Villasur expedition

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Villasur expedition
Part of the War of the Quadruple Alliance
PawneeVillasur1720.jpg
Villasur expedition painted on buffalo hide [lower-alpha 1]
DateJune 16 – August 14, 1720 (1720-06-16 1720-08-14)
Location
Result Pawnee-Otoe victory
Belligerents
Commanders and leaders
Unknown
Strength
Unknown 117
Casualties and losses
Unknown 47 killed

The Villasur expedition of 1720 was a Spanish military expedition intended to check New France's growing influence on the North American Great Plains, led by Lieutenant-General Pedro de Villasur. Pawnee and Otoe Indians attacked the expedition in Nebraska, killing 36 of the 40 Spaniards, 10 of their Indian allies, and a French guide. The survivors retreated to their base in New Mexico.

Contents

Background

In the first part of the 18th century, French explorers and fur traders began to enter the plains west of the Missouri River, which they claimed as Louisiana. In 1714, Étienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont became the first colonial explorer known to have reached the mouth of the Platte River, although other French traders may have visited the area and lived among the Indians. [2] Spain had claimed ownership of the Great Plains since the Coronado expedition of the 16th century, but had done little to assert this claim, and now worried about the growing French influence in the region. In 1718, the War of the Quadruple Alliance broke out between France and Spain. [3]

Expedition

The governor of the Spanish colony of Nuevo México based in Santa Fe ordered Villasur to capture French traders on the plains. Spanish authorities hoped to gather intelligence about French ambitions in the region. Villasur had no experience with Indians, but he left Santa Fe on June 16, 1720, leading an expedition which included about 40 soldiers of a mounted frontier corps known as "Cuera" or leather soldiers, [4] 60 to 70 Pueblo allies, a priest, a Spanish trader, and approximately 12 Apache guides, who were tribal enemies of the Pawnee. Scout leader José Naranjo was of African-Hopi parentage, and he might have previously reached the South Platte River area. [5]

The expedition made its way northeast through Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. In August, they made contact with the Pawnee and Otoe along the Platte and Loup rivers. [6] Villasur made several attempts to negotiate with Indians in the area, using Francisco Sistaca, a Pawnee held as a slave, to translate. On August 13, Sistaca disappeared from camp. Villasur camped that night just south of the Loup–Platte confluence near Columbus, Nebraska, nervous about the possibility of attack and the increasing number and belligerence of the Pawnee and Otoe Indians. [7]

Battle

The Pawnees and Otoes attacked at dawn on August 14, shooting heavy musketry fire and flights of arrows, then charging into combat clad only in paint, headbands, moccasins, and short leggings. Some survivors reported that Frenchmen had been among the attackers, and men in European dress are shown in a surviving painting of the battle. [7] The Spanish were mostly asleep at this hour; possibly Sistaca had told the Pawnees the best time to attack. In a brief battle, they killed 36 Spaniards, including Villasur and Naranjo, 10 Pueblo scouts, [8] and Jean L'Archevêque, a Frenchman who had been brought as an interpreter. [9] The Pueblo allies were encamped nearby but separately from the Spanish, and they were not the first targets of the attack; most of them escaped. The few Cuera soldiers who escaped were horse-holders, who were able to break loose while their comrades attempted to form a defensive cluster.

Aftermath

The Spanish and Pueblo survivors returned to Santa Fe on September 6. The expedition had journeyed farther to the north and east than any other Spanish military expedition, and its defeat marked the end of Spanish influence on the central Great Plains. The governors of New Mexico inquired into and apportioned blame for the disaster over the next seven years. The French in Illinois were elated to learn of the battle in October, but subsequent French expeditions did not establish French trade and influence in the area. [10]

Notes

  1. Jesuit missionary Philipp Segesser sent three buffalo hide paintings to his brother in Switzerland in 1758. [1]

Related Research Articles

Pawnee people ethnic group

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Platte River River in Nebraska, United States

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Wichita people confederation of Native Americans

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Étienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont French explorer

Étienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont was a French explorer who documented his travels on the Missouri and Platte rivers in North America and made the first European maps of these areas in the early 18th century. He wrote two accounts of his travels, which included descriptions of the Native American tribes he encountered. In 1723, he established Fort Orleans, the first European fort on the Missouri River, near the mouth of the Grand River and present-day Brunswick, Missouri. In 1724, he led an expedition to the Great Plains of Kansas to establish trading relations with the Padouca.

Fort Orleans

Fort Orleans was a French fort in colonial North America, the first fort built by any European forces on the Missouri River. It was built near the mouth of the Grand River near present-day Brunswick. Intended to be the linchpin in the vast New France empire stretching from Montreal to New Mexico, the fort was occupied from 1723–1726. It was the first multi-year European settlement in what is today the U.S. state of Missouri.

The timeline of Kansas details past events that happened in what is present day Kansas. Located on the eastern edge of the Great Plains, the U.S. state of Kansas was the home of sedentary agrarian and hunter-gatherer Native American societies, many of whom hunted American bison. The region first appears in western history in the 16th century at the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, when Spanish conquistadores explored the unknown land now known as Kansas. It was later explored by French fur trappers who traded with the Native Americans. It became part of the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. In the 19th century, the first American explorers designated the area as the "Great American Desert."

