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The Tomb of General Caffarelli

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Learn what part Caffarelli played in Napoleon’s siege of Akko.
Louis Marie Maximilien de Caffarelli du Falga was a military engineer on the 1799 Napoleonic expedition and the highest-ranking French soldier killed during the siege of Akko.

Caffarelli’s tomb was discovered in 1969 in an area currently occupied by the Yad Natan Agricultural College. Several abandoned and unmarked graves were discovered at the site. These graves do not resemble Moslem graves and it is thought that they are unmarked deliberately to avoid their desecration at the hands of local Moslem inhabitants.

General Caffarelli’s was a military engineer who accompanied Napoleon and was one of the more colorful characters in Napoleon’s army. Four years beforehand, Caffarelli’s had lost his left leg in one of the battles in Europe, but it didn’t stop him from continuing to serve in the army and achieving outstanding performance. During the course of Napoleon’s travels to the Land of Israel, Caffarelli was one of the most popular generals. The solders affectionately dubbed him “wooden leg” or “Dad on crutches”.

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During Napoleon’s siege on Akko, Caffarelli was the chief engineer who planned and supervised the professional aspects of the siege. One day, toward the end of the siege, while passing through the canals, he was injured by a bullet fired by a Turkish sniper and the doctor had to amputate his arm, up to his elbow. It subsequently became apparent that the injury was more serious than it had appeared at first; gangrene set in and Caffarelli died two weeks later. While on his deathbed, he was visited by his old friend, Napoleon Bonaparte.

During the month of November every year, the French Embassy in Israel holds a ceremony at the cemetery marking the signing of the cease-fire agreement at the end of World War I as well as the Unknown Soldier ceremony.