Saturday, April 16, 2011

150-Year-Ago -- The Zouave Mystique

[Excerpt from UT Texas Digital Archives]

The Alexandria, (La.) Constitutional
April 13, 1861

A zouave from the Tiger Rifles, Company
B, 1st Special Battalion Louisiana Volun-
teers. (Louisiana Civil War Centennial
"What is a Zouave?"—As this class of soldiers is becoming quite popular of late, especially in New Orleans, we copy for the benefit of our readers the following somewhat "extravagant" description, by Doesticks:

A fellow with a red bag having sleeves to it for a coat; with two red bags without sleeves to them for trowsers; with an embroidered and braided bag for a vest; with a cap like a red woolen saucepan; with yellow boots like the fourth robber in a stage play; with a moustache like two half pound paint brushes, and a sort of sword gun or gun sword for a weapon, that looks like a lonely musket, indiscreet and tender—that is a Zouave.

A fellow who can "put up" a hundred and ten pound dumb bell; who can climb up an eighty foot rope hand over hand, with a barrel of flour hanging to his heels; who can do the "giant swing" on a horizontal bar with a fifty-six tied to each ankle; who can walk up two flights of stairs holding a heavy man in each hand at arm's length; and who can climb a greased pole, feet first, carrying a barrel of pork in his teeth—that is a Zouave.

A fellow who can jump seventeen feet four inches high without a spring board; who can tie his legs in a double bow knot round his neck without previously softening his shinbones in a steam bath; who can walk Blondin's out-door tight rope with his stomach outside of nine cocktails, a suit of armor outside of the stomach, and a stiff northeast gale outside of that; who can set a forty foot ladder on end, balance himself on the top of it, and shoot wild pigeons on the wing, one at a time, just behind the eye, with a single-barrel Minie rifle, three hundred yards distance, and never miss a shot; who can take a five-shooting revolver in each hand and knock the spots of the ten of diamonds at eighty paces, turning somersets all the time, and firing every shot in the air—that is a Zouave.

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