The Zouaves

THE decree of October 1, 1830, approved by a royal ordinance, March 21, 1831, created two battalions of Zouaves. To perceive the necessity for this body of troops, to understand the nature of the service required of them, and to obtain a just notion of their important position in African affairs, it will be necessary to glance, for a moment, at the previous history of Algeria under the Deys, and especially at the history of that Turkish militia which they were to replace,—a body of irresponsible tyrants, which, since 1516, had exercised the greatest power in Africa, and had rendered their name hated and feared by the most distant tribes.

Algeria was settled in 1492, by Moors driven from Spain. They recognized a kind of allegiance to the Sultan of Turkey, which was, however, only nominal; he appointed their Emirs, but further than this there was no restraint on their actions. Hard pressed by the Spaniards in 1509, the Emirs sent in haste to Turkey for aid; and Barbarossa, a noted pirate, sailed to their help, drove out the Christians, but fixed upon the Moors the yoke of Turkish sovereignty. In 1516, he declared himself Sultan, or Dey, of Algiers ; and his brother succeeding him, the Ottoman power was firmly established in the Northwest of Africa. Hated by the people of this great territory, both Moors and Arabs, menaced not only by their dissensions, but frequently attacked by the Christians from the North, there was but one method by which the Dey could maintain his power. He formed a large body of mercenary soldiers, drawn entirely from Turkey, united with himself and each other by a feeling of mutual dependence and common danger, and bound by no feeling of interest or affection to the inhabitants of the soil. Brave they were, as they proved in 1541, against Charles the Fifth, whose forces they defeated and nearly destroyed at Haratsch,—in 1565, at the siege of Malta, —in 1572, in the seafight of Lepanto,—in many smaller combats at different times, defending their land triumphantly in 1 775 against the Spaniards under O'Reilly and Castejon. Hardy and ready they were, from the very necessity of the case ; for they were hated and dreaded beyond measure by the Arabs, and theirs was a life of constant exertion. Other than united they could not be; for they were in continual warfare of offence or of defence ; they suppressed rebellion and anarchy,—for without a leader and union they had been cut off by the restless foe, whose piercing eyes watched, and whose daggers waited only for the. time. In constant danger, they could not sink into that sloth that eats out the heart of Eastern and Southern nations; for it was only in unrest that safety lay;—he who slumbered on those burning plains, no less than the sleeper on Siberian ice, was lost utterly and without remedy.

This body of troops, called the Odjack, elected or deposed Deys at pleasure; the Dey, nominally their ruler, was in reality their tool. In one period of twenty years there were six Deys, of whom four were decapitated, one abdicated through fear, and one died peacefully in the exercise of his governing functions.1 In 1629, they declared the kingdom free from the domination of Turkey : soon after, they expelled the Koulouglis, or half-breed Turks, and enslaved the Moors. Admitting some of the latter to service in the militia, they never allowed them to hope for advancement in the State, or, what was the same thing, the army. Only Turks, or in some instances renegade Christians, could lead the soldiers, whom thus no feeling of local patriotism mollified in their course of savage cruelty, grinding the face of the poor natives till spirit and hope wore lost and resistance ceased to be a settled idea in their minds.

Now when the French navy came up to the port of Algiers, June 12, 1830, the unity between the soldiers and their master, Hussein Pacha, was tottering on the verge of dissolution; a plot against his life had just been discovered, he had punished the ringleaders with death, and many who had been concerned in the conspiracy felt that there was no safety for them with him. Beaten constantly in every skirmish or battle, they conceived a high respect for the military genius of the invaders, and, ere the close of the summer campaign, offered their services in a body to General Clausel; this offer he promptly declined, and they thereupon withdrew, carrying their swords to the aid of other powers less scrupulous.

