Diary of Juan Bautista de Anza

Colonizing Expedition, 1775-1776

January 1, 1776 SP -- Having gone to explore this river of Santa Anna in addition to what was done yesterday, it was found to be almost unfordable for the people, not so much because of its depth as of the rapidity of its current, which upsets most of the saddle animals. For this reason it was necessary to reinforce the bridge which I made during the last journey, and also to open a road in order that our cattle might enter to cross it. These tasks could not be completed until after twelve o'clock, at which time the women were taken over first, next all the perishable things, and then the rest of the cargo and our stock, of which a horse and a cow were drowned because they did not have strength enough to withstand the force of the current. For the reasons set forth, and the fact that there was no firewood until the end of the next journey, it was not possible to set out with all the expedition, which finished crossing the river at three o'clock in the afternoon. Nevertheless, at this time I sent the cattle and the tired saddle animals forward so that they might divide the march.


At this same time, the crossing having been completed, arrived the three soldiers whom I sent to the mission of San Gabriel on the 27th of last month for the purpose there mentioned. From the mission the father ministers sent me seventeen saddle animals. The corporal who has the mission under his command gives me the sad news that a few days ago the heathen and the reduced Indians of the mission of San Diego, together with those farther inland, attacked that mission, killed one of the missionary fathers and two servants, wounded all the few soldiers of the guard, and burned the small buildings of the pueblo . He says that he has heard that the Indians of the neighborhood of the mission in his command are assembling to attack it also, and that for these reasons he has not carried out my order to forward the message which I sent to his commander, Don Fernando Rivera y Moncada, whom he is awaiting in order that he may take measures regarding the present occurrences, since he sent him a report of them about a month ago.


Tuesday, January 2 SP -- At half past eight we set forth on the march toward the west-northwest over level country with good pasturage and fair weather, which continued until nearly ten o'clock, when it began to rain lightly. Soon the storm became so heavy that most of our people got very wet, but since there was no firewood the march was continued until, after making six leagues in as many hours, we arrived at Arroyo de los Alisos. A short time after we began our march I sent two soldiers to the mission of San Gabriel to report that I would arrive there next day if there was no bad luck, and with orders to the effect that if in the meanwhile anything of the kind which they feared should occur they must send me the appropriate notice. The rain, with intermittent snow, continued until eleven at night, when it began to abate. -- 41. From Tubac to Arroyo de los Alisos, 191 leagues.


Wednesday, January 3 SP -- Notwithstanding that it was not certain whether it would rain or not, although it was very cloudy, we set forth on the march at a quarter to nine, continuing over good country toward the west with some turns to the west-southwest. In this direction we traveled five leagues in a little more than five hours, until we crossed the river of the mission of San Gabriel, where a halt was made because the saddle animals were completely worn-out, since the road had been so miry, as well as because a woman had been complaining bitterly as a result of a wetting which she received yesterday; and besides, I saw that we should not be able to reach the place to which they have moved this mission. -- 45. From Tubac to the crossing of the river of Mission San Gabriel, 196 leagues.

Thursday, January 4 SP -- At nine o'clock we raised our train, and having set forth on the march we continued to the west for two leagues, which were covered in as many hours. At the end of this time we arrived at the mission of San Gabriel, where I met Don Fernando Rivera y Moncada, the commander of all this Northern California. He had arrived the day before on his way to the port of San Diego to repair as far as possible the disaster which had taken place there and where it is feared others equal or worse may happen, but since he learned that I would arrive soon he thought it well to await me. -- 46. From Tubac to Mission San Gabriel, 198 leagues.

Friday, January 5 SP -- This commander informed me in detail of everything that had happened at the mission of San Diego, saying that it was necessary for him to go there for a time to see if it was possible to capture the prime movers of the rebellion, and that he planned to administer to them punishment appropriate to their assault, as well as to others who merit it. He did not doubt that these would be many, for the common report given by the few who escaped is that the number of those who attacked must be six hundred, among them being both heathen and Christian Indians newly reduced.

