'Of the soldiers of the world-the Zouaves are the first and bravest'
This is a rare and unusual account compiled principally from the writings of Cler, who became a General of the French Army and who fell in battle at Magenta. The book concerns his earlier career and the experiences, campaigns and battles of his beloved regiment of Zouaves during their campaigns against the hostile tribes of colonial French North Africa, and afterwards during the gruelling Crimean War. The Zouave style has been often emulated-particularly during the American Civil War-but these troops, the original Zouave regiments, held a long tradition as a corps d'elite within the Imperial French Army. They had a reputation for the finest standards of soldiering to uphold and this sense of élan was never absent from every single member of the regiment. Bravery and aggression was a prerequisite and the worst of punishments was to be left out of the attack. Equally, this was a unit that ensured they were the most comfortable in camp. This is a story of consummate soldiers at war and is a fascinating insight into the mid-nineteenth century wars of a continental European power.
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