When discussing the American Revolutionary War, one will find that most people are aware of the fact that France was an invaluable ally to the Continental Army throughout the conflict. What most people are not aware of, however, is Spain’s equally large and important contribution to the war effort in both the American and European theatres. The Spanish Empire not only contributed a great number of supplies to ease tensions on the Continental Army’s supply chains, but also provided soldiers and ships which directly fought and participated in the war effort.
Within Spain, however, it could be said that the greatest benefactor and contributor to the war effort was the Basque Country. Situated in the northeast of Spain, along France’s border, the Basque Country is known for its rich naval history, along with having perpetually been one of the most industrialized regions of Spain. Both of these factors are what made the Basques a valuable ally to the Continental Army, and by extension to the United States which was then known as the 13 Colonies.
The Basque Country, having been a longstanding trade partner with the American Colonies, decided to help by assisting in the production of Continental Army uniforms, armaments and weaponry, along with providing various frigates and sloops for use in naval battles. In total, the Basque House of Gardoqui provided loans to the American patriots which supplied them with 215 bronze cannons, 30,000 muskets, 30,000 bayonets, 51,314 musket balls, 300,000 pounds of powder, 12,868 grenades, 30,000 uniforms, and 4,000 field tents during the war. Several thousand Basque soldiers enlisted in the Spanish Imperial Army also fought as allies of the Continental Army in various key battles such as the Battle of Fort Bute, the Battle of Pensacola, and the Siege of Yorktown. In honor of Spain’s contribution, the city of Galveston, Texas was named after Spanish Basque General and Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez.
This sustained assistance from the Basque Country and Spain as a whole likely eased a great deal of pressure off the backs of Continental Army leaders and greatly facilitated the Revolutionary Army’s victory. Without the important contributions from The Basques and the Spanish Empire, the war may have played out very differently.
Yachting Times Magazine would like to thank the Euskal Itsas Museoa (Basque Maritime Museum) located in Donostia, Spain, for their contribution to this article. https://itsasmuseoa.eus/en