Spain In The War
Spain enters the war.—When Spain became a factor in the war in 1779, a new element entered the contest in the West. During 1778 Vergennes did not relax his efforts to induce Spain to become a belligerent. But Carlos III and Florida Blanca had no intention of risking a war with Great Britain unless they were well paid for their assistance. Not until they were certain that France would assist in the recovery of Gibraltar and the Floridas did they consent to make war. On another point the king was insistent; he refused to recognize the independence of the United States. The secret convention of Aranjuez between France and Spain was signed on April 12, 1779, and in June Spain definitely entered the war.
Gálvez on the lower Mississippi.—Orders were given at once to seize the British posts on the Mississippi. With a hastily built fleet, Bernardo de Gálvez, the Governor of Louisiana, ascended the Mississippi at the head of fifteen hundred men. On September 7 he took Fort Bute at Manchac, and then proceeded to Baton Rouge which he captured, the capitulation including Fort Panmure at Natchez. Meanwhile Grandpré had taken two small British outposts and a fleet had captured eight British vessels on Lake Pontchartrain.
British attack on St. Louis.—As soon as war was declared, the British planned to capture New Orleans. An expedition from the north was to descend the Mississippi, attack St. Louis, reconquer the Illinois country, and meet General Campbell at Natchez with a force from Pensacola. The campaign against St. Louis was directed by Sinclair, commander at Mackinac. Emmanuel Hesse, a trader, was sent to assemble a force of Indians at the Fox-Wisconsin portage. In March, 1780, seven hundred and fifty men left Mackinac and joined Hesse at Prairie du Chien. To coöperate Charles Langlade was sent with Indians via Chicago, while Captain Bird, despatched from Detroit, was to raid Kentucky. None of the plans succeeded. Leyba, the commander at St. Louis, was forewarned and was aided by George Rogers Clark. On May 26 the British attacked St. Louis but were repulsed and forced to withdraw. Bird's expedition also miscarried, and Campbell's movement was frustrated by Gálvez.
The Spanish expedition against St. Joseph.—Sinclair at once planned a second expedition for the spring of 1781. Learning of the project, Cruzat, the new commander at St. Louis, prepared a counter stroke. He despatched parties up the Mississippi and to Peoria, and sent sixty-five men under Purée to destroy the stores at St. Joseph. On February 12 the post was taken in a surprise attack and the stores destroyed.
Capture of Mobile and Pensacola.—Meanwhile more important events had been taking place on the Gulf of Mexico. In February, 1780, Gálvez sailed from New Orleans with two thousand men to capture Fort Charlotte at Mobile, and on March 14 the place capitulated. Going to Cuba for reinforcements, after losing one fleet in a hurricane, in February, 1781, he sailed with fourteen hundred men to attack Pensacola. After a siege of nearly two months, General Campbell with more than eight hundred men surrendered. A simultaneous French and Spanish attack on Jamaica was next planned, and Gálvez sailed for Santo Domingo to command the Spanish forces, but the campaign was made unnecessary by the ending of the war. Spain had played an important part. She had defeated the British attempt to gain control of the Mississippi, had enabled Clark to maintain his hold on the Northwest, and had recovered Mobile and Pensacola.
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