Oyarzun, Juan Angel de (unknown–unknown)

By: Robert S. Weddle

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Juan Ángel de Oyarzún was captain of the company from San Luis Potosí that took part in the Ortiz Parrilla Red River Campaign in 1759. He wrote a diary of events of the month-long march from the San Saba River near the site of present-day Menard and of the battle fought on October 7 on the Red River near present-day Spanish Fort. The Oyarzún account begins on September 1, 1759, with the arrival of the troop gathered in San Antonio at "the place [situación] that the Reverend Father Missionaries fr. Alonso Giraldo de Terreros and fray Joseph de Santiesteban occupied and where they, with some soldiers and other men of arms, were slain at the cowardly [aleboso] impulse of the enemies." This was the site of Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission, which had been burned to the ground during the attack by the allied Norteños ("northern tribes") on March 16, 1758. The site, unknown for 200 years, at last was identified archeologically in January 1994 after a thirty-year search. Oyarzún relates the campaign, led by Diego Ortiz Parrilla, commandant of the nearby San Luis de las Amarillas Presidio, to punish the Indians responsible for the attack. The expedition left San Sabá on September 7, 1759. Well over half the diary's 100 manuscript pages are devoted to a day-by-day account of the journey. The march is described in more general terms in Ortiz Parrilla's prolix "Consulta" ("report"), dated November 18, 1759, at San Antonio de Béxar. The remainder of Oyarzún's diary recounts the battle. This part is duplicated word for word in Ortiz Parrilla's "Testimonio," signed by himself and three witnesses (not including Oyarzún), and also dated November 18 at San Antonio. The two documents differ only orthographically. Oyarzún's diary is in somewhat the better form.

The evidence seems clear that Oyarzún is the author of the entire diary, which he probably wrote under Ortiz Parrilla's orders, and that Ortiz borrowed from the account for his "Testimonio." Although events of the battle as told therein have long been known to historians, the diary is a recent find. It offers details of the march not previously available. Little is known of Oyarzún except what the diary tells: that he had his horse shot from under him during the battle but escaped without injury. As the captain of the San Luis Potosí company, he participated in the junta convened by Ortiz Parrilla at the San Sabá presidio before the troop proceeded to San Antonio to be disbanded.

Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas (7 vols., Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1936–58; rpt., New York: Arno, 1976). Robert S. Weddle, The San Sabá Mission (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964).
Time Periods:

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Robert S. Weddle, “Oyarzun, Juan Angel de,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 19, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/oyarzun-juan-angel-de.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995

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