I guess you could say I have a certain fondness in my heart for the Zouave units at Gettysburg, for a multitude of reasons. For one thing, I find their unique uniforms fascinating; while their fellow soldiers were wearing dark blue or butternut and gray, these men wore sky blue and red, with tasseled fezzes, short, decorative vests, gaiters, and a variety of other interesting things. I’ve always liked the “visual” aspects of the Gettysburg story. But their uniforms are only part of the reason I admire the Zouaves. They were known as the “crème de la crème”, the best of the best. They were the elite fighters of both armies.
One of the terrific websites I frequent, “Battle of Gettysburg Buff”, explains that a great number of units, interested more in uniformity than with individuality, had abandoned the Zouave fashions before the Gettysburg Campaign. (Interesting enough, in the future it would again be considered an honor to have the privilege of wearing a Zouave uniform, as it indicated a regiment had sufficiently proven itself). Only a few choice units, including the 146th New York Infantry who fought at Little Round Top, came to Gettysburg in Zouave (more specifically, “Turcos”, which is slightly different) regalia.
The 146th was birthed in October of 1862. Though they missed the bloodbath at Antietam (or Sharpsburg) they weren’t so fortunate three months later, seeing their first large-scale combat at the battle of Fredericksburg. They also weathered Chancellorsville before coming to Gettysburg. And Gettysburg, though an hour of glory, wasn’t their last big stand. The 146th also participated in many other battles such as the Wilderness, Cold Harbor, and Hatcher’s Run. They were present at Appomattox in April 1865. In their thirty months of existence, the men of the 146th had been through the fire and back.
LT. COL. FRANCIS KEARSE
50th Georgia Infantry
Born 1837 --- Died July 02, 1863 at age 26
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