He is considered by many to one of the most important figures in the history of Rio Grande do Sul.
Although a staunch monarchist, Gonçalves led the rebel forces in the Ragamuffin War. Radicals within the rebel ranks forced the rebellion to become republican, something that Gonçalves opposed. Still, even though he fought against the Empire, Gonçalves and his troops celebrated the birthday of the young Emperor Dom Pedro II. After the conflict ended with the victory of the Empire, Gonçalves paid his respect to Pedro II by kissing his hand during the latter's trip to Rio Grande do Sul in December 1845.