Thinking the soldiery which he brings with him insufficient to undertake these measures which he considers appropriate to effect the pacification which they desire in these new establishments, and especially in San Diego, where they expect a second rebellion, he requested me, for whatever in these particulars may be of interest to the service of the king, to please aid him in his plans with the soldiers whom I am bringing at my command to deliver at the presidio of Monte Rey. He assumed that the more urgent circumstances described would not delay their arrival at Monte Rey, and that they would be no less ready for the exploration of the River of San Francisco, in which we both ought to take part, since he feared that it would be impossible to accomplish this expedition during the present season of the rains, which do not permit of going forward, both because of the condition of the land as well as because of the intervening rivers.

In view of all the foregoing, and thinking that his Excellency the Viceroy would approve of my furnishing this commander the aid which he asks of me, as important for the high purposes to which it is directed, I replied that not only would I furnish a part of the troops of my command, but that I would volunteer to go personally if it were necessary to take part in any military action. The commander told me that he thought such a thing might happen and asked me to assist him in deciding any question that may arise in the service of both majesties. For my part I have therefore promised to do this, as well as to proceed in accord with him in the affair and in reporting to his Excellency any operations which we may undertake in these matters.

Saturday, January 6 SP -- We agreed, the commander of these establishments and I, to take from the troop which comes under my orders, seventeen of the twenty soldiers which I bring from the presidio s of the province in which I live, to go to the port and mission of San Diego ; to leave in this mission the officer who also has come from the same province with the families which I am bringing; to mount these soldiers on the best riding animals of my expedition, and others which the commander has furnished; to take also to San Diego a pack train of mules from the same expedition, to bring to it some of the provisions which are in the warehouse there; and that today this troop shall be furnished with the provisions which it may need for the journey.

Sunday, January 7 SP -- In fulfillment of what was agreed upon hereinbefore, we set forth on the march at twelve o'clock with the seventeen soldiers of my expedition mentioned and twelve from these establishments, over the open and continuous road for the presidio of San Diego. Since this presidio, according to what is said, is very near the coast, and since its distance from this mission is estimated at forty leagues, and its direction southeast and east-southeast, I shall not make further mention of the road and of the sites where it is necessary to stop, as happened today after nightfall at the river of Santa Anna, we having traveled six leagues in a little less than six hours. -- From Tubac to the Santa Anna River on the road to San Diego, 204 leagues.

Monday, January 8 SP -- At a quarter past seven we set forth on the march, and having traveled till half past four and covered eleven leagues, we halted to camp for the night at Arroyo de la Magdalena, alias La Quema. At a place three-quarters of a league down the arroyo they had begun to found a new mission with the name of San Juan Capistrano, but eight days after taking possession it was abandoned entirely because of the unfortunate event at San Diego, to which the missionary fathers and the guard of the mission withdrew.

Tuesday, January 9 SP -- At half past seven we set forth on the march and, having traveled until five o'clock and covered eleven leagues, we halted at the arroyo of San Juan Capistrano, where we spent the night. -- From Tubac to San Juan Capistrano, 226 leagues.

Wednesday, January 10 SP -- At half past seven in the morning we continued our march. Traveling until four o'clock in the afternoon and covering nine leagues, we reached the village of La Soledad, whose people are now reduced and Christian, or regarded as such. Here we halted for the night, during which its people brought a large supply of sardines of extraordinary size to sell us. -- From Tubac to the village of La Soledad, 235 leagues.

Thursday, January 11 SP -- A little after half past seven we continued our march and, having traveled three leagues, at ten o'clock we arrived at the port, presidio, and mission of San Diego. The inhabitants welcomed us with the greatest pleasure and inexpressible satisfaction, commensurate with the fears they have felt ever since the 6th of last November, when the mission which was about a league and three-quarters from the presidio was destroyed, down to the present moment, when they have had the first response to their first appeal. -- From Tubac to the port and presidio of San Diego, 238 leagues.

