While books on the role of the Spanish and Hispanic Americans in the American Revolutionary War are challenging to locate, we have located several books and online sites that are listed in our Research Center.
We’re pleased to feature two articles by Barbara A. MItchell that appeared in publications by the Weider History Group, the world’s largest publisher of history magazines:
Bankrolling the Battle of Yorktown: Gold and silver from Havana allowed American troops to trap Cornwallis and his Army. This article details the harrowing days before the final Siege of Yorktown. The Spanish and Cubans raced to raise the funds needed for the Continental Army and the French Navy, as General Washington and his Army waited in Virginia.
America’s Spanish Savior: Bernardo de Galvez and the Spanish campaign in the South. The Spanish challenged the British on the Southern Front, which diverted troops and resources from fighting against the Continental Army.
We also feature several documents that substantiate the history that we’re presenting. These documents are copies of original 18th century letters and manuscripts that are housed in the Library of Congress (Washington, DC), the Archives General of the Indies (Sevilla, Spain), the Yale University Beineke Collection (New Haven, Connecticut), and the Saavedra Foundation (Granada, Spain).
On August 30, 1781, Rear Admiral Francois Josef Paul, Comte de Grasse wrote to General Rochambeau from his battleship, the Ville de Paris, anchored in the Chesapeake Bay. Admiral De Grasse noted his “great pleasure” in arriving at the Chesapeake Bay, and that he had departed on August 3rd from Santo Domingo. De Grasse wrote that it had it had been necessary to stop in Havana to obtain the 1.2 million livres, which was the funding in hard currency (silver and gold) that Rochambeau had requested as being necessary for the Battle of Yorktown. De Grasse also noted that his fleet included the 3,200 reinforcements that Rochambeau had also requested to join General Washington’s forces at Yorktown.
This letter verifies that the funding for the Battle of Yorktown was provided by the citizens of Havana, Cuba. The document is housed in the Yale University Beineke Rare Book and Manuscript Collection in New Haven, Connecticut. Your copy is here!
The Spanish also have numerous documents in the Archivo General de Indias that verify the financing of Admiral de Grasse’s fleet and the Battle of Yorktown by the citizens of Havana, Cuba. On August 17, 1781, Juan Manuel de Cagigal, a Cuban officer in the Spanish armed forces wrote a summary of the events addressed to Jose de Galvéz. This letter discusses the arrival of the French warship, the Agriette, in Havana.
The Agriette was captained by a French officer named Traverse, and Spanish agent Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis was also onboard. Saavedra was in Santo Domingo meeting with Admiral François- to discuss the assistance from the Spanish to the French and the North Americans. The French immediately needed 500,000 pesos for the war in North America. The official Spanish Treasury in Havana did not have the needed funds, and the citizens of Havana were asked to help. The citizens responded quickly to the urgent request, supplying the money in less than 24 hours. Your copy is here!
Please visit our Research Center for more ideas and suggestions.