Gálvez, Bernardo de (1746–1786)

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Gálvez, Bernardo de (1746–1786)

Bernardo de Gálvez (b. 25 July 1746; d. 30 November 1786), Spanish military officer, governor of Louisiana (1777–1783), and viceroy of New Spain (1785–1786), Gálvez was born at Macharavialla, near Málaga, to a family that held many important posts under the Spanish Bourbons. He accompanied his uncle, José de Gálvez, to New Spain, where he gained valuable experience against the Apaches on the northern frontier in 1769. After a tour of training with the French Cantabrian Regiment, he served under General Alejandro O'Reilly in a campaign against Algeria (1774), after which King Charles III named him commander of the Louisiana Regiment in 1776.

Upon arriving in New Orleans, however, he received orders to relieve Luis de Unzaga as governor of Louisiana, which he did on 1 January 1777. His administration in Louisiana coincided with the American Revolution, in which he played a prominent role. He increased the population and military strength of the colony and promoted its economic growth in accordance with the instructions of his uncle José, who now served as president of the Council of the Indies. In collaboration with Oliver Pollock, he clandestinely channeled arms to American revolutionaries operating in the Mississippi Valley, significantly aiding George Rogers Clark. Once Spain declared war on England, he launched a successful military campaign, with major victories at Baton Rouge (21 September 1779), Mobile (March 1780), and Pensacola (8-10 May 1781). His forces were also instrumental in breaking British military power in the northern Mississippi Valley. Gálvez's victories enabled Spain to recover Florida under the Treaty of Paris (1783) and contributed significantly to the achievement of American independence. Promoted to captain-general, Gálvez governed Cuba from 4 February until 20 April 1785, after which he succeded his father, Matías de Gálvez, as viceroy of New Spain. He died in Mexico City.

See alsoLouisiana; New Spain, Viceroyalty of.


John W. Caughey, Bernardo de Gálvez in Louisiana, 1776–1783 (1934).

Jack D. L. Holmes, A Guide to Spanish Louisiana, 1762–1806 (1970).

José R. Boeta, Bernardo de Gálvez (1977).

Bernardo De Gálvez, Yo solo: The Battle Journal of Bernardo de Gálvez During the American Revolution (1978).

Ralph L. Woodward, Jr., Tribute to Don Bernardo de Gálvez (1979).

William S. Coker and Robert R. Rea, eds., Anglo-Spanish Confrontation on the Gulf Coast During the American Revolution (1982).

Carmen De Reparz, Yo solo: Bernardo de Gálvez y la toma de Panzacola en 1781 (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Chavez, Thomas E. Spain and the Independence of the United States: An Intrinsic Gift. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2002.

                            Ralph Lee Woodward Jr.