The news, however, that the terrible Odjack had offered themselves to serve under the French spread a lively terror through the Arab tribes, who, believing themselves about to suffer an aggravation of their already intolerable oppression, experienced a sensation of relief and an elevation of spirit no less marked, on hearing that the newly formed government had rejected their services. Perceiving the fear in which these Algerine Praetorians were held by the tribes, Marshal Clausel conceived the plan of replacing them by a corps of light infantry, consisting of two battalions, to perform the services of household troops, and to receive some name as significant as that held by their predecessors under the old regime. Consequently, after some consideration, the newly constituted body was called by the name of Zouaves, from the Arabic word Zouaoua.

The Zouaoua are a tribe, or rather a confederation of tribes, of the Kabyles, who inhabit the gorges of the Jurjura Mountains, the boundary of Algeria on the east, separating it from the province of Constantine. They are a brave, fierce, laborious people, whose submission to the Turks was never more than nominal; yet they were well known in the city of Algiers, whither they came frequently to exchange the products of their industry for the luxuries of comparative civilization. As they had the reputation of being the best soldiers in the Regency, and had occasionally lent their services to the Algerine princes, their name was given to the new military force ; while, to give it the character of a French corps, the number of native soldiers received into its ranks was limited, and all its officers, from the highest to the lowest grade, were required to be native-born Frenchmen. The service in this corps was altogether voluntary, none being appointed to the Zouaves who did not seek the place; but there were found enough young and daring spirits who embraced with enthusiasm this life, so harassing, so full of privation, of rude labor, of constant peril. The first battalion was commanded by Major Maumet; the second by Captain Duvivier, (since General,) who died in Paris, 1848, of wounds received in the African service. Levaillant, (since General of Division,) Verge, (now General of Brigade,) and Molliere, who died Colonel, of wounds received at the siege of Rome, were officers in these first two battalions.

Scarcely six weeks had elapsed since their formation, when the Zouaves took the field under Marshal Clausel, marching against Medeah, an important station in the heart of Western Algeria. On the hill of Mouzaïa they fought their first battle, in which they were completely successful. They remained two months as a garrison in Medeah. Here they showed proofs of a valor and patience most extraordinary. Left alone in a frontier post, constantly in the vicinity of a savage foe, watching and fighting night and day, leaving the gun only to take up the spade, compelled to create everything they needed, reduced to the last extremities for food, cut off' from all communications,—it was a rough trial for this little handful of new soldiers. The place was often attacked ; they were always at their posts; till in the last days of April they were recalled, and the fortress yielded up to the feeble Bey whom the French had decided to establish there. In June, troubles having again arisen, General Berthezene eonducted some troops of the regular army to Medeah, to which was added the second battalion of Zouaves, under its gallant captain, Duvivier. On his return, the troops were attacked with fury on the hill of Mouzaia, the spot where the Zouaves had in February of the same year received their baptism of fire. 'Wearied with the long night-march, borne down by insupportable heat, stretched in a long straggling line through mountain-passes, the commander of the van severely wounded at the first discharge, they themselves separated, without chiefs, and surrounded by enemies, the French troops recoiled ; when Duvivier, seeing the peril that menaced the army, advanced with his battalion. Shouting their war-cry, they rushed on the Kabyles, supported by the Volunteers of the Chart, or French Zouaves, thundering forth the Marseillaise; turning the pursuers into pursued, they covered the retreat of their associates to the farm of Mouzaia, where the army rallied and proceeded without further loss to Algiers. This retreat, and its attendant circumstances, made the Zouaves, before regarded, if not with contempt, at least with dislike, free of the camp.

