Our final article on the Coronado Expedition identifies the personnel from the expedition who visited Texas. The objective of this article is to identify as many of the officers, soldiers, and other members of the expedition who set foot in Texas in 1541 as possible. In some cases, we know with certainty that the people listed visited Texas, but in many cases, we can only figure that they probably did or may have. People who were known members of the Coronado Expedition, but who definitely did not visit Texas, however, are not included in this article's scope.
This article assumes that the reader is generally familiar with the Coronado Expedition. It uses information about the expedition's route and timeline presented in our previous articles. Readers are encouraged to refer to those articles if they find it difficult to follow this one. Readers who are not very familiar with the Coronado Expedition at all may wish to look at our overview of the expedition first.
One of the few references in the historical sources that gives a sense of the expedition's size is a comment by Castañeda that "1,000 horses and 500 of our cows and more than 5,000 rams and ewes and more than 1,500 friendly Indians and servants" crossed the plains east of Cicuye.1 Castañeda, rather oddly (in our view), does not estimate the size of Coronado's army in this passage, but a number between 300 and 400 seems reasonable. This would mean that the part of the expedition that crossed into Texas consisted of close to 2,000 people. The number of those people who have been identified in historical documents, however, is less than 400. As with our other articles on the Coronado Expedition, then, this personnel roster is in no way complete, but is the product of a historical exercise which attempts to extract as much data as we can out of the available documents.
The sources for this article are different than those used in our previous articles. The narrative accounts of the Coronado Expedition, such as those written by Coronado, Castañeda, and Jaramillo, help us to learn where the expedition went, when it was there, what it did, and why. They provide little help, however, in telling us who went on it. They focus on the movements of Coronado and his captains, making only passing mentions of a few of the common soldiers, and even fewer of the native allies, clergy, women, and slaves. Building a personnel roster, then, requires consulting a much larger set of documents than these few narrative accounts.
The single largest source of names of Coronado Expedition personnel is a document known as the "muster roll." On February 22, 1540, just before setting out on his long march to the north, General Coronado made an inspection of his troops in Compostela, New Galicia. This was a formal occasion and was accorded the seriousness and ceremony consistent with it. The officials who were on hand to witness this inspection included Antonio de Mendoza, viceroy of New Spain; Cristóbal de Oñate, the lieutenant governor of the province of New Galicia; and Gonzalo de Salazar and Peralméndez Cherinos, two treasury officials from New Spain.
The muster roll was compiled by Coronado's scribe, Juan de Cuevas, who dated it February 27. It gives the names of the 288 men-at-arms present, including the general and Cuevas himself. It also notes the number of horses each man brought, along with the number and type of weapons and pieces of armor he had. Cuevas's document is in the General Archive of the Indies in Seville. It was first translated to English and published by Professor Arthur S. Aiton of the University of Michigan in 1939.
The muster roll is far from being an exhaustive list of people who went on the Coronado Expedition. As Cuevas himself notes, the muster taken in Compostela on February 22 did not include a sizable advance force that had already departed from Culiacan, nor did it include many men who were on their way from Mexico City and had not yet arrived. Cuevas estimates there were "two hundred and thirty odd" such uncounted men. Another serious defect of the muster roll, for our purposes, is that it only includes the soldiers, omitting all clergy, personal attendants, slaves, native allies, and other non-combatants. Richard Flint and Shirley Cushing Flint theorize that it also deliberately omitted the names of several men who were established residents (vecinos) of New Spain and New Galicia because of complaints brought by Marquis Hernán Cortés that Mendoza and Coronado were leaving too few able-bodied Spanish men in the country to defend against native uprisings. Flint and Flint write that the muster roll omitted "at least three-fourths of the expedition members."
