The Anza Letters

Translated and edited by Phil Valdez Jr.


Lt. Colonel Juan Baptista de Anza
Courtesy of the City of Arispe, Sonora

Fifteen cartas written by Juan Baptista de Anza and addressed to the Captain Governor of Alta California, Fernando Javier de Rivera y Moncada provide an intriguing view of the Anza Expedition and Anza’s return journey. This exchange of letters began in the  area that we now know as Puerto Real San Carlos in  Riverside County, California and ended in the vicinity of the Rio de Santa Anna prior to Anza’s departure for his home base in Sonora, Nueva España. Now Mexico.

Translations of these fifteen cartas have been divided into five sections where readers can get a glimpse of the struggles and needs of the settlers hereto unknown such as: shoes, soap, blankets, underwear, the freezing temperatures that made the women weep, and the feud between these two giants of early California history.

In 1775, Alta California was garrisoned by a mere 268 Spanish subjects representing Spain’s interest in the new world. With Russians and British vying for ownership of what was once considered an island, the Spanish under Viceroy Antonio Bucareli y Ursua decided to populate California and thus the second of the two de Anza expeditions. In an effort to retain the flavor of Anza’s writing the spelling in Spanish has not been modernized.

The Expedition

The Juan Baptista de Anza colonizing expedition of 1775/1776 brought soldier settlers to augment the Presidio de Monterrey and establish the Presidio de San Francisco and Mission San Francisco de Asís. These pobladores were recruited by Captain Juan Baptista de Anza from the poverty ridden alcaldias of Sinaloa, Alamos, Culiacan, El Fuerte, and were assembled at el Real Presidio de San Miguel de Horcasitas in the province of Sonora, New Spain. Because of the gambling habits, the recruits were known to have, the government decided not to pay them in cash (the Anza cartas tell us otherwise) but to provide them with all the necessities to make the trek, and farther grant them land after the usual ten year time frame of service to the king. After many delays the expedition left el Real Presidio de San Miguel de Horcasitas on September 29, 1775 heading towards the northwest and west arriving in what is now Yuma, Arizona on November 15, 1775. Given assistance by the Yuma Chief, Salvador Palma, in crossing the Colorado River, they continued on their journey passing through the Borrego Springs area of California where they experienced the coldest winter ever recorded and where the third babe of the expedition was born on Christmas Eve.

After having been asked to participate with the pacification of the Indians in the San Diego area, Don Juan with about two thirds of the expedition (he had left one third behind in charge of Sgt. Grijalva) left Mission San Gabriel on February 5, 1776 and after passing through places like Griffith Park, La Laguna, the future city of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Mission San Antonio, the colonists arrived in Monterrey, Alta California on March 10, 1776. They had been on the road for about five and a half months. Monterrey’s population had increased to a little over 500 thus doubling the population of Alta California.

Having completed the remarkable journey, on April 14, 1776, Lt. Colonel Juan Baptista de Anza returned to Sonora. On June 17, 1776, the remaining 193 settler/soldiers who came from extreme poverty, with little or no education, laboring through mountain, desert, snow, and Indian presence, with their new leader, Lt. Josef Joaquín Moraga, a mestizo, went on to found what is now the City of San Francisco, Mission San Francisco de Asis, and on November 27, 1777, el Pueblo del Rio de  San José de Guadalupe. Thus providing the seed for what was to become the fifth largest economy in the world, the State of California.

Not bad for a group that consisted of 48 criollos, 92 mestizos, 47 mulatos, and 6 Native Americans.


The rocks that Father Font mentions in his diary. “From the highest point on follows a dry arroyo, for a short stretch and on coming to some large rocks one descends a gentle slope for a shorter distance to the flat where we halted.


The flat Puerto de San Carlos arroyo campsite
on December 26, 1775.


There is a commemorative monument placed at Dick Cary’s ranch to the left of the camping site and about a quarter of a mile distant.

The Cartas

While many books and articles have been written on both the 1774 exploratory and the 1775/76 colonizing expeditions, few readers have seen the cartas, that were exchanged during the second expedition between Lt. Colonel Juan Baptista de Anza and the Governor of the Californias Captain Fernando Javier de Rivera y Moncada. Other than what has been alluded to in both Anza’s and Font’s diaries, little had been known about them until now.

This exchange commenced on December 28, 1775 at el Puerto de San Carlos where the expedition had made camp and ended on May 3, 1776 when Anza was returning to Sonora. Even though this corresponding event had been a puzzling affair for me ever since my first glancing at the diaries several decades earlier, not much thought had been given to them until one evening while re-reading the diaries, as I often do, it all fell into place. If these letters had not been found under Anza’s correspondence where could they be? Then it hit me like a ton of adobe bricks, they must be under the Rivera y Moncada documents as they were directed to him and surely he must have kept them.

Armed with this information, my initial quest for answers took me to the Bancroft library and the uncovering of fifteen cartas under the Rivera y Moncada papers (Banc Mss C-A 368), which from all indications, have not been seen but by a few people. Certainly, they had never been translated, as I have never seen them in print, nor have scholars that have been polled. Somehow these valuable treasures, yet unseen but by a few, had been missed.  Now with their translation we can have a better understanding of what transpired between these two giants during those tumultuous times.

The first carta, written upon Anza’s arrival at Puerto de San Carlos, informs Captain Rivera y Moncada of the troops he is conducting (que condujo para) el Presidio de San Carlos de Monterrey and which he has furnished with clothing, arms, and other necessities granted by, the most Excellent Lord, the Viceroy. This statement corroborates the letter sent to Governor Rivera by Viceroy Bucareli dated January 02, 1775, informing him of the forthcoming expedition to augment el Presidio de Monterrey and to establish both el Presidio de San Francisco and Mission San Francisco de Asís. Anza continues to expand on how the settlers were provided with little more than three months wages at the onset, and that because they had been in service for eight months, their wages were all used up as well as their clothing. However, the wage statement does not agree with what el Gran Capitan tells the Viceroy on his letter dated November 17, 1774, when he says, “I think best to send them the articles of clothing, for to send their pay in cash will serve no purpose except to afford the opportunity for prodigality and gambling.”

He continues that because of the cold season that has been encountered, “la estacion tan cruda”, this was the coldest winter ever recorded in the Borrego Springs desert, they were truly in need of underwear for men, women, and children and asks that if it did not sound inconvenient, to send a provision to the rendezvous, si no pulssa imcombeniente les enbie al encuentro alguna provision de ropa interior que verdaderamente estan necessitados hombres, mujeres, y niños.

He says that among the families on the expedition is included the wife and children of a soldier named Duarte of that presidio [Monterrey], who had asked at the [Royal Mining] Camp of Los Alamos, which  as a favor, is transporting to the side of her husband, who, serves Your Honor. Entre las familias que llevo va agregada la mujer y hijos del soldado Duarte de esse Presidio quien me pidio des de el Real de los Alamos le hiciese el bien de conducirla a el lado de su marido a quien le server a Vuestra Merced.  Interestingly enough, this piece of historical information was not known to readers of the Anza and Font diaries until this finding. However, we do know that on Anza’s roster, ff75,75v,76,76v Archivo General de la Nacion, he says “that included among them is a woman and three children who has just arrived and is going to Monterrey to be with her husband.” Thanks to these precious documents we now know her husband’s name was Duarte. Anza closes the first carta by stating that he is sending notice so relief might be sent (if possible) in the form of cattle and whatever else is deemed appropriate,  darle esta noticia para que le embie, (si puede ser), socorro de bestias y lo demas que le paresca.

Captain Rivera y Moncada sadly recalled how he felt when he was handed Anza’s carta upon his arrival at Mission San Gabriel, when he states in his diary dated January 02, 1776, y despues de dejar seis bestias cansadas, llegue a las 11 de la noche a esta [mision] de San Gabriel, en donde me participio el Cabo de la escolta que se hallba cerca el teniente coronel don Juan Baptista de Anza, de quien me entrego carta. No la lei; que seguramente en la actualida no me halle para el caso.

He writes, “and after having left six tired animals [behind], I reached this [mission] of San Gabriel, where the corporal of the guard handed me a letter from Lt. Colonel Don Juan Baptista de Anza informing me that he was close by. I did not read it because, in actuality, I did not find myself up to it.”

It can be inferred that Rivera did not feel up to it because of the conditions at San Diego, with the killing of Father Jaime, a blacksmith (un herrero), a carpenter (un carpintero), and the burning of the Mission on November 07, 1775, word of which he received on December 13, 1775, and the reason why he was on his way to San Diego. He however, does not mention that with approximately 267 soldiers, he had been given the task to guard a country larger than Spain, that the Padres were after him to build more missions, with the soldiers being poorly armed, insufficiently provisioned, and often not paid, forcing him to advance them money of which he had little as he was never paid by the King.

Perhaps not being up to reading Anza’s letter can be explained for fear of more bad news. Here, is perhaps the greatest mistake Rivera ever makes in avoiding Anza’s letter. By not reacting with precision timing, it appears Rivera alienated the only man that could possibly help him at that juncture in time.

Anza’s carta number two, written at Puerto de San Carlos as well, tells of how the Viceroy for the second time put in his charge the task of conducting thirty soldiers with their respective families to reinforce those establishments under his [Rivera’s] charge.Suponiendo a Vuestra Merced noticias de la expedicion que segunda vez ha puesto a mi cargo el Excelentisimo Senor Virrey para conducer trienta soldados con sus respectivas familias al refuerzo de los establecimentos del mando de Vuestra Merced.

That since the departure of the expedition from el Real Presidio de Horcasitas at the end of
September, sickness and other occurrences had plagued them. Anza, however, does not mention the maladies. That his Excellency having foreseen these problems had left it up to him to arbitrarily stop at any of the establishments when necessary to secure help, las que previstas por su excelencia, dejo a mi arbitrio el salir a cualquiera de los establecimientos para poderme reparar en ellos.

Anza says that what he had stated previously was reason why he did not find himself at that presidio [Monterrey] under his Rivera’s charge, with no hope of seeing it until the last days of January and only if he receives at the smallest opportunity the help he is requesting from Your Honor. lo dicho anterior ha causado, el que hoy no me halle, en ese presidio de su cargo y sin esperanza de verificarlo ha fines de enero proximo, ocurrente si recibo al poco oportuno los auxilios que expressare a Vuestra Merced.

Anza continues to say that at mission [San Gabriel], he will leave the rest of the cattle after having taken the precise number for the maintenance of the troops and twenty destined for support of the new establishments, which could be reduced to a little more than 100 head even though there should be 200 or more. He says to the Commander and Father [Paterna] of this mission, “I am asking that they send to the rendezvous those horses which can be sent with the necessary provisions”. A este comandante y Padre Ministro de ella [Mision de San Gabriel], pido me envien al encuentro las caballerias que puedan
remitirme, y los viveres necesarios.

And finally, Anza ends letter two by inserting a postscript informing Rivera that he has forgotten to tell him that the troops were also lacking in soap and footwear, and that first thing at the missions, he will ask for and distribute the same.

Posdata:  Se me paso expresar a Vuestra Merced que tambien de lo que faltaba la Tropa es de jabon y calzado. Ahi el primero, en las misiones del Ejercito, lo pedire para socorrer les.

