RAMÓN EXPEDITION. On February 25, 1707, Coahuila governor Martín de Alarcón ordered Diego Ramón, commandant of the San Juan Bautista Presidio, to undertake an expedition north of the Rio Grande. The effort was to serve several ends: to punish hostile natives who had been raiding the Coahuila and Nuevo León settlements; to obtain a new crop of neophytes for the smallpox-ravaged Rio Grande missions; and to explore the country. Less than a month previously, Alarcón had proposed removal of San Bernardo Mission from its site adjacent to San Juan Bautista Mission to the Frio River in the area of present-day Texas. With authority to proceed as far as the "San Marcos" River-identified as the present-day Colorado River-Ramón marched from San Juan Bautista on March 9, 1707, with thirty-one soldiers and citizens, 150 horses, and twenty pack mules. Fray Isidro Félix de Espinosa went along as chaplain. After crossing the Rio Grande at a ford called Paso de Diego Ramón, the expedition traveled toward the Nueces River, recruiting Indians of various Coahuiltecan bands who professed an interest in becoming Christians. Encamped at the mouth of San Roque Creek in the area of eastern Dimmit County, Ramón received news of the enemy Indians he sought, and native scouts were dispatched to learn their exact location. On March 22 he took part of his force and moved four leagues downstream, to a point southeast of present-day Cotulla. Four days later, having received the scout reports and advanced on the enemy in stormy, overcast weather, Ramón's force of forty-four Spaniards and Indian allies attacked an Indian encampment, killing five men and taking twenty-five prisoners, mostly women and children. From the captives the Spaniards learned of a large enemy encampment (ranchería grande) nearby. Advancing a league, probably into the area of northwestern Webb County, they were met by twenty-six warriors drawn up for battle, each armed with bow, a shield, and two quivers of arrows. In the ensuing skirmish the Spaniards killed five and wounded several others, then advanced on the encampment, which consisted of fifteen huts made of the hides of stolen Spanish horses. Ramón released an old Indian man to carry gifts and a message to his people: the soldiers, as emissaries of the king, had come to bring peace among the Indians and to save their souls; if they would gather in pueblo and mission, they would enjoy many conveniences, both spiritual and temporal, and would be favored by the king. The troop began its withdrawal on March 31, still gathering in small bands of Coahuiltecans willing to enter the missions. It reached San Juan Bautista on April 3. Firing a volley to announced its triumphant return, it marched in formation around the plaza de armas, deposited the new mission subjects at San Juan Bautista Mission, and put the prisoners under guard at the presidio. Ultimately, the captives, too, were turned over to the missionaries to receive instruction in the Christian faith and to be baptized. If they remained in the mission, they were told, they would be clothed and fed and accorded good treatment: "otherwise, they would be punished with all rigor of justice."
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Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.