Juan Bautista De Anza's Expedition to the San Luis Valley in 1779
IN 1779 Teodoro de Croix, Commandant-General of the Provincias Internas, a large geographic area defining the northern frontier of New Spain, reviewed the deplorable situation in New Mexico in regard to increased raids by Comanche bands. Realizing that the Spanish military effort could not stop Comanche raiders, he reasoned that the best result would be a lessening of the raids through improved defenses and welltimed punitive expeditions against Comanches with Ute and Apache allies, their traditional enemies. That year, Juan Bautista de Anza was appointed governor of New Mexico. His primary objective at the time of his appointment was to establish communications between Santa Fe, Sonora, and California. Pacification of the Hopis was at the heart of Anza's mission, for the Hopis had long held Spanish progress in that area in abeyance. Anza's purpose in New Mexico, however, would take on a completely different direction as Comanche raids increased.
The choice of Anza as governor of New Mexico was excellent from the point of view of the colonial administration of the area--he was one of the ablest and most experienced frontier administrators of his time. Born in the summer of 1736 in Fronteras, Anza, of Basque origin, was reared on the frontier. He was not quite four years old when his father was killed in an Apache ambush. By the time he was a teenager, he had joined the garrison at Fronteras under the command of his brother-in- law Gabriel Antonio de Vildósola. In 1755, at age nineteen, he had been commissioned lieutenant. Four years later, Anza was promoted to captain of the presidio at Fronteras.208 Charismatic and inspiring, he soon