Chapter 2: Spanish San Diego
4. When and why did the first violence take place between Indian and Spaniard?
Lieutenant Pedro Fages had chosen well for the San Diego settlement. From the site, near the top of a barren hill, it was possible to see the entrance to the bay and inland up the river valley for several miles. The presidio site was near a river for a source of fresh water and agricultural lands. Also close by was a Kumeyaay village named Cosoy, located where Old Town San Diego now stands. Inevitably, during the process of constructing the wooden structures that would serve as the mission and the infirmary, the Kumeyaay grew curious and wandered into the camp. Every day larger and larger crowds gathered to inspect the Spanish and their clothing and material goods. The natives entered some of the dwellings and few items were stolen. Finally violence erupted on August 15, 1769 when some natives entered the mission shed and attempted to take some clothing from the infirmary. The soldiers used their weapons and the natives shot back with a volley of arrows killing a young boy and injuring a priest, a solider, a blacksmith, and a Baja California Indian. When the dust cleared three Kumeyaay warriors lay dead.
As a result of this skirmish Serra ordered that a log stockade be constructed around the mission. Hence the first mission was to be located inside of the presidio. The possibility of retaliation scattered the Cosoy village and made it impossible for the priests to make the necessary contacts for conversion. For more than a year they did not convert a single Indian. Raids by the Kumeyaay continued and the Spanish began to die from wounds and from starvation. In January 1770, when Portolá returned to San Diego from Monterey, he found only 20 colonists left. Many had died and others had been ordered back to Baja California.
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