The Beauty of Agustina de Aragon
Born 1786 in Spain, Agustina Raimunda María Saragossa Domènech, or just simply “Agustina of Aragón” was a Spanish heroine who defended Spain during the Spanish War of Independence, first as a civilian and later as a professional officer in the Spanish Army.
Spain was always Napoleon’s hardest nut to crack and while General Winter and his buddy General Kutuzov may have broken the Grand Armee’s back in 1812, it was the ‘Spanish ulcer’ that kept him up at night.
On June 15, 1808, the French army stormed the Portillo, an ancient gateway into the city defended by a (lets call it antiquated) battery of old cannons manned by a heavily outnumbered volunteer unit. Agustina, 22, arriving on the ramparts with a basket of apples to feed the gunners, watched the nearby defenders fall to French bayonets.
The Spanish militia broke ranks after taking heavy casualties, and abandoned their posts. With the French troops just a few yards away and Portillo in danger of falling, Agustina herself ran forward, loaded a cannon, and lit the fuse, shredding a wave of attackers at point-blank range. The broken Spanish troops, seeing what she had done and shamed of their retreat, rallied and counterattacked.
I’d like to say she said something witty as she lit the fuse.
She is remembered as “the Spanish Joan of Arc,” and has been immortalized in prose and paintings for generations.
Agustina, we salute you.