The Order of the Granaderos y Damas de Gálvez is a nonprofit organization founded in San Antonio, originally as the Granaderos de Gálvez, by Charles E. Barrera, a local businessman, and Henry Guerra, a local radio personality, to educate the public of the substantial contributions to the American Revolution by Spain and Gen. Bernardo de Gálvez, the governor of Louisiana during the Spanish colonial period. The organization’s founding stemmed from planning for the American Bicentennial. In 1975 Barrera and Guerra, members of the local Bicentennial Commission, met with Spanish Consul General Erik I. Martel at his office in Houston and brainstormed the idea of founding a group to “educate the public of the great contributions that Spain and General Galvez gave the American colonies during the American Revolution.” Charles Barrera and his wife Alicia subsequently traveled to Spain to research more information about Gálvez and the military attire of the time period.
The first chapter of the Order was established in 1975 in San Antonio by Barrera along with five charter members that included Ventura G. Perez, Adolfo Herrera, Henry de Leon, Manual Borrego and Raymond Ugalde. Consul General Martel was instrumental in obtaining fully-geared grenadier uniforms for the organization as gifts from the Spanish government. In 1977 Alicia Barrera founded the Order of the Damas de Gálvez, which functions as a unit of equal status to the men’s Order of Granaderos de Gálvez. In 1978 the organization had the honor of appearing before King Juan Carlos of Spain and to inform him personally of their work. Charles Barrera was named honorary vice consul of Spain in San Antonio by King Juan Carlos in 1979, and Barrera received the Order of Civil Merit a month later. The Granaderos have seen much growth, with new chapters located in El Paso; Galveston; Houston; Jacksonville, Florida; St. Augustine, Florida; and Washington, D.C.
The organization is especially interested in preserving the memory of Gen. Bernardo de Gálvez, who played a vital role in the American Revolution by leading multiple military expeditions along the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast. His military contributions included the capture of Baton Rouge and Mobile, as well as other British holdings. His successful siege at Pensacola denied a British advancement along the Mississippi River. In addition to military service, Gálvez also assisted the Continental Army through the donation of military provisions of ammunitions and medicine as well as protection for their ships from British attacks at the port of New Orleans. In 1994 Gálvez was honored in the United States House of Representatives. Barrera and his fellow members have been diligent in educating the public on the important contributions by Bernardo de Gálvez, a still relatively unknown historical figure in U.S. history.
In order to promote Spain’s importance in U.S. history and Galvez’s accomplishments, members of the organization conduct research, write articles, and deliver speeches. Additionally, they sponsor and participate in various cultural, civic, historical and patriotic ceremonies, events, and parades. Members also don their replicas of the traditional eighteenth-century Spanish grenadier uniforms and arms. Uniformed members along with the Spanish Colonial Fife and Drum Corps march in activities such as the Fourth of July ceremonies at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery. The Order also raises public awareness by sponsoring a Catholic Mass on the birthday of Gen. Bernardo de Gálvez and by donating books on Gálvez to university libraries and other educational institutions. The Order is responsible for commissioning bronze statues, plaques, and paintings throughout the country in remembrance of Gálvez and the Spanish effort to aid the colonies. The San Antonio chapter of the Order publishes its own monthly newsletter, La Granada.