This slender volume (108 pages of actual text and quotations) is a very difficult work to review. It is difficult because the story related is so well known; because, aside from General John Campbell’s transcript accounts of the Battle of Pensacola, its work contains only a modicum of new archival documentation, particularly Spanish; and, lastly, because it consists of chapters composed either of almost complete quotations (IV and V) or of quotations interlaced by transitional paragraphs (I, II, and III). That the volume was published is a tribute to the editor’s drive, the tolerant attitude of Florida State University’s editorial committee, and ultimately, perhaps, the affluence of the Floridians.
The Battle of Pensacola is simply a padded volume, couching a new translation (not by Rush) of Bernardo de Gálvez’ Diario of the battle. Thus it consists of a rather revealing preface, a bibliography, an index, maps and drawings, and five very unbalanced chapters. Chapter I (Background), where the editor sees the “significance of the Battle of Pensacola as a decisive factor in the outcome of the Revolution” and as “one of the most brilliantly executed battles of the war,” is made up almost equally of text and quotations from very limited sources. Chapter II (The Generals: Gálvez and Campbell) contains seventeen pages, of which approximately eleven are quotations, and is based on even more limited sources, only one of which is in Spanish— Sociedad económica de la Habana (1845). (Chapter III (The Battle of Pensacola) gives a good, concise synthesis of the battle which is worthy of publication in a local historical journal. Chapter IV (The Diario) contains a six and one-half-page introduction to the fifty-one-page translation of the first printing of Gálvez’ battle account— a work previously translated into English and republished in Spanish several times. Finally, Chapter V (Campbell’s Account of the Battle), a fifteen and one-half-page chapter, consists of four brief paragraphs by Rush and three interesting letters by General Campbell—all of them from the same source, the Carleton collection in the Public Records Office.
This volume will vex North American Revolutionary historians, because it lacks historical perspective, contains some involved translations, and is extremely favorable to the Spaniards. It will also irritate Hispanic American colonial historians. Why did the author— or perhaps better, the editor—not cite one Spanish document from the Archive of the Indies? Why did he so uncritically accept the one source for the biographical sketch of Bernardo de Galvez? Why did he not visit the Military Archives in Madrid to ascertain if the original document was deposited there, as he surmised? For those historians who have spent countless hours in going through legajos in search of new sources, this volume indicates an interest not in scholarship but simply in publication.