Louisiana Zouave Uniform

Storming the heights of the Alma, charging gallantly at Inkerman and scrambling up the Ylalakoff at Sebastopol during the Crimean War, the elite Zouaves of the French Army became the subject ol many heroic paintings and illustrations. Across Kurope and America their daring reputation caught the imagination. Queen Victoria even had one of her colonial regiments, the West India Regiment, wear Zouave dress.

General George 15. YlcClellan, who as a captain had been an American observer in the Crimea, called French Zouaves the 'beau-ideal of a soldier', and many Union volunteers, and some Confederates, fancied themselves as brave 'Zoos-Zoos'. During the course of the \merican Civil War more than 50 Zouave regiments were formed, niostlv in the North.

One New York Zouave regiment was composed largely of French immigrants, while others had sprinklings of French personnel. Hut like manv regiments in the American Civil War, these exotic units boasted an array of nationalities in their ranks, including British, Germans, Swedes, Italians and Irishmen all attracted by the glamour of being a Zouav e.

American Zouave regiments based themselves on the fine reputation that had been built up by the French Zouaves. The original Zouaves had

This period print shows a scene in the Crimean II or when lilt- /onmes letI a spectacular charge ant! came to the aiil of the Uritish Guards, lianl pressed on the right flank at Inkerman. 'Their trumpets sounded above the din oj haute anil when we watched their eager advance on the Jlank oj the enemy we knew the day was won,' wrote Hi Ilium Howard Russell, correspondent for the London Times. Russell also covered the American Civil liar and was complimentary about the Louisiana Zouaves he saw. (Author's collection)

Louisiana Zouave UniformLouisiana Zouave Uniform

A dashing Zouave adorns the cover of this music score, sharing the stage with a couple oj Italian BersagHeri. The public was bombarded with Zouave images throughout the 19th century, and the American Civil War would be the perfect opportunit y for many volunteers to try and emulate their exploits. (Author's collection)

A dashing Zouave adorns the cover of this music score, sharing the stage with a couple oj Italian BersagHeri. The public was bombarded with Zouave images throughout the 19th century, and the American Civil War would be the perfect opportunit y for many volunteers to try and emulate their exploits. (Author's collection)

been natives of the Zouaoua tribe mixed with some French settlers, who had served with the French Army during France's North African campaigns in the 1830s. Their native North African dress baggy trousers, short jacket and fez became the basis of the famous Zouave uniform that remained virtually unchanged for more than 50 years; at the beginning of the First World War Frcnch Zouaves marched to the front in uniforms little different to those worn in the Crimea. The French originally raised two battalions of native Zouaves; but by the time of the Crimean War, three Zouave regiments of the line had been created entirely from Frenchmen, and a regiment of Imperial Guard Zouaves was raised in 1855. The appeal of being a Zouave was so great that non-commissioned officers often gave up their stripes to serve as privates in these regiments. The Zouaves saw hard service in the Crimea, where they had a great affinity with the wild

Highlanders of the British Army. In 1859, during the Italian campaign, when France joined in the fight against the Austrians for Italy's independence, the 3rd Zouaves won a gold medal for their conduct at Palcstro, and all their officers were decorated with the Military Order of Savoy.

Four years later, while their American brothcrs-in-arms were fighting for the North and South, French Zouaves saw much action in the 'Mexican Adventure', adding the honours Puebla and San-Lorenzo to their achievements. American Zouaves had a formidable reputation to live up to. Most succeeded; some failed, but all considered themselves to be an elite.

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