raising and processing and marketing chickens has become a major economic
enterprise in East Texas
since World War
II, it is appropriate to remember the "Chicken War" of 1719.
This was a far frontier spark from a more significant European conflagration
called the War of the Quadruple Alliance, with Spain and France on
opposing sides. Without local stakes, but knowing they were supposed
to oppose each other, Lieutenant Philippe Blondel led troops from
the French settlement of Natchitoches to Mission San Miguel de Lainares
de los Adaes at Robilene, Louisiana, eastern most penetration of Spanish
missionaries or soldiers from Mexico.
Blondel had little trouble subduing the priests and one soldier he
discovered at the mission, and his conquest included raiding the mission's
Here is where Blondel's plans ran "afoul." While attempting to strap
the captured hens across his horse, the birds, true to their nature,
flapped and squawked sufficiently to cause Blondel's horse to bolt
and dump the lieutenant upon his, huh, indignity upon the ground.
During the commotion, the Spanish missionaries escaped and warned
their chief, Father Antonio Jesus de Margil, that the French were
invading. The result: a frontier version of the "sky is falling."
Margil withdrew from Mission
Nuestra Senora de los Dolores (San
Augustine), to Mission Nuestra de la Pureisima Conception (then
is present Nacogdoches
Catching the spirit of alarm, Captain Domingo Ramon withdrew from
Presidio Nuestra Senora de los Delores de los Tejas. Some of the refugees
traveled as far as San
Antonio, fleeing an imagined French invasion of East
Texas that never came.
As it turned out, the chickens had won their war: Blondel returned
to Natchitoches, no future French invasions troubled Spanish Texas,
and the chickens had to await for another Pilgrim to come their way
in the twentieth century.
Things Historical March
26, 2007 column
A syndicated column in 70 East Texas newspapers
Distributed by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie P. McDonald
is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books on