Despite its incompleteness, the muster roll does allow us to make a few generalizations about the expedition personnel. For example, out of the 288 men included in the muster roll, at least 189 are known to have survived the expedition, and only 7 are known to have died on it. While we cannot assume a similar survival rate for the 173 men-at-arms for whom we have insufficient information - one of the most likely reasons for there to be a lack of information about someone is because he died - it is safe to say that Coronado brought a sizable army back with him, and that his losses in personnel were not nearly as high as some of his contemporaries, such as Narváez and De Soto.
There are numerous other sources besides the muster roll from which expedition members' names can be gleaned. Castañeda and Jaramillo give a few. Antonio de Espejo, who led an expedition to New Mexico in 1583, gives a few more names in his report. More names can be pulled out of legal documents. These include applications for government aid by expedition survivors, who brought fellow expeditionaries to testify for them to verify their claims of service to the crown. Expeditionaries are listed as witnesses in other formal proceedings, such as the inquiries into charges of cruelty that were brought against General Coronado, Captain López de Cárdenas, and others. Expeditionaries' names appear in wills and probate proceedings. In fact, the third-largest source of names, after the muster roll and Castañeda, is a set of documents dealing with the will of a soldier named Juan Jiménez, who died before the expedition returned to New Galicia. These documents record the names of 36 people who went on the expedition, including 6 who are not mentioned in any other source. More names were preserved by early historians of Spanish North America, such as Friar Antonio Tello, who had access to source materials that are now lost.
The most exhaustive work done on compiling a list or data base of Coronado Expedition personnel has been done by historians Richard Flint and Shirley Cushing Flint. In 2012, the Flints published Documents of the Coronado Expedition, 1539-1542, a volume containing 34 documents of the Coronado Expedition. Appendix 3 of this volume lists 370 soldiers, friars, women, children, native allies, slaves, and others who participated in it. Even this list severely undercounts the friendly Indians of New Spain and New Galicia, who may have numbered around 1,000 to 1,500, and it certainly also undercounts the slaves, wives, and other groups.
Since the publication of Documents of the Coronado Expedition, 1539-1542, the Flints have continued their research and uncovered more than a dozen additional names of expedition members. Some of these can be found in an online database named "A Most Splendid Company."
If our goal was to compile a list of known Coronado Expedition personnel, all we would have to do is refer to Appendix 3 of the Documents of the Coronado Expedition, 1539-1542. Our interest in identifying the members of the expedition who visited Texas introduces a new variable, however. There were three companies or parties of the expedition who did not go to Texas: a naval party, led by Captain Hernando de Alarcón, that sailed up the Gulf of California and the mouth of the Colorado River; a company that was posted at "Hearts" (Corazones), led by Melchior Díaz and Diego de Alcaraz; and a company led by Captain Don Pedro de Tovar that did not join the main army until after it had already concluded the part of the expedition that visited Texas. In addition, there were individuals who were sent back to New Galicia or New Spain because of injuries, to deliver messages, or for other reasons. And, of course, there are those who died before the expedition reached Texas, either from conflicts with natives, accidents, or natural causes. Castañeda and the other authors tell us about a few of these changes in personnel, but we have to assume there were many more additions and subtractions - mostly subtractions - from Coronado's force in the 1500 miles and 15 months between Compostela and the New Mexico-Texas state line.
Another difference between our list and the Flints' is that we are also interested in people who were natives of and/or already living in the Tierra Nueva, or new land, and joined Coronado's expedition when it came through. This includes the guides, Turk and Ysopete, among others.
Because of the spotty information in the sources, out of the 377 people named on the Flints' roll, there are only 26 who we can be sure visited Texas. By the same token, there are only 34 who we are sure did not. The large majority cannot be verified one way or the other. Still, the sources provide some clues that can help us make educated guesses about many of them. Using these clues, we have placed all of the names we have into one of five groups: 1) those whose presence in Texas is verified by the documentary record, 2) those whose presence in Texas, while not verified, can be assumed with close to 100 percent certainty, 3) those who, in our view, probably visited Texas, although there could be some reasonable doubt, 4) those who may have visited Texas, and 5) those who definitely or probably did not visit Texas. This last group is omitted from this page; the first four groups are listed below. Altogether, there are 343 named individuals, plus a few anonymous natives, servants, and slaves.