But now the losses sustained by the two battalions began to be seriously felt,—for the growing hostility of the Arabs rendered it difficult to recruit from native sources; and an ordinance of the king, dated March 7, 1833, united the two battalions into one, consisting of ten companies, eight of which were to be exclusively European, and two to be not exclusively Algerine,—it being required that in each native company there should be at least twelve Frenchmen. Duvivier was called to Bougie; Maumet was compelled by his wounds to return to Paris; Captain Lamoriciere was, therefore, appointed chief of the united battalion, having given proof of his capacity in every way,—whether as soldier, linguist, or negotiator,—being a wise and prudent man. It is to the training the Zouaves received under this remarkable man that much of their subsequent success must be ascribed. In his dealings with the Arabs he had shown himself the first who could treat with them by other means than the rifle or bayonet.2 In his capacity of Lieutenant-Colonel of Zouaves be showed talents of a high order. He infused into them the spirit, the activity, the boldness and impetuosity which he himself so remarkably possessed, with a certain independence of character which demanded from those who commanded them a resolute firmness on essential, and a dignified indulgence on unessential points.3 To the course of discipline used by him, and still maintained in this arm of the service, are due their tremendous working power, their tirelessness, their self-dependence, and all their qualities differing from those of other soldiers; so that by his means one of the most irregular species of warfare has produced a body of irresistible regular soldiers, and border combats have given rise to the most rigid discipline in the. world.

The post of Dely Ibrahim was assigned to the Zouaves. At this place they were obliged to work laboriously, making for themselves whatever was needed ; whether as masons, ditchers, blacksmiths, carpenters, or farmers,—whatever business was to be performed, they were, or learned to be, sufficient for it. No idlers in that camp,—each must earn his daily bread. What time was not devoted to labor was given to the practice of arms and the acquisition of instruction in all departments of military science ; so that many a soldier was there fitted for the position he afterwards acquired, of officer, colonel, or general. To fence with the mounted bayonet, to wrestle, to leap, to climb, to run for miles, to swim, to make and to destroy temporary bridges, to throw up earth-walls, to carry great weights, to do, in short, what Indians learn to do, and much that they do not learn,—these served as the relaxations of the unwearied Zouaves. To vary the monotony of such a life, there was enough adventure to be found for the seeking,— now an incursion into the Sahel, or into the plains of Mitidja, or a wild foray through the northern gorges of the Atlas. Day by day progress appeared ; they learned lo march rapidly and long, to Sustain the extremes of hunger, thirst, and weather, and to manoeuvre with intelligent precision; diligently fitting themselves, in industry, discipline, and warlike education, for the position they had to fill. Their costume and equipment were brought near perfection; they wore the Turkish dress, slightly modified,—a dress perfectly suited to the changes of that, climate, and without which their movements would have been cramped and constrained. Only the officers retained the uniform of the hussars, which is rich and easy to wear. The cost of a suitable Turkish uniform would have been too heavy for them, besides that the dress of a Turk of rank is somewhat ridiculous. Certain officers on the march used, however, to wear the fez, or, as the Arabs called it, the chechia. Lamoriciere was known in Algeria as Bou Chechia, or Papa with the Cap,—as he was known later in Oran as Bou Araoua, Pupa with the Stick. One finds, however, nothing of Orientalism in the regulations of this body of troops ; not the least negligence or slovenliness is allowed in the. most trifling detail. In fine, the care, and that descending to note the smallest minutiae, which brought this race of soldiers to such a pitch of perfection, leaving them their gayety and sprightliness, and, notwithstanding the rigidness of the discipline, giving solidity and precision to irregular troops, was rewarded by success unparalleled in history. It was the best practical school for soldiers and officers; and many of the best generals in the French army began their military career in the wild guerrilla combats or the patient camp-life of this band of heroes.

Nearly two years bad passed away in this training, when Marshal Claused returned to Africa, and led the Zouaves, whose fitness for the service he well knew, into Oran. Here they added fresh laurels to those already acquired. In the expedition of Mascara, where they fought under the eye of the Duke of Orleans, they covered themselves with glory; insomuch that on his return to Paris he procured a decree, 1835, constituting the First Regiment of Zouaves, of two battalions, of six companies each, and, should occasion justify the measure, of ten companies. Lamoriciere continued in command.

