Luis Antonio Andry, a French engineer, was chosen by Louisiana governor Bernardo de Gálvez to map the Gulf of Mexico coast from the Mississippi River to Matagorda Bay. Andry sailed from New Orleans on December 13, 1777, on the schooner Señor de la Yedra with a crew of thirteen, including his young son, a cadet. The expedition represents an early manifestation of Gálvez's interest in exploration and mapping of the Louisiana-Texas coast that later brought forth the coastal survey voyage of José Antonio de Evia. Andry's survey ship reached Matagorda Bay by early March 1778, its work essentially complete. Shortly thereafter, it fell victim to the trickery of apostate Karankawas from the Texas missions.
Andry's qualifications came to the attention of General Alejandro O'Reilly after O'Reilly took possession of Louisiana from rebellious French colonists in 1769. The Irish-expatriate general named him to a three-man commission to inspect the installation called La Balisa on an island at the mouth of the Mississippi. Andry continued to serve Spain thereafter. In 1776 Governor Luis de Unzaga y Amezaga recommended the engineer, a "brevet captain and second adjutant" of the Spanish post at New Orleans, for appointment as commandant of the Acadian Coast. Besides experience in the service of both France and Spain, said Unzaga, Andry had "personal merits, talents, and a knowledge of mathematics . . ., which he employs to the benefit of the service."
The mapping expedition had not been heard from by October 1778. Apprehension that the ship had been lost mounted in New Orleans, where the loss was to be felt severely. By the following January a report came through Natchitoches that the charred remains of a schooner fitting Yedra's description had been found on the Texas coast near Nuestra Señora de Loreto Presidio, also known as La Bahía. Verification came in March 1779, when a lone survivor of the massacre was released from Karankawa captivity. Tomás de la Cruz, a Mayan sailor from Campeche, related how Andry, in need of provisions, had been victimized by the apostates Joseph María and Mateo who, feigning friendship, claimed to be soldiers from La Bahía. After first disposing of two parties sent ashore to obtain provisions, the renegade brothers brought their companions on board the ship, seized the crew's unguarded weapons, and murdered the rest of the crew. Cruz was spared by Joseph María, who wanted him as his slave. The natives, Cruz related, at La Bahía stripped their victims' bodies and threw them into the bay. After removing the guns and other useful gear from the ship, they burned the vessel and with it perhaps the most detailed Spanish map of the Texas-Louisiana coast to that time.
The Andry expedition came between that of the trespassing survey crew of the British Admiralty cartographer George Gauld in the summer of 1777 and the two expeditions of José de Evia, which approached the Texas coast from different directions in 1785 and 1786. The Evia survey has most often been considered as having resulted from Bernardo de Gálvez's encounter with imprecise coastal maps while campaigning against the English on the Gulf Coast during the American Revolution. It now may be seen as a renewal of Andry's failed effort, postponed by Spain's entry into the war with England.
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Lawrence Kinnaird, Spain in the Mississippi Valley, 1765–1794 (3 vols., Washington: GPO, 1949).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Robert S. Weddle,
“Andry, Luis Antonio,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 18, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
November 1, 1994
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: