Accession Number:



Example of Successful Leadership at the Operational Level of Warfare: Bernardo de Galvez during the American War of Independence

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Monograph]

Corporate Author:

U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

Personal Author(s):

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Soon after the Declaration of Independence, the Second Continental Congress requested financial, diplomatic, and military support from Spain. Acknowledging that his country was ill-prepared to fight the British, the King of Spain refused to declare war on Great Britain but committed to providing covert assistance to the Continental Army. The secret aid bought Spain time for the likely future conflict against the British while it also helped sustain the American cause. It was in this context when Bernardo de Galvez arrived in Louisiana in late 1776. Galvez was initially appointed colonel of the infantry regiment in New Orleans, and later governor of the province and military commander of the region. To prepare Louisiana for the probable conflict against the British and shape the operational environment, Galvez developed a comprehensive approach involving all the instruments of national power. Instead of using the military to impose his will on the population, Galvez applied an ingenious use of diplomacy that captivated Louisianas inhabitants shortly after his arrival. He used various methods to gather intelligence in peacetime that he would exploit later, once the conflict started. Regarding the economy, Galvez successfully channeled most of Spains covert financial and logistical support to the American rebels. As for the military, the forces he inherited were not enough to defend Louisiana, let alone begin an offensive. Consequently, he developed a transformation model involving the army, navy, and militias that completely changed his capabilities. In April 1779, Spain and France signed a bilateral agreement to support each other fighting Britain the Treaty of Aranjuez. Shortly thereafter, Spain declared war on Great Britain. The Treaty of Aranjuez detailed each of Spains objectives in the war, including three direct orders for Bernardo de Galvez conquer the river and fort of Mobile, take Pensacola, and recover West and East Florida.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]