The following subsections list the known personnel of the Coronado Expedition, grouped according to the likelihood that they visited Texas. Many of the names are spelled differently in the various expedition documents, so some alternate spellings are given in parentheses.
The muster roll indicates whether each man on it was a horseman or a member of the infantry. It also provides some information about the person's rank and status. We have tried to preserve much of that information here. A few terms ought to be explained. A captain was a leader of a company of horsemen or infantry. Some captains had 8 or 9 men in their company, while other companies were larger. Many companies had a junior officer called an alferez, translated herein as "lieutenant." Hidalgo was a title of nobility, not a military rank. Many, but not all, captains were also hidalgos; this is indicated by the addition of "Don" to their names. Not all hidalgos were captains, but the documents show that even these gentlemen sometimes commanded groups of soldiers. In the cases where a soldier's capacity on the expedition is unknown (which always indicates that his name came from somewhere other than the muster roll), it is given simply as "man-at-arms."
Some of the personnel are known only by their given names, and some only by their surnames. In many instances, it is difficult or impossible to tell whether what appears to be a man's surname is actually his town or province of origin. For example, the scribe who compiled the muster roll signed his named "Juan de Cuevas," but he appears on his own muster roll as "Juan de Duero." This means he was from the town of Aranda y Duero, which was (and still is) known for its vast network of underground caves (cuevas) dating back to the Middle Ages. His actual family name, then, is unknown. This complicates any attempt to alphabetize the lists by surname. For this reason, these lists are alphabetized by given name. In cases where only a man's surname is known, it is treated as his given name for purposes of ordering the list.
Another reason for ordering the list by given name is that there are more spelling variations for surnames, they are usually not easy to guess, and these variations can throw a name's position off significantly (for example, Urrea/Gurrea, Sánchez/Sáurez/Xuárez, and Báez/Páez). In comparison, there are far fewer spelling variations of given names, and most of those that exist (e.g. Jaco/Jacque, Pedro/Pero) do not change the alphabetization order much. Therefore, it is easier to find a specific person on a list ordered by given name than by surname.
Note that "Don" is a title of nobility, not a name, and while it is written in the lists where applicable, it is not used for alphabetization. The prefixes "de," "del," "de la," and "la" are also not used for alphabetization in these lists.
The following symbols are used:
The following 17 persons associated with the Coronado Expedition can be confirmed by the existing documents as having visited Texas in May and June of 1541. These expeditionaries can be placed in Texas by one or more of the first-hand accounts (i.e. Castañeda, Jaramillo) or by another witness besides himself. Where possible, we have identified whether they went with the Quivira party or returned to Tiguex with the main army (see our analysis of Coronado's route for more information):
Coronado's army arrived at Tiguex in several waves between September 1540 and January 1541. At least three people, but probably more, returned to New Galicia before the excursion to Quivira began. The excursion began on April 23, 1541. The expedition crossed the New Mexico-Texas state line probably around May 11, and was back in New Mexico by about September 13. A relief company arrived at Tiguex soon afterward. None of the accounts of the expedition state that anyone stayed at Tiguex during the excursion to Quivira.
Based on the above facts, we assume that any expeditionary who was in Tiguex before the excursion to Quivira began and who survived until at least mid-May 1541 visited Texas, except for those few who were known to have returned to New Galicia. We also assume that any expeditionary who is known to have been in Tiguex before the relief force arrived visited Texas. Using this logic, the presence of the following 12 people in Texas can reasonably be assumed, even though there are no explicit statements in the documents that place them there.
