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to the other ; accordingly, only such positions as were absolutely necessary to the safety of the column were occupied; and if the rear guard found itself pressed too closely, they relieved themselves by vigorous charges with the bayonet.
The eastern tribes fortunately took no part in the conflict, and we had at first only to defend ourselves on the right. The column, however, advanced only with difficulty, when a passage was reached which it was necessary should be occupied. Perpendicular shelves of rock overhung the bed of the river in advance of a marabout, surrounded by majestic trees; the company of carbineers of the Chasseurs d'Orleans was ordered to carry these rocks. Full of ardour, they sprang forward; but the declivities were fearful, and eight days' provisions are no trifling load. M. Ricot, their lieutenant, who had rushed forward without troubling himself as to whether he was followed or not, was the first to reach the plateau. He was immediately struck by two bullets in the chest; Lieutenant Martin and two carbineers hastened to protect him, but were killed on the spot. M. Rouffiat, the last of their officers remaining, advanced to their assistance, but was stopped by a frightful wound. The company was now without officers, and without a serjeantmajor. An avalanche of bullets was showering down on them, and not a head or guide of any sort to direct them. At last the carbineers were brought back, bearing away with difficulty M. Martin, who still breathed. As for the remainder, they were torn to pieces before the eyes of the column, amidst the savage shouts of the Kabyles.
The General immediately commanded a halt, the Zouaves and three companies of Chasseurs d'Orleans were to storm this position, while the cavalry drove back the enemy into the bed of the river. The signal for the charge was given. Accompanied by Colonel Cavaignacand LieutenantColonel Forey, the General sprang forward at the head of the troops, climbing up the steep sides of the height, and carrying the soldiers along, animated by one common spirit. The rage of both parties was at its highest; and the conflict desperate. M. Laplanche, an officer of the staff attached to the Zouaves, was mortally wounded on reaching the height ; Commander Garderins had his horse killed, and Captain Pourcet his epaulette torn away; the General himself only owed his life to the skill of the trumpeter Brunet, who stretched a Kabyle dead just as he was directing the muzzle of his piece close upon the General. At length we became masters of the position. The charge of the cavalry down below in the river had been equally successful; numbers of bodies lay stretched upon the sands, including women, who, mingling with the Kabyles, rushed upon our soldiers, fighting like furies, and cutting off the heads of the dead, brandished these bleeding trophies on the points
of their guns.
These two vigorous attacks procured us some repose; the fight, however, soon commenced afresh with renewed ardour. The officers the first to rush into danger, were also the first victims of the encounter. Five officers of the Zouaves, and three officers of the Chasseurs d'Orleans had already fallen, and the day was but half spent. Colonel Cavaignac, with his Zouaves, was bent on avenging the slaughter of his officers; it something more than courage that animated them, each man was equal to twenty, and seemed to multiply himself to face every danger. As to the General, he seemed to grow in daring and coolness as the danger increased, and the bullets flew about more thickly; his eye gleamed and everywhere, as he passed, he imparted fresh energy to those about him. The column still continued advancing, amidst the clatter of muskets, re-echoed amidst the mountains like the roaring of a storm. The cavalry proceeded in advance having received
instructions not to halt till it grew dark, and then to select the first favourable spot.
The troops had reached a part of the river where the banks approaching more closely together, formed another and narrower defile; the Kabyles of the tribes on the left bank now occupied the right bank also, and Captains Magagnoz of the Zouaves, and Castagny of the Chasseurs d'Orleans, were commanded to dislodge them, while Captain Ribains of the same corps was instructed to occupy the position on the right. It consisted of a perpendicular cascade of rocks and schistus soil, covered with pines and brushwood, and a brook running down into the river below soaked through the earth over which it passed. The captain dislodged the Arabs, and occupied the position, thus insuring a safe passage to the column, but when they had to rejoin the body of the troops, the Kabyles rushed upon the little party: the first few tried to come down in a straight line, but their feet slipping upon the earth, made greasy by the water of the brook, nine of them were precipitated to a depth of eighty feet below. They rolled from rock to rock, from shelf to shelf, bounding over every abrupt edge, and seeking in vain to clutch hold of the brambles, till they fell into the bed of the river; the re
mainder of the company had at once rushed off to the right towards a ravine, sliding down through the trees, to rejoin the column. One of these chasseurs, Calmette, getting separated from his companions, was surrounded by Kabyles and driven to the edge of the precipice; he had shot one with his carbine, and killed two more with his bayonet, but he was now on the point of falling over, when catching hold of two Kabyles he sought to avenge his death by dragging them down with him. The rock was perpendicular and they fell straight from the height, but by a fortunate chance the Kabyle lightly clutched by the chasseur, was exactly beneath him when he reached the ground and by his death saved the other's life. Captain Ribains was descending the last of all, defying apparently the enemy's bullets, when three Kabyles rushed upon him, and firing with the muzzle close upon him, shattered his shoulder; fortunately some of his men succeeded in getting him away. All who were present still remember when he passed the General and was congratulated by him on his glorious conduct, how his energetic features were lit up with the legitimate self-applause of one who has accomplished his duty, and he seemed to breathe the just pride of noble blood shed in a noble deed.