Anza’s carta number three is written after his arrival at Mission San Gabriel and dated February 20, 1776. Here, el Gran Capitan writes that he was unable to dispatch the pack train as they had agreed upon, because on the 14th of the month, a soldier by the name of Yepis had deserted along with three mule packer from the expedition and a servant belonging to the sergeant of the same. They had stolen tobacco, pinole, beads, chocolate, a musket of the guard, and other things of little value, which belonged to the soldiers. Also taken, which was more sensible, were twenty five saddle animals of the mission and guard. He says that even though the incident had been known since midnight, Lt. Moraga did not take pursuit until 10 o’clock of the next day.

y es el caso que el dia 14 del presente en que arribe a esta Mision, halle en el[ella] la ocurrencia de que la noche anterior se deserto el soldado Yepis de esta escolta (a quien tocaba estar de caballada) y tres marranos de mi expedicion y un serviente del Sargento de ella, los effectos que estavan a sus cargo como tabaco, pinol, abalorios, chocolate, una escopeta de la escolta, y otras cosas de poco monta, de los soldados mios, y lo que es mas sensible como vienti cinco bestias de la Mision y escolta. Aungue este suceso se supo a la media noche no pudo salir el Teniente Moraga hasta otro dia a las diez.

Here we have always known that Juan Pablo Grijalva was the only sergeant on the expedition. However, what was not known is that his servant was traveling with him. This servant could very well be the Claudio that Anza lists as being 21 years of age with Sergeant Grijalva and wife listed as being 33 and 31 respectively. Therefore, it is impossible for Claudio to be their son, as some historians have claimed. This statement has been corroborated by Edward T. Grijalva descendant of the famed Sergeant.

Here Rivera in his diary dated February 25, 1776 concurs with Anza’s report when his says “a soldier of the Mission [of San Gabriel] and four mosos (sirvientes) belonging to the expedition have deserted.” Anza informs Rivera, “I will advise Your Honor of all I have decided to do, so you will be aware of everything, and you will be able to take the appropriate measures”

Y a Vuestra Merced comunicarle aviso de todo lo que me ha parecido resolver para que de nada este ignorante, y segun ellos, tome por ahi las providencias que te convenga.

Anza’s says he will leave the next day for Monterrey with most of the individuals of the expedition, leaving twelve soldiers there with their families under the command of el Sargento [Grijalva]. The mission will remain guarded by the sergeant and five soldiers, and beyond that he is leaving three more to accompany Lieutenant Moraga as soon as he returns. That of the total provisions of corn and beans there is enough to last for twenty-three days which is the same amount that he is taking (llevo yo). Here, we get a glimpse of the expedition’s daily fare. El dia de manana salgo para Monterrey con los mas individuos de mi expedicion dejando en esta, dose soldados con sus familias a cargo del Sargento. Esta Mision queda resguardada con el sargento y cinco soldados, a mas de esos, tres para que acompanen al Teniente Moraga asi que se regrese. A cuyo total quedan comestibles de maiz y frijol para vienti tres dias cuya especie para el mismo
tiempo llevo yo.

Anza says that the expedition has been thrown off course because of the chase the lieutenant is making in pursuit of the deserters. That because of this reason, he is not sending any horses as they had planned.

However, in consideration of the situation they find themselves in, the guard will remain there. That he will be able to put in place as stated at the presidio [Monterrey], all of the requests that are contained in your last  letter.  Con el motivo de la seguida que hace el Teniente de los desertores nos emos desairado todos, y es el que causa el no remitir a Vuestra Merced (como aviamos quedado) algunos caballos. Pero en consideracion al desasio en graduo quedara esta escolta. En el mencionado presidio pondre en practica todos los encargos de Vuestra Merced contenidos en su ultima carta.

He continues, “the cattle has recuperated such that they will be able to continue to our destination, with the exception of a few, which he is leaving with the sergeant so that the calves will not suffer.”

El Ganado bacuno se ha establecido de modo que puede sequir para arriba a excepcion de unas pocas, que dejo a Sargento para no malograr las crias.

Anza closes carta number three by stating that it has also occurred to him to advise Your Honor [Rivera] that the corn furnished by the Reverend Father Paterna amounts to more than forty-nine fanegas and six almudes, stating tambien me ha parecido avisar a Vuestra Merced, que el maiz que has suministrado el Reverendo Padre Paterna hacien de a cuarenta i nueve fanegas y seis almudes.


This carta requests clothing..”alguna provision de Ropa


This carta points out some of the items they were carrying, such as: Tabaco, Pinol, Abalario, Chocolae, etc.


I had previously mentioned that the Anza colonizing expedition departed Mission San Gabriel on February the 21st 1776. On their way north the Anza route took the colonists through the Santa Barbara channel, where they camped by La Laguna, now San Barbara, and continued northward to camp in places such as Laguna Graciosa, which is now within Vandenberg Air Force Base, Mission San Luis Obispo, where Father Font speaks fondly of the mission neophytes, when he says that the Indian girls behaved like little Spaniards, and Mission San Antonio, where they joyfully celebrate their arrival before continuing to Monterrey.


Mission San Gabriel Arcangel


La Graciosa Campsite, February 29, 1776

Anza’s carta number four was written at Misión del Carmelo, as Anza calls Mission San Carlos Borromeo.  The carta was dated March 13, 1776, three days after his arrival at the Presidio of Monterrey, where Anza says “that on the 10th of this month [March] with all felicity I arrived (llegue) at the Presidio de Monterrey, in seventeen journeys without having any bad weather other than an incidental rain shower on the same day I arrived.” El día 10 del actual llegue con toda felicidad al  Presidio  de Monterrei en diez y siette jornadas sin haber tenido mas contra tiempo que una lluvia acaecida el mismo dia que llegue.  

Here, the Rivera y Moncada diary does not remain silent, when the Captain Commander, tells of what in his view is most important to him. He confirms the pressure he is under, in regards to the founding of San Francisco. He writes in his diary on March 30, 1776, ya tarde llegaron 8 soldados venidos de Monterrey.  Han conducido cartas del teniente coronel don Juan Baptista de Anza que con eficacia me insta sobre el establecimiento del fuerte de San Francisco. Deverdad que me ha apuesto en aprieto por el grave empeño de aquel asunto y no ser inferior en el que actualmente me hallo empleado entendiendo en la pacificación de estos Indios.

Rivera writes, “somewhat late, eight soldiers arrived from Monterrey. They carried letters from Lt. Colonel Don Juan Baptista de Anza, which with efficacy, he petitions over the establishing of the Fort of San Francisco. Truly he has put me in a bind, because of the great obligation of that matter, which is not inferior, to the one I find myself in of pacifying the Indians”. Anza continues, “immediately after ending our journey, (que lo ejecute), I gave the order and on the following day some new soldiers and their families began to surround us. However, because of that order they now understood that they would not be able to continue to their principal and ultimate destination, [San Francisco] as soon as they would have liked. This [delay] has given them great sorrow and disgust. I thought best to let Your Honor know that the end result is to proceed, at the proper time, which would be in the best service [interest] to the King, and also complies with that which is possible, as far as the orders and charges of His Excellency. To which end is the possession of the Presidio of San Francisco in which I will also participate. This will enable me to see it, and inform your Excellency that it is now occupied, (not with every one) [but] with the major part of the expedition.” Here the reader must remember that in carta number three Anza says “that at Misión San Gabriel, he is leaving twelve soldiers and their families behind in charge of Sergeant Grijalva.”

Immediatamente que lo ejecute di la providencia de que al siguiente día se fuese abarracando una nueva tropa y familias, pero como de esta providencia, y se están entendidos que no pasan tan pronto como desean, á su principal y ultimo destino, se les á originado gran pesar y disgusto. Me ha parecido participarlo á Vuestra Merced con el fin de que se les complazca haciendo al propio tiempo el major sevicio al Rey, y también cumpliendo en la parte que se pueda los estrechos ordenes y encargo de sus Excelencia á fin de tomar posesión del Puerto de San Francisco, en lo que yo también me regocijare, y mucho más pudiendo decir á mi vista á sus Excelencia, queda ya ocupado (quando no con toda) con la major parte de ella. Anza says “because in this way it can be verified, (without discussing at present the missions that need to accompany it). Therefore, I ask your Honor in both my name and that of the aforementioned expedition, being certain that with it, we will all have the relief that we long for, by seeing that the major part of our Superior orders, are being put into effect, which I offer Your Honor. (Because of what I havestated I have extended the time which is left before returning to Mexico). After my return of the first reconnaissance, that I am making of the stated port, I will proceed within five days and return if it’s convenient and conduct to its destination our mentioned troops that should be established there as agreed with Your Honor. (I have no doubt) that my so called influence will not be necessary. Surely with the zeal and activity of Lt. Josef Joaquín Moraga, I am certain that he is ready for this [endeavor] and other major activities. The individuals who are to accompany him have their own desire as well.” Porque así se
verifique (sin tratar en lo present de las misiones que le deben acompañar) se lo suplico á Vuestra Merced, en mi nombre, y de la pre dicha expedición estando cierto de que en ello, todos trendremos el consuelo que apetecemos, en ves en la mayor parte efectuadas las ordenes de nuestros Superioridad para lo que ofrezco á Vuestra Merced, (sin embargo de lo que le consta por mi dicho lo estrechado del tiempo que me queda para regresarme á México) el que después que me vuelva del primer reconociemiento que voy á hacer del mencionado Puerto, á que saldré dentro de cinco días bolveré si lo tiene por combeniente, ha conducer a su destino nuestra mencionada tropa, que allí deve establecerse, en lo que combiendo Vuestra Merced, (como no dudo) no será necesaria mi tal influencia, pues el celo, y actividad del Teniente Joséf Joaquín Moraga, me consta que es presto á este, y mayors intentos, y los individuos que le han de acompañar, poseén el propio ardor.

Anza describes, “our horses have arrived in reasonable [shape] and in making our calculations, Don Joséf Joaquín Moraga and I [believe] that the harnessed mules which we have conducted, will be sufficient to carry the provisions to the Port of San Francisco, not including those that will remain here. We agree that there is sufficient  [mules].” Nuestra caballerías han llegado mui razonables aquí, y haciendo nuestros cálculos Don Joséf Joaquín Moraga y yo, de que las mulas aparejadas que hemos conducido, habrá las suficientes para que también lo haga de víveres al Puerto de San Francisco, no obstante el atajo que ahí quedo, combenimos en que hay las suficientes. Anza explains, “the expedition carries, just in case, one crow bar, three axes, and the same amount of shovels, with the addition of the same and a little bit more, it will be sufficient to commence their buildings, with regard that it’s always best to build the flat roofs first. [Therefore], I would like to ask Your Honor to send the provision/help of a carpenter.” La expedición trahe por si una barra y tres hachas y tantas palas, con lo que ó poco más que se agregué tienen lo suficiente par ir comenzando sus fabricas, y respecto á que siempre será lo major que se hagan quanto antes de terrado, me parece decir a Vuestra Merced que mande la providencia de que el carpintero.

El Gran Capitan, closes carta number four in his customary manner by saying ……

Our Lord keep your Honor many years, Carmel Mission, March 13,1776,
Your most devoted and certain servant kisses the hand of Your Honor.

Here, Senor Anza, inserts a postscript and says, “I have certain information that the Father Ministers, destined for the Mission of San Francisco, have the spirit to leave on the first ships. If from now, until you arrive, we do not proceed, at least the forces should be in place, which I believe is what I going to put into effect, thus enabling me to prevent this charge (lance), which could end in bad results. And I do not doubt that is how some religious feel because of their anxiety in waiting for their destination for so long.”

Tengo noticias ciertas de que los padres ministros destinados á la Misión de San Francisco hacen animo de irse en los primeros barcos, si de aquí á su arribo no se procede al menos á la ubicación de fuerzas, en lo que me parecido imponer á abrir para que excuse este lance, que puede ser de malos resultados, y no lo dudo que así lo practiquen unos religiosos que ha tanto tiempo esperan este destino con ansia.


Mision del Carmelo circa 1770

Anza’s carta number five was written at Misión del Carmelo on March 13, 1776 as well. He writes, “in virtue of the requests of Your Honor, I sent the number of men that you have asked for on [February] the 8th. Even though, we could not execute the requests (los que) that Your Honor expressed, it was because we could not go. For the same reason, I have permitted Gerardo Peña, to be replaced by Casimiro Vartia, who is married.”  Here the expedition roster lists a Casimiro Varela, I have not been able to locate a Vartia. He continues, “the first one drives the horse-herd and does the will of Your Honor and is the [reason] why he is so well informed, in which view Your Honor can determine that which he thinks best.”

