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"They Fought Like Lions " Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Apr 2017 12:51 p.m. PST

"A year before Viceroy Ismail (later Khedive; r.1863-79) ascended Egypt's throne, France, Britain and Spain sent expeditionary forces to Mexico to prop up what would later be known as France's 'Mexican folly' that culminated with the assassination of Emperor Maximilian. He was the first and last European Emperor of Mexico.

European troops under the command of Jurien de la Gravière were decimated by Mexico's harsh tropical climate and their numbers reduced to less than half. Because 'white man' could not fare well in Tierra Caliente, Gravière recommended the importation of reinforcements from Senegal and the West Indies. Thereupon, the French emissary in Egypt approached Viceroy Saïd Pasha (r. 1854-63) requesting the loan of a Negro regiment to serve under the French flag.

On 9 January 1863, nine days before the Viceroy's death, the troopship "Seine" sailed from Alexandria with 447 men on board. The 'Ottoman Auxiliary Battalion' under the vicregal flag consisted of four companies commanded by officer Yarbit-Allah.

The battalion consisted of Egyptian officers and troops serving in the Sudan (then an Egyptian protectorate) and Upper Egypt. Hence the different shades of black from inky to Mediterranean olive. According to contemporary reports, some men were practically naked having been gazetted into the army the eve of their departure. With them aboard the Seine were several interpreters…"
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