California and the Indian Wars
The Pauma Massacre

The Pauma Massacre occurred in December 1846, north of Escondido, California.

After the Battle of San Pasqual, the Californio lancers broke up into different groups. A group of twelve men travelled to Rancho Pauma owned by Jose Antonio Serrano. The men stole a herd of fine horses belonging to the Luiseno Indians of the Pauma band. After arriving, Serrano, his fourteen year old son Jesus, and his brother-in-law, Jose Aguilar went to Pala where Serrano's wife and other children were staying. Before leaving, Serrano apparently overheard two Indian women discussing a plot to capture the Californios.

In the evening Chief Manuelito Cota of the Pauma tribe took a group of men to the Pauma ranch. The chief knocked on the door and introduced himself. The Californios knew the chief and they had peaceful relations with him. When the Californios opened the door, the chief and his men captured the men and took them prisoner. The prisoners were taken to El Potrero, an Indian racherias, for the night. The next day they were taken to Aqua Caliente now known as Warner Springs. Chief Manuel called the area tribes together for a general tribal council to decide the fate of the horse thieves. Most tribal leaders felt the prisoners should be scared and then released. However, William Marshall, a local American, entered the debate. He swayed the vote in favor of executing the prisoners. In the end the tribal leaders agreed that the Californios should be tortured and killed for their crimes against the Pauma Indians. When the Californios witnessed the first execution, the men wept and begged for their lives. Santos Alipas, thirteen years old, stood up and declared, "What's the use of crying? We can only die once; let us die like brave men." The Indians were impressed with Santos' bravery. They gave him a choice on how he wanted to die. The boy asked to be shot. He was immediately shot through the forehead.

When word of the Massacre reached Mexican forces in Los Angeles, José del Carmen Lugo was placed in charge of a group of Mexican soldiers to avenge the men's deaths. The Temecula Massacre was Mexico's bloody revenge on the Indian tribes.

The list of victims

1. Manuel Serrano
2. Ramon Aguilar
3. Francisco Basualdo
4. José María Alvarado
5. Mariano Dominguez
6. Santiago Osuna
7. Jose Lopez
8. Estaquio Ruiz
9. Juan de la Cruz
10. Unnamed New Mexican
11. Santos Alipas




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Updated 8 February 2016