En virtud de los encargos de Vuestra Merced, le remito el numero de hombres que me pidió con fecha de 8 del pasado le remiti ese, y aunque no lo ejecutan los que Vuestra Merced me esspressa, es por motivo de que lo ai para que no puedan hir. Por la misma he licenciado á Gerardo Peña entrando en su lugar Casimiro Vartia casado. El primero conduce las caballerías en que hacia el arbitrio de Vuestra Merced, de que va inteligenciado; en cuya vista podrá Vuestra Merced determiner de ellas lo que mejor le parezca. Anza says, “Lt. José Joaquín Moraga has informed me of the [conversation] with Your Honor, after the chase of the deserters, and having turned them in to the Sergeant Commander at San Gabriel. They were (the four loiters that he left there in prison as well as the one he imprisoned after his return from San Diego). I sentenced them to work in the building of el Presidio and Mission of San Francisco for a period of time and without salary. In the meantime, His Excellency the Viceroy will render something else, as I will inform him of this matter.” El Teniente Don Joséf Joaquín Moraga, me ha dado parte de lo que ejecuto con Vuestra Merced, de la seguida que hizo de los desertores como de haber los entregados al Sargento Comandante en San Gabriel, a los que, (estos es á los cuarto haraganes que ahí dejo en prisión, y al que mando poner después de que se regresarsé de San Diego), condeno á que pasen á la frabrica del Fuerté y Misión de San Francisco, á ración, y sin sueldo, entre tanto dispone otra cosa el Excelentísimo Señor Virrey, a quien daré de este particular.

Anza explains, “over this matter [el] Moraga has written, that he has not received any judicial order.  However, he assures me that the verbiage of all, [the deserters] attest in expressing the above mentioned desertion. Therefore, I will proceed to tell Your Honor how I feel. If the case is argued to be true! it’s because he has sold some [items] repeatedly, and has hinted about the robbery to Corporal Carrillo as well. Some portion[s] of chocolate and aguardiante who the muleteer José Ignacio Amarillas was in charge of, is known, and referred to found them missing due to the robbery. In the form of punishing him for his infidelity, I took part in asking the soldier and the rest of the deserters, [about the case] and after having settled it by consent (en ello), when the time came to follow through, the stated Amarillas repented. With that view point and having made the spirit to [arrest] them, the five consented and were apprehended by the same official.”

Sobre el, no ha practicado ninguna providencia judicial, y por escrito dicho Teniente Moraga, pero me asegura que las vervales de todos, contestan en esspressar que la mencionada deserción dimano de lo que siento decir a Vuestra Merced, si el casso se averigua ciertto y es el que habiendo vendido reptidas veces y por su sugestión al robo, y al Cabo Carrillo, porción de chocolate y aguardiente, el arriero José Ignacio Amarillas, á cuio cargo  estaba lo referido y conociendo este, que se hallaba de echar menos su robo, como de catigarle yo su infidencia, tome el partido de combidar al soldado y de mas desertores y habiendo combenido en ello, al tiempo de ejecutarlo se arrepintió el pre dicho Amarillas. En cuia vista, y de tener hecho el animo para efectuarlo la consumaron los cinco que aprendió el mismo Oficial.

El Gran Capitan, closes carta number five by saying, “I inform Your Honor of all that has been referred to me, so that during your visit, you take or cause to take the declarations which will benefit the process of the soldiers, or the justification of one of them.”  Digo a Vuestra Merced, todo lo referido para que en su visita, thome ó mande thomar las declaraciones que combengan para el processo de los soldados, ó justificación de uno de el.


Mission San Luis Obispo where Anza camped on March 2 and 3, 1776

Carta number six was written at Misión del Carmelo as well, and Anza says, “even though we remember what we agreed upon at the Presidio of San Diego, we hope to see you at the Mission of San Gabriel by the 25th of the this month to finally discuss those matters which have been entrusted to us by His Excellency the Viceroy.
Towards the effect of the opposition of the contingency, if it is not possible to confirm our meeting, it appears to me to advise Your Honor, of the following matters, of which it will serve you to respond.”

Sin embargo de que según lo que accordamos en el Presidio de San Diego, espero nos veamos en la misión de San Gabriel para el 25, proximo ocurrente á fin de que nos acordemos sobre los asuntos que nos estan encomendados por el Exceltísimo Señor Virrey, a efecto de obviar todo contingente, por si no se pudiere verificar nuestra visita me ha parecido imponer á Vuestra Merced, en los particulares siguientes, á gue de todos modos se servirá contestarme.

Anza informs Rivera, “in virtue of the Superior Orders of His Excellency of January 2 and May the 24th of last year, and that of which [we] both also agreed in the matter of exploring the Port of San Francisco, and the immediate environs better suited for the establishment of the Fort and the Missions which should accompany it. By which inspection I found that the interior of the mentioned Port has not been explored, and in the widest part of its mouth (where I planted a cross) there is sufficient land for the establishment of the Fort, [Presidio] and benefits from a number of permanent springs close by, so we all thought. And at two leagues there is an abundance of green and dry wood from where an adequate supply for building the stockade and barracks can be found. Likewise, the best pastures of all this land are in the said interior of the Port. To the indicated principal site one can also conduct for about five or six leagues, morillos of pine
tree by mule for the formal buildings from the Cañada de San Andres (where I have been), the trip can be accomplished in three days by a good road, which is free of [without] sand dunes, which have been in transit [encountered] until today.”

En virtue de las Superiores Ordenes de su excellencia de los de Enero y veinticuarto de Maio del año próximo anterior, y de lo que también conbenimos entre ambos sobre este asumpto passé al essamen del Puerto de San Francisco, y parajes inmediatos mas proporcionados para el estableciemiento de su Fuerte, y las dos Misiones, que le deben acompañar. En cuia inspección halle que en lo mas interior del mencionado Puerto que no se había reconocido, y en lo mas estrecho de su boca (donde de deje plantada una cruz) hai proporción suficiente para la ubicación del Fuerte, pues logra de varias aguas muy inmediatas y permanantes según á todos nos pareció, y á hasta dos leguas con abundancia de leña verde y seca, de la que se puede sacar la palizada pressisa para estacadas, y barracas, como también mejores pastos que los de todos esos terrenos, todo en dicho interior del Puerto, á cuio sitio principal indicado también se puede conducer de cinco a seis leguas de la cañada de San Andres, (donde estuve) morillage de pino en mulas para fabricas mas formales. Cuio viage se podrá efectuar en tres días por buen camino, y libre de los medanos que han transitado hasta hora.

Anza continues, “in virtue of this and the principal objective of the expenses, which have been made and continue to be made for the occupation of the referred port, they [the colonists] aspire for its founding, so it can be guarded by the soldiers who are destined to go there. It’s my opinion that it should be occupied at the same place where I planted the cross and have advised Lt. Don Joséf Joachín Moraga so. It is not lacking (as we judged) the right amount of drinking water in such a circumstance. I will separate my sentiments so that it will be established by a lagoon of running water, which is one league from this first
site in the interior of the Port, [Mountain Lake] or by the Dolores spring which is also in the interior and known by the same officer. It being two leagues distance from the first site.”

En virtud de esto y de que el principal objecto de los gastos que se han hecho, y hacen para la ocupación del referido Puerto, aspiran a que se verifique en el propio, para que pueda ser guardado de la tropa que se le destina, es mi dictamen que quede de luego a luego ocupado en el mismo lugar en que dejo clavada la cruz, y ha visto el tiente Don Joséf Joaquín Moraga, no faltando (como juzgamos) el agua precisa para beber en cuia circumstancia separaré mi dictamen para que se ubique en una Laguna de Agua corriente que esta á una legua de este primer sitio, en lo interior del Puerto, ó en el ojo de agua de los Dolores, también interior, y sabido por el mismo Oficial, distante del primer sitio dos leguas.

Anza says, “in the last mentioned [statement] I surmise that water will not be lacking. As some of the crops that require watering could suffer, and farther in about half a league, there is a wide valley of good moisture. All these places run towards the coast of the estuary which direction is to the south and when all is not confirmed the fort should sit in the middle of both missions and at the least distance possible. I also gave orders so that in it, they establish the first mission, and the second in the Cañada de San Andres. Likewise, if the first is lacking in the precise requirements, it should be situated at the site of San
Pedro Regalado. Even though, I did not see it, [the site] I am assured that it fits the purpose, being immediate to the fort, and near the coast which is one of the distinguished features that His Excellency recommends.”

El ultimo mencionado en la suposición de no faltarle las aguas que tiene, puede sufrir alguna siembra de riego, y más interior á media legua, hay una hancha cañada de buena humedad, todos estos lugares van corriendo a la costa del estero que gira a sur y para que cuando no del todo se verifigue que el fuerte quede en medio de las misiones, y lo menos distante que pueda ser, también doy mi dictamen para que en él se funde la primera, y la segunda en la cañada de San Andrés, como igualmente si le faltan á la primer las porporciones precisas, que sea en el sitio de San Pedro Regalado, el que aunque no lo vi, me aseguran ser para casso el mas inmediatto al fuerte, y cerca de la costa que es una de las particularidades que recomienda su Excelencia. Anza writes, “I put your superior orders in effect, and did not deviate from the spirit of them in any substantial, [way] because the necessity did not obliged me to. In view of what I have seen of the land, I provide Your Honor with a report as ordered by His Excellency, and as I have stated at
the beginning, which will serve Your Honor to give me a response, so I can lay it against (acusso) those effects which could benefit me.”

Dice Anza, arreglado sus superiors órdenes, y sin separar me del espiritu de ellas en lo mas sustancial, sila necesidad no me ha precidado, en vista de lo que observado sobre el terreno, produzco á Vuestra Merced mi anterior dictamen como me ordena dicho Señor Excelentísimo de que como digo al principio, se sevirá Vuestra Merced, darme el correspondiente acusso para los effectos que me combengan.

Here Rivera y Moncada’s dairy dated April 13, 1776 says, Pase la noche sin observer minima novedad, y siguiendo camino mas agravado de mi dolar, casi arrepentido de no haber me quedado en San Luis, como a las 4 de la tarde encontre al sargento Gongora que me dijo iba para San Diego con carta para mi, del teniente coronel don Juan Bautista de Anza. Me la daba y le dije la guardara; no venia en estado de leer por el dolor y la cabeza aturdada.” I passed the night with minimum news and following the road, being aggravated by my pain, I almost repented not having stayed in San Luis [Mission San Luis Obispo]. At about 4 in the in the afternoon I met Sergeant Gongora who informed me that he was going to San Diego with a letter for me from Lt. Colonel Don Juan Baptista de Anza. As he was handing it to me I told him to save it, as I did not feel like reading it, due to my leg pain, giddy feeling (giddy-head), and perhaps a degree of temperature (fever).”

Clearly from the previous six cartas there is no doubt that Anza’s ultimate desire is to establish the Presidio of San Francisco, its two missions, and take care of his troops. While Moncada, in refusing to read his letters, continues to perpetuate the idea that he does not care. Here, I have addressed the Captain Governor, as Moncada, as does His Excellency Bucareli. He does, however, mention that he does not feel like reading them due to his pain. Further, his diary states that his pain is so bad that he is being helped in getting on and off his horse. Nonetheless, he concurs that the founding of San Francisco and its two
missions is just as important as his task of pacifying the Indians (no ser inferior). However, Moncada is beginning to recognize that he could be in deep trouble when he writes, Deverdad que me a puesto en aprieto. Meaning, Anza has put the squeeze on me, and if all that was not enough, Anza than tells him, “I will inform His Excellency of all these matters.” No doubt Anza is not only feeling superior in rank, but autocratic, and cavalier as well, as he rambles with remarks such as, “I can stop at any place I want to”
and continues with “I did not deviate from your orders because I did not have to”, [otherwise I would have] and lastly “I will inform His Excellency of all these matters.” Anza, in his frustration is beginning to practice the theory of my way or the highway. Not a good thing for these two giants of early California.


