Protecting the Faith

The bastion was one of the most important buildings at the mission.

Built from adobe blocks, this defensive structure was strategically located along the mission’s southwest corner. The bastion protected the south and west walls and was manned by presidio soldiers.

The granary, in the northeast corner, functioned as a secondary bastion and protected the mission’s north and east walls.

As an unauthorized mission, San Lorenzo lacked support and as a result was poorly supplied. The few soldiers living at the mission were ill-equipped to defend against frequent Comanche raids. Their families struggled as well. Often, the mission’s inhabitants found themselves underfed and lacking vital supplies.

Map of bastion foundations (Tunnell and Newcomb 1969)

Mission artifacts show both military and domestic sides of mission life.

Pottery fragments, copper pots, gun parts, lead shot, and decorative buttons are among the items found near the bastion. Many of San Lorenzo’s inhabitants brought their belongings with them. Any new items had to be shipped via mule trains from Mexico. These deliveries were frequent targets for raiding. A typical household in the 18th century was stocked with Mexican majolica plates, cups, and bowls, copper pots, and coarse earthenware ollas and jars for cooking and storage. Occasionally, foreign manufactured pottery also made its way to San Lorenzo from France, England, and even China.

Copper bowl found near bastion

Still life painting of a colonial
cupboard, by Mexican Artist,
Antonio Pérez de Aguilar, ca. 1769

Majolica pottery pieces from San Lorenzo excavations

Gunflints and lead shot

Top and side view of a flintlock trigger guard

A child’s toy like this whizzer or noise maker above on the right, and copper alloy buttons, to the left, show the more domestic side of mission life