Agustina de Aragón was a heroine of the Spanish War of Independence and the Peninsular War against France. She is most famous for her bravery at the Siege of Zaragoza.
In 1808, Zaragoza was one of the last cities in northern Spain not to have fallen to the forces of Napoleon and was ill-prepared for a siege. Agustina, a civiilian at the time, was present during the French attack of the Portillo gateway. Broken by the French onslaught, the Spanish began to retreat. With the French troops just a few yards away, Agustina ran forward, loaded a cannon and lit the fuse, shredding a wave of attackers at point blank range. Inspired by her act of bravery, the Spanish forces rallied and assisted her in repelling the attackers.
While this heroic defense bought time for Zaragoza, the siege was only broken for a matter of weeks, after which the French returned and this time were successful in taking the city. Agustina was captured and saw her own son killed by French guards. She later mounted a daring escape and became a low-level rebel leader for the guerrilleros, harassing the French with hit-and-run raids.
Her forces joined the alliance against the French led by the Duke of Wellington. The only female officer in Wellington’s army, Agustina eventually rose to the rank of Captain and acted as a front line battery commander at the Battle of Vitoria, which led to the French being driven out of Spain.
Following the war she married and later in life became a familiar sight in Zaragoza as a respectable old lady wearing medals. She died in 1857 aged 71.
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