Lt. Colonel Juan Baptisa de Anza Statue is located in Hermosillo, Sonora.


Site where Anza and Moncada met.  Now a straberry field in Gondalez, Ca









Royal Chapel of Monterey

After having reconnoitered the San Francisco and East Bay areas for approximately two weeks, and leaving instructions with his able Lt., Don Joséf Joaquín Moraga, to establish the Presidio de San Francisco, where he had planted the cross, Anza was ready to depart for Sonora his home base.It was about noon time on April 14, 1776, when the settlers gathered around the Presidio plaza in Monterrey to say goodbye to the man who had lead them successfully to their new homeland, without any major difficulties, other than the death of Manuela Piñuelas de Feliz, after having given birth to a lusty baby boy. José Antonio Capistrano. Feliz went on to be on the rolls of Los Fundadores of Alta California.


Buena Vista school house, approximate location where Anza met Sgt. Gongoria, April 14, 1776


Santa Margaria, where the expedition camped on April 18, 1776







On the day of departure, Anza writes in his diary, “With very little improvement in my health, and after having concluded my tasks at two in the afternoon, I began my return march in the company of Father Fray Pedro Font, seven soldiers of my command, because two had gone to notify Commander Rivera and another had remained at Mission San Gabriel.” Here Father Font does not agree with Anza’s number of personnel when he says, “We set out from the Presidio of Monterey at two o’clock in the afternoon, and at six in the  afternoon we halted on the banks of the Monterrey River [the Salinas] at the place called Buenvista, having traveled six leagues [a league is approximately 2.56 miles]. The directions of this return journey are the opposite of those traveled in going, for we returned by the same route. The number of people in our party was twenty nine.”  Anza continues, “This day has been the saddest one experienced by this Presidio since its founding. For the people who I have led from their fatherland showered me with embraces, best wishes, and praises which  I do not merit. But in remembrance of them, and of the gratitude which I feel to all, and the affection which I have had for them ever since I recruited them, and in eulogy of their faithfulness, may I be permitted to record this praise of a people who, as time goes on, will be very useful to the monarchy in whose service they have voluntarily left their relatives and their fatherland, which is all they have to lose.” They were never to see El Gran Capitan again.

On his return march Anza followed the same route as his forward march, which was the one he had explored earlier, the 1774 Exploratory Expedition. He passed and camped at places such as Buena Vista and San Bernabe by the Salinas River. It was here, between these two camp sites, where the two giants of early California history briefly met, and now with their letters in hand we can accurately describe their encounter. Anza says, “About three leagues from Buena Vista, I saluted the commander and asked him about his health? To this he replied, I am having a pain in my leg, and after putting spurs to his mule, he
said goodbye.” Anza continues his southward march camping at Mission San Antonio, in the valley of Santa Margarita, and arriving at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa on April 19, 1776.

However, here is what the Rivera y Moncada’s diary, of April 14, 1776 says about the same encounter. De mañana marche en el mismo apuro de mi dolor. Me ayudaron subir a la bestia. De las diez a las nueve de la mañana encontré caminando al Teniente Coronel, lo cual senti mucho, pues no me traía caso otra cosa de San Diego a este Presidio que el que habláramos y tratáramos en asumpto del pueble [o] de San Francisco, pero por haberme cabido en suerte que fuese nuestro encuentro en ocasión que tanto adolecía, desde caballo nos saludamos y dimos la mano. Lo mismo repetimos a la despedida y seguimos nuestro camino: el de su viaje don Juan Bautista, y yo para este Presidio a donde llegué como a las cinco de la tarde.  Temprano por la noche me eché a la cama; me aplicaron una untura.  Rivera writes, “Early in the morning (de mañana) I was helped in getting on my animal, he says caballo and Anza says mula, and continued on my journey with the same [leg] pain. At about ten minutes to nine, on the road, I met the Lt. Colonel, of which I did not feel good, because I carried no news to this Presidio, other than the matters pertaining to the pueble [o]) de San Francisco. But having found myself in not the best of luck because we met during my illness [leg pain], from our horses we saluted each other and shook hands, we repeated the same on our parting, and continued in our directions. He, in the direction of his [southward] journey and mine towards this Presidio where I arrived at about five in the evening, where I went to bed early and an ointment was applied.”

Carta number seven was written at, Misión de San Luis, as Anza calls it, Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa  on April 21, 1776, two days after his arrival. Here Anza writes, “In response to the letter of Your Honor of the seventeenth of the present month, I say that even though I feel free of any responsibility in not responding to Your Honor because of the brief [conversation] on the day of our encounter.  Nonetheless, with respect to the Royal Service I will sacrifice to it, and with my condescending knowledge, I agree to solely answer Your Honor in writing on those matters that only pertain to the establishment of
the Port of San Francisco.” En contestación de la Vuestra Merced del 17 del presente, digo: que aungue me reconozco libre de toda responsabilidad, para no contester a Vuestra Merced por el paraje acahecido el dia de nuestro encuentro no obstante; en obsequio del Real Servico, me sacrificará a ello, y en intelligencia de mi condescendencia, combengo en contester con Vuestra Merced solamente por escrito en asumptos que únicamente cohincidan al establessimento del Puerto de San Francisco. Anza continues, “Tomorrow in the afternoon, I will depart for the Mission of San Gabriel where we can confirm that which I offer Your Honor, but if you are conducting business for the Royal Service, let me know so I will not proceed. I have responded to the letters of Your Honor dated 28th of March and 2nd of April of the present year, which I will hand your honor at an opportune time when your (asumpto) official business with the Royal Service and reply will not be interrupted. To which I respectfully agree.” Mañana por la tarde salgo para la Misión de San Gabriel en donde se verificará lo que ofrezco a Vuestra Merced, pero si conduciere al Real Servicio, me lo comunicará para detenerme. Tengo respondido a las cartas de Vuestra Merced de 28 de Marzo y 2 de Abril del presente año, que le entregaré en tiempo oportuno, y occasion que por su asumpto no se interrumpa el Real Servicio y contestación, a que combengo en obsequio de él. Lt. Colonel de Anza closes letter number seven by saying,

Nuestro Señor Guarde a Vuestra Merced Muchos Años, Misión de San Luis y Abril 21,1776
Beso La Mano de Vuestra Merced. Su Muy Seguro Servidor


Juan Bauptista de Anza, Rubrica

Carta number eight was written on April 29, 1776 at Misión de San Gabriel, as Anza calls Mission San Gabriel de Arcangel. He says “In response to Your Honor’s official communication of today’s date, I say that the news from Your Honor indicating that Lieutenant Don Francisco Ortega has been notified does lack foundation. I say this because I had heard it in a private conversation which was referred to me by the proper chain of command (propio modo) in Mexico, but not by His Excellency, nor any other commanding
chief [s], and so Your Honor can give the credit where it is deserved. But because, it was an official matter, it would have not passed by me to communicate it to Your Honor.” En contestación del oficio de Vuestra Merced de la fecha de este dia, digo: que la noticia que me indica participada al Teniente Don Francisco Ortega no carece [parece] de fundamento pues en conversación privada la produje yo diciendo que del propio modo se me referió en México pero no por su Excelencia ni otro jefe de los que mandan, y asi le puede Vuestra Merced dar el crédito que juzque: pues de haber sido de oficio no se me habria pasado el communicarsela á Vuestra Merced.

Anza continues, “To the second [paragraph] of your cited [letter], I say that I celebrate prior to the confirmation of (that of which you insinuate) the establishment of the Port of San Francisco. However, it flatters me not a little to be the bearer of the news that will be so appreciated by his Excellency. To which concept and for my part, have offered to contribute to its beginnings, and by the same token happily concur with the peons who are staying there to build it, which are the ones that Your Honor proposed I should take back.”  Al segundo de su citada digo que celebro ante todo el que se verifique (como me insinúa) el establecimiento del Puerto de San Francisco. Pues me lisonjea no poco el conducer esta noticia tan appreciable para su Excelencia. E cuyo concepto me había ofrecido á contribuir por mi parte a sus principios y por lo mismo convengo gustoso en que queden para su fabricas los peones que Vuestra Merced me proponía regresase.

Anza says “As to the third and fourth point of the same [letter], in the supposition of the reasons that Your Honor gave me for not proceeding with the establishment of the missions that need to be located in the immediate vicinity of the announced fort. For my part I agree with Your Honor’s line of thinking, believing that it will not delay the effect, but rather a prolonged time, will prove the value of it’s suspension when His Excellency sees the other side. The most essential (especial) of his [Excellency] superior orders has
been put into effect.”  Al tercero y cuarto de la misma citada en el supuesto de las causales que Vuestra Merced me expone para no proceder al establecimiento de las Missiones que deben ubicarse a inmediaciones del anunciado fuerte, convengo por me parte en el propio pensamiento de Vuestra Merced, pues creyendo no se retarde su effecto dilatado tiempo que apruebe esta suspensión su excelencia, que domine por otro lado, se ha dado principio a lo mas especial de sus superiors ordenes.

Anza continues, “I will respond to the other two adjoining letters of Your Honor by separate [mail] and will only add, that I hope that Your Honor will actually write to His Excellency today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, because that is what can strengthen me for that said end and help Your Honor with the proper method to govern.” A las otras dos adjuntas de Vuestra Merced, reponderé por separado y agui solo añadiré que dare espera para lo que á Vuestra Merced, se le ofrezca escirbir a su excellencia hoy, mañana, y pasado mañana, que es lo que puede esforzarme por solo dicho fin, lo que para el propio (modo) le servirá á Vuestra Merced de gobierno. Anza closes carta number eight with……..

Nuestro Señor Guarde Vuestra Merced Muchos Años San Gabriel y Abril 29 de 1776
Beso La Mano de Vuestra Merced Su Muy Seguro Servidor

Juan Baptista de Anza


First page of one of Anza’s letters

Carta number nine was written at Misión de San Gabriel on April 29, 1776 as well.  Anza writes, “In response to one of Your Honor’s [letters] of today’s date, I say to your first paragraph, that if sentiment has manifested, it has been from the time of our encounter and after having scarcely spoken (articulado) the first few words of common courtesy and good upbringing, Your Honor spurred your horse and rode off without giving me more time for that which I had asked for on that occasion”. En respuesta de una de las de Vuestra Merced de fecha de oi, digo a su primer capitula [o], que si me he manifestado sentido, hasido desde mismo punto en que quando se verifico nuestro encuentro, y que apenas havia acavado de articular las primeras palabras de urbanidad y buena crianza: pico Vuestra Merced a sus caballeria y se marcho sin darme tiempo mas para lo que le pedi en aquella occasion.  Anza continues “If I gave you any [reason] for this treatment in which I was less than patient, and if service to the king and to the orders of the Most Excellent Lord, the Viceroy, which this same gentleman ordered earlier, was to give the corresponding satisfaction, with which I am content. Indeed no other action would be sufficient. In the meantime this will confirm that it is Your Honor’s duty to govern. That I did not impede said duty and will
contribute that which I am able, is within my reach, and in all that pertains to the Royal Service. In particular to that of Your Honor, while believing in one and/or the other, I will sacrifice most happily”.  Si di, yo alguna [rason] para este tratamiento en que soi el menor paciente, y si el servicio del Rey, y órdenes del Excellentismo Señor Virrey, este mismo Señor impuesto de lo anterior hara dar la satisfaccion correspondiente que es con lo que yo me contento. Pues ninguna otra regulo sea suficiente y entre tanto esto se verifica, servirá a Vuestra Merced de govierno que lo dicho no impede aquelle deje yo de contribuir enque tanto alcanse, y pueda en todo lo que sea del Real Servicio, y el de Vuestra Merced en particular, creido de que en uno y otro me sacificaré mui gustosso.  “To the second paragraph, I have previously answered that which you omitted in this one. On the third [paragraph] of Your Honor’s letter, where you favor me with that which I had asked via the soldier Gallegos, I recognize your finer points for
which I have the greatest of appreciation, likewise that which pertain to the Sergeant Gongoria. I give Your Honor well deserved thanks. In response to the forth and final paragraph, I say that in the same case of the robbery and desertion which occurred here with the soldier and mule-packers, I have always observedthat the wages of such people satisfy the first. In whose attention Your Honor may do what is most convenient”. En contesstacion al quarto y ultimo, digo que en el mismo casso de rovo y decercion que consumaron aqui, soldado y harrieros siempre hé visto que de los sueldos de tales gentes se satisfaga lo primero en cuia atencion Vuestra Merced dispodrá lo que tenga por mas conbeniente.  Lt. Colonel De Anza closes carta number nine in his usual manner.

