After the Massacre
Robert S. Weddle
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Buy *After the Massacre: The Violent Legacy of the San Saba Mission* by Robert S. Weddle online

After the Massacre: The Violent Legacy of the San Saba Mission
Robert S. Weddle
Texas Tech University Press
196 pages
January 2007
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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On March 16, 1758, thousands of Indians attacked the Franciscan Spanish mission of San Saba near present day Menard, Texas. The attackers were the Taovayas, a Wichita tribal group, and their allies the Commanches. The Commanches ruled the northwestern part of present-day Texas; the Taovayas and the other Wichita tribes ruled in northern Texas and around the southwestern area of Oklahoma along the Red River.

The mission had been built by the Spanish to try to convert and civilize the Lipan Apaches. The Apaches used the mission as protection against their enemies, especially these two tribes. The Apaches' enemies were mainly after them when they attacked the mission, but they considered the Spanish as enemies, too, since they “protected the Apaches.” The Spanish were caught in the middle, not realizing that the Apaches were using them and not really interested in converting or becoming “civilized”.

The French were unofficial allies of the Taovayas - French traders were supplying them with guns and ammunition. The Taovayas and the Commanches were armed with guns rather than bows and arrows and such, and that fact made the massacre even worse. There was a fort of sorts near the mission, but it only garrisoned around 30 soldiers and was not close enough to help those at the mission.

The massacre infuriated the Spanish, but they took a long time to retaliate because there were not enough Spanish troops near the mission to do so. The Spanish colonial government down in Mexico City had to give the orders to other parts of their territory in Texas and northern Mexico to send troops to gather and march on the two tribes. It was not until a year later when everything was ready for the retaliation.

The Taovayas and their allies knew the Spanish would retaliate, and they prepared for that eventuality by building a strong fortress on the Oklahoma side of the Red River eighteen miles south of Ringling, Oklahoma, on the present-day site called Longest Site after the family who owns the land now. Some archaeological digging has been done on this site, and there is some evidence of its existence still left after several centuries.

Author Robert S. Weddle also wrote The San Saba Mission: Spanish Pivot in Texas in 1964, but not much has been written about the events after the massacre. Weddle found a diary in 1979 by a captain who was part of the 1759 retaliation expedition. Following a translation by Carol Lipscomb, he wrote this eminently readable history of what that expedition did based on this diary and other sources. He provides black-and-white photos of areas that are most likely talked about in the diary and a map that shows the most likely route of the expedition. The diary talks about plants and animals that no longer exist in those parts of Texas which the expedition traveled through.

The diary in translation is provided in one of the appendices. The other two appendices are reports on the expedition to the colonial officials, followed by endnotes, a bibliography and an index.

Robert S. Weddle has been involved in research of the San Saba Mission and other archeological projects. He is the author of The Wreck of the Belle, the Ruin of the La Salle (2001), The San Saba Papers (2000), the aforementioned The San Saba Mission: Spanish Pivot in Texas (originally published in 1964 and in paperback in 1999), Wilderness Manhunt (1999), French Thorn (1992) and other books and articles. He is also the author of an Internet article at The University of Texas at Austin website.

This book is highly recommended to readers and students of early Texas and Oklahoma history and to those interested in Native Americans and the Spanish in the so-called New World.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Br. Benet Exton, O.S.B., 2007

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