GALVAN, WILLIAM. Volunteer from Dominica. He arrived in South Carolina with munitions from Beaumarchais, for which the state was held liable. He served as a lieutenant in the Second South Carolina Regiment in 1777 but resigned when he was not allowed to furlough northward for military action. On 19 March, Congress rejected his request to raise an independent corps. It also rejected on 3 April his request to be subinspector of a battalion of blacks to be raised in the South and on 28 December turned down his application for lieutenant colonel. Congress finally relented in January 1780 to commission him as major and employ him as an inspector. Luzerne intervened with Washington on his behalf and the latter ordered him to Cape Henry in May to await the possible arrival of the French fleet. He returned to serve in Lafayette's light infantry in September 1780. Lafayette was initially satisfied with Galvan but soon found him "very unpopular among officers" (Lafayette, Papers, 3:27). Washington removed him for "bad health" and Lafayette sent him to obtain artillery for the Virginia campaign of the spring of 1781. Galvan received a commendation from Lafayette for his actions at the Battle of Green Spring on 6 July 1781. On 14 July, Lafayette gave Galvan permission, for reasons of ill health, to return to the main army. He later served as a member of the court-martial trying Major General Robert Howe in December 1781, and Washington signed a certificate of service for him on 31 December 1781. He committed suicide on 24 July 1782 because of a romantic rejection by an American widow.
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revised by Robert Rhodes Crout