Date of Graduation
Ambrosio Jose Gonzales, born in Matanzas, Cuba, in 1818, at the age of ten was sent to school in New York City, where he made friends with classmate Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard. Gonzales became imbued with the Democratic ideals of the Jacksonian era before returning to Cuba, where he received a law degree from the University of Havana and became a freemason. The corruption of Spain's colonial judicial system prompted him to forsake on principle a lucrative career for that of a college teacher. In 1848, Gonzales joined the Havana Club conspiracy planning to follow the Texas model to annex Cuba to the United States. Gonzales went to the United States in 1848, where as second-in-command to General Narciso Lopez, he was a leading organizer of what became known as the 1849 Round Island expedition, the 1850 Cardenas invasion, and the 1851 Cleopatra and Pampero expeditions, to liberate Cuba. The Cuban annexation movement played an important role in the causation of the American Civil War. Since Cuba was an agricultural slave society, its acquisition was spurned by the North and coveted by the South. Northerners considered the filibusters part of a slave power conspiracy to expand their dominions into the Caribbean Basin, and Southerners responded to this opposition in Congress with increasing demands for secession. These intrigues prompted Gonzales to write a manifesto on Cuban annexation to the United States and brought him into close contact with influential Southern politicians, including Jefferson Davis, John C. Calhoun, John Quitman, Mirabeau Lamar, Pierre Soule, John Slidell, James Chesnut, Jr., Louis T. Wigfall, Francis Pickens, James H. Hammond, Stephen Mallory, Robert Toombs and John Henderson. Gonzales married into an aristocratic South Carolina family in 1856, and his sense of duty and obligation to his adopted state motivated his joining the Confederacy. He served under various generals, including Beauregard, Robert E. Lee, John Pemberton, Samuel Jones, William Hardee and Joseph E. Johnston. A personal feud with Jefferson Davis resulted in Gonzales being denied six times promotion to brigadier general. Early in the war, Gonzales invented a "siege train" flying artillery to quickly mobilize heavy guns to enemy disembarkment positions. As chief of artillery and chief of ordnance for the Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, Gonzales helped defend the city of Charleston against repeated Union encroachments, and devised planting land mines in the gorge of Battery Wagner, which helped impede a now famous Union attack there spearheaded by the African-American 54th Massachusetts Regiment. In 1864, Gonzales commanded the artillery at the battle of Honey Hill, enabling 1,200 Confederates to defeat 5,000 federals. (Abstract shortened by UMI.).
de la Cova, Antonio Rafael, "Ambrosio Jose Gonzales: A Cuban Confederate colonel." (1994). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8726.