Life on the Frontier
The Presidio
The Governor's House
A Military Outpost
Farming and Ranching
Religious Life
Domestic Life
Games and Entertainment
The King's Highway
Trade with the French
Trade with the Caddo
A Military Outpost
Initially, 100 soldiers were stationed at Los Adaes, and 31 of them had families. After 1729, 60 soldiers were at Los Adaes. The first soldiers were recruited from various towns north of Mexico City. The Marqués de Aguayo wanted men with families and sometimes recruited men out of jail, if their crimes were not serious. For most of the 18th century, presidio soldiers did not have matching equipment, even though the military regulations of 1729 stated that soldiers were to be dressed in uniforms of the same color. Buttons are the only evidence of military uniforms found at Los Adaes, and of the six military buttons found there, only one is Spanish—the rest are French. Several Spanish military buckles, probably from cartridge boxes, have been found. Very few weapon parts have been excavated at Los Adaes, but a few cannonballs, lead shot, and gun parts have been found. A concentration of gun parts just outside the northern presidio wall in an area of ash suggests a possible workshop where guns were repaired.
CannonballGunflintsRapier bladeMusket balls
The painting, on buffalo hide, shows Pawnee and Oto Indians─along with French soldiers─ fighting Spanish soldiers in 1720.
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Duties and Description of Soldiers
Regular duties for Los Adaes soldiers included guard duty at the various missions in the area, escort duty for travelers and convoys, tending the governor’s cattle and horses, maintenance of the presidio, and expeditions. The number of soldiers actually living at Los Adaes, therefore, varied throughout the year. On September 30, 1754, only 12 soldiers were present at Los Adaes, the rest were off on various duties. Four years earlier, the number of soldiers at the presidio on one occasion was only 6, with 15 guarding the horse herd, 7 assigned to the various missions in the area (Mission Dolores, Mission Guadalupe), 15 on escort duty, and 17 at the new settlement of San Javier in Texas. The soldiers at Los Adaes were paid more than any other soldiers on the northern frontier. This was because goods cost more at Los Adaes than at any other presidio on the northern frontier because of the distance that had to be traveled to deliver them. The French traveler Pierre Marie François de Pagès gave a detailed eyewitness description of the soldiers at Los Adaes when he visited there in 1767: “The half-savage Spaniards of this settlement are dressed in the most fantastic manner: a sort of under-waist coat and breeches with a seam, but pieced together with buttons of gold and silver, and commonly ornamented with lace, stockings made of skins, and shoes whose upper-leathers are cut into thongs, affording free access to the dirt and dust as well as to the air, compose their ordinary apparel. A large hood and short cloak, adorned round the neck with broad stripes of gold lace, seems to be considered as a full uniform, and is only worn on horseback. But in spite of all this finery, one often meets the Spaniard without either hat or shirt, while his sumptuous uniform, torn by the briars and thorns of the woods, hangs in a thousand tatters about his person. His heels are usually armed with a pair of enormous spurs about five or six inches in length. His armor consists in a [coat] of deer-skin, a carabine, and a long broad sword. Two little leather boxes placed before the saddle serve to hold provisions for his march. The carabine rests commonly in the stock, but is used as a pillar, during night, for a kind of tent, which is reared occasionally with the Spanish hood, in order to protect him from the rain. His saddle leathers, neatly dressed, and stamped with various ornamental designs, are garnished round the edges with trinkets of steel, which, like as many little bells, are kept perpetually ringing by the motion of the horse. The rider rests his feet in a couple of stirrups at least fifty pounds in weight, which are composed of four massy bars of iron arranged, in the form of a cross. . . . The bits of their bridles, which are of an oblong shape, and extremely well adapted to their purpose, have a strong resemblance to those in use among the Arabs, who, as every one knows, excel in the art of horsemanship above all other nations in the world. In fine, the half-savage Spaniard, with all this singular extravagance, is an excellent rider, and when completely equipped and mounted never failed to revive in my mind all the ideas of ancient chivalry” (Pagès, Pierre Marie François de. 1793. Travels Round the World, in the Years 1767, 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771. volumes 1–3. Second edition, cor. and enl. J. Murray, London, pages 55–56).
Suggested Reading
Naylor, Thomas H. and Charles W. Polzer, S.J., editors 1988 Pedro de Rivera and the Military Regulations for Northern New Spain, 1724-1729. A Documentary History of his Frontier Inspection and the Reglamento de 1729. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson.

Jackson, Jack (editor) 1995 Imaginary Kingdom. Texas as Seen by the Rivera and Rubí Military Expeditions, 1727 and 1767. Texas State Historical Association, Austin.