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Page 144. " This man’s parents were killed by a cannonshot in the church at Caborca where they had gone with others to defend themselves against the outlaw American invaders "
Henry A. Crabb
Public DomainHenry A. Crabb

In 1857 Caborca was the scene of a heroic defence against a force of American filibusters led by Henry Alexander Crabb seeking to annex Sonora to the United States.

After defeating a detachment of Mexican soldiers, Crabb’s men approached Caborca where the townsfolk took refuge in the church. After trying unsuccessfully to blast them out with cannon, the Americans occupied an adobe house across from the church. Soon Mexican reinforcements arrived and surrounded the adobe. After a six-day siege, Crabb and his men finally surrendered. They were each summarily executed the next morning, except for one 16-year-old boy. Crabb was decapitated and his head preserved in a jar of mescal. McCarthy must have been aware of the story when he came to write Blood Meridian as the same grisly fate befalls the filibustering Captain White in that earlier novel.

Caborca, the little desert town that held off a small army, was immortalised and given the new name of Heroica Caborca in 1949.


In alerting the media to his plans, Crabb made the fatal error of surrendering the element of surprise, but it has left to posterity an almost step-by-step account of the doomed enterprise. Click here.