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Statue of Juana Galán with her baton

Statue of Juana Galán with her baton

Juana Galán (1787—1812 CE) was a Spanish peasant woman. She lived in Valdepeñas, Spain, which was a town located in the province of La Mancha. She worked as a barmaid, and reportedly knew everything in the town because of this.

On June 6, 1808, Valdepeñas planned an uprising against Napoleon’s troops, as they were going to march straight through the village and on to battle. As there were very few able men in the town, Galán urged the women of the town to fight the French soldiers. During the fight, many sources say that she used a baton to fight French cavalrymen. One source says she carried a cast-iron pan. Other women poured hot water through windows, and poured boiling oil on streets, so the cavalry would have limited places to run to.

The Valdepeñas uprising is credited for forcing the troops to abandon La Mancha, and for weakening them in the Battle of Bailén. The town was awarded the title of “Very Heroic” by the Spanish government.

On September 24, 1812, Galán died while giving birth to her second child. This was the very same day that La Mancha was officially released from Napoleonic rule. For her heroics, she is known as “La Galana”.