Presidio Nuestra Senora De Loreto De La Bahia - Establishment On The San Antonio River

Establishment On The San Antonio River

In 1747, the Spanish government sent José de Escandón to inspect the northern frontier of the North American colonies. Escandón assigned La Bahia's captain, Joaquín Prudencio de Orobio y Basterra, to evaluate South Texas. On reading Orobio's report, Escandón recommended that La Bahia be moved from its Guadalupe River location to the banks of the San Antonio River, so that it would be more capable of assisting settlements along the Rio Grande. Both the presidio and the mission likely moved in October 1749. Escandón proposed that 25 Mexican families be relocated near the presidio to form a civilian settlement but was unable to find enough willing settlers.

In February 1750, the new presidio was under the command of Captain Manuel Ramírez de la Piszena. Piszena had personally paid for a stone house to be built for himself, and the 50 soldiers in the garrison lived either in a large barracks or in one of 40 temporary wood homes that had been built for those with families. A chapel had also been built for the presidio. The presidio was fortified with six 8-lb cannon. Soldiers alternated guard duty at the presidio and the mission; others were assigned to guard the presidio horses or to protect supply trains coming from the Rio Grande or San Antonio de Béxar from attacks by Lipan Apache raiding parties.

With the conclusion of the Seven Years War in 1767, France ceded Louisiana, and French claims to Texas, to Spain. With France no longer a threat to Spain's North American interests, the Spanish monarchy commissioned the Marquis de Rubi to inspect all of the presidios on the northern frontier of New Spain and make recommendations for the future. Rubi recommended that several presidios be closed, but that La Bahia be kept and rebuilt in stone. La Bahia was soon ""the only Spanish fortress for the entire Gulf Coast from the mouth of the Rio Grande to the Mississippi River". The presidio now sat at the heart of several major trade and military routes. It quickly became one of the three most important areas in Texas, alongside Béxar and Nacogdoches. A civil settlement, now known as Goliad soon developed near the presidio. By 1804 the settlement had one of only two schools in Texas.

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