This Day In History: Efego Bacca Fights Off Texan Cowboys (1884)

On this date in history the legendary Elfego Baca, manages to fight off an attack from some 80 cowboys, who wanted to kill him. Baca became renowned for his defense of the Hispanic or Hispano community in the South West United States.   After the American annexation of the South-West, the Hispanos suffered discrimination and violence from white settlers. This continued for many years and white cowboys and settlers could commit any crime against a Hispanic in the South West, with impunity. This was not tolerated officially, but little was done to help the local Hispanic communities.

Baca had been appointed as a sheriff  in New Mexico in the town of Middle San Francisco Plaza (It is now known as Reserve). The area’s mainly Hispanic population had been terrorized by a band of white cowboys from Texas. They had committed many atrocities against the local Hispano community and on one occasion they castrated a young Mexican man and on another occasion used a young boy for target practice. Baca was charged with ending the Texans reign of terror. Soon after he had been commissioned as a sheriff he was shot at by a white Cowboy. He arrested the man and let it be known that no more abuses of local Hispanos would be tolerated. He shot one of the Texan cowboys during this incident and shot the horse from under another. This infuriated the white cowboys who had been able to act with impunity for several months.  The Texans were fearless and they decided to teach Bacca a lesson. He knew that they would not let his arrest of a white cowboy pass., so he made plans. He had all the women and the children gathered into a Church. Bacca then fortified a small adobe house as he knew that the cowboys would want to kill him.  He was prepared to stand up to the cowboys by himself.  The following morning the Texans attacked. There were several dozen of them and it seemed that Bacc did not have a chance. The Texans rode into town and Bacca opened fire and killed one and injured several more. He retreated to his adobe home. The cowboys fired some 400 shots into the house. The surrounded it all night and presumed that they had killed Bacca. The next morning they were amazed when they realized that he was still alive and cooking his breakfast. Soon lawmen and some local Hispanos came to the aid of the sheriff and the cowboys made a hasty retreat.  Bacca was later tried for the murder of one of the cowboys. He was declared innocent after it was found that he acted in self-defense.  Later he served as a US Marshal. Bacca later became a lawyer and politician in New Mexico and remained hugely popular with the Hispano community.

the scene of the shootout between Bacca and the Texans