Leroy Martinez’ new book, From Across the Spanish Empire: Spanish Soldiers Who Helped Win the American Revolutionary War, 1776-1783, provides the first comprehensive list of Spanish soldiers who served in North America during the U.S. War for Independence. Separate chapters list those who served in Arizona, California, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas. In most cases Mr. Martinez identifies each soldier by name, military unit, rank and date, and the source, as well as sometimes by age, place of origin in Europe, theater served in, and other factors. Mr. Martinez extracted his lists of servicemen from original sources found in the Archives of Spanish Naval Museum in Madrid, the U.S. Library of Congress, and in state archives in Texas, Arizona, and California. In all the author sheds light upon 7,500 Spanish combatants who served in North America during the American Revolution, any one of whom could qualify a descendant for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution or related lineage organizations.
Besides the rosters comprising the heart of his work, the Martinez has included a number of illustrations of military uniforms, original documents, and other artifacts from the era – including the records of his own ancestors. In addition, the book contains a very useful chronology of events involving Spanish forces during the Revolution, which could trigger clues for researchers possessing Hispanic ancestors.
Chronology of events involving Spanish forces during the Revolutionary War
Reprinted from From Across the Spanish Empire, we hope the following chronology from Chapter II Events from 1565-1784 is helpful to our readers. It includes foundational events, as well as a timeline of activities related to Spanish soldiers involvement in the Revolutionary War:
1565 St. Augustine, Florida settled by Pedro Menendez de Aviles followed by earlier explorations.
1598 Onate Expedition to settle New Mexico Province followed by earlier explorations. This included Texas, Southern Colorado, Southwest Kansas, Oklahoma panhandle, part of Utah, and part of Arizona.
1610 New Mexico capital moved to Santa Fe from the San Juan Pueblo area. 1762 Spain enters war with Britain and is allied with France in Seven Years’ War. 1762, August 23 Havana, British capture Cuba from Spain.
1763, February Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years’ War in America : Spain loses Florida as part of the treaty, but the King of France cedes Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to Spain to compensate Spain for its loss of Florida.
1769, July-August Spain takes formal possession of Louisiana with regiments from Havana, detachments of Aragon and Guadalajara, America New Spain dragoons, and Havana militia.
1775, November 29 Continental Congress establishes a committee to seek foreign aid mostly from France and Spain.
1776, May 1 Spain and France secretly agreed to send money and future aid to the Continental Army.
1776, May American George Gibson and William Linn sent to Spanish New Orleans for arms and supplies.
1776, August General Charles Henry Lee, second in command, sent Capt. George Gibson and 16 colonists from Fort Pitt to Spanish New Orleans for additional aid.
1776, September Spain sent 9000 pounds of gunpowder up the Mississippi River to Fort Pitt, and 1000 pounds of gunpowder by ship to Philadelphia. This plan was intended before July 4, 1776.
1776, November 25 King Carlos III orders Gov. Bernardo Galvez to secretly provide intelligence about the British.
1776, November 26 Spanish Governor Bernardo Galvez received orders to send gunpowder to the colonist via the Mississippi River. The gunpowder total cost was about $70,000. Secret commissioners were sent to English colonies as spies.
1776, December 24 Spanish royal order to aid American colonists in secret because both France and Spain wanted to remain neutral for the time being.
1777, Spain sent 2000 barrels of gunpowder, lead, and clothing up to the Mississippi River to the colonists. Also, Spain sent 1 million “Livres” and additional provisions for reaching Fort Pitt (Pennsylvania) .
1777 Secret Committee Chairman Benjamin Franklin requested and was granted 215 cannons, 4000 tents, gunpowder, 13,000 grenades, 30,000 muskets, bayonets, uniforms, 50,000 balls, and gunpowder.
1777 October Patrick Henry wrote two letters to Galvez thanking Spain for its help and requesting more aid. He suggested that the Floridas should be returned to Spain after the war.
1778-1779 George Rogers Clark obtained supplies from Galvez in New Orleans. These supplies were used in attacking the British at Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Vincennes.
1778, January Patrick Henry wrote another letter to Bernardo Galvez requesting more supplies.
1778, February The treaty of alliance between France and the United States obligated Spain to assist France against the English. Galvez began to recruit an army and militia in Louisiana.
1778, March James Willing left Fort Pitt with 30 men to New Orleans and received more supplies for the war. They were welcomed by Galvez in New Orleans, and Willing left to return to Fort Pitt. James Willing was protected from the British by Galvez in New Orleans.
1779, May 8 Spain formally declares war against the British and becomes allies with all of the British enemies e.g. France and the Continental Army.
