Wilderness Manhunt

The Spanish Search for La Salle

978-0-89096-910-6 Paperback
5.5 x 8.5 x 0 in
312 pp. 15 illus.
Pub Date: 10/01/1999


  • Paperback $16.95
A vibrant account of the Spanish search for the French colony on the Texas coast (1685–89), Robert S. Weddle’s Wilderness Manhunt is an indispensable source on Spain’s “rediscovery” of the Gulf of Mexico’s northern coast.

Weddle’s narrative documents the Spaniards’ six land expeditions and five sea voyages that sought the French settlement from points as widely scattered as San Augustine, Florida, and El Parral, Chihuahua. It also examines the schemes of Spanish expatriot Pealosa, whose treason augmented Spanish determination to find La Salle’s settlement. A new introduction includes recent insights gleaned from the excavation of La Salle’s sunken ship La Belle.

Weddle has a firm grasp of the setting for the search for La Salle in the power struggle that left France and Spain grappling for control of the Gulf Coast. He shows how early Spanish expeditions had produced little in the way of easy fortune and, therefore, little interest. Rumors of French activity along the Mississippi, however, coupled with Pealosa’s allegiance to France and to La Salle, inspired the leaders of New Spain to bypass royal authority and take matters into their own hands.

Wilderness Manhunt won the Presidio La Bahia Award, presented by the Kathryn O’Connor Foundation, when it was first published in 1973. Weddle’s narrative contributed to the rebirth of interest in the La Salle expedition and laid the foundation for his own future investigation.

Described here is the finding, by Spanish seamen in 1686, of La Salle’s ship La Belle, the wreckage of which was found in 1995 by the Texas Historical Commission and has since been excavated and preserved. Told also are the later lives of the few colonists who survived the tragic La Salle expedition. This classic is enhanced by sixteen illustrations, including reproductions of maps and documents from the period.

Wilderness Manhunt is filled with vivid battle scenes, pirate tales, and intricate details of the Spaniards and their quest. It is as timeless as the story of La Salle himself and is a worthy addition to any library.

Published by Texas A&M University Press