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GARZA, JUAN DE LA (?–?). In the early 1660s Juan de la Garza was a sergeant major on the cattle and mining frontier near Saltillo, Monterrey, and Cerralvo. Chronic shortages of labor in the area prompted Spaniards to conduct campaigns aimed in part at acquiring Indian captives who would be put to work in the mines. Such entradas were also justified as a means of discouraging attacks on Spanish settlements, which were perpetrated by Indian bands located north of these outposts and beyond the Rio Grande.

In 1663 more than 100 men from Saltillo and Monterrey were placed under the command of Garza, a renowned leader on the frontier. The caravan included 800 horses, eighty loads of flour, ample supplies of biscuits, and equipment. At a site 200 miles north of Monterrey the Spanish force encountered Cacaxtle Indians who were entrenched in a large ranchería. In a pitched battle Garza's command killed about 100 natives, while suffering several wounded. Captured Indians numbered 125, including adults of both sexes and children. When Garza returned to Monterrey in March 1664, the governor of Nuevo León decided to send the captives into the interior, well away from their own people. Accordingly, most of the survivors were assigned to the mines of Zacatecas.

Given the distance and direction traveled by Garza and his command, it seems likely that the entrada penetrated well beyond the Rio Grande-perhaps as many as twenty-five leagues (sixty-five miles) to the north of present Eagle Pass, Texas. Subsequent military and missionary undertakings in the region, which assuredly crossed the Rio Grande, do not list Garza as a participant, and at this juncture he disappears from known historical records.

Vito Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas en la época colonial (Mexico City: Editorial Cultura, 1938; 2d ed., Mexico City: Editorial Porrúa, 1978). Carlos E. Castañeda, Our Catholic Heritage in Texas, Vol. 1.
Donald E. Chipman

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Donald E. Chipman, "Garza, Juan De La," accessed November 18, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.