Our Lord keeps Your Honor many years. San Gabriel and April 29, 1776

Your most certain servant kisses the hand of Your Honor

What follows is the response by Captain Fernando de Rivera y Moncada to the three letters written by Anza on April 29, 1776. Of these three letters, one and two are letters eight and nine with letter three being number ten. All three were written at Mission San Gabriel. Very few people are aware of this letter and it can be found at the Archivo General de la Nacion, Historia de Mexico, segunda serie, vol.1, folios 293-293v, copiada por Hermenegildo Sal, amanuense de Rivera.

Carta de Rivera a Juan Bautista De Anza

Mui Señor Mio, Usted se sirba dispensarme, cerrando ya mis cartas para mandárselas a usted, al querer coser la diligencia de San Diego que se practicó sobre el indio refugiado, me ha faltado el pliego número primero que es mi presentación en lo pedí; por más diligencia que he echo, no he podido encontrarlo. Para que vuestra merced no se detenga, me precisa pasarle este aviso (considéreme como quedaré después de tanto travaxar, y lo mucho que necesito de que fusen dichos papeles, sabe Dios lo que de mí quiere) las cartas no pueden ir: hazían relación a la diligencia. Por no echar más fuego, esperando hablásemos, no contesté a lo que vuestra merced me dize en uno de los tres oficios de 29 de abril próximo passado, pero experimentando no fue possible conseguirlo, digo que de llegada el día de nuestro encuentro nos saludávamos, saludé en el modo que pude a los Reverendos Padres que acompañavan a usted y a don Mariano el proveedor, y dispués de que advertí no producia usted cosa alguna, secunda vez nos dimos la mano, y medio pique, no estanto yo de mi parte para nada . Dixe medio pique porque no llevava espuela en el pie del lado del dolor. Si el sentimiento de usted se originó porque no le hablé en los asumptos, esse mismo pudiera yo tener de usted aunque no tanto y con alqún motivo más, porque usted esta bueno, y yo enfermo; si porque avia recibido offcio de usted tambien, usted Lo avia recivido mio del mismo sargento mas reciente, y me dixo que le contestra el suio a México, y no mencionó el mío; si usted sirbe al soberano, yo también le sirvo y he serbido desde el año de 42, aunque nunca en grado de theniente coronel. Y igualmente observo las superiors órdenes del señor Excelentísmo Señor, don Juan, con igual rigor que el santo tribunal usa; pido se juzque esta mi causa.

Nuestro Señor guarde a usted, etcétera.
San Gabriel 3 de Mayo de 1776. Etc.
Fernando de Rivera y Moncada

[PD] Suplico se sirva usted noticiar al Señor Excelentismo de esta mi desgracia para que no estrañe su Excelencia la falta de mi carta.

Rivera writes, “My Dear Sir, You are served to excuse me as I am signing the letters which I am sending to you, wishing to solve the affair over the Indian given refuge in San Diego. I am missing the first sheet/page of my presentation in which I ask for it: Of all the diligence I have done, I have not been able to find it. So that Your Honor will not be detained, I am compelled to pass on this notice (considering how I will be like after lots of work and how much I need the said lost papers, God knows what he wants of me) the letters can not be sent due to their relationship to the affair. By not adding more fuel to the fire, I was hoping we would talk, [therefore] I did not respond to what Your Honor said in one of the three [letters] of April 29. But after searching it was not possible to find it. I say that on the arrival on the day of our encounter we saluted each other, I saluted the Reverend Fathers who accompanied you and Don Mariano, the purveyor, the best way I could, and after our greeting you did not say a thing. For the second time we shook hands
and I half spurred my mount not being in the mood for anything. I said half spurred because I did not have a spur on the foot on the side of the pain. If your sentiment originated because I did not speak to you on the affairs that same reasoning could be used against you, even though not much, but with a greater motive because you were in good health and I was feeling ill. And because I had received letters from you, as well as you had received mine from the same sergeant and much earlier. You told me to respond to you
in Mexico, and did not mention mine. If you serve His Excellency, I serve him as well, and have served him since [17]42, even though never in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. And likewise I observe the superior orders of His Excellency with the same rigor as that of the saint tribunal. I ask that my cause be judged”.

Post Script, “I ask that you give notice to His Excellency of my misfortune, so that he will not find the absence of my letter writing strange”.


Captain Rivera y Moncada, Rubrica

Captain Moncada’s signature has been extracted from a receipt [recibo], he and his correo extraordinario, Juan Bautista Valdez signed upon turning over the Presidio of Loreto in Baja California, as both had been chosen/appointed to join Gaspar de Portolá on the first entrada to Alta California. Captain Fernando Rivera y Moncada was at the helm, as second in command and Juan Bautista Valdez, was a soldado de cuera.

This recibo, a copy, I have in my possession and guard dearly.

As mentioned previously, carta number ten was the third letter written at Mission San Gabriel where Anza writes, “In response to the third [letter] of Your Honor dated today, I say that just about the time of my departure from Monterrey I was delivered, by the soldier Athanacio Vasquez, a paper which Your Honor had directed to me. After having only seen the signature, I informed him that if not for the condition I was in, I would have had him and all who accompany him to sign under a corresponding penalty. However, I did not ignore that the said petition was against orders and the better rules of conduct. Having said that, and after having spoken to Your Honor, I judge that you will not leave them without the necessary punishment. Therefore, with due respect he and the rest on the march should not ignore the orders.  Indeed, I not only read it to them, but imposed it upon them, prior to [recruiting them]. However, as to how I have proportioned [issued] the saddle mounts that have reached here, I have divided them without grievance if they [the settlers] lack the promised number, offered by His Excellency,  it is not because of lack of want in fulfilling the promise, as enough were purchased towards that end, but because some were lost in the service of all getting here, therefore, there is no reason to ask for more”.

En contestación de la tercera de Vuestra Merced del dia: digo: que a mi propartida de Monterrei  me presentó el soldado Athancio Vasquez el papel que Vuestra Merced me insinúa y habiéndole visto solo la firma le dije que si no me encontrara en el estado en que me hallba, le pondría a el y a todos los que le acompañaban á firmar en un castigo correspondiente: pues no ignoraba que tal petición era contra ordenanza y fuera se su regular conducto; por lo que, y habiéndola repetido a Vuestra Merced le estimaré no se quede sin el merecido castigo, respecto a que ni el, ni todos los que vienen ignoran la ordenanza: pues se las lei, e impuse en ella aún[que] antes de entrar al servicio. Como que aproporcion de las caballerias que hán llegado aqui, les he hecho el repartto si ningún agarvio, y que si no tienen cumplido el número que se les oferció por la superioridad, no hassido por que se les haia querido falter a otra promessa pues para el fin compré las suficientes: En servicio de todos sean perdido con que no tienen razón para pedir mas.

Anza continues, “To all the recruits in Monterey I left two horses and a mule, because Lt. Moraga assured me that what we had would be enough for all. I [also] granted them those
[animals] which had been in used by each one, because of having had the courage to arrive here. After having done this, I provided them with one more mule, leaving the remainder for the benefit of these lands and the establishment of the fort just in case Your Honor does not have the greater need to be present.  This being the proper thing to mention and likewise satisfies the first point in the second paragraph of Your Honor’s letter. In regards to the proposition that Your Honor makes in dividing the cattle, I agree in all that Your Honor suggests, thereby, having no doubt that his Excellency will approve it in light of the role he has appointed us to.”  Deosé á todos los reclutas en Monterrei á dos caballos y una mula por que me aseguró el Teniente Moraga que con los que había dejado aquí alcanzaría assí para todos y les concedi las que había ussado cada cual y lo mismo había hecho animo de praticar aquí, y después de ejecutado esto que se les diese una mula de mas; quedando las sobrantes a beneficio de los propios, ó del establecimiento del fuerte, en caso de no tener Vuestra Merced mayor necesidad a que atender, que es lo propio que ahora digo a Vuestra Merced y con lo que satisfago igualmente al primer punto del segundo capítulo de la de Vuestra Merced. En cuanto a la propuesta que Vuestra Merced me hace para el reparto del ganado, combengo con todo con lo mismo que Vuestra Merced me insinúa no dudanado lo apruebe Su Excelencia en vista del parte que sobre ello le demos.

“To the question of Your Honor, in the third paragraph, I respond that in my orders  and  instruction, I was not given anymore rules in regards to the pay of said troops than what I was initially told which ( is appropriate for Your Honor). The lieutenant will enjoy [earn] seven hundred pesos annually, the sergeant four hundred and fifty, and one peso per day for each soldier, to which effect and in view of the anticipation three months pay which I have confirmed. For future dates I was given a portion of money which when [we meet] I will inform Your Honor of said matter. In the fourth and last of your cited [letter] you impose upon me the care that must be present for the existence of these establishments if the necessary provisions do not arrive. However, I will take the responsibility that this affair will not be neglected due to the fortitude of His Excellency which in my view will not let go of its significance in case of some failure. For this purpose (even though at a considerable distance) help can be sought at the Colorado River, where from May to July there is an extreme abundance of wheat and from September to October corn and beans, which I inform Your Honor, because it appears to me [the Colorado River] is closer than Old California, when at another time, I believe help was sought in a likewise urgency”.
Ala pregunta que me hace Vuestra Merced en su tercer capitulo, respondo: que en mis órdenes é instrucciones no se me dan mas reglas en cuanto a la paga de tal tropa que en decírseme (creeré lo propio que a Vuestra Merced) esto es; que el teniente ha de gozar seteciantos pesos anuales: el sargento cuatrocientos y cincuenta, y un peso diario para cada soldado: á cuio efecto, y a luz [de] anticipación de tres meses de paga que les tengo verificadas, y aún [que] para mas tiempo, se me entregó en especie de dinero, que es cuanto puedo decir a Vuestra Merced sobre el particular. El cuarto y último de su misma citada [Vuestra Merced] me impone del cuidado que le asiste para la existencia de estos establecimientos si no vienen provisiones suficientes; pero me hago el cargo que no desatendera este propio asumpto la magnanimidad de Su Excelencia a quién a mi vista, no se le dejaré de significar por si acaeciese alguna fatalidad: en cuio lance (aunque considerablemente distante) se puede hacer algún recurso al Rio Colorado, donde de Maio a Julio abunda en extremo el trigo, y de Septiembre a Octubre, el maís y frijol lo que produzco a Vuestra Merced por pareceme estar mas próximo que la antigua California, donde otra vez creo se recurrió en tal urgencia.

