Malgares, Don Facundo.In 1806 the relations between the United States and Spain were somewhat strained, the latter country having opposed the cession of the province of Louisiana to the United States by France. When Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike was fitting out his expedition at St. Louis, Spanish emmissaries there managed to get word to the authorities in New Mexico, and a counter expedition was planned to prevent Pike from exploring the country and to make treaties of amity with certain Indian tribes. (See Pike's Expedition.)
The leadership of the Spanish expedition was given to Don Facundo Malgares, a native of Spain, a nephew of one of the royal judges of New Spain, and a man who had distinguished himself as a commander of Spanish forces in numerous encounters with hostile Indians. Malgares marched from Santa Fe with 100 regular dragoons and 500 mounted militia, under instructions to turn back Pike in case he should meet him, and in any event to make friendly treaties with the Indians, in order that their allegiance might be secured in case of a rupture between the United States and Spain. While on the march an incident occurred that showed the determined character of the commander. A petition, signed by 200 of the militia, was presented to Malgares, asking him to turn back. Malgares ordered a halt, had a gallows erected, separated the petitioners from the rest of his command, and then directed that the man who presented the petition should receive fifty lashes, the gallows standing ready to receive any man who grumbled at his order. Under this heroic treatment there was no more talk of turning back, and the expedition soon after divided, 240 men remaining in camp while Malgares with the remainder of his force went on to the Pawnee republic, in what is now Republic county, Kan., where he made a treaty with the Pawnees. The Spanish flags which Pike found there a little later had been presented to the Indians by Malgares, who failed to meet Pike, and in October returned to Santa Fe.
When Pike reached Santa Fe the governor there notified him that he and his men would have to he conducted to Chihuahua under a military escort, which Lieut. Malgares was selected to command. Notwithstanding the fact that Pike and his men were virtually prisoners of war, Malgares would not examine Pike's private papers, and refused to allow others to do so. Robinson, one of the men with Pike, in a letter to his superior, referred to Malgares as "a gentleman, a soldier, and one of the most gallant men you ever knew," and Pike himself expressed the hope that sometime he might have the opportunity of reciprocating the kindness shown him by Lieut. Malgares.Pages 212-213 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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