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Information on Cayetano Hernandez



"This data copyright, Compatriot Jesse O. Villarreal, Sr., SAR. Text from his upcoming book. Reprint by permission."



This Letter shows that the British had entered in Spanish occupied lands between New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana to attack the Spanish establishments and connect with the local Indians.

At the disappearance of [prospects for] peace in the Province of New Mexico towards which the Comanche nation was pretending to work, an expedition was sent against them. As a result the governor [of New Mexico], Don Juan Baptista de Ansa, has given me the following messages expressed by the prisoners taken, and confirmed by a captive who lived among [the Comanche] fourteen years:

That this nation has been twice attacked, at a distance of 6 days’ travel from where the governor’s engagement with them took place, by some strange men who, as they reported to [the governor], were in uniform; and that when this was mentioned it was determined that [the clothing worn] was the regular short uniform. That they are very adept at firing rifles. That they first killed the horses of the Indians who came out to the encounter. That they tied up their [horses] to advance on foot towards the camps, and finally in this manner, although they in small number, destroyed two camps. The captive confirms these assertions and suspects that the people spoken of are the English, whom he says he knew during the time of his imprisonment. He adds that knew during the time of his imprisonment. He adds that they were allied with the Indian nation named “A”, with whom their masters had amity. I presume that these people who are strangers to the Comanche nation could be fro9m Louisiana, since the said nation dwells near the Tavoayaces, who are known in New Mexico by the name “Tumanes”. But nevertheless, since I am eager to verify it, I advice your Lordship to procure information from the friendly Indians or the north and from the traders living among them and to relay to me the news you acquire. For if by chance they are not subjects of the King, it is necessary that we be cautioned against the dangers which could perhaps arise from the close proximity of Europeans on the frontier of New Mexico.

God Keep Your Lordship many years. Arispe, April 4, 1780.

El Cavallero de Crox

An article written by Granville w. Hough, PhD entitled “British Guns for Spanish Horses” is about the British trading guns for horses with the Indians. Those guns were getting to the Comanches in Texas and used against the Spanish soldiers in raids to steal horses and cattle from the ranches close and at El Fuerte Del Cibolo where majority of the cattle were situated. This were the cattle driven to Governor Bernardo De Galvez in Louisiana to feed the troops fighting the British. In 1780 raids on stock started becoming more frequently. In September 1780 Don Domingo Cabello wrote to Caballero de Croix that:

At 4:oo A.M., September 19, Jose Miguel Sanches, private in the tropa ligera at Fort Cibolo, arrived at the Presidio San Antonio de Bexar with a message about another Comanche Attack, this time at El Fuerte del Cibolo. He reported that in midafternoon the previous day, he and two other soldiers were guarding the horse herd of the troops at the outpost, the dis- tance of a pistol shot in front of the fort, when from a large Gully that lay to the north of the fort more than seventy Co- manches suddenly sprang out and attacked them. Three sol- diers, including Julian Rondein, who was and interpreter, were Killed, and some of the horse herd was stolen. Consequently, The troops of El Fuerte del Cibolo were put to work cutting Poles to reinforce the stockade and raise its ramparts. Alferez Francisco Amangual reported that he had left at El Fuerte del Cibolo only twenty men, plus three detached from Bexar to carry the mail.

Another report sent toe Caballero de Croix in February 28, 1781 stated that:

