Ballasteros served against the First French Republic in the 1793 War of the Pyrenees. He was dismissed from his post for lack of service in 1804 until Prime Minister Godoy rehabilitated him and assigned him to customs in Asturias.
Following the French invasion of 1808, Ballasteros took command of a regiment from the Junta General del Principado de Asturias and attached himself to the Army of Galicia under Blake and Castaños. After Napoleon's defeat of the Spanish popular armies and the subsequent French invasion of Andalusia, Ballasteros carried on operations against Marshal Soult in the south of Spain. With Blake and Zayas, he commanded the Spanish divisions that resisted every blow at the Battle of Albuera. His forces liberated Málaga in August 1812.
When the liberal revolution broke out in 1820, he was called back to Madrid, where on March 7 he surrounded the royal palace and forced King Ferdinand VII of Spain to sign the Spanish Constitution of 1812. He became vice-president of the junta provisional, closing many prisons of the Holy Inquisition and restoring municipal rights.
On July 7, 1822, Ballesteros defeated the Royal Guards, preventing a coup against the Constitution. For this he was named Captain General of Madrid. In 1823 he fought the French invasion under Louis-Antoine, Duke of Angoulême in Navarra and Aragón, but he had to capitulate on August 21, 1823 in Caporla.
On October 1, 1823 Fernando VII started his campaign of repression against all who had supported the constitutional government. Ballesteros fled to Cádiz, where he embarked on a British ship for France. He spent the rest of his life in Paris, where he died on June 29, 1832.