Coronado's army arrived at Cibola in two waves in July and September 1540. It proceeded from there in waves to Tiguex, and then on to Texas and Quivira. The accounts tell us of a few people, but now many, who returned home from the expedition early, and some who were sent back as messengers. It is safe to say, though, that the vast majority - nearly all - of the expeditionaries who made it at least as far as Cibola in 1540 also visited Texas, except for those who died before May 1541.
This group includes anyone whose name is in the expeditionary record and whose presence in Texas is unknown and cannot be estimated. The likelihood that an expeditionary visited Texas is greater for those who are known to have survived and for those who were known to be in Tiguex after the excursion to Quivira ended. The main reason that people meeting those criteria cannot be assumed to have visited Texas is because there were approximately 40 men-at-arms led by Captain Don Pedro de Tovar who arrived at Tiguex after the Quivira excursion ended.10
This list excludes all expeditionaries who were members of one of the three parties that definitely did not visit Texas, those whose deaths prior to May 1541 have been established, and those who the documents state were sent back or given leave to go back to New Spain or New Galicia before the expedition reached Texas.
The number of people who arrived in present-day Texas with the Coronado Expedition in 1541, including Spanish and European men-at-arms, friars, native allies, slaves, wives, and children, probably numbered around 2,000. The sources of information about the expedition, which include narrative accounts, letters, lists, contemporary histories, and other types of documents, tell us much more about the Spanish and European men-at-arms than the members of the other groups. Even for the large majority of the junior officers and enlisted men, we know little more than their names. Only with the captains, senior officers, and hidalgos do the documents tell us much about their movements and whereabouts during the expedition. We are left, then, with the names of fewer than three dozen people who we can be sure or reasonably sure came to Texas with Coronado, and this subset is not at all representative of the whole. We also have another list of some 320 names that make up a group of people of whom most of its members surely visited Texas, but about whom we cannot say with certainty about any specific individual. The names of the other 1,500 to 1,700 people who traveled across the High Plains and Panhandle regions of Texas in the summer of 1541 will probably never be known.
By David Carson
Page last updated: March 10, 2023
1Castañeda, p. 542.
2Juan de Zaldivar is not listed in the muster roll taken at Compostela. He had previously been a member of Melchior Díaz's advance party and joined the expedition while it was underway.
3In a document Escobar filed a year after the expedition ended, he claimed credit for designing "a bridge across a very large river." This most likely refers to the bridge on which the expedition crossed the Pecos River on its way to the Llano Estacado.
4Castañeda writes of one Francisco de Barrionuevo being in Tiguex both before and after the search for Quivira, which means he certainly visited Texas. According to Flint and Flint, he is the same individual listed in the muster roll as a horseman named Velasco de Barrionuevo.
5Bermejo can be confirmed to have been at Cibola in 1540 and in Tiguex in 1542. To our knowledge, he accompanied Coronado everywhere, including to Quivira. He is a likely candidate to be the author of the anonymous document, Relación del Suceso.
6Jaramillo calls him Luis de Escalona, but according to Flint and Flint, Jaramillo was in error, and the correct name was actually Luis de Úbeda.
7According to Flint and Flint, Antonio Castilblanco is the same friar that Castañeda refers to mistakenly as "Antonio Vitoria". The Flints note that Antonio Castilblanco had a colleague named Friar Francisco de Vitoria and speculate that Castañeda got their names confused.
8He is erroneously referred to by Castañeda in one instance as Don Pedro de Guevara.
9Castañeda tells about a Spaniard who raped a native woman of Tiguex prior to the uprising. Flint and Flint identify this Spaniard as Juan de Villegas.
10The Relación del Suceso states that 80 horsemen were stationed at Hearts, Tovar brought half of them to Tiguex, and left 40 there.
11Listed as "Pérez de Bocanegra, Alonso" in Flint & Flint.
12See the footnote for the expeditionary known only as "Salinas".