On the Feb.6, 1781 at four o’clock in the afternoon a soldier arrived from the Fort of El Cibolo, on an unsaddled horse and carrying his musket in his hand. He related to me verbally, on behalf of Sergeant Manuel de Vrrutia, who is on detached duty there during the illness of the alfereses Don Marcelo Valdes and Don Francisco Amangual, that at around 6 o’clock in the morning Corporal Tomas del Toro, and privates Eusebio Gusman, Fermin Leal, Jose Ascencio de Ynoxosa, Cayetano Hernandez, Pedro Matias Sanches, and Jose Flores had gone out to seek and cut fodder. They were returning to their detachment when they heard behind them a terrible cry from Indians. Coming to a halt, they observed there were more than 100. They were able to reach the only nearby rise. But when the Indians were within shooting range they began firing [at the soldiers] so much that privates Fermin Leal and Jose Ynoxosa were immediately wounded. The corporal had ordered them all to the ground, when the Indians began to fire incessantly, wounding Jose Flores’ horse, which in such confusion bolted and ran towards the Fort some Indians, going forth to attack, wounded him, as stated above. [The survivor stated] that it seemed all his companions must have been killed sustaining such fire from the Indians. In view of such extraordinary circumstances I ordered Alferez Don Marcelo Valdes, along with 26 men from the troops, 20 residents, and 4 Indians from the missions to go out and rout the enemy, who of course had withdrawn beyond the Guadalupe. The party went out at about the time of the Angelus, and shortly Carlos Rioja, Nicolas Carabajal, Diego Enrique, and Pedro Chirino presented themselves and requested permission to go to the Fort and carry remedies to the said soldiers in case they had escaped, since all the said residents relatives or in-laws of the forenamed soldiers. On the 7th day at dawn, when the 4 residents arrived at the Fort, Sergeant Vrrutia told them that none of the 6 men had returned and that they were considered dead. For the night before a band of Indians had been spotted in the oak grove in front of the fort, wrapped in the dead soldiers’ cloaks. And so he begged them to go to the place with 6 soldiers to see whether they could recover the bodies to bury them, which they agreed to do. When they had gone to the place, they found the 6 dead men seated on the ground, leaning against the trees on the hill where they had sought shelter. They had all been scalped and cut to pieces, some with fingers and noses cut off and missing, sticks stuck into their eyes to keep open. Cayetano Hernandez [was found with] a dog (which he had brought and which also was killed) between his legs as though he had been holding him. It is known that they defended themselves well: There were 50 broken power charges on the ground: [the men’s] lips and teeth were blacken with their power. Two buffalo pelts were found shot through and quite bloody. A broken spear, a quiver with several arrows, and a very ornate shoe [were found, as were] many fustes and shields cut to pieces. From this on e can infer that the soldiers killed some of the Indians. When they had loaded 4 of the bodies on mounts brought for that purpose, they heard shouts coming from the same place the Indians had come from when they attacked. Fearing that the Indians would not go back, they retreated. As soon as they reached the fort, they interred [the bodies] at its chapel. But they had left the bodies of Corporal Tomas del Toro and Private Jose Ynojosa at the same place [where the attack had occurred], for the reason above given.

On the 7th day Alferes Valdes arrived at dawn at the bank of the Guadalupe River and found no tracks showing that the enemy had passed. He decided to cross the river at the pass called El Paso del Tio Geronimo, which he in fact did. He became aware by the footprints that many [Indians] had entered. Returning to recross the river at the same point, and going through the thickets formed by the brooks of the said river, he noticed on the left, returning the opposite way, 11 Indians who had crossed the river further downstream at the pass called El Paso de los Chiflones. As soon as they were seen, they shouted and drew back. The Alferes ordered the 20 men on foot, in spite of the dense wilderness and their being about a gunshot’s away. He had some go through part of the wilderness and had others cross at El Paso de El Tio Geronimo and overtake {the Indians at El Paso de los Chiflones to attack them. But they were only able to succeed in taking 6 horses and 2 mules and to kill 2 Indian men and 1 Indian woman. For the rest of them flung themselves into the river, which is very deep, and allowed themselves to go with the current. Many were wounded sustaining so much fire from both sides of the river. Also taken from them were a musket and a pair of pistols belonging to the soldiers from the fort, which they had killed.

On the 8th day they followed the tracks from the Guadalupe River. It led them to the deserted Ranch of El Pastle. There, as if remaining from the previous day’s journey, they found as many as 17 fires at the sleeping area of the enemy. Thus it was known that there were many Indians.

