La Bahia thrived at Guadalupe location
by Jeremy D. Turner
Nov 16, 2012 | 1224 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Pictured are the ruins of the Presidio La Bahia in Victoria County.
Pictured are the ruins of the Presidio La Bahia in Victoria County.
The killing of Captain Domingo Ramón was followed by many months of turbulence and hostility between the native Karankawa and the Spaniards.

Diego Ramón, son of the former Capt. Domingo Ramón, was appointed commanding officer in the aftermath of his father’s death. The success of the presidio depended in large part on the ability of the Spanish to establish a permanent military presence and create a community free of concern of continual attacks from local tribes.

Given that the Copane, a sub-tribe of the Karankawa, occupied the coastal region extending from Garcitas Creek to Corpus Christi, it was determined that the presidio should be relocated further inland.

For the newly appointed Capt. Diego Ramón, however, his command would not last that long. Ramon’s competence as a leader was lacking and he was soon replaced by Captain Don Juan Antonio de Bustillo y Ceballos before the relocation took place.

Desperate to move, the Franciscans did not wait for permission. Instead, they staked out an area along the Guadalupe River approximately 10 leagues west of the Garcitas Creek settlement.

In April 1726, Spanish Governor Perez de Alamazan inspected the site and was very pleased with what he saw, thus recommending a stronger and more permanent presidio be built in the same location, across the river from the mission. Among the qualities that made the new location desirable were the climate, topography, a river for fresh water and irrigation, plentiful timber and an accessible stone quarry for building strong fortifications. Also of great importance was the fact that area tribes proved a more peaceful neighbor than the Karankawa had at Garcitas Creek.

It did not take long for the presidio to flourish at its new location. By 1730, tremendous progress had been made. Permanent dwellings and sturdy fortifications were built, livestock and agriculture were flourishing, relations between the soldiers and natives were more stable and the Franciscans had been successful in spreading Christianity to numerous tribes in the region. During a 1730 presidial inspection ordered by the viceroy of Mexico, it was noted that the presidio had a garrison of ninety men of remarkable discipline and military knowledge, from their impeccable appearance to their knowledge of the Manual of Arms. Their commander, Capt. Bustillo y Ceballos, also received high praise.

Despite all of the improvements and the years of hard work and effort put forward and the many lives that were lost along the way, this was not to be the final location of Presidio La Bahía. Spanish Texas was growing at a steady and rapid pace. In order to better protect Texas from foreign invaders, it was important to situate the presidio in the most advantageous place in relation to the Camino Real, the highway that connected the interior of Mexico to East Texas.
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