13Flint and Flint consider this man to be the same native named Andrés who went to Quivira, but there is no reason to support this belief other than their first names being the same. The two Andréses came from different regions of Mexico, and this Andrés was later found living in Zuni, New Mexico, 700 miles from Quivira.
14A man named del Campo became lost on the Llano Estacado during the outgoing trip in 1541 and was presumably never seen again. Bartolomé del Campo is on the "may have visited Texas" list because it cannot be ascertained that he was the same man who was lost and also because the documents do not specify when this occurred, so it may have happened before the expedition crossed the New Mexico-Texas state line.
15According to Castañeda, a man named Cervantes was in charge of The Turk during the uprising at Tiguex. Flint and Flint identify him as the man listed on the muster roll as Diego de Cerbatos.
16Flint and Flint identify him as the same man Castañeda calls "Cervantes."
17Diego Núñez de Garueña is on the muster roll. Flint and Flint's list also contains an expeditionary who was not on the muster roll with the surname of Ureña and the possible given name of Diego. We believe they were most likely the same person.
18An expeditionary named Francisco Martín is known to have survived the expedition, but whether he was a horseman or infantryman is unknown.
19Muñoz lost his hand in an accident at Culiacan shortly after the expedition marched out of Compostela. One might assume that he dropped out of the expedition at that time. Later in life, he stated that he went to Cibola, but that term was often used to refer to any area explored by Coronado, not just the town called Cibola. In any case, there is no confirmation that he visited Texas.
20He was listed on the muster roll as Juan Vizcaíno (Juan the Biscayan) and called Juan de Guernica, Vizcaíno (Juan from Guernica, Biscayan) on another document. Guernica is a town in the province of Biscay.
21Flint and Flint list him as "Martín Bermejo, Juan."
22According to Flint and Flint, Ramos was Coronado's personal surgeon, and that makes him a likely candidate to be the author of a letter written at Cibola known as Traslado de las Nuevas.
23Flint and Flint identify three different men named Juan Ruiz who testified that they went on the Coronado Expedition. The one who was born in Hispaniola was apparently a youth of around age eight at the time the expedition began. There are no records for any of their service except for their own testimonies, but the two Juan Ruizes listed here can at least be proven to have existed. A third Juan Ruiz's testimony was not given until 1575, he did not sign it, and there are no other records of his life, so he is omitted from our list.
24Troyano met her during the expedition and brought her home. Whether he met her before, during, or after the excursion to Quivira is unknown.
25The muster roll lists two horsemen named Lope de la Cadena. One of them was known to have been in Tiguex in 1542, and one of them is known to have survived the expedition and lived in Mexico City afterward, but it is unclear whether these two facts describe different men or the same man. Furthermore, an expeditionary named Hernando de la Cadena is known to have survived the expedition and lived in Mexico City afterward. It is unclear whether Hernando was one of the Lopes or whether he was one of the expeditionaries who were not included on the muster roll.
26Flint and Flint list Luis de Pigredo, who was included on the muster roll, and Luis de Figueredo, an expeditionary who was not on the muster roll and who is known to have survived the expedition, as two different people, but in our opinion, they were most likely one and the same.
27The muster roll lists two Miguel de Torreses - one a horseman, and one a footman. An expeditionary named Miguel Torres was known to be in Tiguex in 1542, but whether he was a horseman or member of the infantry is unknown.
28An expeditionary named Pedro de Ávila led a mutiny at Hearts and fled to New Spain with the rest of the mutineers. Flint and Flint do not consider him to be the same man as Pedro Sánchez del Barco de Avila, but if he was, he definitely did not visit Texas.
29According to the Flints' data base, this man's full name was Pedro Juan Martin Salinas. The Flints also list Andrés de Salinas as an expeditionary, although he is not listed on the muster roll or mentioned in any of the narrative accounts of the expedition.
30This is one of three horsemen surnamed Velasco who appear on the muster roll. Whether he is the same as Baltasar de Velasco, an expeditionary who was not listed on the muster roll, is unknown.