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The Spaniard who defeated 1,500 Britons and Indians

National Policeman and writer, Cristóbal Tejón, has published La llave olvidada The Forgotten Key, a biography on the life of Fernando de Leyba, subordinate to Bernardo de Gálvez.

With only 20 soldiers, Fernando de Leyba defended the city of San Luis against the British army and the Indians

Fernando de Leyba - www.hispaniccouncil.org

‘When I was investigating the life of Bernardo de Gálvez, I discovered that the British forces did not attack from behind from the north, from Canada’ noted Cristóbal Tejón.

This national policeman was born in 1979 in La Linea, although his family roots are in Fuengirola, and he has united documents for ‘The Freedom of the Brave’ an historical novel on the life of Bernardo de Gálvez, which he published in 2014, when he found a new person which drew his attention – Fernando de Leyba y Córdoba (1734-1780).

The British could not attack Gálvez from behind because in May 1780 this solider born in Ceuta, a descendent from a wealthy family from Antequera, blocked his path; with only 20 soldiers and a public military escort in San Luis – today the capital city of the US state Missouri – against the strength of 1,500 soldiers of three nationalities – the British; Indians and the fur traders from France together.

This achievement, unknown by many Spaniards is told in The Forgotten Key, his new historical novel, just published by editorial Alhulía.

‘I like to discover interesting and unheard of stories’ said the author, who started writing black novels because; he recognised ‘being a National Policeman and also a judge, I have access to tremendous literary material; in fact I have been in places which they people only see in films’ he told Alfonso Vázquez from La Opinión de Málaga.

Likewise, his first novel starred a drug trafficker in the Strait of Gibraltar and the second Operation Algeciras, during the very Falklands War, the frustrated plan by an Argentine commando to sabotage in the Strait British warships.

To write his latest, he was assisted on military questions by General Alberto Ruiz de Oña for the historical aspect, with the help of Martha Steinkamp, Carolina Crim and above all a US researcher, living in Sevilla Kristine Sjostrom who had been a full-time assistant ‘and accepted my ideas and now is excited that the results can be seen.

Fernando de Leyba was named in 1778 by his own governor in Louisiana Bernardo de Gálvez, Governor of high Mississippi with capital San Luis. In the spring of 1780 ‘with 20 regular soldiers and a militia, practically all French and hardly military’ defeated the British forces from entering the city, explained Cristóbal Tejón.

Leyba was facing with 20 soldiers, a tower defended with cannons, and he decided to build a wooden barrier around the city which the militia guarded. The British surrendered. Leyba, fighting sickness ‘died from exhaustion days later’