Tesuque, Santa Clara and San Lázaro and have come to reinforce the fortress at Santa Fe in response to the arrival of the Spanish, which they heard about from some people from Santa Fe who had gone to a dance at Santa Clara Pueblo.  Vargas tells them that he has not come, as they probably think, to kill them and rob them, but to pardon them and make them Christians again.  He tells them to tell all the people at their Pueblos to be calm and not abandon them, as many seem to have done, because they are safe and have nothing to fear from him.

Shortly afterward, another soldier arrives at the campsite with another Indian, a prominent Tewa chief named Domingo.  Vargas tells him what he told the others, adding that he has not come to change any of the local leaders of the individual Pueblos, since the people seem to be pleased with them.  Assuming that Domingo is in a position of authority over the people of Santa Fe such that they will listen to him, the governor tells him to tell them what he has said, while he himself waits in the plaza for him to come out.  Since the hour he gave the people in his ultimatum has long since expired, he tells Domingo that if they people do not listen to him he will attack them with the large weaponry that he can see being carried over to the plaza.  Domingo is receptive to Vargas’s words, and agrees to try to talk to the people of the fortress.

Vargas and Domingo proceed to the plaza together, and Vargas announces to the people in the fortress that he is sending Domingo in to make one last attempt at making them see reason.  If he is not successful, the governor says he will have no choice but to attack, since it is already long past the one hour by which they should have accepted his ultimatum.

Domingo goes in and talks to the people, but he is unsuccessful in convincing them to trust Vargas.  Meanwhile, the governor orders the recently arrived artillery pieces to be positioned so as to cause maximum damage to the ramparts and create breaches through which the soldiers can enter the fortress.  More and more reinforcements continue to arrive from surrounding Pueblos, and one large group takes up a position on a mesa next to the fortress.  Vargas sends two of his squads to contain this group.  When the Indians on the ramparts see the artillery pieces being positioned, they immediately go back down from them and regroup inside the fortress.  Domingo then comes out and informs the governor of his failure to convince the people to make peace.  He is saddened by their obstinacy, and tells Vargas that he is tired to talking to them and that, while they may want to die, he and his people certainly don’t.  There is, however, nothing more he can do to convince the people of Santa Fe.

When the people in the fortress see Vargas talking to Domingo, they return to the ramparts.  Vargas, seeing his chance, approaches the gate one more time with his interpreters, and once more beseeches the people to come out and make peace, accepting his pardon and renewing their Christian faith and allegiance to the Spanish crown.  He also asks that they have one person speak for all of them, rather than everyone speaking at once, so he can figure out what their communal opinion is and make his decision on peace or war.  They respond that they will make peace if he returns to his camp with all his men and the artillery and returns with all the men unarmed.  He says that he is not afraid of them, and that they are the ones negotiating from a position of weakness here, trapped in their fortress without water and vulnerable to him burning them out and killing them all whenever he pleases.  Domingo then repeats his exhortations, and the priests add their own pleas through interpreters.

This time, it works.  The people in the fortress decide to accept Vargas’s offer of peace, and two of them come out unarmed.  Vargas dismounts, shakes their hands, and embraces them.  Father Corvera and the third priest, Miguel Muñiz, go into the fortress, along with Roque Madrid, and Muñiz even comes out onto the ramparts.  The people begin to come out in greater numbers to shake Vargas’s hand and embrace him, and he speaks kindly to them to reassure them of his good intentions, so that they can in turn reassure those who are not yet convinced enough to come out.  After this, the people go back into the fortress.

Roque Madrid now comes to Vargas and asks if the soldiers should let the reinforcements whom they have been holding back enter the fortress.  He tells him to bring the soldiers and come with him.

They come to the mesa near the fortress, and Vargas shakes their hands and embraces them as he did with the people of the fortress.  He finds that they are the people who went to the dance at Santa Clara Pueblo, and that the leader of that Pueblo is there too.  He tells them not to leave their houses, because they are safe there, and that he has no intention of replacing their leaders, as long as they are pleased with them.  He says all he wants is for them to become Christians.  This satisfies them, and Vargas and the soldiers go back to the plaza, where he orders the people in the fortress to wear crosses around their necks and set up a large cross in the middle of their patio.

It is now about 5:00 pm, and the governor leaves with the missionaries to eat, leaving orders that the soldiers remain at their posts and not let any of the reinforcements enter the fortress.  He may have succeeded in gaining the acquiescence he wanted, but he’s not going to take any chances.

When he arrives at the camp, however, he decides to relax a little and orders the men to return to camp and bring the artillery pieces with them.  He makes the campsite his headquarters while he is in the area, as it is a convenient place for him to receive visitors from the surrounding Pueblos, whom he intends to pardon and make peace with to the extent he is able.

Despite his lifting of the siege and the success of his peace overtures, Vargas nonetheless orders his men to be on guard during the night and to keep their weapons handy and their horses saddled in case of a surprise attack during the night.  He has very few men, after all, and despite his bluster they are in a pretty vulnerable position, far from any possible help and surrounded by potential (though so far not actual) enemies.

Published in: on September 13, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments (4)  


  1. […] By Might Filed under: Culture, Politics — by teofilo @ 4:51 pm On this day in 1692, Don Diego de Vargas Zapata Luján Ponce de León, the governor of the Spanish colony of […]

  2. […] (September 4, o.s.) New Mexico: Governor Vargas, seeking to consolidate his great triumph of the previous day in which he got the Indians of Santa Fe to submit and accept Christianity and Spanish rule, goes in […]

  3. […] The people from Reading and Gloucester charged with witchcraft on September 3 are brought to Salem for questioning by the magistrates.  Most steadfastly maintain their […]

  4. […] Pueblo, Domingo, who played a key role in negotiating the surrender of Santa Fe to Vargas on September 13, and the rest of his key advisors and military leaders.  They have come to accompany Vargas on his […]

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