1779 Spain seizes Baton Rouge and Natchez from the British. Soldiers included detachments from regiments Louisiana, Louisiana militia (men 18- 60 years), and the New Orleans Carabineers.
1779-1782 Spanish ranchers in Texas area provided up to 15,000 cattle to support Galvez’ soldiers, along with several hundred horses, mules, bulls. Some of these cattle were sent to the Continental troops at Valley Forge.
1779 Males over 18, including Indians, in New Spain were required to become members of the militia in Louisiana in the Southwest.
1779, June 21 Spain declared war on England .. Spani’s King Carlos III ordered all Spanish subjects around the world to fight the English wherever they could be found.
1779, August 27-September 7 Galvez Spanish Army in New Orleans travels 90 miles up the Mississippi River to attack Fort Bute, in Manchac, Louisiana.
1779, August 29 King Carlos III proclaimed that the Spanish troops in America was to drive the British out of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River.
1779, September 20 Galvez’ Army captures the British Baton Rouge and Fort Natchez. 1779, November 8 Jefferson wrote to Galvez thanking him for Spain’s assistance.
1779, November Fort Omoa, Honduras, is recaptured by Spain against the British. Combattants include the Guatemala Dragoons and militias. Spain originally crossed over land to reach the Pacific Ocean.
1780 Carlos III issued a royal order requesting a one-time voluntary donation in New Spain, called “Donativo,” amounting to two Pesos per Spaniard and one peso per Native American throughout Spain’s New World Empire. Almost I million pesos was received in New Spain and half that amount was later forwarded to the Continental Army for aid in the American Revolution .
1780, January 28 – March 14 Galvez led the attack on the British Fort at Mobile, today’s Alabama.
1780, May 26 Spanish military at Fort San Carlos, St. Louis, aided Clark in the conquest of the territories northwest of the Ohio River, and against the British Indian attack on St. Louis in 1780.
1780, May Spanish Fort in Upper Louisiana, (today St. Louis, Missouri), repulses the British and Indian attack from losing the Mississippi River location. Spanish soldiers were the regiments of Louisiana and the St. Louis militia.
1780, October 16 Galvez led the Spanish fleet of 15 warships and 59 transport ships from Havana to attack Pensacola.
1780, November 22 Fort Carlos Spanish Commander Balthazar de Villiers went across the Mississippi River with a detachment of Spanish soldiers to capture the English Fort Concordia.
1781, January 2 Spanish soldiers travel up the Mississippi River to British Fort St. Joseph, Illinois, to capture the fort and destroy the British stockade.
1781, January The British failed in attacking Las Adeas Fort, near Mobile. Spanish defenderss were regiments from Havana, Principe, Espana, Navarro, and Louisiana militia.
1781, March 9 Spanish siege of Pensacola, West Florida. Soldiers were regiments of Soria, Corona, Aragon, Rey, Guadalajara , Hibernia, Flandes, Napoles, 2″d Catalonian Volunteers, Espania, Navarra, Zamora, Extremadura, Leon, and Principe. Detachments were from Toledo, Mallorca, Louisiana, and Havana: Louisiana dragoons, America dragoons, detachment of Louisiana militia, Havana Grenadiers of Mulatto and Moreno militia .
1781, June 28 Natchez recaptured from the British, after it was taken in May 1781. Soldiers were from the detachments of Regiment Louisiana and Louisiana militia.
1781, August Washington and others drank a toast thanking the Spanish King and French King at the home of Robert Morris, Philadelphia.
1781, October 19 General Charles Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. Funds to pay the French soldiers and money came from private citizens of Cuba.
1782, May 8 Bernardo Galvez’ army, aided by American Navy Commander Alexander Gillon of the South Carolina frigate, captured Nassau, Bahamas. Soldiers were from Guadalajara, Espana, the New Spain’s Corona regiment, Havana Pardo and Moreno regiments.
1783, April 18 British retake Nassau, Bahamas, the British naval fleet location used during the American Revolution against the colonists and Spain.
1783, April Spanish capture the Arkansas post. Spanish soldiers and militia defeated the British.
1783, September 3the signing of the Treaty of Paris 1783 ended the war between England, the United States, Spain, and France. Ratifications were not finished until 1784.
1784 U.S. Congress formally cited Galvez and Spain for their aid.
1784 Congressional records indicated that a portrait of Galvez be placed in the Congressional assembly room.
2014 Congress votes to admit Bernardo Galvez as a Citizen of the United States.
2014 Efforts have been addressed to replace the portrait of Galvez and have it placed back in the halls of Congress.
Image credit: The Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez, via Wikimedia Commons