The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980 Page: 260
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The fact that de la Fuente had been a captain of militia in Chihuahua
seems to indicate that he was a man of some substance, perhaps a ranch-
er, since militia officers were expected to supplement the equipment of
their men, particularly by providing horses and supplies. This is also
indicated by his appointment as presidial captain in El Paso, for he
probably had to purchase the post. One may wonder what attractions
there might be at a sun-baked village on the banks of a muddy river,
halfway between Chihuahua and Santa Fe. But the attractions were real.
For one thing, the captain of the presidio of El Paso was, in effect, lieu-
tenant governor of New Mexico and (as justicia mayor) wielded supreme
civil as well as military power in his domain. The territorial extent of
his domain might be roughly defined as the area extending southward
about ioo miles to Carrizal, eastward almost ioo miles to the salt flats at
the foot of the Guadalupe Mountains, and northward 75 miles to pres-
ent Rincon at the entrance to the Jornada del Muerto. To the west, the
jurisdictions of El Paso and of the presidio of Janos were ill-defined.
Furthermore, the captain controlled the funds of the presidio, with
the attendant possibilities of diverting funds to his own pocket; and to
a considerable extent also controlled the quantities and prices of goods
available to the presidials. Personal power and the possibilities for eco-
nomic gain, then, were obvious lures, since it was pretty much expected
that a colonial official would recoup within a short time whatever funds
he had had to expend in order to obtain his post.
By 1765, in the waning years of Spanish power, most of the presidials
were mestizos and generally their training and equipment were defi-
cient. In the specific case of El Paso, for example, both 43-year-old Cap-
tain de la Fuente and 35-year-old Lieutenant Francisco Antonio Velarde
were Spanishborn. Ensign Jose Patricio Lucero, however, was a creole
(possibly a native of the El Paso area) who had worked up through the
ranks, serving ten years as a presidial soldier, three as a corporal, and
another ten as sergeant before being commissioned, in 1764, at the age
At this time there were fifty men stationed at the presidio, including
the captain, the lieutenant, the ensign (or second lieutenant), a sergeant,
spondencia con el teniente gobeinador ) capitin del Presidio del Pueblo del Paso del Norte,
dn. Pedro la Fuente" (Archivo General de la Naci6n, Mexico City, Provincias Internas,
Volume 102, Part I, 1752-1774; Hackett Transcripts, pp. 82-97, Archives, University of
Texas Library, Austin). The diary of Ensign Lucero's expedition is found in the same
volume of transcripts, pages 50-56. See also the certification of de la Fuente and others,
which is recorded on page 125. Later references to this volume of transcripts will be cited
as Hackett Transcripts.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980, periodical, 1979/1980; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101207/m1/304/: accessed May 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.