In the interim before our arrival here a second attack had been threatened by those who made the first one, among whom, according to the statements of several natives from here, are included all those reduced or Christianized and belonging to the mission. This is doubtless true, even though they might not say so, for it is certain that the church and part of the house of the mission were sacked of many things by a considerable number of people before the attack was begun, which was about one o'clock at night and it appears impossible that this and the fire which they set beforehand, or their accustomed yell or war cry, could have failed to be observed by someone who could have given the alarm in time. But this charge is explained by saying that beforehand they were arrested in their own huts by the mountain heathen, on whom they lay the blame in order to exculpate themselves from treason.

To this treachery, it cannot be denied, must be added some carelessness on the part of the guard and escort of soldiers which the mission had. For they did not hear the enemy or discover them until the sentinel saw the fire, which spread to their own guardhouse and to all the rest of the mission, whose buildings were of tule, the material best calculated to burn, as happened. Thereupon all those living there ran out precipitately to take refuge in a stockade, whose gate, through the good fortune and forethought of one of the missionaries, they covered with some bales of clothing. This stockade was the seat of their fortune, for those who had the luck to get inside of it escaped. Indeed, the other father and the two servants who died in the action were killed outside of the stockade, the former much farther away than the latter, because he had fled to escape to a place where it is inferred the barbarians found him.

The presidio might have suffered the same ruin or tragedy as the mission if the attack had been made on it which also they had planned, with the idea, first of all, of getting hold of the two cannons which it has. This forethought could not have been taken by the mountain heathen, who are even ignorant of the use of ordinary arms, if it had not been suggested by the converted Indians who already have knowledge of them. It is well known that a band of Indians set out with this purpose. It had been agreed that as soon as those who remained in the mission should see the fire at the presidio they should adopt the same procedure. But as those at the mission made the attack prematurely, when the others were half way on the road they concluded that the sentinel of the presidio must have seen the fire, and that in consequence they would be discovered, and by the time they arrived they would not be able to get possession of the cannons. So they gave up their plan and all returned to the mission, which was fortunate for this place, where certainly, because of its inferior location and buildings, its few troops, and other circumstances, the ruin would have been greater.

Thus it is that the enemy did them a favor in assuming that they would be watchful, for the fire of the pueblo was not seen nor was its misfortune known here until they reported it from there. On getting the news the sergeant in command of the presidio went to the pueblo, and it was at this time that they brought here the dead and wounded, which included all the soldiers of the guard and two servants, and some saddle animals, which the barbarians might safely have driven off. Why they did not do so is unknown. Besides all the foregoing, on the very day when the mission was destroyed the same thing happened to the new one of San Juan Capistrano, which I mentioned halfway between here and San Gabriel, and the event has filled everybody with terror and caused them to realize what the natives of this region are capable of attempting, which formerly they did not believe, a confidence that has been the perdition of everything. All the prisoners declare that forty villages took part in the attack.

It does not seem to me proper to overlook the coolness with which the inhabitants of the pueblo or mission undertook to exculpate themselves from their treason, or that of the villages nearby. I have already stated that the former said that the first thing the heathen did (for so they call the mountain Indians to whom they attribute the assault and the massacre) was to seize them, but that as soon as they found themselves free they charged upon them and put them to flight toward the sierra. But before they were arrested they did not tell about this feat of which they now boast, as one might expect, to any of our people, but reported it to them only long after the attack had taken place. Besides this, several days afterward some persons were discovered wounded by balls which had the good fortune in the most active and hardest part of the engagement to kill two of the most intrepid and boldest Indians, by whose example the rest were cowed.

This event has resulted in the loss of all the Christendom which had been won, and which, as I am told by the missionary father, reached nearly five hundred souls from various nearby villages. Indeed, since all took part in or knew of the rebellion (although they deny it), fearful of punishment because they did not come out victorious they have fled, and very few now come to the pueblo to receive instruction, and the number of those who live in it is likewise small. The father missionary who died at the hands of the barbarians had succeeded in learning the language of these heathen, which extends over a large district, and this is one of the most serious losses.

