Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms

1859 TILL 1868 ARMY OF EGYPT

Infantry (1859)

Cavalry (1859)

According to 'Khedive Ismail's Army', by John P. Dunn (2013), additionally, there were "two small regiments existed in 1863; Ismail planned to increase them to eight, but never fielded more than four. These were divided between lancer (armed with bamboo lances, pistol and sabres) and dragoon units, armed with carbines.

Artillery (1859)

Egyptian Battalion, 1862-1867 in Mexico 

(French Army '19th Regiment of the Line') 

In 1862, Napoleon III requested a regiment of troops from Egypt, for the war in Mexico. However, this request was reduced to a battalion of four companies (446 officers and men, and civilian interpreter). It was designated, the '19th Regiment of the Line' [1].

The highest commanding ranking officer in the Egyptian Battalion was a ‘Bimbashi’ (Major), with a ‘Yuzbashi’ (Captain) as his second in command [2]. The Egyptian Battalion officers retained their Egyptian Army ranks, and these were confirmed as promoted by the Khedive in Egypt [3].

Along with the battalion, there was a group of ‘impressed recruits’ who were “almost naked” [4] [5]; and, 22 “children” of from 10-15 years of age” [6].

Right - PLATE 263: Egyptian Battalion in Mexico, 1863-1867, Joseph Hefter, Company of Military Historians (XVII, No. 3: Fall 1965). The officers are shown wearing a star and crescent collar badges, which are supposed to be Egyptian orders of rank. However, the soldier wearing a French colonial service white fatigue shirt with star and crescent collar badges. This is likely a French adaptations to distinguish the 19th Regiment as an Egyptian-Muslim unit. This illustration shows red belts, with silver metal buckles, that display Arabic script on the shield. This illustration also shows the Egyptian battalion commander wearing his 1830s period gala uniforms - these were worn well into the 1860s/70s. However, this particular illustration poorly renders the actually embroidery pattern seen on these. 

On 28 September a new French military rank – that of private 1st class, for soldiers of outstanding ability was created, and this was granted to many of the Egyptian Battalion's soldiers. This new French rank was identified with a distinctive yellow arm-stripe. The total strength of the special troops was not to exceed one-quarter of the total battalion strength [7].

On arrival in Veracruz, the Egyptian uniforms were put into store and replaced with “uniforms based on those of the Tirailleurs Algeriens” [8]. There is a copy of Four tailor’s designs of a uniform and equipment for the Egyptian Sudanese Battalion made by the Intendance branch. This copy is from the Archives historiques, Service de Santé des Armées (Photo copyright, Musée du Val de Grace, Paris) [9].

The French Army's Tirailleurs Algeriens in this period wore light-blue zouave styled uniforms, and it appears the Egyptian Battalion received from the French Army in Veracruz [10], a 'red cloth monkey jacket' (which was the common English description for the zouave shell jackets). A linen 'monkey jacket', was also issued, alond with a blue necktie, and shirt.

The US Company of Military Historians' version (above), also shows the Egyptian captain in a summer light blue under-dress uniform, these were used in the Egyptian Army of the period; however, it could also be a French Tirailleurs Algeriens officer's uniform.

Right - Egyptian Battalion Officer & Soldier in Mexico, 1864-68, extracted from an illustration by Henri Boisselier, 1881-1959). The Boisselier illustration appears to show uniforms worn by the Egyptian Battalion (that are French issue), however, these also seem similar in cut/style to typical 1840-50 Egyptian infantry uniforms.

In 1863, the 'Ottoman Auxiliary Battalion' (Egyptian Battalion), is said to have been under the viceregal flag [11]. In the Egyptian Army, each battalion/regiment carried a standard. For service overseas, the 'viceregal flag', may have refereed to the Egyptian state flag. However, when the Egyptian Battalion was reorganised on French Army lines, the adoption of a typical French infantry battalion/company fanions is more than likely.

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[1] The Egyptian Battalion is described as a ‘battalion of four companies of the 19th Regiment of the Line that was dispatched to Mexico’ (Hill, R.L. Hogg. P.C. A Black Corps d'élite: An Egyptian Sudanese Conscript Battalion with the French Army in Mexico, 1863-1867, and its survivors in subsequent African history. Michigan State University Press, 1995). This suggests these were designated as the French Army’s 19th Infantry. However, it is more likely this was the Egyptian Army’s 19th Foot Regiment (and continued to be known as the 19th Regt.); see: R. Kirk. The Sudanese in Mexico, Sudan Notes and Records, Vol. 24 (1941), pp 113-130. “Said Pasha acceded to this request, but sent only one Battalion from the regiment of 19th Foot”.

[2] [3] R. Kirk. The Sudanese in Mexico, Sudan Notes and Records, Vol. 24 (1941); 118.

[4] The Egyptian Battalion arrived in Vera Cruz, and were reorganised by the French into a French Army unit, receiving new firearms, and the “almost naked recruits” situation was remedied (Kirk: 120).

[5] It seams likely, that theese particular 'recuits', indentured by the Alexandia police, were intnded for use as battalion labourers.

[8] The ‘children’ were a common feature of North African armies, and in both Tunisia and Egypt, officers and soldiers owned boy servants’. These were commonly dressed in military styled uniforms, and were armed themselves (see Roger Fenton Crimean War photograph of Ismail Pasha, 1st Egyptian Division, with "a Nubian slave and a Copt pipe-bearer”, Gernsheim, p. 72).

[6] Kirk also records in respect to the Egyptian uniforms, the ‘soldiers, “were well clothed, and equipped” (Kirk: 118). Egyptian uniforms (which at the time other period accounts suggest these were regarded as ‘very high quality uniforms’). Their uniforms are described in November, 1864, “clad in white uniforms, and turbans” (Kirk: 122).

[7] A special force of crack-troops from the Egyptian Battalion were “distinguished by wearing a yellow brassard on the arm.” (Kirk: 121).

[8] [8] [10] Hill, R.L. Hogg. P.C. A Black Corps d'élite: An Egyptian Sudanese Conscript Battalion with the French Army in Mexico, 1863-1867, and its survivors in subsequent African history. Michigan State University Press, 1995.

[11] Samir Raafat. EGYPTIAN BATTALION IN Mexico? CANADIAN INDIANS IN EGYPT? Egytpian Mail, 25 June 1994.

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