Melgares, Facundo (1775–c. 1835)

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Melgares, Facundo (1775–c. 1835)

Facundo Melgares (b. 1775; d. c. 1835), Spanish governor of New Mexico. Born in Villa Carabaca, Murcia, Spain, Melgares, nephew of a judge of the Audiencia of New Spain, entered military service in 1803 as a second lieutenant at the presidio of San Fernando de Carrizal, 75 miles south of El Paso del Norte, New Mexico. When a number of Spanish detachments marched from New Mexico and Texas to intercept American explorers in 1806, Melgares brought reinforcements from Carrizal and led his troops into Pawnee territory. After a party headed by Zebulon Pike, sent by the new governor of the Louisiana Territory to find the sources of the Red and Arkansas rivers, had become lost, a Spanish detachment rescued and arrested the men in 1807. Melgares and his soldiers accompanied Pike from Taos to Santa Fe and then down the Rio Grande to Chihuahua for further interrogation.

During Miguel Hidalgo's revolt of 1810, Melgares led royalist troops from Carrizal against the insurgents at Saltillo, Coahuila. Later he commanded an unsuccessful attack against Ignacio Allende, then participated in Allende's capture near Monclova, Coahuila, on 21 March 1811. By 1817, Melgares was commander of the Santa Fe presidio. In July 1818 he brought troops from Chihuahua to defend New Mexico against Comanche-American attacks, taking over as acting governor. He received permanent appointment to the post one month afterward, and spent the rest of the period of Spanish rule defending the territory against periodic reports of American moves and leading numerous retaliatory campaigns against the Navajos. In August 1819, Melgares successfully concluded a formal peace between Navajos and Spanish.

After Mexico became independent, Melgares refused to allow the colonists in New Mexico to swear allegiance to the new republic until he received a direct order from the commandant general. As a result, he was relieved as governor in April 1822, after citizens of the province brought charges against him on 5 July 1822.

See alsoMexico: The Colonial Period; Mexico: 1810–1910.


Zebulon Montgomery Pike, The Journals of Zebulon Montgomery Pike, 2 vols., edited by Donald Jackson (1966).

David J. Weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America (1992).

Arthur Gómez, "Royalist in Transition: Facundo Melgares, the Last Spanish Governor of New Mexico," in New Mexico Historical Review 68, no. 4 (1993): 371-387.

Additional Bibliography

Brooks, James S. Captives and Cousins: Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2002.

Burke, James T. This Miserable Kingdom: The Story of the Spanish Presence in New Mexico and the Southwest from the Beginning until the 18th Century. Albuquerque, NM: Our Lady of Fatima, 1994.

Forbes, Jack D. Apache, Navajo, and Spaniard. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994.

                                       Ross H. Frank