Nuestro Señor Guarde a Vuestra Merced Muchos Años. San Gabriel y Abril 29 de 1776
Beso la Mano de Vuestra Merced Su Muy Seguro Servidor


First page of carta number ten


Carta number eleven was written at Mission San Gabriel where Anza writes, “For Your Honor’s better understanding of what has been seen at the Port of San Francisco and for its importance to the news you give His Excellency, along with the proper statement [of it] which I have written to Your Honor. I am including the attached map, which was drawn at  the stated port which I have seen. Be advised to return it. It does not have the corresponding notes, however, it will serve Your Honor as a guide. The consecutive
points indicate the journey which I made during the reconnaissance, and are indicated in alphabetical order. Where the letter F and a little cross [are drawn] is the narrowest part of the Port and  the site, which in my opinion, I marked for the founding of the Fort. Immediately behind and to the left of my mentioned site is where there is another small cross and where Your Honor located yours [site].” Para maior inteligencia de Vuestra Merced sovre lo que tiene visto en el Puerto de San Francisco como para lo que pueda importar a las noticias qusovre ello de a Su Excelencia con pressenccia del dictamen que sovre propio particular tengo esscrito a Vuestra Merced: le incluio el adjunto Plan, lebantado en dicho Puerto que visto, se servirá devolvérmelo. No tiene las notas que le corresponden; pero servirá á Vuestra Merced de govierno, que los puntos seguidos indican el viaje que yo hice a su reconocimiento: cuias jornadas estan señaladas por el orden del alfabetto. Donde está la F y una crucecita es lo mas estrecho del Puerto y el sitio, que por mi parte, señalo, para ubicacion del fuerte. Donde está una crucecita immediata á la anterior, y a la izquierda, es el donde Vuestra Merced colocó la suia de la enumpciada mia.

Anza continues, “Towards the interior of the port is where water, wood, and pastures are found and which I refer to Your Honor in my statement. From the letter F to S [marks] the mouth of the San Francisco River, although for me, and after what I saw, it is not a river but a lagoon which originates from the waters of the delta and from a sierra nevada (at a distance) and is the opposite of what has been said”. Here Anza eludes to the fact that prior to the 1776 colonizing expedition it was thought that the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers via the Carquinez Strait was one big river, e.g, Rio de San Francisco. However, it was during this reconnaissance that it was proved otherwise. Father Pedro Font, the meticulous chronicler, goes to a great extent to help prove it so. See Font’s Complete Dairy of the Second Anza Expedition, by Herbert Eugene Bolton.

Para lo interior del puerto es donde essisten las aguas, leña, y pastos que refiero a Vuestra Merced en mi dictamen. De la letra J. á S., es el desemboque del Rio de San Francisco aungue para mi, y lo que vi, no es tal rio; sino laguna que se origina de las aguas de los tulares,y de una sierra nevada (en esstremo) que esta opuesta á los dichos. El Gran Capitan, closes cartra number eleven in his usual manner.

Nuestro Señor Guarde a Vuestra Merced Muchos Años San Gabriel y Abril 30 1776
Beso la Mano de Vuestra Merced. Su Muy Seguro Servidor

Carta number twelve was written at Mission San Gabriel as well where Anza writes, “I have just received Your Honor’s official confirmation, which serves to support the resolve, to establish the port of San Francisco. In concern to this issue and that of your third paragraph, it appears to me to inform Your Honor, that I know it is not as agreeable to His Excellency to have the location of the mentioned fort where Your Honor has suggested to me as the one where I marked it with a cross and which I have indicated to Your
Honor. Indeed, in this way the Ports superiority will be confirmed without suffering the reputation like San Diego and other places. For this reason I feel that this is preferred over the other comforts desired for the troops. However, it is clear that it is not as bad to have their planting and other opportunities at a distance, where there will be no lack of an abundance of firewood and necessary water for their maintenance, which in order to enjoy them, the mouth of the Port will be left without a guard. In this it’s only last fault, they could go to the other side, which is not by the fort, and advantage can be taken for the establishment of the missions. With which the major part of our Superior’s prudent resolution can be put into practice.  Without this the troops, that are to be established at the fort, will not have where to plant their small gardens and thereby be frustrated. But for this purpose there is a lagoon half way between the fort and the mission, where when damming its flow at an opportune time, sufficient water can be had for all intended purposes. The other [statement] is simply to inform Your Honor of my feelings, so that I can absolve myself of all (de toda note) with regard to this establishment, thereby allowingYour Honor to solelydecide what appears best”.

Acabo de receibir el oficio de Vuestra Merced en que se sirve confirmarme la resolución del
establecimiento del Puerto de San Francisco: sovre cuio particular y lo que contiene de tercer capítulo, me ha parecido esspresar a Vuestra Merced en esta, que conozco no ha de ser de tanto agrado para Su Excelencia la situación del mencionado fuerte, donde Vuestra Merced me insinúa como en el que queda señalado con (una) cruz que tengo indicada á Vuestra Merced pues de este modo se verifica el total predominio de el. Sin que padezca la nota; y el que de San Diego, y otros:


First page of Anza’s carta number twelve

por cuia rasón soi de sentir. que esto es preferente, a las demás comodidades que se apetesen para la tropa: pues es claro que menos malo es que tengan sus siembras y otras proporciones halgo distantes: que el que para disfrutarlas, se quede si resguardo la boca del puerto en donde no les faltan la abundancia de leña y pressisa agua para su manutención. En cuia sola útima falta, se puede recurrir al otro sitio; que también no estando en el fuerte, se puede, aprovechar para el establecimiento de una de las missiones; con lo que en la maior parte se logra poner en práctica las prudentes resoluciones de nuestra superiordad sin que por esto se fruste el que la tropa que se establezca en el fuerte deje de tener en que hacer algunos huertesillos: pues para el efecto hai una laguna intermedia entre el fuerte y misión que atajándole su corriente en tiempo oportuno se recogera agua suficiente para maiores intentos. Lo otro es únicamente exponer á Vuestra Merced mi senir para libertarme de toda en cuanto a este establecimiento sovre lo que Vuestra Merced dispondrá lo que le parezca por si solo.


In regards to Captain Moncada’s official confirmation, to found the Presidio de San Francisco, here is what his diary says of the occasion. Carta, orden para San Francisco: Señor teniente don José Joaquín Moraga. Con esta fecha doy al sargento Grijalva la orden que con 15 soldados, 5 mozos arrieros, la recua, y demás remuda, con las pocas reses que hay en San Gabriel pertenecientes a San Francisco pase a Monterrey. Cuatro de los dichos mozos son Antonio, el cautivo, Ochoa, Otondo, y Claudio; el otro desertor, Juan Ignacio, el día antes que yo llegase a este Presidio[San Diego] despareció sin que haya sido posible adquirir noticia de él. El teniente coronel don Juan Bautista de Anza y yo hemos acordados por oficios se establezca el fuerte del Puerto de San Francisco en el lugar donde fijaron la Santa Cruz y respecto a estar yo aqui ocupado y tener parte de los soldados de Monterrey que se puede suspender la fundación de las Missiones; por lo en vista dispondria Vuestra Merced su marcha a dicho Puerto con el sargento, 20 soldados, los pobladores y los 5 mosos arriba dichos, a establceer el fuerte en el mismo lugar donde fijaron la Santa Cruz. Al instante que el tiempo me permita occasión, me aprovecharé de ella en pasar a dicho

He writes, “Letter, to San Francisco, Don José Joaquín Moraga. On this day [May 08, 1776], I have given orders to Sergeant Grijalva, that with 15 soldiers, 5 servant/muleteers, the mules, the horses, and the small amount of beeves that belong to San Francisco move forward to Monterrey. The four aforementioned servants are Antonio, the captured one, Ochoa, Otondo, and Claudio. The other one, is the deserter Juan Ignacio, who on the day before I reached the Presidio [of San Diego], disappeared without being able to get
any notice from. The Lieutenant Colonel Don Juan Baptista de Anza and I are in agreement, by official communication, to establish the fort of the Port of San Francisco at the place where the Holy Cross was placed. With respect of my occupation here, including some of the soldiers of Monterrey, it is possible [for you] to suspend the building of the missions. Indeed, in light of this, Your Honor can commence your march to the mentioned Port, with the sergeant, 20 soldiers, the settlers, and the five aforementioned servants, to establish the fort in the same area where the Holy Cross was placed. As time permits me I will take advantage of the occasion and go to the said Port.

Anza continues, “It also appears to me to inform Your Honor that the aforementioned establishment should not be discussed with soldiers of whom, by their class, prefer their interests and comforts directed by the service. For the time being such matters are commissioned to their officers. Because of the disparity between these [officers] and the former simple soldiers, we gain little, in discussing those matters in which they should not interfere. And yes there is an order against it. “That when a commanding officer consults with those of his class, he should give them the signal [inform them] that he is willing to entertain a variety of opinions, so as to prevent them from making it a thing of personal gain”, which can be said of a likewise consulting case [when dealing] with the (same) simple soldiers”.

También me parece decir á Vuestra Merced, que el mencionado establecimiento, no se debe conferir con los soldados quienes por lo regular prefieren su interés y comodidad al servicio: y por lo tanto tales asumptos se comisionan á sus oficiales; y habiendo de estos a los anteriores immensa distancia, es hacernos poco favor, en consultar con ellos asumptos en que no deben intervenir: y si hay ordenanza que previene; “que cuando un official que manda, consulta a los de su clase lo que el debe disponer, es señal de que con la variedad de pareceres, quiere embrollarlo para que no hacer de provecho”, que se dira en igual caso consultado con los (mismos) simples soldados.

“In regards to the fourth paragraph, I inform Your Honor that there is still time for the issuance of the cattle. But as I have stated in my previous [paragraph], I am satisfied that each soldier and settler be given a heifer, a steer, that can serve as an ox , and for everyone’s [use] the bulls as needed. In this way it gives them cattle for working and breeding, thereby avoiding resentments. I will satisfy your fifth [paragraph] by saying that the reference (that Your Honor suggests will be heard with disgust) in no way will harm the affairs that I have the honor to inform His Excellency and for him to know our agreements, for the good of these establishments, in which knowledge, I hope Your Honor will not mentioned this subject again. To the sixth and last [paragraph] I will say that Your Honor knows good and well that since the new order for the presidios, we have lacked the necessary Captains, with the power to license [promote] any soldier. This [empowerment] is reserved solely for the Inspector Commandant, with whom I offer to be of help, in that which Your Honor solicits for Pascual Bailon Rivera”.

Sobre el cuarto capítulo digo a Vuestra Merced que el reparto del Ganado supuesto tiene tiempo, se puede dejar para el: pues como tengo dicho en mi anterior en este asumpto soi conforme en que a cada soldado y poblador se le de una res, un novillo que le pueda sevir de buey, y para todos, los toros que se regulen necesarios: de cuyos modo se les da reses provechosas, y de procreo, con lo que se excusan sentimientos.  Al quinto satisfago con decir que la referencia (que Vuestra Merced supone se oiga con disgusto) en nada perjudicará a los asumptos de que yo tenga el honor de informar a Su Excelencia y que conozca convienen para el bien de estos establecimientos en cuia inteligencia estimaré a Vuestra Merced no se buelva á mencionar esta especie. Al sessto y último digo que bien sabra Vuestra Merced que de la nueva ordenanza de presidios carecemos todos los capitanes de ellos, de la facultad de licenciar á ningún soldado, lo que esta reservado únicamente al Inspector Comandante con quien ofrezco á Vuestra Merced interesarme por la que solicita para Pascual Bailón Rivera

Nuestro Señor Guarde a Vuestra Merced Muchos Años Micion de San Gabriel y Maio 1 de 1776
Beso la Mano de Vuestra Merced Su Muy Seguro Servidor

Juan Baptista de Anza


This document corroborates Anza’s statement about the lack of Captains.  From the Rivera y Moncada papers, Bancroft Library (Banc Mss C-A 368)

Carta number thirteen was written at Mission San Gabriel on May 02, 1776, prior to departing on his southward journey. By now Anza appears to have solved his problems with Commander Rivera in not being able to communicate in regards to the founding of the presidio and its missions.


