Zouaves In Skirts

During the Second Empire no regiments of the French Army were complete without their 'daughters' ladies armed with barrels of brandy who brought succour to the men and nursed the wounded. These women were known as canti-nières or vivandières and several Zouave regiments in the American Ci\il War copied the idea.

The word vivandière is a combination of Eatin and French, and literally means 'hospitality giver'. In France vivandières lirst made their appearance with the French Vrmv in the 17th century, and the distinctive painted barrels carried by vivandières were adopted around the time of the French Revolution. Vivandières of the mid-19th century should not be contused with camp followers. They were an official part of the French Army and were sometimes married to soldiers in the ranks.

Vivandières, particularly those who served with the dashing Zouave regiments, excited considerable interest because of their colourful uniforms, and numerous illustrations were made of them wearing their modified feminine versions of

Thomas Francis Meagher

Thomas Francis Meagher sits with his beloved Irish Zouaves, Company K of the (>')th New York- Slale Militia, taken in Washington in ¡861, this rare picture oj Company K shows Meagher's men to he a tough, soldiery bunch of characters, who were proud to he the only company in the Fighting 6'Jtli to wear Zouave dress. Meagher himself was Jond of wearing a gold trimmed Zouave uniform, but surprisingly not for this photograph. (Michael J. McAfee)

Thomas Francis Meagher sits with his beloved Irish Zouaves, Company K of the (>')th New York- Slale Militia, taken in Washington in ¡861, this rare picture oj Company K shows Meagher's men to he a tough, soldiery bunch of characters, who were proud to he the only company in the Fighting 6'Jtli to wear Zouave dress. Meagher himself was Jond of wearing a gold trimmed Zouave uniform, but surprisingly not for this photograph. (Michael J. McAfee)

Zouave dress. In the Crimean, Italian and Mexican campaigns of the French Army, several vivandieres had notable service records. Madame Jouay of the 3rd Zouaves was present in all three campaigns, and Antoinette Trimorcau of the 2nd Zouaves received the Military Medal for saving the regimental eagle at Magenta. Jeanne-Marie Barbc of the Guard Zouaves also received the Military Medal during this battle.

Coppens' notorious Zouave battalion had two vivandieres who caught the eyes of hot-blooded males when the regiment marched. A Tennessee captain bumped into one of the vivandieres and wrote to his wife: 'hilly fell desperately in love with her and insists I shall turn my company into

Civil War Vivandiere

This rare illustration of Confederate Zouaves, first published in Harper's Weekly, on 27 July l<S6l, shows prisoners from Coppens' Battalion held at l-'orlress Monroe. Two of the Zouaves in this picture, Franz Minute ami John Atzrodt, claimed to have deserted from the battalion en-route to llieir first posting at I'ensacola. I lie reclining Zouave on the floor is lying on a rigid early war style militia knapsack■ ami the men were said to be wearing 'a coarse Zouave uniform'. (Ron Field)

This rare illustration of Confederate Zouaves, first published in Harper's Weekly, on 27 July l<S6l, shows prisoners from Coppens' Battalion held at l-'orlress Monroe. Two of the Zouaves in this picture, Franz Minute ami John Atzrodt, claimed to have deserted from the battalion en-route to llieir first posting at I'ensacola. I lie reclining Zouave on the floor is lying on a rigid early war style militia knapsack■ ami the men were said to be wearing 'a coarse Zouave uniform'. (Ron Field)

a Zouave company and have two of them along.'

\ftcr l irst Hull Run, Lavinia Williams, a vivandicre with W heat's Tigers, appeared on stage in South Carolina to raise money for a sick Zouave in her care. Tickets cost 25 cents each, and apparently Lavinia put on a very good show, including demonstrating the knife fighting techniques of the Tigers. 'She is a very strong looking woman and tells with perfect nonchalance of killing Yankees and the like. You may depend on it, the children crowded to see her, dressed as she-was in the gay costume of her vocation,' wrote the theatre critic of the Edgefield Idvcrtiser in October 1861.

Yivandiercs also served with many Northern regiments: as early as 1853 the famed Old

Grcybacks of the 7th Regiment, New York State Militia had outfitted nine-year-old orphan Molly Divver as a vivandicre and adopted her into the regiment. Yivandiercs joined a number of other regiments during the War, but the most famous Zouave regiment, the 5th New York, strangely never signed up any 'daughters'. Colonel Duryee received several applications from interested ladies, but all were rejected. One Emma I.. Thompson wrote that she and a friend were "exceedingly desirous of going out with some regiment'. She said that she could provide good references about the moral character of herself and her friend, but Duryee still wouldn't budge.

The most famous vivandicre of the American Civil War was Marie Tcpe (or lebe). A French immigrant, Marie married Philadelphia tailor Bcrnado Tcpe and followed him to war as a vivandicre when he joined the 27th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Later Marie was asked to join the 114th Pennsylvania Collis' Zouaves by Collis himself, and she received a bullet in her ankle at Fredericksburg. After the battle she was awarded the famous Kearny Cross, a medal commcmo-

rating the fallen General Philip Kearny and given to brave members of the Union Third Corps. It is said that 'French Mary', as she became known, was present at 13 battles, and an officer of the 8th Ohio recalled seeing her at Spotsylvania in 1864. 'She was about 25 years of age, square featured and sun burnt. She was wonderfully courageous, liven sort of projectile falling in the midst of us was trying the nerves of our coolest.' French Man survived the war and lived for a long time afterwards, but she committed suicide sometime around 1(X)0. It seems likely her painful ankle-wound contributed to her sad demise.

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