On the 9th day, after searching all round the Ranch of El Pastle and seeing several tracks going in different directions, [the alferez] followed the greatest [number] of them, which led them to the place at which [the Indians] had killed the corporal and 5 privates from the fort, and there they found the corpses of Corporal Tomas del Toro and private [MS—two words erased] Jose Ynojosa mutilated by gunshots and spear wounds. It was known that they had defended themselves well and that they had killed some of the enemy. Steps were taken to make room for them on a horse, and they were carried to the fort, where they were interred at the chapel with their companions.

On the 10th day Alferes Valdes left 8 men from the troops [to stay] at the Fort of El Cibolo to replace the 6 dead men, [in addition to] Jose Flores, who was wounded, and the soldier who came to bring the news. Then [the Alferes began his journey, bringing 4 of the dead men’s wives and Sergeant Vrrutia,s since there was no reason for them to stay there. When he had come to camp overnight at the arroyos, he was informed that the civilians Jose Flores and Melchor Ximenes, who had stayed behind driving a cow, were missing. He decided to order a corporal and 4 privates to search for them. He was advised by one of the Indian guides called Marianillo not to send [the men] to search. For he had seen that when they went back to join the people, the Indians had cut them off, and that surely they had taken them. [He said] that all the Indians were very nearby, on the edge of Monte Galban, in case the Spaniards wished to let them entrench themselves on the said mountain, since it was impossible to follow them. But to [the guide] it seemed[the Indians] might come to attack at daybreak: thus it was necessary to be most vigilant. And so the Alferes decided to advise me of everything, asking me for aid. When this news came at 9 o’clock at night, I took steps to have the horse herd enter the presidio and to sound a drum to call together all the citizenry. I had decided to go in person to this action, the lieutenant and the Alferez of the company being ill. But the retired alferes at this presidio, Don Baltasaar de los Reyes Peres came to me with the most forceful pleas and courage, begging me to allow him to go and take aid to alferes Valdes. I had seen that he was familiar with the countryside and of proven valor. And so I permitted him to go to this encounter. [I also] sent 1 sergeant, 1 corporal, and 15 privates from the horse herd. I also caused to go [with them] the 8 from the guard and 7 who had returned the day before from carrying the mail packet, in addition to the 4 [men] and 1 corporal dispatched by alferes Valdes to bring the aforesaid news. A party of 37 men and 45 residents was thus formed. They left that night at eleven o’clock, leaving the horse heard at this presidio in the care of 1 corporal, 7 privates, 16 militiamen, and the guard with 1 sergeant, 3 ymbalidos and 4 militiamen.

On the 11th day at four o’clock in the morning alferes Reyes joined alferes Valdes, who told him of his having stayed on horseback all night. [He told him] that the Indian guides he had sent to spy on the enemy had just advised him that that night they had seen several Indians who had come to find out what condition [Valdes’ men] were in. Having approached the enemy camp, which was about two leagues away, they heard a great commotion, indicating that they were either coming to attack or beginning to leave because they had learned of the reinforcements brought from the presidio. Resolving to go to attack the enemy, [the Spaniards] made their way to the place where the Indian guides had said they were. When they arrived at around daybreak, they did not find the enemy, but only some of the 17 bonfires they had had, one still burning. This proves that they had spies who advised them of the reinforcements brought by alferes Reyes. After dawn they followed the tracks and saw that they had entered Monte Galban, and that they were traveling on foot. And though 30 men made haste to go in on foot to see whether they could overtake them, they returned saying that it seemed the Indians had scattered in the wilderness because of the many footprints they had found. They decided to go round the wilderness along the north side. As soon as
They came to the other wilderness, which is called El Monte del Comal, contiguous with [the previous one], they found that the Indians had gone on to it. Following the road through the hill country of the Guadalupe, they found it impossible to overtake the enemy. Thus they decided to return, for the horses also were especially tired and hurt.

On the afternoon of the 12th day, while the two officers continued their journey towards this presidio, they found the bodies of the two residents Jose Flores and Melchor Ximenes, who on the 10th day had separated [from the others] to hunt. Their corpses were cut up as much as those of the soldiers from the Fort of El Cibolo. [The party] made room for them and brought them to this presidio, where they were buried at the parish church.

