La Galana, guerrillera de La Mancha
Peninsular War hero, Juana Galan
In 1820, 20 year old Juana Galan, working as a barmaid in Valdepenas, Spain, was not expecting a surge of French soldiers to come storming through her town. But on June 6 of that year, that is exactly what happened. At that time, most of the men folk were off fighting the Emperor Napoleon’s forces elsewhere in the nation. Juana, unfazed by the nasty French riflemen, began organizing the Women in her locality to form a trap for the approaching army.
When the army arrived, Juana and her friends were ready. They dumped boiling water and oil on the French troops, which by all accounts left a lasting impression on the invaders. Then Juana, armed with only a batan, beat back the heavily armed French cavalry with her squad of daring Women, almost none of whom were armed with guns.
The French retreated, giving up on capturing not just Juana’s town but the entire province of La Mancha, leading to ultimate Spanish victory. Today, La Dama Galana is revered in Spain as a national hero and a symbol of resistance, strength, patriotism, feminism and hitting silly males with a stick.