Friday, January 12 SP -- The commander, having learned of these reports that spread about after the rebellion had taken place in the establishment, began to seek other information which would lead to the discovery of the whereabouts of the Indians who are reputed to be the principal chiefs, in order to arrange for their apprehension.

Saturday, January 13 SP -- Nothing has happened on my part worthy of note.

Sunday, January 14 SP -- The same as yesterday.

Monday, January 15 SP -- The commander of these establishments told me that although he has tried to find out if by means of some of the reduced Indians he might bring about the delivery of those who were reported to him as the authors of the rebellion under consideration, he has not found any one whom he can trust; and hoping for the success of this plan and the fulfillment of his hopes and for the quietude which he desires, he begged me to give him my opinion, in order that even though he should not achieve his purpose he at least might make the attempt.

In view of this, and taking advantage of what is known concerning the matter, we agreed that under pretext of changing the guard of the horse herd, the sergeant should set out tonight from this presidio with seventeen soldiers and an interpreter (from whom also the object was concealed), to go by morning to a place a long distance from this presidio, whence it is known that the rebels are accustomed to come, or where there are people who through fear may deliver them to us. This march was begun at eight o'clock at night, its object being unknown to anybody in the place except the one who executed it and the two of us who decided on and made the plans for the expedition, so that the rebels may have no knowledge of it.

Tuesday, January 16 SP -- Nothing occurred except that at four o'clock in the afternoon it was noticed that a large smoke was being sent up in the direction in which we judged the sergeant to be going. From this we infer that the heathen have spied him and are giving news of it to others, for this method is common among them all.

Wednesday and Thursday, January 17 and 18SP -- There was nothing to note.

Friday, January 19 SP -- At seven o'clock at night the party returned in charge of the sergeant, bringing four heathen, two of whom were chiefs of villages who contributed to the attack on the destroyed mission. The others were private individuals who, together with the foregoing, declare that the two principal chiefs of the rebels, Christians called Carlos and Francisco, are now in the roughest part of the sierra with a band of heathen, fearful that we may hunt them out in order to punish them. They also say that they have been intending to return to attack this presidio for the purpose of destroying it, but that now, since they have learned of our arrival here, they have given up the plan. These four heathen were secured for the night by being put in prison .

Saturday, January 20 SP -- Commander Don Fernando de Rivera y Moncada asked me to join him in taking the testimony which he obtained from these four heathen. They told the same story as before, adding that the late rebellion was planned entirely by Christian Indians, who suggested it to the heathen who for this reason came to take part in it. Having obtained this information, the commander considered it wise to say to the two private heathen, in order that they might persuade all those of their kind that they must become peaceful and not listen to the counsels of the bad, since these counsels were causing their destruction and incommoding their lives, that he would persecute them, and would do it in short order with the troops, who would set upon them immediately, beginning at once if they did not deliver the two indicated heads of the recent sedition and unless all came to surrender.

Sunday, January 21 SP -- Nothing occurred except that it began to rain and continued until well after nightfall.

Monday, January 22 SP -- Noting today the continuation of the rains, which occur in this region from November until March, with some fair spells, and that the measures which the commander of the place thinks necessary to correct and punish the rebellion which occurred here are going somewhat slowly, for the first reason I thought it wise to confer with him concerning the matter, so that I might not be charged with luke-warmness through failure to proceed on my way to carry out the orders of his Excellency, especially that of going with all my expedition to the presidio of Monte Rey and from there to the exploration of the River of San Francisco. So I asked the commander to tell me what, more or less, he needed in the way of aid from me, saying that if he thought it would take longer than all the present month I feared that it would interfere with the fulfillment of the instructions which have been given me. I told him that in order that this might not happen, and assuming that he was unable to leave this place, it appeared to me that I ought to leave him ten soldiers of my command so that he might continue his operations; and that with the remaining seven I ought to return to San Gabriel and from there continue with my expedition until I should deliver it at Monte Rey, so that from there I might go on, even at the risk of the rains, to explore the harbor of San Francisco, in order thereby to report to his Excellency what I might observe in the reconnaissance.

