Captain Jose Miguel Arciniega Military Explorer/ Secret Agent/Emissary 1816-1820. Motioned video courtesy of Francisco Novoa (Chico)
This is a portrait of Captain Jose Miguel Arciniega, painted by David Baisden. Technology is great! Special thanks to Francisco Novoa (Chico), who enhanced the portrait then made an animation of the portrait of Captain Arciniega.
In the years of 1803-1820 the Spanish government was very suspicious of the
activities at the borders of the United States in light of the wars that had extended to almost two decades which is historically called the Anglo-American Invasion. Military explorers were commissioned by the Spanish Crown to secure the borders to stop Anglos and French settlers from entering New Spain. Anglos and Frenchmen had illegally squatted on New Spain’s soil and were trading rifles and ammunition to hostile Indians. The Indians were not in favor of their trading being stopped and retaliated against governmental officials, and native citizens Coahuila and Texas. Louisiana, particularly Natchitoches and New Orleans were the designated areas close to the mouth of the Trinity River and the Galveston Bay
where ships arrived with settlers. Among the settlers came pirates and criminals
on the run to escape from authorities of their native lands. It was also the time of the Mexican Revolutionary War. Mexican rebels were campaigning for help from
the filibusters (soldiers for hire) in the US to come to Coahuila and Texas to help
them in their revolution.
Miguel, his father Gregorio Arciniega, and his uncles Lieutenant Felipe Arciniega
were military men in the American-Anglo Invasion, a historical and monumental
time in Spanish/American History in Mexico.
Jose Miguel was ranked as a Captain in the Alamo De Parras' exploratory party. He was committed to go to Natchitoches and New Orleans and report back to the Spanish Government the activities of the Americans several times during 1816-1820. Captain Arciniega knew how to speak in English, French, and different dialects of the native Indians. He would collect newspaper clippings from the US. He also meets and gathers information from Spanish Consuls, Felipe Fatio and Felix Trudeaux who were stationed in the United States.
Captain Arciniega monitored the movements of General Lallemand of the French regime who was a threat to Spain and the US. Captain Arciniegalearned the territories from Louisiana all the way to Saltillo; approximately 1,000 miles. He traveled in the untamed wilderness to New Orleans then back to San Antonio where he had to take his reports and where his homestead was.
At that time, San Antonio was the capital city where the headquarters for the governmental leaders were. Nacogdoches was a detachment, to the Alamo. It was a dangerous time for Jose Miguel Arciniega and other many Tejano leaders.
Captain Arciniega and other Tejanos had to travel under very extreme weather conditions and without proper provisions to carry out their duties assigned to them. They endured many hardships in the winter months. It was very cold and rainy. The rivers were overflowing. Many times, they had to cross the rivers with their horses and their horses would die. There were sicknesses and a lack of medicine and food. In the summer, the temperature was extremely high, and the insects were atrocious. Texas was an untamed wilderness. It was not heavily populated, therefore, no place to take refuge. They had to protect the few inhabitants from the Indians that
would raid them and take the little they had.
Through extraneous hardships they
acquired great skills in military tactics; they were good horsemen, scouts,
hunters, and marksmen. Captain Arciniega worked many times as an emissary and risked his life to report hostile Indians such as the Comanche and Apache Indians in an effort to protect the people of Bexar. He also alerted Roman Musquiz of the cholera epidemic in New Orleans and suggested forming a Board of Health. His letter was forwarded to all the towns, and a Board of Health was made. Captain Arciniega aided Thomas Rusk in making sure the populace of Bexar was given medicine and posted soldiers at their home
so that no acts of crime were inflicted upon them while they were sick in bed. This monstrous epidemic plagued Texas and claimed thousands of lives.
Donna De Leon