From Across the Spanish Empire: Spanish Soldiers Who Helped Win the American Revolutionary War, 1776-1783


Author: Martinez, Leroy
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: xii 269 pp.
ISBN: 9780806357843


Although it is frequently overlooked, the Spanish Empire, under King Carlos III, provided significant aid and support for America’s struggle for independence from Great Britain. For example, after Spain declared war on Great Britain in June 1779 (in conjunction with its familial alliance with France), the Spanish governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez, commenced the military campaigns against the British that ultimately resulted in their ouster from the Mississippi Valley and West Florida. In another instance, when the French fleet under the Comte de Grasse was not able to pay its sailors and soldiers, Spain provided de Grasse with the needed funds, thus enabling the siege at Yorktown against Cornwallis.

This book by Leroy Martinez is the first work to identify the Spanish combatants serving in North America during the American Revolution. The volume begins with a listing of Spanish governors, Spanish presidios (forts) in the future United States, a glossary of Spanish terms that appear in the records, and a chronology of events–all for the years of the Revolution. Here readers will learn that Spain’s involvement in our War for Independence preceded that nation’s declaration of war against Britain in 1779. For instance, Spain, through the agency of merchant Diego de Gardoqui in Bilbao, sent money, muskets, munitions, medicine, and military supplies to the U.S. as early as 1776. Gardoqui later became Spain’s first ambassador to America.

At the heart of Mr. Martinez’ groundbreaking book, of course, are the lists of Spanish soldiers of this era. 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. The author 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. He has also included a number of illustrations of military uniforms, original documents, and other artifacts from the era–including the records of his own ancestors. In all, From Across the Spanish Empire 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.

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