Dez 12, 2018
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The French in Algiers: The Soldier of the Foreign Legion and The Prisoners of Abd-el-Kader (English Edition)

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At last, my dear friend, after so many hardships and such various wanderings, I have leisure to write to you; and I have much, very much, to tell. The events of my life have lately followed each other in such rapid succession, that the dangers and sorrows of the noble, much-enduring Odysseus, nay, even the…

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At last, my dear friend, after so many hardships and such various wanderings, I have leisure to write to you; and I have much, very much, to tell. The events of my life have lately followed each other in such rapid succession, that the dangers and sorrows of the noble, much-enduring Odysseus, nay, even the immortal adventures of the valiant Knight of La Mancha, are mere child’s play in comparison with my own. Since the month of April we have scarce had time to take breath; so rapidly did expedition follow expedition, and razzia razzia. The new Governor, Bugeaud, naturally enough wishes to show that he is equal to his post. His predecessor, Vall�e, drew upon himself the imputation of indolence, but no one can deny to Bugeaud the possession of great energy and untiring activity. He encounters the Arabs with their own weapons, harassing them with incessant attacks, and burning and plundering the whole country. We have made two very important expeditions; the first against Thaza, a strong fortress belonging to Abd-el-Kader, situated on the borders of the desert. After destroying this place, we returned through the iron gates (portes de fer) to our own camp; this expedition occupied about four weeks. A few days afterwards we started again to throw provisions into Milianah, and to lay waste the plains of the Chellif with fire and sword. It was exactly harvest time. In order to cut off from the Bedouins all means of existence, it was of course necessary to drive away their cattle and to burn their corn. Before long the whole plain looked like a sea of fire. These expeditions, sent out in the very hottest season of the year, had such an effect upon the health of the soldiers, that the Governor was compelled to allow them a short rest. The regiment to which I belonged had scarcely a third part fit for service, the other two-thirds were either dead or in the hospital. We were accordingly sent to Coleah to recruit our strength. You will have a tolerably correct idea of our recruiting quarters when I tell you that one day is passed on guard, another in reconnoitring the enemy for several hours, and the third in working at the dry ditch (a sort of pendant to the great wall of China) intended to defend the plain of the Metidja against any sudden attacks of the Hadjutes. I assure you, however, that we think this life vastly agreeable, and consider ourselves as well off as if we were in Abraham’s bosom. There was a time, indeed, when I should not have been quite so contented with my lot, but every thing is relative in this best of all possible worlds. Coleah is a true Arab town, which stands on the south-eastern declivity of the Sahel range of mountains, in a charming little nook, and is well supplied with water.

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