Sunday, May 8, 2011

Zouave 2nd Division, Portrait of Roger Fenton (II)

"A Zouave". Roger Fenton, dressed in a Zouave uniform, with a rifle.

Roger Fenton was particularly keen to show the ethnic diversity in the allied camp during the Crimean War (1853-1856): Croats, Egyptians, Macedonians, Zouaves and Algerian infantrymen. He had himself photographed (in 1855) by his assistant Marcus Sparling, in a Zouave uniform, an infantry brigade created in 1831 in Algeria which distinguished itself during the Crimean War.

From "Roger Fenton's Crimean War photo series is the first historic attempt to portray war campaign with the help of new 'magic' photo media, then still in its infancy. Sent as a replacement for the Richard Nicklin, a civilian photographer, who was lost at sea, along with his assistants, photographs, and equipment, when their ship sank during the hurricane that stuck the harbor at Balaklava on November 14, 1854. Fenton spend March-June 1855 in Crimea as an official campaign photographer, payed by the British government, recording participants and landscapes for posterity. With the end of the Crimean War, quite modest public interest in Fenton's photos quickly faded away. Fenton retired from photography abruptly in 1862, saddened by the death of his only son and that of his assistant. After ten years as the most respected photographer in Britain, he returned to law. He died in 1869, at the age of 50, financially broken and almost forgotten. In our days, however, historians unanimously recognize Fenton's remarkable accomplishments not only for his keen artistic eye, but also honor him as one of the first professional war photographers."

next episode: trouble from the east


  1. Another great photo! Were those gaiters standard wear or something special?

  2. I guess they are part of the special Zouave dress code ...

  3. This was the uniform of the Zouave soldiers during the US Civil War as well.

  4. Zouave soldiers in the Civil War? I didn’t know that. I just read about it in Wikipedia, it’s strangely fascinating. Men in North-African uniforms fighting in the US Civil War. And not somewhere in the background, they were part of some major battles!

  5. I didn't either until, coincidentally, the very day I looked at your site. I am reading the book 1861 by Adam Goodheart, and that morning I had read the section on Col Ellsworth taking his Zouave regiment on tour to demonstrate their unique skills.

  6. Apparently Ephraim Elmer Ellsworth was a friend of Lincoln and the first officer to die in the Civil War, killed while trying to retrieve a large Confederate flag flying above an inn at Alexandria, Virginia.


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