In 1836 the Zouaves again took the hill of Mouzaïa. This time they razed its fortifications even with the ground, and returned to Algiers, where they remained during General Clausel’s first anti unfortunate expedition into Constantine, the eastern province of French Africa. In 1837 the second expedition was made, and in this the Zouaves took part. One of the divisions of the army was under the command of the Duke of Nemours. In this division were the Zouaves under Lamoriciere, who here showed themselves worthy of their renown. Fighting by the side of the most excellent soldiers in the regular army, they proved themselves bravest where all were brave. They were placed at the head of the first column of attack. Lamoriciere was the first officer on the breach, and carried all before him. The soldiers whom he had trained supported him nobly ; but when they had won the day, they found that many companies were decimated, some nearly annihilated; numbers of their officers were dead in the breach. “Those who are not mortally wounded rejoice at this great success,” said an officer to the Duke; and it was a significant sentence.4

To form some notion of those troops, among whom the Zouaves showed themselves like the gods in the war of Troy, one anecdote will suffice, chosen from many which prove the valor of the army generally. The rear-guard at Mansourah was under the command of Changarnier; it was reduced to three hundred men; he halted this little troop and said, “ Come, my men, look these fellows in the face; they are six thousand, you are three hundred; surely the match is even.” This speech was sufficient. The Frenchmen awaited the onset till the enemy was within pistol-shot; then, after a murderous volley, they charged on the Arabs, who broke and fled in dismay. During the remainder of the day they would not approach this band nearer than long rifle range.5

The siege of Constantine may properly be said to have ended the war of occupation in Africa. Hitherto we have seen the Zouaves only in time of active war, or in the defence of hill-forts, obliged to unity through fear of an ever-menacing foe, and laboring for their own preservation or comfort only; but now commenced a new training for them, no less severe and dangerous, in which they showed themselves equally willing and competent,—a war against stubborn Nature in all her most forbidding aspects. Under the blazing suns of that tropical climate they recommenced at Coleah the work already begun at Dely Ibrahim; ditches were, to be dug, works thrown up, roads made, draining accomplished, farms tended, all that was necessary for the establishment of those permanent colonies which France was so anxious to settle in Algeria was to he done by the Zouaves ; yet, despite that terrible labor, the danger and hardship, the sickness and death, the ranks of the regiment filled up rapidly; and, joined by the wrecks of the battalion of Mechouar, they were kept full to overflowing. This battalion of Mechouar was a troop left by Clausel in the mechouar, or citadel, of Tlemcen, in the West of Oran, under the command of Captain Cavaignac; on the conclusion of the war, in 1837, they, of course, returned to their regiment at Coleah.

This deceitful peace lasted only till 1839. In this year the vigilant colonel of Zouaves perceived in his native troops alarming symptoms of mutiny, and learned, to his surprise, that they were in a ripe condition for revolt. Wild Santons of the desert, emissaries, doubtless, of Abd-el-Kader, held secret meetings near the camp; many soldiers attended them, and were seduced by artfully prepared inflammatory harangues and prophecies. In the month of December, 1839, at the raising of the standard of Islam, the natives flocked in vast numbers to rid the land of the Christians; and most of the native Zouaves deserted to join the fortunes of the prince whom they reverenced as a prophet. Old soldiers, trained in the French service to a thorough acquaintance with European tactics, and gray with battling long for Lamoriciere, suddenly left him, and by their knowledge of the art of war gave great advantage to the Arab force. In their combats with the Sultan, the Zouaves not infrequently found that a sharp resistance or a masterly retreat on the part of the enemy was executed Under the direction of one of their former comrades in arms. It was a critical moment for the Zouaves; but at the announcement of the renewal of hostilities volunteers flowed in on all sides, whether of young men full of ardor and excitement, or, as In many instances, of old soldiers who had already served their time. After a winter of petty skirmishing and reestablishing in Algeria the semblance of security, the Duke of Orleans led the army, considerably reinforced, in a raid against the Arabs under Abd-el-Kader in their own territory. The Zouaves accompanied this expedition,and whether in their charges against the mountaineers, who, with the aid of the Arab regulars, defended each pass, or sustaining the shock of the provincial cavalry, or even standing unmoved before the attack of Abd-el-Kader's terrible “ Reds,”6 they maintained their character of rapid, intrepid, and successful soldiers. What names we find in this regiment! Lamoricière, Regnault, Renault, (now General of Division,) Cavaignac, Leflo, (now General of Brigade,) and St. Arnaud, who died Marshal of France two days after the victory of the Alma.

