O'Daly was the first Puerto Rican to reach
the rank of Field Marshal in the Spanish Army.
|Born||January 26, 1780
San Juan, Puerto Rico
|Commands held||Military Governor of Cartagena, Spain|
|Awards||Cruz Laureada de San Fernando|
Field Marshal Demetrio O'Daly (January 26, 1780 – 1837), was the first Puerto Rican to reach the rank of Field Marshal in the Spanish Army. O'Daly was awarded the Cruz Laureada de San Fernando (Laureate Cross of Saint Fernand), the highest military decoration awarded by the Spanish government. He represented Puerto Rico as a delegate to the Spanish Courts. Among his many accomplishments was the introduction of a Bill to the Spanish legislature which established free commercial trade and public education in Puerto Rico.
O'Daly (birth name: Demetrio O'Daly Fernández de la Puente [note 1]) was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He lived there with his parents, Tomas O'Daly and Maria de la Puente y Franco and his older brother and sister. His father Tomas was a Colonel in the Spanish Army who was sent to Puerto Rico in the quest of revamping the El Morro fort and was named chief engineer of modernizing the defenses of San Juan, which included the fortress of San Cristóbal. His father later became a successful businessman in his association with the growth of commercial agriculture. Upon his father's death in 1781, his uncle Jaime took over the family property and helped raise the three O'Daly children. O'Daly received his primary education at private schools and when he was older he was sent to Spain where he received his military training at a military educational institution.
O'Daly participated in various military engagements. He was a Sergeant Major in the army when he participated in the 1809 Peninsular War, also known as the Spanish War of Independence. During the conflict he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General. O'Daly was a defender of the Spanish Constitution of 1812 and was considered a rebel and exiled from Spain by King Fernando VII in 1814. O'Daly, together with fellow general and rebel Rafael Riego organized and led a revolution against the King. The 1820, revolt against the Spanish monarchy was successful and he was promoted to Field Marshal and awarded the Cruz Laureada de San Fernando (Laureate Cross of Saint Fernand), the highest military decoration awarded by the Spanish government.
On August 21, 1820, he was elected as a delegate to the Spanish Cortes representing Puerto Rico. He was named, by the Spanish legislature, vice-president of the courts. Among his accomplishments was the introduction of a Bill to the Spanish legislature which established free commercial trade and public education in Puerto Rico. He was also responsible for the creation of a law which separated the civil authority from the military authority in the island.
In 1823, O'Daly was exiled by the restored Spanish Crown and went to live in London. He later went to the Danish island of Saint Thomas with the intention of returning to Puerto Rico, however on May 15, 1824, Lieutenant General Miguel Luciano de La Torre y Pando, the Spanish appointed governor of Puerto Rico issued an order for his arrest in the event that O'Daly returned to the island.
O'Daly was permitted to return to Puerto Rico in 1834. In 1836, he went back to Spain and was named Military Governor of Cartagena. He died in Madrid, the capital of Spain, in 1837. San Juan, his hometown honored his memory by naming a street "Calle Demetrio O'Daly" after him.
- "Galería de héroes de Puerto Rico"; by: José Morales Dorta; Published 1997 by Editorial Plaza Mayor in San Juan, P.R; ISBN 1-56328-088-4; LC Control Number 98144646; OCLC/WorldCat 38577268.
- "Benefactores y Hombres Notables de Puerto Rico"; by Eduardo Neumann Gandia; published 1896 National Library of Spain.
- "Benefactores y Hombres Notables de Puerto Rico"; by Eduardo Neumann Gandia; published 1896 National Library of Spain
- Irish Indentured Servants, Papists and Colonists in Spanish Colonial Puerto Rico, ca. 1650-1800, Retrieved November 29, 2008
- Irish and Puerto Rico, Retrieved November 29, 2008
- Negroni, Héctor Andrés (1992). Historia militar de Puerto Rico (in Spanish). Sociedad Estatal Quinto Centenario. ISBN 978-84-7844-138-9.
- Calle Demetrio O'Daly where Colegio Nuestra Señora de Lourdes is located