On the 13th day the entire party arrived at this presidio, where the two alfereses Valdes and Reyes stated and disclosed all that has been related [above. When it was apparent what little luck there had been in not having found the enemy in spite of all the efforts and steps taken to do so, the troops and citizenry were ordered to retire to their homes.

On the 15th day, anticipating the attack which the enemy might commit against the horse herd, since there were usually 1740 riding beasts, I decided to encircle the place where they graze with 1 sergeant, 2 corporals, and 18 privates. Nothing unusual occurred.

On the 18th day at dawn a boy came from the Ranch of Las Cabras, disclosing on behalf of the foreman that the enemy had come out the night before and attacked 6 shepherds and the chief shepherd, who were keeping a flock of sheep. But they heard them and retreated to a nearby arroyo, where they were able to save their lives. [The Indians]. However, killed a number of sheep, which [the shepherds] found cut to pieces the following day. They returned most cautiously, in case the enemy had already returned.

On the 20th day a message came from the sergeant on detached duty at the Fort of El Cibolo, disclosing that during the day several Indians were being seen among the oak groves there and that during the night many were heard passing in the vicinity thereof. There were some fires there. The troops could not leave to search for fodder for the horses, which were quite skinny. [The sergeant] was at the same time asking for reinforcements and meat, for he had been eating nothing but pinole and biscuits. Consequently he was sent some jerky and 5 men. With them, that fort now has 26 and the [detachment guarding] the horse herd has 34 (including 10 added as reinforcements). There are 7 [men] in Coahuila for the estanco, 7 more with the mail at [ the Presidio of San Juan Bautista del} Rio Grande, 8 [men] in the guard, [ in addition to] the armorer, the drummer, 5 [men] sick, and 6 recruits. These comprise the 95 positions of this company’s allotment. Thus it remains to be seen—should the enemy attack this presidio, as is possible—what defense can be made with the 8 men in the guard, the 6 recruits, the drummer, an armorer, and the 5 sick men. With this situation [the presidio] is impossible to defend. Therefore the governor ought not to be responsible for such incidents as may occur, since he stated in due time what might transpire.

On the 24th day, after receiving word through a citizen that some Comanche Indians had been seen in the thickets of the banks of the Medina River 5 leagues from this presidio, and suspicious that they might turn to the horse herd, I reinforced it with the guard troops and 2 other men who were here from the Presidio of La Bahia [del Espiritu Santo], with all sending 44 men, the guard being manned by ymbalidos and citizens.

On the 25th day, in order to observe the Indians seen the previous day, I ordered 20 men from the citizenry to go out and traverse the Arroyo of El Leon, where the horses graze. No troops went with them, since there are none whatsoever. When they returned at the Angelus, the corporal informed me that he had encountered nothing unusual.

On the 26th and 27th days information was received that fresh track from [human] feet and from horses had been seen in the vicinity of where the horse herd grazes, making it necessary to reinforce it with the guard troops and to replace them with ymbalidos and residents.

On the 28th day at around half past 3 in the afternoon, a resident of this presidio brought word that when he had gone out to round up some horses he had left resting a quarter of a legua away, 3 Comanche Indians came towards him. One was on horseback, the other 2 on foot. Retracing his route, they saw him following until he was quite close to the river. Not able to overtake him, they fired a musket shot at him. The shot was heard at this presidio and wounded his horse in the left haunch. When he had got back and had given the afore-mentioned news, I immediately sent out 1 corporal and 20 men, whom I took from the guard and who had been in search of provisions for the horse herd. They went out with the civilian, following the tracks. But they could not reach the end, for nightfall drew near and they had to return. This fact proves what cunning the hostiles have. For this reason and because there are no troops with whom to go out and dislodge them from the land they control, it has become inevitable that [the Spaniards] will be so weakened as to be unable to leave the presidio, having also to renovate the stockade so as not to be attacked by surprise, as is possible.

Royal Presidio of San Antonio de Bexar, February 28, 1781.

Don Domingo Cabello
D.S., 1-6v p.p., 2/28/1781

Senor Don Domingo Cavelo

[L.S., 1-2v pp., 4/41780]




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