1779 Comanche Campaign

Diary of Governor Juan Bautista de Anza

August 15 to September 10, 1779

This is the diary of Lieutenant Colonel Juan Baustista de Anza of his expedition (August 15 to September 10, 1779), beginning at Santa Fe, circling north to the front range of the Great Plains near present-day Rye, Colorado, and returning to Santa Fe. The diary chronicles the military campaign made by Anza, 800 men and close to 2500 horses to find and destroy Cuchanec Comanche Chief Cuerno Verde (Green Horn), and establish peace between the Spaniards and the warring Comanches and Utes. Lieutenant Colonel Anza led the military campaign, and signed the diary as such. The purpose of the diary was to make an official report to Comandante Teodoro de Croix, Commander General of the Provincias Internas, and ultimately the King of Spain, Charles III. This edition is based upon a translation from the original Spanish by Edgar Bledsoe, and edited by Ronald E. Kessler and Donald T. Garate.

Juan Bautista de Anza

Juan Bautista de Anza
Portrait commissioned for museum exhibits at Tumacacori National Park, Arizona, 1935 (National Park)


15 Aug 1779 Anza leaves Santa Fe with 600 men, headed north into Comanche country in search of Cuerno Verde

16 Aug 1779

Anza reviews the troops and picks up the presidial caballada at "el bosque de San Juan de los Caballeros." He sends two spies ahead to reconnoiter.

20 Aug 1779

Camped at Río de los Conejos, Anza is joined by 200 Yutas and Apaches and the spies sent out on the 16th return.

22 Aug 1779

Anza begins night marches across present-day San Luis Valley under a full moon

24 Aug 1779

After traveling all night, Anza camps at a ciénega that he names San Luis in honor of today (August 25th), feast day of San Luis, Rey de Francia. Because of this, the present valley still retains the name "San Luis." The expedition is camped near where the Yutas killed 12 Comanches on July 18.

25 Aug 1779

Advance spies are traveling ahead of the expedition at all times

27 Aug 1779

Anza resumes day marches; camps near present-day Ponche Springs, Colorado

28 Aug 1779

Anza crosses the Arkansas River for the time

29 Aug 1779

Crossing present-day South Park, Colorado, the expedition kills 50 buffalo

31 Aug 1779

Anza enters the front range and attacks Cuerno Verde's camp. Learning that the Comanche Chief had gone to Taos, Anza immediately turns south in pursuit of him.

2 Sep 1779

Anza again crosses the Arkansas River and the advance spies give the notice that Cuerno Verde's party has been seen coming north. The encounter between the two forces comes at sundown

3 Sep 1779

Anza's contingent encounters Cuerno Verde, forces him into a swamp and kills him, his son and four other chiefs. Anza marches five leagues south that afternoon and camps at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

4 Sep 1779

Anza passes through the mountains in a snowstorm

5 Sep 1779

The last of the Yutas leave the expedition

7 Sep 1779

The expedition arrives in Taos

10 Sep 1779

Anza arrives back in Santa Fe