December 16 (December 6, o.s.)

New Mexico: Governor Vargas and his portion of the reconquest expedition cross the Rio Grande and head for the outpost of San Diego.  On their way there they see some people approaching on horseback, presumably the people from El Paso sent to receive them upon hearing word of their approach from the messengers sent ahead on December 11.  Shortly after Vargas and his men first see them, however, the El Paso group suddenly turns around.  Vargas and his men speed up to overtake them and find out what the problem is.  Three of the officers, Juan Páez Hurtado, Martín de Alday, and Juan Lucero de Godoy, are the fastest and reach them first. They discover that the problem is a sudden attack by mounted Apaches, who flee when the three men arrive. They do manage to surround two Apaches who are on foot and immediately begin firing their arrows when they realize that they cannot escape. Páez ends up with an arrow through his left leg, and both Alday’s and Lucero’s horses are severely wounded as well.

One of the Apaches is killed in the fight, but the other survives, though badly wounded.  When the rest of his men arrive on the scene, Vargas orders that the Apache be kept alive long enough to be interrogated.  He is brought along with the expedition as it continues southward, but he has lost so much blood that his condition deteriorates rapidly and Vargas calls a halt at the next stopping place, the outpost of Robledo, in order to question him.  When asked about reports of Apaches raiding El Paso, the man admits to having stolen two horses in the past month but says he knows nothing further.  Having gained this limited information, Vargas orders the man to be executed, but allows Francisco Corvera, one of the expedition’s priests, to try to convert him first if he wishes.  Corvera convinces the man to accept baptism and gives him the name Agustín.  Vargas then orders Alday to have four soldiers take the man to one side of the outpost and shoot him.  They do so.  This incident is the first use of deadly force by the reconquest expedition.

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Published in: on December 16, 2008 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on December 16 (December 6, o.s.)  
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