A singular instance of the handiness of the Zouaves is found in the notice of their forced march on this campaign, undertaken May 20th, to support the retreating Seventeenth Light Infantry. Their cartridges were fired away, the regulars of Abd-el-Kader were upon them, and nothing seemed to remain but an heroic. death, when, “Comrades,” cried one, “ see, here are stones! ” Not a word more; each caught the hint, and, with simultaneous volleys of stones, drove off the charging enemy, and broke their way to where the remains of the Seventeenth rallied under Colonel Bedeau, after a retreat more properly to be called a continual attack!

Hard at work during the winter of 1840-41, General Bugeaud found these indefatigable soldiers in perfect condition to take the field again, when he landed in April. There had been sharp fighting during the past year at Mouzaïa, in which the Zouaves always led the van, and were, as in every engagement they ever fought, covered with honor. “The Second, electrified by the example of its officers, and led by Colonel Changarnier, flung itself on the intrenchments; the redoubts were carried, etc. At the same time, in the other column, Lamoriciere led the way with his Zouaves, followed by the other troops. The Zouaves surmounted the almost impassable cliffs, attacked and carried two lines of intrenchment, and, in the teeth of a murderous fire, forced a third; a few moments later the two columns joined, and, rushing up the acclivity, planted the flag of France on the highest peak of the Atlas.”7 Little variation is found in the reports of generals concerning the Zouaves at this time ; they say of these troops always, “The First,” or “ The Second, was covered with glory.”

But now, with the arrival of Bugeaud, the war in Africa was changed; hitherto it had been a mere war of occupation,— a holding of the ground already French against the attacking Arabs; now it was to be a duel, a war of devastation; thus only could France hope to tame the indefatigable Abd-el-Kader, and permanently hold her own. The trouble was not so much to fight him as to get near enough to fight him; for he pursued a truly Fabian policy, and being lighter armed, was consequently swifter than the invaders. Under Marshal Clausel, the French, drawing with them the heavy wagons and munitions of European warfare, were obliged to follow the high-roads, and the Arabs could never be taken by surprise ; Scouts gave information of their numbers, and after harassing marches they 'would find that the foe had either retreated to unknown fastnesses or assembled on the spot in prodigious force. Now Lamoriciere proposed a plan, in the execution of which he was eminently successful. Bugeaud’s design was, to follow the Arabs into the desert, to climb the steep mountains, to plunge into their chasms, to storm every hill-fort, and to drive, step by step, the swift Abd-el-Kader far from the land which his presence so troubled; but how? for swift troops are light-armed, carry no luggage, and but little provision ; and to follow without food the Arabs who concealed food in silos, caches in the ground, seemed hopeless. Lamoriciere required hut his Zouaves, who carried only four days' provisions, and no baggage of any sort; when they drew near any of these silos, which were always, of course, in the vicinity of the deserted villages, he spread out his troops in a long crescent, and they advanced slowly, rooting up the ground with their bayonets till some one struck on the stone or pebbles covering the precious deposit. Thus, without wagons, trained to tireless activity, they could follow the Arabs from douar to douar with little delay, and with fatal effect.