Jean L'Archevêque was a French explorer, soldier and merchant-trader. One of the few survivors of the ill-fated French colony Fort Saint Louis (Texas), L'Archevêque, the son of a merchant-trader from Bayonne, France, indentured himself to merchant-trader Sieur Pierre Duhaut in order to participate in the expedition to find the colony. L'Archevêque is known to have been the decoy that led René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle into an ambush in which Duhaut shot La Salle. While Duhaut was killed by expedition members to avenge La Salle's murder, L'Archevêque escaped the same fate because he was viewed more favorably and was thought to be less guilty. L'Archevêque was killed in 1720 near what is now Columbus, Nebraska by Native Americans of the Pawnee tribe during the Villasur expedition.

Pike-Pawnee Village Site United States historic place

The Pike-Pawnee Village Site, or Hill Farm Site, designated 25WT1 by archaeologists, is a site near the village of Guide Rock in Webster County, in the south central portion of the state of Nebraska, in the Great Plains region of the United States. It was the location of a village of the Kitkehahki band of the Pawnee people, in a region of the Republican River valley that they occupied intermittently from the 1770s to the 1820s.

Antonio Valverde y Cosío (1670–1728) was a prominent entrepreneur and Spanish soldier who served as acting governor of Santa Fe de Nuevo México in 1716 and as interim governor of this territory from 1718 to 1721. His politics were based, in large part, on stopping the French invasion of New Mexico.

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French people in Nebraska

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Pedro Vial, or Pierre Vial,, was a French explorer and frontiersman who lived among the Comanche and Wichita Indians for many years. He later worked for the Spanish government as a peacemaker, guide, and interpreter. He blazed trails across the Great Plains to connect the Spanish and French settlements in Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, and Louisiana. He led three Spanish expeditions that attempted unsuccessfully to intercept and halt the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Philipp Segesser Swiss missionary

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Juan de Ulibarrí or Uribarrí (1670-1716) was a Spanish or Criollo soldier and explorer who lived in New Mexico. In 1706 he led an expedition to El Cuartelejo on the Great Plains of western Kansas and eastern Colorado. Ulibarrí's diary survives and is an important source for the history of Spanish exploration of the Great Plains and relationships with the Apache and Pueblo Indians. The purpose of Ulibarrí's expedition was to find and escort back to New Mexico about 60 people from Picuris Pueblo who had earlier fled Spanish rule in New Mexico and established communities on the Great Plains. The Cuartelejo Ruins in Kansas are a remnant of the Pueblos who lived on the plains.

The Great Plains Indian Trading Networks encountered by the first Europeans on the Great Plains were built on a number of trading centers acting as hubs in an advanced system of exchange over great distances. The primary centers were found at the villages of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, with a surplus of agricultural produce that could be exchanged. Secondary centers were found at the villages of the Pawnee, Kansa and Osage on the central plains, and at the Caddo villages on the southern plains. The Dakota rendezvous was an important annual trading fair among the Sioux. European demand for fur changed the relations of the plains, increased the occurrence of war, and displaced several Indian nations that were forced away by the Sioux coming from the east. On the northern plains, European trade lay in the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company, although most of the territory belonged to France, and later Spain. European trade on the central plains was controlled by French merchants, first from New Orleans, later from St. Louis. From the mid-1700s', the Comanche became an increasingly important military and commercial factor on the southern plains, forcing the Apaches into the mountains, and exchanging goods and spoils with the Southwestern trading networks hubs in New Mexico.

José Naranjo was a Pueblo Indian who served the Spanish government of New Mexico. His father is suspected of having helped lead the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and Naranjo initially opposed co-operation, successfully escaping from Spanish custody. After 7 October 1692 Naranjo appears to have switched allegiance, working for the Spanish governor of New Mexico Diego de Vargas. Shortly afterwards he killed his brother Lucas, who was leading an Indian rebellion, and sent his head to Vargas. Naranjo was appointed an alcalde and leader of Indian auxiliary troops, serving on expeditions against the Apache and the Pueblo who had fled to El Quartelejo. In 1720 he was appointed chief scout and leader of auxiliary troops on the Villasur expedition, despite having opposed it. He was killed on 14 August 1720 when the expedition was attacked by Pawnee and Otoe forces.

References

  1. Chávez, Thomas E. (January 1, 1990). "The Segesser Hide Paintings: History, Discovery". Great Plains Quarterly. University of Nebraska – Lincoln: 96. Retrieved December 18, 2013.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  2. Norall, Frank (1988), Bourgmont, Explorer of the Missouri, 1698–1725, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, pp. 24–27.
  3. "Villasur Sent to Nebraska: Recording the Massacre", Nebraska Studies, accessed August 24, 2011
  4. Chartrand, Rene (2011). The Spanish Army in North America. Osprey Publishing. p. 11. ISBN   9781849085977.
  5. Alfred Thomas, After Coronado: Spanish Exploration Northeast of New Mexico, 1696–1727; Documents from the Archives of Spain Mexico and New Mexico (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1935, third printing 1969) , pp. 156, 275n118.
  6. "Columbus or North Platte? Site of Spanish Massacre", Nebraska History and Record of Pioneer Days, 7 (3), 1924
  7. 1 2 The Pawnee Indians. George E. Hyde 1951. New edition in The Civilization of the American Indian Series, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1974. ISBN   0806120940, pp. 75–76
  8. de Pastino, Blake (March 17, 2014). "First Evidence Found of Storied Battle That Stopped Spain's Eastward Expansion". Western Digs. Archived from the original on March 17, 2014. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
  9. Blake, Robert Bruce, Jean L'Archevêque, Handbook of Texas , retrieved February 7, 2008
  10. "The Villasur Expedition: The Battle", Nebraska Studies, accessed August 24, 2011