Southwestern Historical Quarterly
CAMPAIGNING IN THE BIG BEND OF THE RIO GRANDE
AL B. NELsON
The West Texas city of Uvalde is a slightly corrupted form of
Ugalde, named for Juan de Ugalde. But who was Ugalde ? The
answer takes us back to the eighteenth century.1
Juan de Ugalde first came into North American history as
governor of the Spanish frontier province of Coahuila, which then
included a large part of Texas. The year of his appointment was
momentous in western hemisphere history. Not only did thirteen
of England's North American colonies declare their independence,
and bring a new nation into existence, but Spain, whose empire
in the Americas was at its greatest extent, then embarked upon
a tremendous program of colonial expansion and reorganization.
San Francisco was founded as an outpost to secure the safety of
the Californias, the viceroyalty of La Plata was created to resist
the Portuguese and English aggression in South America, and
the frontier provinces of New Spain were entrusted to a com-
mandant general with viceregal powers in order to provide for
the effective handling of the Indian situation. In this manner,
the Apache and Comanche nations of the northeastern frontier
took their place as a major factor in Spain's comprehensive pro-
gram of defensive expansion.
It is interesting for Anglo-Americans to realize that while
rebellious colonists on the Atlantic seaboard were besieging Boston,
1Dr. Herbert Eugene Bolton effectively summarizes the career of
Ugalde in New Spain as follows: ". . . . the Apache question was
partly solved locally by Juan de Ugalde, Governor of Coahuila. By
diplomacy the Lipan were turned against the Mescalero, and between
1779 and 1783 Ugalde made four campaigns against the Mescalero in
northwestern Coahuila and on the lower Pecos. As a result of these
exploits he won great fame. Seven years later Ugalde, then comandante
of the eastern Interior Provinces, greatly enhanced his fighting reputa-
tion, and to a degree carried out Croix's plans, by uniting with the
Comanche, Taovayas, Wichita, and Tawakoni, and inflicting a severe
defeat upon the Apache at Arroyo de la Soledad west of the San Antonio.
In commemoration of Ugalde's exploits, the caton of the Nueces River
became known as Caion de Ugalde, corrupted later into Uvalde." Bol-
ton, Tewas in the Middle Eighteenth Century (Berkeley, 1915), p. 127.
The Caton in turn gave the name to the nearby city of Uvalde.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 39, July 1935 - April, 1936. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101095/. Accessed January 26, 2015.