While the British formed lancer regiments following Napoleon’s example (actually influenced by Polish cavalry in the first place), in the American Civil War 1861-65 it was Zouaves, infantry dressed in a distinctive uniform of baggy trousers, short open jacket, a sash and an oriental headgear.
Originally part of the French Army connected to French North Africa, 1830- 1962, these units were based on those of the Algerian Berbers who fought in a fast-moving, agile style. Zouaves seen in the Crimea (1854-56) and in Italy against Austria (1859) inspired American units raised when Union and Confederate forces clashed.
The Civil War and American Militaria Collection of Bruce B Hermann was the focal point of the auction held at Hindman (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) in Chicago on June 21-22.
Hermann has an extensive background in American and western European military history, with more than 30 years of experience collecting and dealing in 16th to 20th century militaria. He also served as an appraiser on the PBS series The Antiques Roadshow for 11 seasons.
The auction included a “notable selection” of lots related to the Zouave regiments, said Hindman.
A uniform of the ‘Cladek Zouaves’, identified to Private Alfred T Brophy, Company K, 35th New Jersey Infantry was estimated at $9000-12,000 and sold for $16,000 (£13,280).
A red kepi hat, 5th New York Veteran Infantry, Duryea’s Zouaves, identified to James Thomas Westlake with Carte de Visite portraits also included in the lot, took a mid-estimate $4750 (£3940). The 5th New York Vets wore two variations of Zouave uniforms, including red fezzes with yellow tassels, though this type of red kepi was occasionally worn by Zouaves as an alternative to the fez.
Estimated at $700-900, a Zouave-style fez with blue tassel typically worn by the 9th New York Infantry, ‘Hawkins’ Zouaves’, realised $850 (£705).