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Date(s) - 04/15/2016
8:30 am - 9:30 am

Arizona History Convention

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Francisco Tovar, the first captain of Arizona’s best-preserved Spanish Colonial presidio, Santa Cruz de Terrenate, was killed in an Apache ambush in 1776. Intrigue surrounds his death because historic documents talk about his incompetence and his pending dismissal. This has raised the possibility that Tovar committed suicide-by-Apache. Some critics have suggested that he should not have ordered his men to dismount, only reinforcing this notion of a bumbling commander. Moreover, the literature is infused with a story that the battle ensured at a nearby ford and despite the fact that the screams of his men could be heard from the presidio, no one inside the safety of the presidio came to his aid, suggesting that he was unpopular indeed. Differences abound on how many were killed and where the encounter took place. Recent transcription and translation of the letter that describes the battle provide new insights into this event including the number of people killed and where it occurred. Archaeological investigations and information on patrol routes clarify many of the battle’s details and, in fact, restore a modicum of honor to this captain. This presentation will be held at the 2016 Arizona History Convention in Yuma Friday, April 15, 2016, 8:30 am.