Subject Area



“Wrangling Pelicans” explores the rhythms and realities experienced by inhabitants of Spanish military communities in eighteenth-century Spanish Texas, and describes an array of key subjects ranging from education to illicit entertainment. I utilize Antonio Treviño as a loose narrative thread throughout the text; he was a mestizo resident of Fort La Bahía, which is located in Goliad, Texas. Treviño rose from a private to a sub-lieutenant, and along the way was indicted for smuggling, nearly imprisoned for insubordination, but also commended for valor. Treviño experienced presidial life in all of its grime and glory.

This book argues that soldiers like Treviño found ways to maintain their autonomy and independence in spite of Bourbon Spain’s quest for ever-greater centralization and control. But “Wrangling Pelicans” goes one step further, illustrating that soldiers on the ground often implemented their own policies in the region and did not merely accede to the wishes of their commandant general, their provincial governor, or their fort captain. In viewing Spanish soldiers from their own perspective and from the perspective of their communities, a host of unexpected realities rise to the surface. One of the most surprising is that these troopers at times enjoyed one of the most economically and socially secure occupations on the frontier. Around Mexico City, mere rumors of army recruiters “provoked a flight of young males.” On the Texas borderlands, meanwhile, young men saw military service as a more than reasonable career path.

Degree Date

Spring 5-11-2024

Document Type


Degree Name





Andrew Graybill

Second Advisor

Neil Foley

Third Advisor

Pablo Mijangos y González

Fourth Advisor

Jesús F. de la Teja

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Tuesday, May 01, 2029