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  • Luis María de Salazar, Ángel Laborde and the Defence of Cuba, 1825–9: A Study in Combined Leadership

    Carlos Alfaro Zaforteza

    Chapter from the book: Guimerá A. & Harding R. 2017. Naval Leadership in the Atlantic World: The Age of Reform and Revolution, 1700–1850.


    Spain’s naval defence of Cuba and Puerto Rico against a combined attack from Colombia and Mexico is examined from the point of view of the two Spanish Admirals who led the Navy at the time. It considers three main aspects of the actions in this conflict of Luis María de Salazar Navy Minister and Ángel Laborde commander of the Apostadero de la Habana (Havana Station): the nature of the threat, the situation itself and the main protagonists. The aim of the attack was to destroy the Havana fleet and help secure the nationalists’ gains at a time of Spanish economic weakness after the Napoleonic struggles. Salazar was an experienced and effective navy minister, Laborde a proactive holder of his post, unusually spending more time at sea leaving his deputy to manage the dockyard. In straitened circumstances Salazar ably oversaw the building of the frigates Iberia and Lealtad and refitting of other vessels and headed off problems with payment and morale of sailors to ensure Laborde had a decent force available. The latter’s preemptive attack on Cartagena was one of several actions and circumstances that strengthened the Spanish hand. The pairs’ successful leadership was vital in preserving Spanish rule in Cuba and Puerto Rico in the 19th century with lasting effects on Spanish naval management which became less tolerant of officers’ weaknesses and more geared to supporting able staff.

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    Zaforteza, C. 2017. Luis María de Salazar, Ángel Laborde and the Defence of Cuba, 1825–9: A Study in Combined Leadership. In: Guimerá A. & Harding R (eds.), Naval Leadership in the Atlantic World. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book2.m

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Published on March 30, 2017