Edwin Forbes drawing of a Zouave soldier, Civil War

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This is an Edwin Forbes drawing of a Zouave soldier in Petersburg Virginia during the Civil War.

I'd never heard of a Zouave soldier but evidently many countries have had them. Begun in the French Army, they were light infantry troups that wore open shirts, baggy pants, and often "oriental" headgear.

During the US Civil War, both the Union (70) and Confederacy (about 25) had zouave units. Their battle tactics were different from other troups. They "utilised light infantry tactics that emphasised open-order formations, with several feet between soldiers, rather than the customary close order, with its characteristic 'touch of elbows.' They moved at double time, rather than marching at a stately cadence, and they lay on their backs to load their rifles rather than standing to do so. To fire they rolled prone and sometimes rose on one knee."

This drawing was done in Petersburg Virginia in 1864 and is of one of those soldiers. Quite a dashing figure!

Part of the U.S. Library of Congress's Morgan collection of Civil War drawings (Library of Congress).

in Petersburg, Virginia USA
Forbes, Edwin, 1839-1895, artist
  • Drawings--American--1860-1870.
  • 1 drawing.
  • Gift, J.P. Morgan, 1919 (DLC/PP-1919:R1.1.161)
  • Forms part of: Morgan collection of Civil War drawings.

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