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The battle of Alagon, 14 June 1808, was the third of three attempts made by Joseph Palafox, the captain-general of Aragon, to stop a French column under General Lefebvre-Desnouettes from reaching Saragossa. The first two attempts, at Tudela on 8 June and at Mallen on 13 June, had seen forces commanded by Palafox’s older brother, the Marquis of Lazan, easily brushed aside by the French. Palafox responded by leading a force just over 6,000 strong to Alagon, seventeen miles outside Saragossa, for a third attempt to stop the French.
Palafox had 500 regular infantry, 5,500 levies, 150 dragoons and four guns at Alagon. He took up a reasonably strong position, defended by the Canal of Aragon, and by olive groves. As at Mallen, the French and Spanish forces were roughly equal in size, but the French were much more experienced, and better equipped. The Spanish artillery was soon knocked out by the fourteen French guns. Amongst the French troops was a contingent of Polish lancers. Their charge broke the Spanish infantry, who fled back towards Saragossa.
Palafox himself attempted to lead his own cavalry in an attack on the French. During this charge he was injured in the arm, while his horse was shot from under him, and he had to be carried back to Saragossa. The French would arrive in front of the city on the day after the battle, and begin their first, unsuccessful, siege of Saragossa.
|History of the Peninsular War vol.1: 1807-1809 - From the Treaty of Fontainebleau to the Battle of Corunna, Sir Charles Oman. The first volume of Oman's classic seven volume history of the Peninsular War, this is one of the classic works of military history and provides an invaluable detailed narrative of the fighting in Spain and Portugal. This first volume covers the initial French intervention, the start of the Spanish uprising, the early British involvement in Spain and Portugal and Napoleon's own brief visit to Spain.|
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