The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 623
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improving the status of military preparedness, a cardinal objective of
the inspection was to determine firsthand which defensive activities
could be eliminated so as to reduce the burden of public expenditures.
Promoted to the rank of general by Viceroy Casafuerte, just prior to
the start of the expedition so that no presidial commander would ques-
tion his exhalted authority, Rivera carried out the assignment with ex-
emplary attitude and diligence. Given the extent of the itinerary, the
time devoted to the inspection (three years, six months, and twenty-
eight days), and the expansive terrain over which they journeyed
(nearly 7,000 miles), his reports are all the more remarkable because of
the data he and his traveling companions compiled and packed se-
curely as they traversed deserts, mountains, rivers, and forests. Always
cognizant of the need to prune the budget wherever possible, the gen-
eral's description of Presidio San Antonio de Bexar and its environs
was indicative of this tendency: "The garrison of this presidio consists
of a Captain and fifty-three soldiers. It has been decided to eliminate
ten of this number, leaving forty-three, including the subalterns, which
are enough for its duties. Included in these are the soldiers who were
on guard duty in the missions. Since the missions are so close to this
presidio, its officer should take care to visit them so that the Indians
there continue to pay close attention to the requests of the missionary
fathers" (p. 250).
As a reference point by which to evaluate Spain's military posture in
the borderlands, Rivera used the 1719 Reglamento for the garrison of
Habana, Cuba, adjusting or revising its provisions to fit the reality of
terrestrial defense. The outcome of Rivera's recommendations was the
promulgation of the Reglamento of 1729 by which the Bourbon reform-
ers endeavored to infuse military units with a sense of uniformity and
In contrast to Rivera, but no less complementary, Lt. Jose Cortes of
the Royal Corps of Engineers served in the borderlands under the
aegis of another prominent guideline, the Reglamento of 1772, which
created the Commandancy General of the Interior Provinces as a sepa-
rate administrative component for frontier defense. Assigned mostly to
Chihuahua, headquarters of the commandant general, the lieutenant,
motivated perhaps by a desire to win advancement in rank, compiled
an encyclopedia report in 1799 for the attention of superior officials.
Astutely consulting documents prepared by early Hispanic frontiers-
men, filed in the archives in Chihuahua, the young officer drafted a
compendium of notes on a variety of topics. Later in the comfort of
metropolitan Mexico City, with access to other archival sources, Cortes
wrote an erudite essay on conditions in the northern interior provinces
of New Spain. Based on his experience and knowledge of the frontier,
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101214/m1/701/: accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.