At the Edge of an Empire
The Spanish Frontier
French Louisiana
The Caddo
From Mission to Capital
From Mission to Capital
A Spanish expedition went to northeastern New Spain in 1716 to establish missions and forts (presidios). At the request of the Adaes Indians, Father Margil built the first Los Adaes mission. It was San Miguel de Linares de los Adaes, named for St. Michael, the archangel, and the Duke of Linares, the Viceroy of New Spain. French soldiers from Natchitoches attacked the first Los Adaes mission in 1719, forcing its closing. Two years later, Spain built a new mission in another location less than two miles east of the earlier one. A presidio was also built, and it served as the capital of the Province of Texas from 1729 to 1770. The presidio was called Nuestra Señora del Pilar de los Adaes. Today, the name Los Adaes refers to both the mission and the presidio.
1720 architect's plan for the presidio at Los AdaesWrought iron nails
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The Chicken War
In 1719, France and Spain were at war in Europe, so relations between French and Spanish colonists became more hostile. The French colonial soldiers in Louisiana were ordered to attack the Spanish at Pensacola. A French lieutenant and six soldiers from Fort St. Jean Baptiste (Natchitoches) also decided to attack the Adaes mission. The priest and one soldier were visiting another mission, leaving only one lay brother and one soldier at Mission Los Adaes. The soldier was asleep and was easily captured, but the mission’s chickens made such noise that the French officer was thrown from his horse. The lay brother escaped, so the French lieutenant took the Spanish soldier and the chickens, and returned with them to Natchitoches. Historians refer to this event as the “Chicken War.” Even though the attack was hardly a major military event, it had great importance. Fearing that French troops were about to invade New Spain, the Marqués de Aguayo, a wealthy landowner in northern New Spain, took action to protect his land. In 1720, he spent much of his own money to finance an expedition to establish more forts in the Province of Texas. The presidio at Los Adaes was one of these.
Suggested Reading
Foster, William C., editor 1998 The La Salle Expedition to Texas. The Journal of Henri Joutel, 1684-1687. Texas State Historical Association, Austin.

Lemée, Patricia R. 1998 “Tíos and Tantes: Familial and Political Relationships of Natchitoches and the Spanish Colonial Frontier,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 101(3):341-350