He now writes, “My Dear Sir, Your Honor’s official communication of yesterday’s date, which you directed to me at ten o’clock last night, leaves me completely satisfied that you are in agreement with my suggestion concerning the establishment of the port of San Francisco. In this way, I recognize we can inform His Excellency. Indeed, there is no doubt that when confirmed [the presidio] will remain completely secure. In fact in can be defended with muskets and any [ship] can be observed in time. On the contrary any ship desiring to enter [the bay] will not be able to do so. With regards to the Dolores fountain or spring of water, it is situated (as I said in my first communication), two leagues from the mouth of the port and is so well hidden that until the [ship] is inside the port, the ship will not be seen entering nor the arrival towards it.”

Muchisimo Senor Mío,


Mountain Lake campsite, April 2, 1776

El oficio de Vuestra Merced de fechca de aier que me diregio a las diez dela noche me dessa
[deja] con toda satisfaccion por combenirse con mi dictamen sovre el establessimiento del Puerto de San Francisco. De cuio modo conosco que la daremos á Su Excellancia. Pues no hai duda que verificandose assi queda asegurado enteramente:  Pues á fucilassos se puede defender, y obcervar con tiempo á qualquier embarcacion, que se quiera introducer: lo que no se conseguia delo contrario. Attento a que en la Fuente, y ojo de agua de los Dolores, esta retirado, (como digo en primer dictamen) dos leguas de la Boca, y está tan oculta que hasta estar dentro del Puerto la embarcacion, no se obcervaria Su entrada, ni menos su venida á el.


Anza continues, “At the foot of the white cliff, where I placed the cross, I judge there are fairly deep springs from where water will not be lacking even in the driest of time.
Less than a quarter of a league towards the south, and where I had camped, is another good laguna [now called Mountain Lake] from which a good spring flows (como un buey). Corporal Robles saw one to the southwest during the past dry spell but [we] do not know whether it is running or not. And in about a league there is another one running and is the one which I have mentioned to Your Honor and a dam can be built with very little work. It has clear land which will provide for the cattle, and where gardens can be planted. Furthermore, there are two others in between this site and the fort, with others close by, however, even if well maintained, they will not be permanent.”

Al pie del Cantil blanco donde pusse la cruz, jusgo que en posos poco hondos; no puede faltar abundancia de agua buena en la maior seca. Amenos de un quarto de legua al sur, y donde yo estuve acampado, esta otra buena laguna de laque salia [como] un buey, y esta corriente, ó no, me disse el Cavo Robles vio aunque largo en la seca passada al sur este. Y á como una legua esta otra que tambien corrie, y es la que tengo oho [dicho] á Vuestra Merced. Se puede atajar con mui poco trabajo, y con solo tierra, para que sirva á los ganados, y para hacer algunas huertas. Amas de ellos hai otras dos intermedias ala propia, y al Fuerte como tambien otros veneercitos, vien que regulo no serán permanentes.

In mentioning the water supply Anza says, “In such circumstances, of which I do not judge, the necessary water for the fort will not be lacking as I have stated. It would be sensible and noble to not establish it at a place where it was not thought of, [thereby], resulting in higher costs. In view of these grave and important considerations and so that use can be made of these great advantages, a few trivial faults, can be tolerated. However, the necessary maintenance of the troops is essential anywhere the King sends them. [Therefore], for the greatest security, of all indicated, it seems conducive to me that before Your Honor gives orders to Lieutenant Moraga, so that in the proper way, he should go re-work (for the primary needs of the establishment) the referred waterholes (aguas). There is no doubt that if you hurry you will avail yourself (consiga) of him, to the contrary, he will free you from the attention the situation may require and perhaps frustrate the intent [which is] so important to the service of the King and the security of his dominions.”

En tales circumstancias; y la deque no jusgo que falte como hé oho (dicho), la agua pressisa al Fuerte.  Heria [seriá] sencible, y notable no se establesieve donde consiga el fin para lo que es creado; y resuelto áesspensas de tantos gastos: en cuias graves é [y] importantes consideraciones, y por conseguir tan altas ventajas, se pueden tolerar algunas leves faltas: pues la esscencial dela manutencion pressisa para la Tropa, la cuenta esta segura donde quiera que el Rey la destine. Para maior seguridad de todo lo indicado, me parce será conduccente el que quanto antes dirissa [dirija] Vuestra Merced ordenes al Theniente Moraga para que del propio modo, passe á retancar (por primera providencia del establessimiento) las aguas referidas: pues no dudo que hiendo pronto lo consiga, y con ello [el] se liverte del cuidado que lo contrario puede caussar, y tal vez fustrar este intento tan interessante al servicio del Rey, y seguidad assu dominios.

Nuestro Señor Guarde á Vuestra Merced Muchos Años, San Gabriel y Maio 2 de 1776
Beso la Mano de Vuestra Merced Su Mui Seguro Servidor

Carta number fourteen was written after his arrival in the vicinity of the Rio de Santa Anna and Anza writes, “In response to the second paragraph of the [letter] of Your Honor dated on this date, I say that even though I do not have as many years in serving the king as you informed me in your letter, from the time I had the honor of starting this present assignment I have pride myself in what is the most proper (like all your servants should do) and which is dictated by the learned. Never have I mixed my personal affairs with those of official business, as Your Honor has done in his years of service and experience. Because of what I am going to say in this [letter] it is not official (and yes you may present it anywhere you like). In one of my letters of the 29th of last month, if Your Honor has not yet burned it, I asked that you do not touch (toque) the subject, so that it does not interrupt our communications pertaining to the service, also excuse the delivery of my considerations to your statements of the twenty-eighth of March and the second of April of the present year. I was intending to keep them but now that the occasion arises I will include them because what is in them infers what was suspected previously. Your schemes are discovered and confirm the present situation (which has already been foreseen). This act being so honorable for Your Honor not to let His Excellency know in a letter and only remembering this unequalled Superior Officer and Commander in the Kingdom in a postscript. Likewise, this act affirms Your Honor’s highly exaggerated years, experiences, and like faults, which on the contrary, are like deceptions to those who understand them.”

Muchismo Señor Mío,
En contesstaccion del segundo capitulo dela de Vuestra Merced de fecha de este dia digo: que aunque no tengo tantos años de servir al Rey como Vuestra Merced me dice en la misa: desde que tube el honor de comenzar la carrera propia; procuré el instruhirme enlo mas comun: (como es devido á todo sirviente Suio) en cuia inteligencia nunca hé mesclado mis asumptos particulares, con los de oficio; como Vuesta Merced lo essecuta con Sus años de servicio, y essperiencia; por loque le dire en esta: que no es de oficio ( y si para que la pressente donde guste) que si Vuestra Merced por no hechar fuego a una de mis tres cartas de 27 del passado, enque lepido no se toque este asumpto; yo por que no se interrumpiese nuestra comunicasion. en lo perteneciente al servicio, tambien escuse,el entregarle mi respuesta a sus mistas de Veinte, y ocho de Marzo y dos de Abril del presente año, las que havia hecho animo deguedar me con ellas; pero á hora que da ocassion selas incluyo, para que de Su contenido infiera lo anteceden que estan descubiertas Sus massimas, las que confirma la pressente ocacion (que ya tambien se havia barruntado) con el hecho tan honrrosso para Vuestra Merced como es no dirissirle [en] una cartta a Su Excellencia , y solo acordarse de este sin igual Superior y Jefe en el Reyno, en una posdata: Cuio hecho igualmente acreditan los años y esperiencias de Vuestra Merced tan decantadas como fallidas, por mas que comprehenda lo contrario.

Here Anza appears to be chastising the Captain Commander when he says, “It will not be easy to excuse yourself from the way you acted at our encounter, which you also credit to your years of service, but I do not know how since they are not reflected in your actions. I am an officer of higher rank,who has completed most of the commission, in which I have been sent and will continue between now and when my statement will be received. My greetings were not properly completed when Your Honor kicked your mule (with or without a spur which does not enter the case) and after the great rudeness of [you]
marching off claiming that I implored, interrupted, or detained you. For your greater satisfaction Your Honor wishes to attribute it to the effects of your sickness. You did not mention it in your previous letter which is proper but very ordinary. I have had the honor of having ascended [to his present rank], not by the echelon of a simple soldier, but [because of my] communicated with officials of distinguished and illustrious classes and although in minor capacity I discern the treatment of one and the other. For it does not take much, after the said dispute, to excuse oneself from concurring with Your Honor. For it would be to excuse the worst in which, without a doubt, Your Honor would be the loser.”
Here Anza eludes to the fact that Captain Rivera, as Captain Commander of Alta California, was his superior in California, even though of a lower rank.

No le será facil desculparse del hecho de nuestro encuentro, en que tambien acreditto Su años de
servicio; que no se como no hán reflessado, que siendo yo official de maior grado, teniendo ya compuida [concluida] la mas de mi comicion aque hé sido embiado: pues ya en esta ocassion, hasta mi dictamen havia recivido; no bien haverle acabado de saludar quando le picó á Su mula, (con espuela, ó sin ella, que esto no viene al casso) y marcharse Vuestra Merced pretende que yo le ruegué, rompa, ó le detenga, despues de esta grave impolitica: Por mas de que Vuestra Merced quiera atribuhirla á efecto de su enfermeda; no queda si no en la anterior que le es propio, y mui comun. Hé tenido el honor de haver acendido, (no por el escalon de simple soldado), y comunicar con oficiales De distinguidas y Ylustres clases; y assi aungue de cortto alcanse se dicermir el trato, de unos a otros: Conque no es mucho que despues del lanze referido, escusase concurrir con Vuestra Merced para escusar los peores, enque sin duda Vuestra Merced seriá el perdido.

Anza continues, “You also tell me that you follow superior orders the same as I do. Although, Your Honor takes the opportunity to tell me you never held my rank. However, if you would listen to others who do not affirm Your Honor the contrary will be confirmed. As for me I say that I have known and do know since I read your letters of March and April that those whom I brought here will have to remain disappointed after having been directed to the important Port and Missions of San Francisco. Heaven would desire if in my
wisdom, I had not been in such a hurry to put the plan into effect, that I should turn my back on it, and that I should not defer for more time like that which you lured me into, with the scare at San Diego, where the Indians were not armed, were without leadership at all tiimes (although Your Honor feared them so) and were asking for peace, and that by the incomparable compassion of our Sovereign, has been granted with less judgment to others, who with more skill, have been unfaithful and apostates of the church and religion, and of whom he is justly flattered to be your main defender.”

Tambien me dice, que igualmente que lo obcerva las Ordenes Superiores aungue nunca en mi grado, tomese Vuestra Merced tiempo para decirlo: pues si se olle, á otro que no sea a Vuestra Merced lo contrario se verificara; y por mi se decir que hé conosido y conosco, desde que lei Su cartas sitadas de Marzo y Abril hubieran quedado fustradas las que le hé condusido, y antes se le dirissieron para el Importante Puerto y miciones de San Francisco si Yo con mi inutlidad no hubiera apurado tanto por Su efecto: quiera el Cielo que ya que boltes la espalda, no lo difiera para mas largo tiempo que elque me tiene insinuado con el espantajo de San Diego, quando los Indios desarmados, ni direccion en ningun tiempo (aque tanto temé Vuestra Merced) estan pidiendo la paz, que la incomparable Piedad de nuestro Soverano, se las há concedido con menos justancias á otros, que con mas conocimiento le han sido Ynfidentes y Apostatas á la Iglecia, y Religion de quien se lisongea justamente será Su maior Defensor.

