« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
A L G E R I A.
THE COUNT P. DE CASTELLANE.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
HURST AND BLACKETT, PUBLISHERS,
SUCCESSORS TO HENRY COLBURN,
13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
237. l. 42,
MILITARY LIFE IN ALGERIA.
A WINTER CAMPAIGN.
The marauding portion of the enemy, following us on the plain, spread out to right and left in search of pillage ; but what was there to pillage ? The tents* of the Khalifat Sidi-el-Aribi, had fallen back towards the Cheliff. Not, therefore, quite to lose their day, the marauders set fire to ricks of straw. Instantaneously a conflagration burst out,
* The tent in Africa is a collective expression signifying a house, a family
all the heaps of stubble and herbs, dried up by a burning sun of four months, caught the flame, and during the night the whole plain was like an ocean of fire. For long hours together, we saw the clouds coloured with the deep red tint, and throw out far and wide the ill-omened reflection. It was as if a blood-dipped banner of revolt were spread over the whole country, announcing the day of deliverance to the insurgents.
Next day we received news from DjemâaGhazaout. The rising of the Flittas was not a partial result. From the western frontier to beyond Kerraich, the country had risen as one man. Every movement brought the General some new bit of bad news. Another tribe had deserted our cause. All—even to the people of the plain-passed over to the enemy; and of all his numerous attendants, Sidi-el-Aribi could only retain those in his service who were attached to him by ties of blood.
Numerous reinforcements had, however, arrived at Mostaganem. Being joined by Colonel Tartas, we had now two excellent squadrons of cavalry; valiant troops, demanding only an opportunity of revenge. It is true that our forced inaction had encouraged the audacity of Bou-Maza, and that
his strength, with his audacity, had increased. On the 3rd of October, he had set fire to the house of the Khalifat, and the next day attempted a razzia on the other bank of the Mina. It was then that General Bourjolly determined to quit Relizann, and to fall back upon Bel-Assel. At one o'clock, then, the bivouac was raised, and, when the day's march was about half over, Lieutenant Nérat bore orders to Colonel Tartas to incline to the right with the cavalry, and to march in the direction of the Cheliff of the Mina. The Colonel was to form a junction with the little troop of Sidi-elAribi on his route, and then to keep an eye on Bou-Maza, and recover from him, if possible, part of his booty.
In spite of the four days' provender, and four days' provision, with which our horses were loaded, we trotted smartly on towards our destination. When within half a league of the confluence of the Cheliff and of the Mina, the Khalifat Sidi-elAribi, at the head of his cavaliers, came in sight before we expected him. His face was flushed with combat, his stately horse covered with foam; he looked like a knight-banneret of the middle ages. He saluted the colonel, and took his seat beside us. It was five o'clock. The sun of