Charette’s brave Zouaves

November 29, 2018

Upon which I galloped back to my Artillery reserve, where I had placed my Zouaves, and cried to Charette: ‘Colonel, give me one of your battalions.’ There were two. Then, addressing those brave Zouaves, I said: ‘There are some cowards down there who refuse to march, and who will lose the whole army. Try to bring them back to their duty! Forward! Follow me! Let us show them the worth of men of heart and Christians!’ A cry of enthusiasm burst from those noble hearts. These brave fellows surrounded me, and all were ready to face death. I took three hundred of them, leaving the rest to guard the Artillery. The battalion started, accompanied by the Francs-tireurs of Tours and Blidah, the Mobiles of the Cotes-du-Nord, preceded by a line of skirmishers,–in all eight hundred men.

Ferdinand Urbain Marie de Charette, Baron de La Contrie, Lieutenant of the Papal Zouaves & a Knight of the Order of Pius IX.

“It was half past four, and the day was closing in. I said to Charette, ‘This is the moment to show our banner of the Sacred Heart!’ It was unfurled, and seen by the whole army. The effect was electric. We marched on confidently filled with a strong sense of duty….At that moment there was such an enthusiasm among my little body of men that it shamed the regiments who had refused to move, and they began to march forward, which gave me strong hope. Before the rapid firing of my Zouaves, the Germans retreated from the farm of Villours, which they had occupied all the morning. But when we were opposite a little wood, at two hundred metres from the village, we were met by a furious musketry fire, which laid many of our poor fellows low, never to rise again. This was enough for the 51st…they fled…All together we cried ‘Vive la France! Vive Pie IX!’ This was our last act of faith.

The Flag of Sacre-Coeur, borne by the Pontifical Zouaves who fought (victoriously) at Patay, had been first placed overnight in St. Martin’s Tomb before being taken into battle on October 9, 1870. The banner read “Heart of Jesus Save France” and on the reverse side Carmelite Nuns of Tours embroidered “Saint Martin Protect France”.

The life of General de Sonis, from his papers and correspondence by Baunard, Mgr., 1826-1919; Herbert, Mary Elisabeth À Court Herbert, Baroness, 1822-1911, p.199-201

Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 654


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