Great reinforcements were sent to Africa, and the Zouaves were not forgotten ; for, in the royal ordinance of September 8th, 1841, the regiment was raised to three battalions of nine companies; only one of the nine, however, could receive natives, so that but three native companies now existed, and few Algerines were found even in these. The reasons seem to have been threefold: first, the danger from mutiny; second, the evils arising from the mixture of the two races, which had augmented their vices, without a corresponding improvement in their good qualities; third, anil perhaps most important of all, the discontent very properly felt by the French Zouaves, who were compelled to work at the trenches, to dig, to plant, etc., while the Mussulmans utterly refused to take part in this, to their mind, degrading toil. The Gordian knot was cut, and all difficulty done away, by making the regiment, in effect, exclusively European. Thus reorganized and reinforced, the regiment, on receiving the standard sent it by the king, immediately separated,—one battalion marching for Oran, one for Constantine, while the other remained at Blidah, in Algeria.

The year 1842 was full of great results ; the new system worked well, great numbers of tribes laid down their arms and swore fealty to France, and the provinces were more than nominally in the hands of the French. Still many of the more distant and powerful tribes held to their allegiance to the Prophet Sultan. The war gradually took on itself the form of a civil contest, and mutual animosities gave rise to many occasions for sanguinary combats ; one of these, in the valley of the Cheliff, September, 1842, lasted unintermittingly for thirty-six hours ! In this battle, and that of Oued Foddah, and, in fact, in almost every battle of those years, the Zouaves took an honorable part. In mountain fights, long marches over burning sands, repulses of cavalry, at Jurjura, Ouarsanis, among the Beni Menasser, at the Smalah, in the struggles of Bedeau with the Moroccan cavalry, and in the memorable battle of Isly, they did good service; their history was but a narrative of brilliant exploits. In many of their hill fights, the deserters of 1833 gave much trouble. In a skirmish, 1844, on the south side of the Aures, in which Captain Espinasse (died General of Division, Magenta, June 6th, 1859) was concerned, and wounded four times, an old native Zouave commanded the Kabyles, and defended their principal position with much skill.

In fine, to recount the hundredth part of their deeds,—to make out a list of their soldiers, sub-officers, or officers who have been since promoted to high honors, —to trace minutely each step by which they mounted to their present position, would be to write, not an article, but a book. In 1842 the natives disappeared finally from their ranks; the best and bravest soldiers of the African army eagerly sought their places, attracted by the uniform, the manner of life, the constant danger and no less constant excitement, the liberty allowed, the glory ever open to all. As their numbers were decimated by the continual warfare, the ranks were immediately filled by the descendants of those brave Gauls who once said, “ If the heavens fall, what care we ? We will Support them on the points of our lances ! ” In 1848, the Zouaves received a large accession from Paris; the gamins of the Revolution were sent to them in great numbers; out of this unpromising, rebellious material, some of the finest of these admirable troops have been made. And now, when the entry into this regiment was longed for by so many, as a species of promotion, on the 13th of February, 1852, Louis Napoleon, then President of the Republic, decreed that three regiments of Zouaves be formed, each on one of the three battalions as a nucleus, taking ihe number of the battalion as its own. Thus the first regiment was formed at Blidah, in Algiers; the second at Oran, in Oran ; the third at Constantine, in the province of Constantine. Officers of the corps of infantry were eligible to the new regiments, holding the same grade ; the men were to be drawn from any infantry corps in the army, on their own application, if the Minister of War saw proper. None were accepted but men physically and morally in excellent condition; the officers had, for the most part, already served with credit; the under-officers and soldiers had been many years in the service; and even many corporals, and not a few ensigns and lieutenants, voluntarily relinquished their positions to serve in the rank-and-file of the new corps. So, occupied in pacificating and securing the three provinces, the regiments lost nothing of their former renown ; obedient to orders, and fearless of danger, it was no idle compliment paid them by Louis Napoleon, when, in the winter of 1853—4, he said, “ If the war break out, we must show our Zouaves to the Russians.” They were a body trained in the. school of a terrible experience of twenty-four years; they had learned, like the lion-hunter, Gerard, to take death by the mane, and look into his fiery eyes without blenching; they were fit for this service, which demanded the best nerve of the two most powerful nations of the world. What they did there is known to all; at the battle of the Alma, Marshal St. Arnaud was unable to repress his admiration, calling them “the bravest soldiers in the world.” All Europe, at first wondering at these strange troops, with their wild dress, their half-savage. manners, and strange method of warfare, found speedy cause to admire their courage and success ; France was proud of their renown, and they became immensely popular in Paris, sure proof of their remarkable qualities. Their oddities, their courage, their imperfect knowledge of the distinctions ofmeum and tuum, their Wondering, childlike simplicity, furnished themes for endless songs and caricatures ; the comedy of “ Les Zouaves ” met with great success; and the cant name for them, “ Zouzou,” is to be heard at any time in the streets. In 1855, the Fourth Zouaves was created, consisting of but two battalions, and enrolled in the Imperial Guard ; they are distinguished from the others by wearing a White turban, while that of the other regiments is green ; since the formation of this regiment, no new corps have been added. The peace with Russia, in 1856, was not peace for the Zouaves, who returned, desiring nothing better, to Africa, where, in the continued war, they found congenial employment till the final submission of the last tribes, July 15, 1857, dissolved the army of Kabylia, and made them, perforce, peaceful, till the 26th of April of this year brought them to win fresh laurels on a new field.

