When I began researching my family history, the last thing that I expected was that I would find an ancestor who enables me to apply to the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Donato Bello, the infamous, is that ancestor for me. He was an Italian-born Spanish militia man stationed in Louisiana. His contribution to the American Revolution was participating in the Galvez Expedition.
The following is excerpted from an article written by Lt J.D. Ortiz CHC, USNR. NTC Chaplain..
“Through the years, Hispanic American citizens have risen to the call of duty in defense of liberty and freedom. Their bravery is well known and has been demonstrated time and again, dating back to the aid rendered by General Bernardo de Galvez during the American Revolution”.
-President Ronald Reagan
Few Americans are aware that Bernardo de Galvez was the Spanish governor of the Louisiana territory that encompassed 13 of our present states. They are also unaware that long before any formal declaration of war, General Galvez sent gunpowder, rifles, bullets, blankets, medicine and other supplies to the armies of General George Washington and General George Rogers Clark. Once Spain entered the war against Great Britain in 1779, this dashing young officer raised an army in New Orleans and drove the British out of the Gulf of Mexico. General Galvez captured five British forts in the Lower Mississippi Valley. They repelled a British and Indian attack in St. Louis, Missouri and captured the British fort of St. Joseph in present-day Niles, Michigan. With reinforcements from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, General Galvez captured Mobile and Pensacola, the capital of the British colony of West Florida. At Pensacola, Galvez commanded a multinational army of over 7,000 black and whitesoldiers. These men were born in Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Hispanola, and other Spanish colonies such as Venezuela. The city was defended by a British and Indian army of 2,500 soldiers and British warships.
An American historian called the siege of Pensacola “a decisive factor in the outcome of the Revolution and one of the most brilliantly executed battles of the war.” Another historian stated that General Galvez’ campaign broke the British will to fight. This battle ended in May 1781, just five months before the final battle of the war at Yorktown.
General Bernardo de Galvez and his contributions have been remembered even to this day with statues and even a city named in his honor, Galveston, Texas.
United States history textbooks seldom mention the important contributions by our “forgotten allies,” Spain and Hispanic America, during the American Revolution. They also forget that they helped in the establishment and growth of the first democracy in the modern world. The neglect in reporting Hispanic contributions extends to all periods of American history. Textbooks also fail to mention the role of 10,000 Hispanic soldiers who fought on both sides of the Civil War.
Galvez, (Bernardo de) Park and Statue in the District of Columbia: The Statue was a gift from the King of Spain in 1796 to celebrate the American Bi-Centennial and the role of Galvez in the American War of Independence
EXCERPTS OF A SPEECH GIVEN ON THIS LOCATION ON JUNE 3, 1976 BY HIS MAJESTY
DON JUAN CARLOS I
KING OF SPAIN
BERNARDO DE GALVEZ THE GREAT
SPANISH SOLDIER CARRIED OUT
A COURAGEOUS CAMPAIGN IN
LANDS BORDERING THE LOWER
MISSISSIPPI. THIS MASTERPIECE
OF MILITARY STRATEGY LIGHTENED
THE PRESSURE OF THE ENGLISH
IN THE WAR AGAINST THE AMERICAN
SETTLERS WHO WERE FIGHTING FOR
MAY THE STATUE OF BERNARDO
DE GALVEZ SERVE AS A REMINDER
THAT SPAIN OFFERED THE BLOOD
OF HER SOLDIERS FOR THE CAUSE
OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE.