Villasur Expedition, 1720 Historical Marker, Columbus, Platte County, Nebraska
In June 1720, a Spanish military force led by Sir Pedro de Villasur left Santa Fe, New Mexico, to gather information on French activities near the Missouri River. The contingent included 45 veteran soldiers, 60 Pueblo Indian allies, some Apache scouts, and a priest. Indian trader Juan L’Archeveque, and Jose Naranjo, a black explorer who had reconnoitered Nebraska’s Platte River, accompanied the expedition.
Near present Schuyler, Nebraska, Villasur’s command encountered large numbers of Pawnee and Oto Indians who were allies of the French. The Spanish withdrew to approximately this spot and camped. The next morning, August 14, 1720, the Indians attacked. In only minutes Villasur, L’Archeveque, Naranjo, 3l soldiers, 11 Pueblo Indians, and the priest lay dead. The survivors escaped across the prairie and reached Santa Fe September 6. Spanish losses were the greatest suffered by white men in any battle with Indians on Nebraska soil.
The Villasur expedition was the deepest official penetration of the Great Plains by Spanish explorers. Villasur’s defeat ended Spanish exploration of the Nebraska country until the 1806 Melgares expedition visited the Pawnee village on the Republican River.