Vague reports, assertions without proof, have been not infrequently made, to the effect that the Zouaves are in character cruel, dissolute, and excessively given to hard drinking. That they are absolutely free from the first charge I shall not attempt to deny; that they are more so than other men, in like circumstances, there is no proof; there is even good reason to state the contrary, if we may judge by instances, of which, for want of space, one shall suffice here. The Zouaves were in the van of the army, on their march toward the Tell; in their charge was a large body of prisoners, wounded, and helpless women, old men, and children, whom they were conducting to the Tell, to restore them to their homes. The weather was intensely hot, even for Africa ; the nearest well was eleven leagues distant; and the sufferings of the poor people must have been dreadful indeed. Mothers flung down their infants on the burning sand, and pressed madly on to save themselves from the most horrible of deaths ; old men and boys sunk exhausted, panting, declaring they could go no farther. “Then it was,” says an eyewitness, “ that the Zouaves behaved like very Sisters of Charity, rather than rough bearded soldiers; they divided their last morsel with these unfortunates, gave them drink from their own scanty stores, and, putting their canteens to the mouths of the dying, revived them with the precious draught. They raised the screaming infants, overturned and held ewes, that they might suckle the poor creatures, abandoned in despair by their mothers, and, in many instances, carried them the whole distance in their arms. At night they ate nothing, giving their food to the helpless prisoners, whose lives they thus saved at the risk of their own.” If in war they “ imitate the action of the tiger,” we have every reason to believe that in peace they are, to say the least, not less humane than others.

The author of “Recollections of an Officer ”8 sums up the character of the Zouaves in a few words which clear them from the other two charges, those of dissoluteness and drunkenness, He says,— “ Beside the condition of success resulting from the first organization, it must be said, that, somewhat later, the happy idea came to be adopted, of giving to the Zouaves destined to fight in the light-armed troops the costume of Chasseurs-a-pied. The recruitment added also not a little to the reputation which the Zouaves so rapidly acquired; the soldiers are all drawn, not from conscripts, but from applicants for the service. Many are Parisians, or, at all events, inhabitants of the other great French cities; most have already served,—are therefore inured to the work,—accustomed to privations, which they undergo gayly,—to fatigues, at which they joke,—to dangers in battle, which they treat as mere play. They are proud of their uniform, which does not resemble that of any other corps,—proud of that name, Zouave, of mysterious origin,— proud of the splendid actions with which each succeeding day enriches the history of their troops,—happy in the liberty they experience, both in garrison and on expeditions. It is said that the Zouaves love wine ; it is true; but they are rarely seen intoxicated; they seek the pleasures of conviviality, not the imbrutement of drunkenness. These regiments count in their ranks officers, who, ennuied by a lazy fife, have taken up the musket and the chechia,—under-officers, who, having already served, brave, even rash, seek to win their epaulettes anew in this hard service, and gain either a glorious position or a glorious death,—old officers of the garde mobile,— broad-shouldered marines. who have served their time on shipboard, accustomed to cannon and the thunderings of the tempest,—young men of family, desirous to replace with the red ribbon of the Legion of Honor, bought and colored with their blood, the dishonor of a life gaped wearily away on the pavements of Paris.

