Jose de Palafox y Melzi

Spanish General
1776 - 1847

Charles IVA highly connected aristocrat, Jose de Palafox y Melzi was extremely loyal to the Spanish royal family and after their removal to France thought about launching a rescue mission.

As Captain-General of Aragon, Palafox led the heroic defence of Saragossa against the French.

Initially, his plans did not seem to include holding out in the poor defences of the city - he had only 1500 troops available - and he left when the French army crossed the horizon on 15 June 1808.

General Lefebvre-Desnouettes launched an immediate assault, which was unexpectedly thrown back with heavy losses - some 700 men were killed.

As the attackers settled in for a siege, Palafox collected reinforcements and, after a failed first attempt, managed to get himself and his troops into Saragossa.

Palafox then set about strengthening the city's defences and turned it effectively into a maze of defensive positions.

The new French commander, General Verdier, sent in a new assault on 4 August and managed to get a foothold in the city.

He sent a message calling for Saragossa to surrender but it was met by Palafox's reply: "War to the knife."

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