Nuestro Señor Guarde á Vuestra Merced Muchos Años Ynmediaciones del Rio
Anna, y Maio 3, de 1776 Beso la Mano de Vuestra Merced Su Mui Seguro Servidor

The final carta (number fifteen) was written in the vicinity of the Santa Anna River as well, where Anza says, “At six thirty in the evening of this day, I have received Your Honor’s letter dated the same day,which was delivered by Corporal Carrillo. [This letter] leaves me to understand the motive behind why you did not send me any correspondence for His Excellency and expect me to inform this gentleman of the same, (as you charge me in your postscript). I will execute it with a lot of apprehension, even though I am not the one who has committed this remarkable error. Indeed, I have provided Your Honor with enough time to write (and much more with what I sent yesterday morning with Sergeant Grijalva). You have not been lacking in any time to inform His Excellency of what is proper, which you charge me by means of a letter. We are not taking any [letters from you] to His Excellency. *Nor do I have any thing official (in regards to the said Most Excellent Lord and my honor) and could carry a loose one (una suelta) which could accompany mine addressed to the Father Guardian of San Fernando in Mexico which is attached.” *This statement is not in concert with what Anza says in prior letters, where he informs Rivera that he will tell all.

A las seis, y media de la tarde de este dia, hé resivido la [carta] de Vuestra Merced de fecha del mismo, que me entrego el Cavo Carrillo, por laque quedo entendido del motivo que le acompaña para no dirigirme ninguna carta para Su Excelencia y deimponer á este Señor del mismo: (como me encarga en Su posdata) lo que ejecutaré con bastante somorrojo mio, sin embargo deque no soi Yo el que cometo, tan remarcable herror: pues al menos con el tiempo que hé dado á Vuestra Merced para escrivirle (y mucho mas con lo que le embié ádecir aier mañana con el Sargento Grijalva) no le faltava [tiempo] para decirle lo propio, que ámi me encarga por medio de una cartta. No llebanos [llevamos] ninguna para Su Excelencia tampoco tengo por conducent al respecto de oho [dicho] Señor Exelentisimo y mi honor) conducer una suelta que acompañara la mia para el Padre Guardian de San Fernando de Mexico, que es adjunta.

Nuestro Señor Guarde á Vuestra Merced Muchos Años, Ynmediaciones del Rio de Santa Anna,
y Maio 3, de 1776 Beso la Mano de Vuestra Merced Su Mui Seguro Servidor

Colonel Anza’s visit to California was short and little did he know that from that small seed was to grow the fifth largest economy in the world. Did I say little did he know? Somehow I bet he knew. On May 13,1776, el Gran Capitan, with his faithful companion, the meticulous Padre Pedro Font, on their journey back to Sonora, crossed the Colorado River and with this crossing passed one of the most historical, but forgotten figures of the state of California.


Hoja de Servicio del Coronel Juan Baptista de Anza al fin de 1783



Translation of Hoja de Servicio (Record of Service) Coronel Juan Baptista de Anza, 1783

While, numerous articles have been written about Juan Baptista de Anza, little is known about don Fernando, other than his Military Governorship of Alta California from May 25, 1774 through February 3, 1777. When he says in his diary, “Monterrey y mayo 25 de 1774, en este dia tomé posesión de mi empleo por mi antecesor don Pedro Fages, de capitán comandante de estos establecimientos por su Majestad“, and the well remembered frightful day on the Colorado River, of July 18, 1781.


Born about 1725, in or near Compostela, en La Nueva España, he received the baptismal name of Fernando Javier. He frequently refers to the fact that he became a soldier in 1742, serving his Majesty among the Indians. His career was to be that of a soldier for the rest of his life.

His military career began in Baja California in 1742. When the captain of the Presidio of Loreto, Bernardo Rodriquez Lorenzo, died in 1750, he was appointed Captain Commander of the Presidio of Loreto and the entire peninsula (1751). A royal decree from Madrid, dated September 11, 1752, confirms the Viceroy’s request for Rivera’s appointment as captain, the equivalent of military governor of Baja California.

At about the same time he was appointed captain of the Loreto Presidio (1750), he married Doña Maria Teresa Davalos y Patrón. Their marriage was blessed with one daughter Isabel, and three sons, Juan Bautista, Jose Nicolas Maria, and Luis Gonzaga Francisco Javier Maria. The only daughter, Isabel, died at a young age, while attending the Colegio of San Diego, in the City of Guadalajara, shortly after he left to take command of Alta California. The oldest boy, Juan Bautista, followed an ecclesiastical career, and with help from his brother, Ambrosio Miguel de Rivera y Moncada, chaplain of the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Gudalupe in Guadalajara, after his ordination became the parish priest of the church in the town of La Madalena, near Guadalajara.

The Rivera y Moncada family remained together until the latter part of 1773, when he was appointed military governor of Alta California and at that time were living on a small farm near Guadalajara. When Rivera set out for Monterrey, his brother Ambrosio generously shouldered the maintenance of the entire family, sending Isabel to the Colegio of San Diego in Guadalajara, and the oldest son, Juan Bautista, to the diocesan seminary in the same city, and probably educating the two other boys as well.

With the Russian threat to the security of Alta California and it not yet settled by any Europeans, Spain decided on assuring its possession in that area to the north, by sending a four prong expedition, two by land and two by sea. The first entrada was commanded by Rivera y Moncada with his 27 soldados de cuera, in which Juan Bautista Valdez was a was a soldado de cuera, followed by the better known Gaspar de Portolá who was the expedition’s Commander in Chief and in which group included the Father President
Junipero Serra.

Capitan don Fernando Javier de Rivera y Moncada.

On July 14, 1769 Portolá, Rivera, Fages, Constansó, Valdez, 27 leatherjacket soldiers, six volunteers of Cataluña, seven muleteers, fifteen Lower California Indians, Father Crespi, Francisco Gomez, and perhaps a Paje, Father Crespi’s Indian servant, set out from San Diego reaching Monterrey on October 1, 1769.

They failed to recognize that port and continued to the San Francisco bay area, where they realized their mistake and set out on there return trek reaching San Diego on January 24,1770. Here the ship, San Antonio, laden with supplies pulled into port, San Diego was saved, and the explorers proceeded north for the second time and established Monterrey on June 3, 1770.


Father Garces statue at Mission Puerto de la Purisima Concepcion, Yuma, Az

In 1780, the Viceroy tagged Rivera to recruit soldier/settlers for what was to become the cities of Los Angeles and San Barbara. It was during this expedition, after having arrived at the Colorado River, in July of 1781, and after having sent the soldier/settlers forward to California, that the Quechans revolted and killed most of the men including Rivera, Father Garces, and took the women and children prisoners. On October 18, 1781, Lt.Colonel Pedro Fages says, Se reconozio el sitio donde mataron al capitan Rivera con algunos que le acompañavan, cuyos cuerpos ya se havien consumido; pero no se dejo de conozer el del difuntto Moncada por la quebradura que tenia el en la espinilla de una pierna.



Mission La Purisima de la Concepcion on the Colorado River.

“We identified the site where Captain Rivera [y Moncada] and some of his companions were murdered.  Their bodies were now decomposed, but that of Moncada was unmistakenably identified by the broken shin bone in one of his legs.”

Colonel Fages buried the Captain in a Christian burial on the south bank of the Colorado River in what is now Yuma Arizona. On Oct. 19, 1781, the Lt. Colonel says, Este dia mande recoger, los huessos del difuntto Capitan Rivera y Moncada los que se enterraron. Today I ordered that the bones of the deceased Captain Rivera y Moncada be gathered and they were interred.


From my exploration the site faces the granite pilar and is across from the Saint Thomas IndianSchool or La Purísima Concepción on the south bank of the river.

En las palabras  propias del Capitán:

El año de 1751 me honró el excelentísimo señor Conde de Revillagigedo con el bastón de capitán comandante de la California. Hallábame yo en la edad de 26 a 27 años y aunque acompañado de los brios naturals de hombre mozo, *[mestizo] logré la felicidad de gobernar aquella provincia toda a satisfaccion de los excelentísimos señores Virreyes, lo que probaría con sus cartas. Confundeme igualmente que habiendo obtenido el bastón en la edad dicha y gobernado aquella tierra en paz y quietud, sucedió que el año de 1768 entró el gobernador don Gaspar de Portolá al Presidio de Loreto y héchose cargo del gobierno y disciplina en que encontró a los soldados, no experimenté que en desaprobación me reprendiese con una sola palabra.

Mes [Mas] después entro el ilustrísimo señor visitador general don Jose de Galvez, y no mereciéndole reprensión minima, antes bien le debí sobrado favor en aprobación para lo que puede sevir que, habiéndosele ofrecido el empeño de estos descubrimientos, me mandó a ellos lleno de honra, confiriéndome facultades de las que en la actualidad en uso residían en su Ilustrísima; me la confirió igualmente para que, segun las cosas tuviera presente pudiera variar en algunas de sus instrucciones.

Después de haberme retirado y asentado en uno de los rincones de la Nueva Galicia merecí últimamente que el excelentísimo señor Virrey me mandase de comandante a estos establecimientos, en donde he obrado y ejecutado lo major y más conveniente que he considerado y después de todo y en edad madura he padecido la desgracia en ser desaprobado mi.


This endeavor required the help and input of many, therefore, I will like to acknowledge Californio descendant Gregorio Bernal Smestad, Ph.D, Vladimir Guerrero, Ph.D, Donald T. Garate, Chief of Interpretation at Tumacacori National Historical Park, José Pantoja, City Historian, City of San José, California and last but not least, Californio descendant Mary T. Ayers, [Josef Manuel Valenzuela] for her help in the transliteration of carta number one written at Puerto Real San Carlos or campsite number 55 in what is now Anza, California.

Margaret Wellman Jaenke of the Hamilton Museum in Anza, California for her help in opening the doors at Puerto de San Carlos and driving me to the ridge that Anza mentions on his diary. Jason Taylor, Head Golf Professional, for driving me to the Santa Anna River crossing where Anza crossed on December 31, 1775 and again on May 03 1776, located within the Jurupa Hills Country Club, which his family owns.

Danita M. Rodriquez, Supervising State Park Ranger, for her help at Gaviota Beach where the expedition went through, and Chuck Lyons, Public Relations Director, for his help at Mission San Gabriel de Arcangel. To all many thanks.

Sources: The main source for this endeavor were the fifteen cartas written by Lt. Colonel Juan Baptista de Anza and addressed to the Military Commander of Alta California Captain Fernando Javier de Rivera y Moncada.

Augmented by:  Anza’s California Expeditions, the Five Volumes, by Herbert Eugene Bolton, 1928

The Anza Trail and the Settling of California, by Vladimir Guerrero, Ph.D. Heyday Books, 2006

Diario Del Capitan Comandante Fernando Javier de Rivera y Moncada transliterated by Ernest J. Burris. S. J., Ediciones Jose Porrua Turanzas, Madrid, España

José Velásquez, Saga of a Borderland Soldier, by Ronald L. Ives, 1984

A History of California, The Spanish Period, by Charles E. Chapman, 1921

On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer, The Garces Diary, 1775/76 by Elliott Coues, 1900

The Colorado River Campaign, 1781-1782, Diary of Pedro Fages, Herbert Ingram Priestley 1928

Anza and the Northwest Frontier of New Spain, by J.N. Bowman & R. F. Heizer, 1964

*Mestizo – Fernando Javier de Rivera y Moncada, Spanish Bluecoats, Sanchez, Joseph P. University of New Mexico 1990.

*Mestizo- Nuttall, Donald A. Pedro Fages and the Advance of the Northern Frontier of New Spain, 1767-1782 pages 168- 169. Ph.D diss. University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Ca.

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