“ Composed of such elements, one can scarcely imagine the body of Zouaves other than brilliant in the field of battle. The officers are generally chosen from the regiments of the line, men remarkable for strength, courage, and prudence ; full of energy, pushing the love of their colors to its last limit, always ready to confront death and to run up to meet danger, they seek glory rather than promotion. To train up their soldiers, to give them an example, in their own persons, of all the military virtues,— such are their only cares. Our ancestors said, ‘ Noblesse oblige’; these choose the same motto. Their nobility is not that of old family-titles, but the uniform in which they are clothed, the title of officer of Zouaves. Esprit de corps, that religion of the soldier, is carried by the Zouaves to its highest pitch; the common soldiers would not consent to change their turban for the epaulettes of an ensign in the other service; and many an ensign, and not a few captains, have preferred to await their advancement in the Zouaves rather than immediately obtain it by entering other regiments. There exists, moreover, between the soldiers and officers, a military fraternity, which, far from destroying discipline, tends rather to draw more closely its bonds. The officer sees in his men rather companions in danger and in glory than inferiors; he willingly attends to their complaints, and strives to spare them all unnecessary privations. Where they are exposed to difficulties, he does not hesitate to employ all the means in his power to aid them. In return, the soldier professes for his officer an affection, a devotion, a sort of filial respect. Discipline, he knows, must be severe, and he does not grumble at its penalties. In battle, he does not abandon his chief; he watches over him, will die for his safety, will not. let him fall into the hands of the enemy if wounded. At the bivouac he makes the officer’s fire, though his own should die for want of fuel; cares for his horse, arranges his furniture; if any delicacy in the way of food can be procured, he brings it to the chief. Convinced of the desire of their master that the soldiers shall be well fed, the Zouaves often insist that a part of their pay be expended fur procuring the provisions of the tribe.9 The colonel is the man most venerated by these soldiers, who look upon him as the father of the family. They are proud of the colonel's success, and happy to have contributed to his honor or advancement. When an order comes directly from him, be sure it will be religiously obeyed. ‘ When papa says anything,’ they repeat, one to another, 'it must be done. Papa knows it is already done; he wants us to be the best children possible.’ In critical moments, the colonel can use the severest Draconian code, without having anything to fear from the disapprobation of his men.”

  1. Voyage pour la Redemption des Captifs aux Royaumes d'Alger et de Tunis, fait en 1720. Paris, 1721.
  2. Annales Algériennes, Tom. ii. p. 72.
  3. Conquête d'Alger. Par A. Nettement. p. 546.
  4. Verbal report of Colonel Combes to the Duke of Néumours,—conclusion.
  5. Moniteur, December 16, 1836; report of Marshal Clausel.
  6. The mounted body-guard of Abd-el-Kader, so called by the Fre ch from their Complete red uniform.
  7. Report of Marshal Valée; Moniteur.
  8. Souvenirs d un Officier du 2 me de Zouaves. Paris, 1859.
  9. In accordance with Arab customs, the Zouaves, who (to use the ordinary expression) “ live in common,” compose a circle to which they give the name of tribe. In the tribe, each one has his allotted task: one attends to making the fires and procuring wood; another draws water and does the cooking; another makes the coffee and arranges the camp, etc.