Wednesday, January 24, 1770
Return to San Diego.



Gaspar de Portolá

The 24th, we proceeded for five hours, and made the same distance as in two marches on the previous journey. On this day we arrived at San Diego, giving thanks to God that, notwithstanding the great labors and privations we had undergone, not a single man had perished. Indeed we had accomplished our return march, through the great providence of God, without other human aid except that, when we were in dire need, we killed some mules for our necessary sustenance. We found at San Diego that the three fathers were there with the entire guard of eight soldiers in leather jackets which had been left ; but of the fourteen volunteers, who had remained, eight were dead. The San Carlos was anchored in the same place where we had left her ; but, during all this time, neither the San Joseph nor El Principe, had arrived, although it was eight months since the former was to leave Guaymas and seven months since the latter had left this port. For this reason, and because of the lack of provisions, a council was held, and it was resolved that, in order to make it possible to hold this port longer, Don Fernando de Rivera, captain of the presidio of Loreto, should set out with a strong force so that he might go to Lower California and also bring back the herd of cattle which was intended for this mission. The remainder of the expedition was to hold this important port, hoping that God might grant us the comfort of sighting some ship.

Miguel Costansó
We were nearing San Diego and varied were the opinions among us about the condition in which we should find the new settlement that we had left at its very beginning, more than six months ago. Each one discussed the matter according to his temperament and the mood affecting him. Some, seeing things in a favorable light, expected to find there every comfort and help; others grieved, considering its weak state and the few resources we had left it.

In truth, all of us were returning with a misgiving lest, through the continued force of the maladies, and the mortality among the people, the settlement had become a place of solitude. On the other hand, there was every reason to fear the evil disposition of the natives of San Diego, whose greediness to rob can only be restrained by superior power and authority, and we feared lest they had dared to commit some outrage against the mission and its small garrison. As we had obtained no news whatever along the coast concerning the ships, notwithstanding our efforts in that direction, we had fears in anticipation that in San Diego we should meet with a like disappointment.

While we were still engaged with these thoughts and discussions, which for days had been wearying us, we received an unexpected pleasure at the sight of fresh tracks of men and horses, at more than half a league from the presidio which we saw soon afterwards.

As soon as we saw the palisade inclosure and the humble buildings which it contained, we gave a salute, discharging our arms, the first announcement to its occupants of our arrival. They immediately came out with the greatest joy to receive us in their arms.

We found the missionary fathers, Fray Junípero Serra, president of the missions, Fray Juan Viscaíno, and Fray Fernando Parron, in good health; the first and the last mentioned were still convalescing from the common sickness of scurvy which, even now, afflicted various soldiers, the veterans we had left behind as well as those of the presidio, and christianized Californian Indians. We learned from them how that, a few weeks after our departure, God had taken to Himself all those we had left sick in their beds; but that, through the charitable and tireless devotion of the surgeon, Don Pedro Prat, those in whom the disease had not taken such a firm hold during the sea-voyage, had recovered. We also learned that those who had subsequently fallen sick, which included everyone, as the disease spared none, had been restored to health. Experience thus proved, in this instance, how opportune was the wise decision of him who sent a man of this profession and of such commendable ability with the expedition, and how useful such persons are in any colony or new settlement.

They likewise told us that, on August 15, the Indians of the villages nearest the camp, influenced solely by their cupidity and desire to rob, took advantage of a favorable opportunity to throw themselves upon the camp with the intention of robbing it, and of carrying away what they could; that upon meeting with some resistance from the few people who were at the time in camp as the larger part of the garrison was away they attempted to use violence, having recourse to their weapons; that, at the first discharge of their arrows, they killed a muleteer and wounded the reverend father Fray Juan Vizcaíno; that our men who were in a condition to take up arms fired at them, killing three of the natives and wounding several, and obliging them to retire with this punishment. From that time, however, the natives had not ceased to cause some damage, and had killed some horses and wounded others with arrows, but they did this at night and without being seen.

Port and Presidio of San Diego, February 7, 1770. Miguel Costansó.

I certify that this is an exact copy of the original which is in the Secretaría de Cámara of this viceroyalty which is in my charge.

Mexico, June 20, 1770. Don Francisco Xavier Machado Fiesco.


Fray Juan Crespi
We were now approaching the port of San Diego, and this whole day was passed in conjecturing what state we would find it in, whether settled by the few people whom we left there and the packets in the harbor, or whether it might have been entirely deserted in the six months since we had left it. Each one decided according to his nature and humor; but it is true that we all agreed in the fear that if the rigor of the sickness and the mortality among the people had lasted, not a span of the establishment would be left standing. In addition there was much to be feared from the perverse disposition of the Diegueno Indians, whose avidity in stealing is unequaled, and we were fearful that they might have attempted same offense against the mission and its small guard. Our inability to acquire any news of the barks on the coast, notwithstanding the efforts that were made for this purpose, gave us some reason for fearing that we would find ourselves in San Diego in the same need as that in which we now were. Occupied by these thoughts and remarks, which had fatigued us for some days, we at last made out the fence of poles and the humble buildings that contained the mission. Immediately all the soldiers discharged their firearms, our first announcement to the inhabitants of the mission, who, in the greatest excitement, came out immediately to welcome us with open arms. We found our father president and esteemed rector, Fray Junipero Serra, convalescing from the scurvy, in which he had also shared; and in the same manner the father prior Fray Fernando Parron, also recovering from the same malady; and the father preacher Fray Juan Vizcaino wounded in one hand by an arrow-shot which he had received in August of last year in an uprising of the Indians which they afterwards related to us at length. We found also that many of the volunteer soldiers and those from the presidio of Loreto had suffered from the scurvy, and they told us how many deaths there had been. We gave them in substance a report of our journey, reserving a more complete recital until we gave thanks to God and the Most Holy Patriarch San Jose, patron of the expedition, for our return with life and health after the long journey of six months and ten days, a special benefit which we knew had come from His Divine Majesty through the intercession of San Jose that no one should die on the journey. As an act of gratitude,
on the following day a thanksgiving Mass was said.

[FEAY JUAN CRESPI.]


January 23 To San Dieguito Creek and Valley (July 15).