To this proposal the commander replied that I must already know that there was nothing at present of more importance for the service of God and the king than the complete pacification of the rebellion which had occurred, for without it he considered this important port as lost, and that if the evil spread, all the remaining establishments of his command would fall. He therefore requested that I should have the goodness not to take from San Gabriel the soldiers whom I have there in my command to deliver at Monte Rey, for being in the middle of the frontier they could lend a hand from there if it were necessary. He added that since he is not going to the founding of the fort and mission of San Francisco until he sees this situation entirely tranquil, or until he shall have new orders concerning the matter from his Excellency the Viceroy, to whom up to the present the uprising has not been reported, it would not be harmful to retain the troops at San Gabriel.

But this pacification, as I see it, will be very slow, especially if it is to result from any punishment or example, for the rebels will not experience any such thing until after the rains have ceased, nor until the few mounts now possessed by the soldiers of this presdio, which are almost unable to move, as well as those which I have brought here, shall have recuperated. And so, in order not to oppose any plan of the person who is in command of this frontier, it appears to me to be in the interest of the king to agree to what he requests of me, and leave these troops where he thinks best, and also for me to remain here as he requests of me, to await the return of another party which he intends to send into the sierra as soon as the weather clears, to get information concerning the rebels and their plans. But when that party returns, if it brings no news which I think requires my remaining here, especially for service in the nature of offensive operations in the field, which is what I offered to come here for, I shall return at once to carry out, for my part, the orders of his Excellency, assuming now that this commander will be present at Monte Rey and the port of San Francisco, and that he shall charge himself with taking command of my expedition before it reaches the former place and make himself responsible for it to his Excellency. Indeed, for me to await the completion of the task in which this commander plans to employ himself many months, I think would be reprehensible conduct on my part, and especially if I fail to do what I can without prejudice to him.

Tuesday, January 23 SP -- It continued raining almost all day.

Wednesday, January 24 SP -- Nothing occurred except that there were continual signs of rain which were not fulfilled.

Thursday, January 25SP -- Morning dawned clear and so Commander Don Fernando decided to send sixteen soldiers in charge of their sergeant to seek the two prime movers of the uprising who, according to reports, come occasionally to a village not very far from here. The sergeant set out after nightfall, and is to reach the place in the morning, appropriate precaution having been taken so that the Indians who reside here may not give the others any warning.

Friday, January 26 SP -- At half past seven o'clock at night the party who set out in charge of the sergeant returned, bringing nine Indians accused of having taken part in the attack and the destruction of the mission, among them being two Christians and one of the captain s of the village of San Luís, who are also indicated as being ring leaders in the rebellion, in which village and in whose possession were found various fragments of the sacred vestments which they stole. To those least culpable a sound beating was given the same night, but because there was no place in which to secure them they were given their liberty, with the warning that it was through our clemency that they were allowed to escape with their lives, which we would proceed to take if they hid the principal rebels . The two most under suspicion were put in handcuffs and under guard of a sentinel. At half past nine the same party set out to go by morning to the village of La Soledad, distant three league, to which, they say, one of those whom they regard as a principal leader, now called Carlos, has come to watch our movements.

Saturday, January 27 SP -- A little before noon the party returned with the report that the Indian whom they were seeking had left La Soledad the day before. The captain of that village even denied that he had been there, but others having declared that this was untrue, the sergeant gave the captain the appropriate beating, and warned him that if next time he did not report Carlos's coming there he would be treated as an out and out enemy.

Sunday, January 28 SP -- Nothing of importance occurred.

Monday, January 29 SP -- The same as yesterday.

Tuesday and Wednesday, January 30 and 31 SP -- For my part I have nothing to write about.