The Longest Site
In the first part of the 18th century, some Wichita
groups lived in thriving villages
along the Arkansas River in north-central Oklahoma and carried
on a lively trade with French trappers. However, by the mid-1700's,
it is thought that those people had migrated south to the Red River.
Wichita trade with the French continued with the French traveling
along the Red River from Louisiana. To the southwest, Spanish missionaries
had established a mission near modern-day Menard, Texas. A fort
under the direction of Diego Ortiz Parrilla was charged with protection
of the mission.
Responding to sporadic attacks on the Spanish fort
and mission by allied tribes from the North believed to be Wichita,
Comanche, and Tonkawa, Diego Ortiz Parrilla with a force of 500
marched from San Antonio to a Taovayas village on the Red River
in 1759. The Wichita warriors attacked and forced the Spanish and
their Apache allies to flee. The Spanish left behind two cannons
they had brought along but which proved to be ineffectual in the
deep sands of the south bank of the Red River.
Accounts of the battle and impressions of the Taovayas village
have been translated from the original Spanish documents. In a location
along the north side of the Red River, the Taovayas had built a
circular stockade protected by an earthen rampart and moat. According
to the Spanish, the stockade had underground tunnels in which people
sheltered during an attack. Round, grass-thatch houses made up the
Taovayas village outside the stockade. A Comanche camp of tall tipis
along with the village of another band of Wichita were reported
in the immediate area. The Wichita and their allies had many horses
and were well-armed. The Spanish reported extensive corn fields
near the villages.