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Like Cortés and Pizarro, Coronado Sought to Conquer a Native American Empire of the Southwest
Winner of Two Colorado Book AwardsThe historic 1540–1542 expedition of Captain-General Francisco Vasquez de Coronado is popularly remembered as a luckless party of exploration which wandered the American Southwest and then blundered onto the central Great Plains of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The expedition, as historian John M. Hutchins relates in Coronado’s Well-Equipped Army: The Spanish Invasion of the American Southwest, was a military force of about 1,500 individuals, made up of Spanish soldiers, Indian warrior allies, and camp followers. Despite the hopes for a peaceful conquest of new lands—including those of a legendary kingdom of Cibola—the expedition was obliged to fight a series of battles with the natives in present-day Sonora, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. The final phase of the invasion was less warlike, as the members of the expedition searched the Great Plains in vain for a wealthy civilization called Quivira.While much has been written about the march of Coronado and his men, this is the first book to address the endeavor as a military campaign of potential conquest like those conducted by other conquistadors. This helps to explain many of the previously misunderstood activities of the expedition. In addition, new light is cast on the non-Spanish participants, including Mexican Indian allies and African retainers, as well as the important roles of women.
About the Author
JOHN M. HUTCHINS, a retired major in the U.S. Army Reserve, received his B.A. and J.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He spent over thirty years as a trial and appellate lawyer at the local, state, and federal levels. Hutchins has authored numerous articles on military and Western American history and is the recipient of several historical writing awards. He and his wife live in Lakewood, Colorado.
“Almost 500 years separates us from the initial Spanish penetration into America’s southwest by the expedition of Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (1510–1554), which took place between 1540 and 1542. Many have written in the interim of the event . . . frequently concluding that the effort was a disaster. They become so repetitive and predictable in their retelling that one questions if anything new can come from yet another examination of those times. Fortunately, the answer is a resounding “yes,” as John M. Hutchins makes clear in his highly readable, engaging, and thought-provoking Coronado’s Well-Equipped Army: The Spanish Invasion of the American Southwest. . . . [A] important contribution . . . . Hutchins’ imaginative use of records describing the expedition’s capabilities expands significantly on the prior work of others and, in the end, rescues Coronado himself from the condemnation that many have visited on him for so many centuries.”—Army History
“Hutchins’s new study on Coronado’s famous expedition to the American Southwest in the 1540s focuses on its military aspects rather than its more familiar expansionist or religious ones. His examination of the weapons and strategies of European armies at the time give the book a refreshingly different emphasis than most prior studies of Coronado’s quest.” —Robert W. Larson, author of Gall: A Lakota Chief
“Hutchins gives a lively accounting of Coronado’s great Southwestern expedition. He expertly focuses on the military details of Coronado’s journey, which oftentimes have been ignored. Based on his extensive review of the military practices of the time, Hutchins offers some especially cogent arguments regarding Coronado’s application of armaments and tactics.” —Jack Ballard, author of Commander and Builder of Western Forts: The Life and Times of Major General Henry C. Merriam