I appreciate more than you all know how you have supported me through this. I know the posts have been long and windy, taking up valuable time. Bless you for it.
Zouaves were originally certain French light infantry regiments, which served in French North Africa. Not only did they have distinctive uniforms, but they had unusual battle tactics. While many armies advanced side by side, firing and then dropping back for the next line to step forward to fire while the line behind them reloads and swapping positions. Rinse and repeat. Zouaves would fire, then drop down to the ground out of the line of fire and advance on their stomachs, reload, jump up and fire. This was pretty radical thinking when the firing was so heavy in some battles men were literally shredded due to the amount of bullets and Minie balls hitting them.
The Federals fielded about seventy Zouave units while the Confederates had twenty-five. The 5th New York or Duryee’s Zouaves, Col. Elmore’s 11th New York Volunteer Infantry the Fire Zouaves, and the 14th Brooklyns, Lew Wallace’s (Yes, Lew Wallace of Ben Hur fame.) Zouaves were some of the better known northern units.
Col Elmore’s uniform.
Elmore’s Zouaves were among the first into Alexandria, VA when Virginia seceded. There had been a large rebel flag flying from a property there and he was determined to tear it down. The owner said it would come down over his dead body. Elmore ripped the flag down and the owner shot him, whereupon Elmore’s men killed him. Officer’s usually wore kepis and frock coats as opposed to the waist jackets and fezzes or turbans of the regular uniforms.
The Brierwood Pipe by Homer Winslow 1864 depicting two Zouaves from the 5th NY. (Yes, Brierwood is how the painting is titled.)
The 5th New York suffered the highest percentage of casualties in the least amount of time of any Civil War unit. They lost 120 killed and 300 wounded in less than ten minutes out of 525 men at Second Manassas.
From Louisiana came White’s Company B Tiger Rifles. Georges Augustus Gaston De Coppens, who was originally from France and settled in New Orleans with his family, raised the Coppens Zouaves.
Since most of these units were raised individually, they could determine their own uniforms. As funds and supplies ran low later, they might be replaced with standard issue, but the men took great pride in their unusual garb. The 14th Brooklyn received the nickname “Red-Legged Devils” from Stonewall Jackson when they continued to attack his men and Jackson yelled, “Hold On Boys! Here come those red-legged devils again!”
In the final post of the Blogging A-Z Challenge, we return to Lorena and Imogene who are with the Zouaves being searched for contraband. Imogene has sprained her ankle and was tended to by the Zouave doctor a Frenchman and volunteer. I knew I would use Zouaves in Rain Crow. The trick was to figure out which unit would be where to search them when they returned with the contraband. I really need one of those big battle maps to move people around on.