« AnkstesnisTęsti »
UNDER Mount Etna he lies;
Are hot with his fiery breath.
The crags are piled on his breast,
The earth is heaped on his head;
But the groans of his wild unrest,
And the nations far away
Are watching with eager eyes;
And the old gods, the austere
Stand aghast and white with fear,
At the ominous sounds they hear,
And tremble, and mutter, " At length!"
Ah, me! for the land that is sown
Where ashes are heaped in drifts
Over vineyard and field and town,
His head through the blackened rifts
See, see! the red light shines!
'Tis the glare of his awful eyes! And the storm-wind shouts through the pines Of Alps and of Apennines,
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, 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 1775 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.* 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 were lost
*Voyage pour la Rédemption des Captifs aux Royaumes d'Alger et de Tunis, fuit en 1720. Paris, 1721.
and resistance ceased to be a settled idea exchange the products of their industry 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 Prætorians 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 régime. 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
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 Mollière, 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 Berthezène conducted 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 Mouzaïa, 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 Mouzaïa, 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 Lamoricière 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.* In his capacity of Lieutenant-Colonel of Zouaves he 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.† 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 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 * Annales Algériennes, Tom. ii. p. 72.
↑ Conquête d'Alger. Par A. Nettement. p.
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 to march rapidly and long, to sustain the extremes of hunger, thirst, and weather, and to manœuvre 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. Lamoricière was known in Algeria as Bou Chechia, or Papa with the Cap, -as he was known later in Oran as Bou Araoua, Papa 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 minutiæ, 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 had passed away in this training, when Marshal Clausel 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 Orléans, 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. Lamoricière 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 and 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 Némours. In this division were the Zouaves under Lamoricière, 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. Lamoricière 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 of ficers 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.*
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 hun
*Verbal report of Colonel Combes to the Duke of Némours, conclusion.