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become a General, had by fresh successes, increased his reputation for skill and daring. Accordingly, to him Marshal Valée again resorted to save the garrison. Only two thousand men could be disposed of. With these inadequate resources he had to advance through a country replete with extreme difficulties, in the teeth of the Emir, Abd-el-Kader, whose power at that time had barely yet been shaken. The General betrayed no hesitation. The more dangerous the enterprise, the greater glory in success. Should he fail, it would at any rate be with the consciousness of not having shrunk before the accomplishment of a duty. Accordingly he set out with this handful of men, and proclaiming that an expedition to revictual Medea was about to be made, succeeded in withdrawing his march from the observation of the enemy; and finally making his way through all the surrounding multitudes, reached the unfortunate garrison in time to save . the small number of survivors.
All these events were already of a remote date, when we arrived at Milianah, and in 1843 five thousand first-rate troops awaited in that town the orders of General Changarnier. From the time of his arrival, the General's days were spent in continual activity. His conferences with the
commanding officers, his despatches, and more especially the imformation to be collected on the very difficult country in which our operations were to be made, left him not a moment's leisure. Every day, Ben-Tifour, the Agha of the Beni-Menacers, came to the General's, accompanied by members of the tribe, and there for hours together, by dint of questioning, and repeating the same inquiry ten times over, the chief of the province succeeded in obtaining exact notions as to the nature of the country, the lines of march, the water, and the bivouacs. This went on during the whole week; while at the same time information and intelligence were exchanged with Cherchell by means of spies. The cost of some of these dispatches amounted to five hundred francs, for the bearers of them staked their lives in the undertaking. At last, after mature reflection, the plan of the campaign was determined on, and committed to writing, and the necessary instructions were given, with that clearness and precision which leaves no room for doubt or misapprehension. This indeed was a distinguishing feature in the character of General Changarnier. Obedience, when he commanded, was always easy, for the duties required were never doubtful.
While the General's days and nights were spent in study, we had installed ourselves in a room of the palace of Milianah. The palace was composed of three rooms; one was reserved for the General, the other was a dining room, and we bivouaced in the society of rats and mice. In the daytime, we went to the officers' club—a charming pavilion erected in the midst of a garden. Streams of water running between the flower-beds, imparted a coolness to the air amidst these spreading shades. This club, in the absence of any such apartment, formed the common mess room of the garrison. Near to it stands the café, and not far from it a library, in which may be found books of a good and solid class. A council of administration elected from among the officers of the garrison, and presided over by the commander, governs the establishment. Thus in the towns of Africa, as on board vessels bound on a long voyage, every means are provided for relieving the tedium of solitude. Sometimes there was a play in the evening. A play at Milianah ! Certainly; and a very amusing play it was, at which we all laughed with free and genuine mirth. Every one had his part; a corporal played the amoureuse, a grenadier the père noble, and a voltigeur the soubrette. The vivandiers lent their gowns and caps, to the
highest delight of everybody. I have still present to my memory the performance at Milianah of le Corporal et la Payse. The Dejazet of the place, the sprightly Artémise, excited the laughter of the whole audience, including General Changarnier himself, who was frequently present at these performances, in his box lined with stained paper. It is scarcely credible to what a degree these plays and diversions—which some may look upon as empty trifles—contribute to keep up the moral courage of the troops, and drive away those gloomy thoughts which in Africa are so often the forerunners of nostalgia and death.
The orders dispatched to Cherchell had reached their destination, and the troops were about to commence marching. Eight days, according to the calculations of the General, would suffice to bring the operations to a successful issue. Seven columns were engaged in their execution, each having its task appointed beforehand, each its line of march exactly indicated. Every anticipation was realized, thanks to the fine weather which favoured us, and despite the fearful difficulties of the country intersected with enemies and obstructed by precipices and mountainous ridges. The columns stretched out their lengths like snakes. One by one the soldiers descended into the
deep hollows, emerging again up the sides of the ridges, along paths two feet in breadth, overhanging giddy precipices. In these ravines, where the sappers and miners were often obliged to cut out a road for the infantry, fearful accidents occurred. I shall never forget an unfortunate chasseur who was following one of these paths, when the horse immediately before his suddenly halted. The animal took fright and shied : on its right was the precipice; it fell, and the great white horse turned three times in the air, striking its head on the sharp point of a rock beneath. As to the chasseur, he was unhorsed at the first start, and we saw him roll into the abyss. A party was dispatched after his body, but by an extraordinary piece of good fortune, the water in a creek of the river broke his fall. The chasseur was not dead, and he escaped with three months' confinement in the hospital.
We frequently marched for hours together before we came to mountains which seemed quite close; but the General's information was so exact, the march of his columns so skilfully directed, that on the day fixed upon, without any part of the population having been allowed to escape, the troops were all assembled at the appointed rendezvous. Each of the columns had