what SECURED Yorktown, or why the four British staging areas at New York, Charleston, Penobscot Bay, and Detroit were never used by the British to reinvade. Few Americans know that the British were straining mightily in 1782 and 1783 just to hold on in the West Indies. Bernardo de Gálvez was waiting to invade Jamaica during that time with 10,000 troops at Guarico in Haiti. He was joined in Venezuela in Feb 1783 by nearly all of Rochambeau's American Expeditionary Force which had fought at Yorktown, 10,000 French troops. French General d'Estaing was lining up 20,000 more French and Spanish troops at Cadiz in Spain awaiting orders to sail. And Bernardo de Gálvez was already designated as the overall commander of the invading forces. The British had to negotiate or lose everything in the West Indies. That IMMINENT THREAT IN THE WEST INDIES is what SECURED Yorktown and made it into the victory we celebrate.
After the defeat at Yorktown, the British still had the resources to continue the war against the colonists. They decided not to because sending more troops to America would have had to have been done at the expense of defending other territories against France in Spain. During the battle of Yorktown, many British troops were busy fighting the French and Spanish else where. If France or Spain had not tied up those troops, they might have been sent to Yorktown and changed the outcome of the battle and possibly even the entire war.
Since 1768, Spain had a major port and shipbuilding center at San Blas on the west coast of Mexico in addition to Acapulco. More than 20 ships plus treasure galleons operated on a regular schedule supplying Pacific Coast missions, presidios and pueblos as well as trading up and down the coast, across the Pacific and in the Far East. Skirmishes were reported between Spanish and British ships during the American Revolution. Explorations of the northern Pacific also took place in what is known today as Vancouver Island, Glacier Bay, Prince William Sound and Unalaska where lands were claimed and lookouts established for Russian and English ships.
It is clear that the Spanish did not join in French and American combined military operations in the Western Hemisphere. During the war, Spain resisted in agreeing to any treaty that recognized the American rebellious colonies as a political entity. The Spanish did not even participate in purely French operations world-wide; whereas, the French often participated in Spanish designed operations. Nevertheless, independent of French and American combined operations, Spain did play a highly significant role in the North American warfare in Spanish and French-Spanish combined operations.This can be attributed mostly to the very robust offensive Spanish operations conducted by Bernardo de Gálvez in the Gulf of Mexico area that involved military and naval operations against British posts in North American and in the West Indies.
Spain's King Charles III would not consent to a treaty of alliance with the United States. For one imperial power to encourage another imperial power's colonies in revolt was a treacherous game, and he was unwilling to play. However, French Foreign Minister Charles Gravier, comte de Vergennes, managed to negotiate a treaty with Spain to join their war against the British. As the ally of the United States' ally, Spain managed to endorse the revolt at a critical diplomatic distance.
The American Revolution had already spawned a world war between the two international powers of Britain and France. Spain's entry into the imbroglio ensured that the British would have to spread their resources even thinner. King Charles wanted to reclaim Gibraltar for Spain and secure Spanish borders in North America and the Spanish immediately laid siege to Gibraltar at the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea.
Spain entered the war after France did as a result of several American victories against the British. Spain's military objectives were to recapture territory previously lost to Britain and to eliminate British threats to territory that was already under Spanish control. Spain focused on British possessions in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and the Pacific. These areas were far from the 13 colonies, were Britain had been concentrating its forces, resulting in British forces being too spread out to be able to defend all of Britain’s distant territories.
This project provided war materiel and brought European military leaders to the Patriots through a "dummy" world trading company -- Roderique Hortalez et Cie. Based in Paris, but operated out of St. Eustatius in the Lesser Antilles, the Bourbon Kings of Spain and France each provided one million livres to start the company in May of 1776, six weeks before the Declaration of Independence. The materiel and leaders were sent via ships from St. Eustatius to Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans in the Spanish Province of Louisiana, then up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and across the Braddock and Bedford roads. For example, Patriots received this support for the Battle of Saratoga and during the Northwest campaigns led by George Rogers Clark. Baron F. W. Augustus von Steuben was brought to Valley Forge with these funds as were Casimir Pulaski, Thaddeus Kosciuszko et al for other Patriot activities.
This help did not consist of Spanish troops to fight alongside Americans, but it was extensive nevertheless. The Spanish and French kings provided large loans and outright contributions of money to the Americans. Spain laundered this money, as we would say today, through a fictitious private trading company, Roderique Hortalez and Company, operating out of the Lesser Antilles, which sent both money and war material directly to the Americans. The money helped support the Americans' new currency, the Continental, and also made it possible for the Americans to bring in foreign military officers, such as Augustus von Steuben, Casimir Pulaski, and Thaddeus Kosciuszko, to fight for them.
Spain was not a bystander to the American Revolutionary War, although that fact is rarely mentioned in cursory historical surveys. Spain's motivation to help the American colonists was driven by a desire to regain the land it had lost to Britain and, with other European powers, make incremental gains against British possessions in other parts of the world. Although some dreamers in Spain perhaps envisioned its eventual possession of the entire New World, I have found no evidence that such an idea guided its assistance to the American colonists.
Like most other European powers, Spain believed that if the colonists won independence, their new nation would not survive very long. In addition to the territory that the colonists had already promised to Spain in exchange for support, Spain believed that when the weak independent America would collapse, Spain could take its territory.
France and Spain were at that time both under Bourbon kings, Louis XVI and Carlos III, respectively, whose American possessions had been significantly reduced by the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years' (the French and Indian) War. At the beginning of the American War of Independence, American commissioners were sent to Europe by the Continental Congress to seek support for their cause. John Jay, American representative in Spain, found success. Americans promised both France and Spain the restoration of much of the land they had lost to the British in America. In April 1779, Spain committed to helping the Americans.
The French and Indian War, 1756-1763, was the genesis of Spain's aid to the Patriots in the American Revolution, for Britain, in conquering France and Spain, set the stage for international revenge. August 15, 1761 Spain and France pledged mutual support to each other in perpetuity with the Bourbon Family Pact, and, on October 16, 1762, France ceded Louisiana to Spain. The Treaty of Paris, 1763, gave Britain nearly all of the French Empire in North America and a large part of Spain 's. Short of another war, how could Spain recoup her losses?