The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968 Page: 482
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
In its westward advance from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi
River, the English colonial frontier generally moved forward in an
unbroken line of settlement. On the other hand, the northward
movement of the Spanish frontier from central Mexico was very dif-
ferent, for the Spaniards advanced in three main spearheads, one
following the eastern coastal plain, another up the West coast, and a
third onto the Central Plateau. As it moved northward, the latter
spearhead forked, one prong continuing northward into New Mexi-
co, the other going eastward to Saltillo and on into Texas. By the early
eighteenth century the Despoblado was well delimited by the towns,
ranches, presidios, and missions which rimmed it, but it had not been
penetrated by settlement. The area was too inhospitable. In 1678 a
governor of Nueva Vizcaya wrote of the Despoblado:
In all their [the enemy's] land there is no river, arroyo, or spring that
is perennial; neither do they have towns nor do they plant crops, and,
as far as I observed on two occasions when I have passed through part
of the region, there are neither birds nor animals."
In the mid-eighteenth century an experienced frontier military man
wrote a similar description:
The gulf or pocket [the Despoblado] ... contains steep places, dry
places, few waterholes, and great distances. . . For this reason it cannot
be inhabited nor populated by rational Christians.'
As they advanced, therefore, the Spaniards flowed around the Des-
poblado, leaving the great empty region to the Indians who could
eke out an existence by hunting and raiding settlements and ranches.
When Spanish colonization reached the edge of the Despoblado
in the seventeenth century, the Tobosos occupied its heart. They
were a nomadic and warlike people, who though not numerous,
developed a highly mobile type of warfare, called by Hubert H. Ban-
croft the "beginning of the typical Apache warfare of later years.""
The Tobosos, who by the seventeenth century already used horses,
8"The licenciado Don Lope de Sierra Osorio, oidor of the royal Audiencia of Mexico,
former governor and captain-general of the kingdom of Nueva Vizcaya, informs your
Majesty of the state of affair of that kingdom," September 26, 1678, in Charles Wilson
Hackett (ed.), Historical Documents Relating to New Mexico, Nueva Vizcaya, and
Approaches thereto, to 773 (3 vols.; Washington, 1923-1937), II, 213-215.
'Captain Jos6 de Berroterin, "Informe acerca de los presidios de la Nueva Vizcaya,"
April 17, 1748, in Documentos para la historia de Mexico (21 vols.; Mexico, 1853-1857),
Second Series, I, 213.
6Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of the North Mexican States and Texas (2 vols.; San
Francisco, 1884), I, 348-349.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 71, July 1967 - April, 1968, periodical, 1968; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117145/m1/546/: accessed May 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.