Work on the brig, which will measure 22 metres in length, began recently.
The Galveztown will sail again. This news may not means much to many people, but for those who know their history, especially naval history of the 18th century, this is very good news indeed. The first planks of an exact replica of the famous brig were laid recently in a ceremony in Nereo, close to the Baños del Carmen, outside Malaga city. For those who do not already know this, the Galveztown was the ship commanded by Malaga hero Bernardo de Gálvez to capture the port of Pensacola in the 18th century.
In spite of scattered rain showers, the ceremony at the Nereo shipyards went off without a hitch. Present were members of the media, representatives of Malaga University, the City Hall and the Macharaviaya Town Hall (where the Gálvez family were from), naval officers and representatives of American institutions which are co-operating in the reconstruction of the ship.
Construction work will take two years, but during that time, the people of Malaga can discover more about the life and times of Bernardo de Gálvez, one of their most important local heroes, through a series of exhibitions and conferences to be mounted over the coming two years. One of them actually took place recently in Malaga University.
Bernardo de Gálvez was born and brought up in the Axarquía, and was responsible for winning one of the key naval battle of the American War of Independence when he captured Pensacola, in Florida, in 1781. He had always been a military man, although on land, but as governor of Louisiana, he requested the assistance of the Spanish fleet in the war against the British, who were, of course, traditional enemies of the Spanish crown. The fleet was commanded by José Calvo.
“José Calvo kept the Spanish fleet anchored off the Bay of Pensacola after the San Ramón, the fleet’s flag ship, had grounded on the sands off the island of Santa Rosa,” we are told by Rafael Díaz, president of the Andalusian Naval League and delegate of the Royal Spanish Naval League. Gálvez disobeyed the orders of his naval superior, however, and decided to enter the bay to see if the British forces had aimed their artillery too high to cause serious damage to his ship.
He went in alone, and this caused an uproar among the Spanish sailors, who now believed Calvo for acting cowardly by not having done the same. The rest of the ships then joined Gálvez, and following a siege of the fortress, they captured it. The Spanish king, Carlos III, rewarded Gálvez with the title of count, and allowed him to inscribe the image of the Galveztown and the words ‘I alone’ on his new coat of arms.
Samuel Turner, director of Archaeology in the St. Agustin Historical Society in Florida, pointed out at the Malaga ceremony the significance of the re-construction of the ship for both Spain and the United States. He reminded his listeners that the oak used in the building work was donated by American institutions. When built, the brig will make a voyage to all the coastal cities that the original Gálveztown visited.