Domingo Cabello y Robles, a career officer in the Spanish Royal Army from León, Spain, served after Juan María de Ripperdá as governor of Texas from October 29, 1778, to December 3, 1786. He began his military career at an early age when he joined an infantry regiment as a lieutenant in 1741. He first saw action in 1742, on his way to Santiago de Cuba, which was under siege, when the vessel carrying his company was attacked by an English warship. Cabello returned to Spain in 1749 but was quickly promoted to major and sent back to Cuba as commander of four battalions of a fixed regiment constituted to garrison the island and the presidios of Florida. His conduct during the English siege and capture of Havana in 1762 earned him promotion to the governorship of Nicaragua, in which post he served from December 12, 1764, until July 20, 1776.
Cabello must have seemed the ideal replacement for Ripperdá; he had military and administrative experience as well as success in dealing with hostile Indians. His Indian policy first favored the Lipan Apaches over the Comanches, but he later came to view the latter as more worthy of Spanish attention. He successfully achieved peace with the Comanches in Texas and supported their efforts against the Apaches. The high point of Cabello's Indian policy was the peace treaty reached with the Comanches in October 1785, a pact observed until the end of the eighteenth century.
Almost as serious as the Indian question was the protracted livestock controversy in the province. Cattle rustling between vecinos and missions, depletion of cattle through wasteful slaughter and excessive exports, and noncompliance with an ordinance of January 1778 were holdovers from the Ripperdá administration. Enforcing existing regulations and preventing illegal exports became Cabello's major concerns. His bando, or ordinance, of July 10, 1783, imposed strict guidelines for the roundup, branding, and export of unbranded cattle.
A number of important events took place during Cabello's administration. In judicial matters, Texas was transferred from the Audiencia (High Court) of Mexico's jurisdiction to that of Guadalajara. The town of Bucareli, on the Trinity River, was abandoned in favor of a new site among the Hasinai Indians known as Nacogdoches. A monthly mail service between the province and Provincias Internas headquarters was established and later made semimonthly. The fort established for the protection of the ranches along Cibolo Creek was abandoned and burned. In 1786 Cabello commissioned Pedro Vial, whom he had used previously as an intermediary with the Comanches, to seek a direct route between San Antonio and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Cabello's enforcement of livestock regulations resulted in much animosity from ranchers. Soon after his departure from the province in 1787, the ranchers filed a memorial against Cabello charging him with arbitrary and unjust decrees and misrepresentations that denied them rights to unbranded cattle. Cabello left Texas under suspicion but with a promotion as king's lieutenant for the garrison of Havana and deputy inspector of troops for the island of Cuba. He did not find out about the charges against him, which included misappropriation of funds, until 1790. The case did not adversely affect his career, for by 1797 Cabello had reached the rank of field marshall.