Indians attack San Sabá mission

March 16th, 1758

On this day in 1758, some 2,000 Comanches and allied North Texas Indians descended on Mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá, on the San Saba River near the present site of Menard. The mission had been established the previous year to Christianize the eastern Apaches. The attackers killed two priests, Fray Alonso Giraldo de Terreros and Fray José de Santiesteban Aberín, and six others, then looted and set fire to the log stockade. In late summer 1759 Col. Diego Ortiz Parrilla, commander of the nearby Presidio San Luis de las Amarillas, undertook a military campaign to punish the Norteños but suffered an ignominious defeat near the site of present-day Spanish Fort. With French firearms and Spanish horses, the northern tribes now constituted a stronger force than the Spaniards themselves could muster. The attack on the mission marked the beginning of warfare in Texas between the Comanches and the European invaders and signaled retreat for the Spanish frontier. In 1762, Mexican mining magnate Pedro Romero de Terreros, who had financed the ill-fated mission with the stipulation that his cousin Alonso de Terreros be placed in charge, commissioned a huge painting to honor the memory of his martyred cousin. The Destruction of Mission San Sabá in the Province of Texas and the Martyrdom of the Fathers Alonso Giraldo de Terreros, Joseph Santiesteban now hangs in the Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Historia in Mexico City.

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Indians attack San Sabá mission

March 16th, 1758

On this day in 1758, some 2,000 Comanches and allied North Texas Indians descended on Mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá, on the San Saba River near the present site of Menard. The mission had been established the previous year to Christianize the eastern Apaches. The attackers killed two priests, Fray Alonso Giraldo de Terreros and Fray José de Santiesteban Aberín, and six others, then looted and set fire to the log stockade. In late summer 1759 Col. Diego Ortiz Parrilla, commander of the nearby Presidio San Luis de las Amarillas, undertook a military campaign to punish the Norteños but suffered an ignominious defeat near the site of present-day Spanish Fort. With French firearms and Spanish horses, the northern tribes now constituted a stronger force than the Spaniards themselves could muster. The attack on the mission marked the beginning of warfare in Texas between the Comanches and the European invaders and signaled retreat for the Spanish frontier. In 1762, Mexican mining magnate Pedro Romero de Terreros, who had financed the ill-fated mission with the stipulation that his cousin Alonso de Terreros be placed in charge, commissioned a huge painting to honor the memory of his martyred cousin. The Destruction of Mission San Sabá in the Province of Texas and the Martyrdom of the Fathers Alonso Giraldo de Terreros, Joseph Santiesteban now hangs in the Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Historia in Mexico City.

«   Previous Next   »

Related Handbook of Texas Articles

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
  • Astound your friends with your Texas history prowess
  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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