Chevalier de Levis, Louisiana's star general, scored victories in New Orleans, Tallahassee, and Tampa, while a lower ranking commander, Comte de Rochambeau, led the charge in the west. The war began on March 7, 1778 with the invasion of Louisiana by the Spanish under the command of Alejandro O'Reilly, who was responsible for the Spanish defeat in 1770.
From the beginning the Spanish war effort was flawed. The first major battle came at Natchitoches, in which the Spanish were forced to retreat extremely quickly. Following this loss, the Spanish retreated back across the border to Santa Fe, where the battle settled into a stalemate long enough for de Levis to hit the Spanish in Florida several times. Finally, Santa Fe fell in mid-October, followed by San Antonio a few weeks later, and Tampa in November. Following th defeat at Tampa, the Spanish were forced to surrender, giving up a considerable amount of territory, including Florida.