With the Virtual World Tour for First Fallen: The Life of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, the North’s First Civil War Hero underway, I have been collecting frequently asked questions. The most popular queries by far concern Ellsworth’s actual Zouave drill. What did it look like? Why was it entertaining? How does it relate to the military drill of today? One gentleman last week was discussing his son’s appointment as a major in the current Old Guard Brigade–1st Battalion, 3d U.S. The Old Guard is the oldest Infantry unit in the Army, dating back to June of 1784. It was given the name “The Old Guard of the Army” by General Winfield Scott after a bayonet charge on the Mexican citadel Chapultepec in 1847. These guys march a lot!
I have looked at hours of YouTube drill videos, from one or two reenactors demonstrating a bayonet charge to an entire regiment at Arlington. When I am asked to describe the Zouave Infantry drill, I do my best. I know a lot of terms, and I use them properly, but there is nothing like a moving image to make the Algerian Zouave drill of yesterday really come to life. When the gentleman from the Inland Empire Civil War Round Table brought up the Old Guard I thought, “Meg, you can do better.”
Here is better: American Legion Zoauves