Ottoman Uniforms
Ottoman Uniforms

OTTOMAN ALGERIA ARMY AND NAVY

Koul-Oglou (Chief of the Ottoman Algerian Janissary 1700-1830)

Right - A figure extracted from plates in the book by Mahmud Sevket Pasa ‘L'Organisation et les Uniformes de l'Armee Ottomanne (1907)’, showing the Koul-Oglou chief of the Ottoman Algerian Janissary (1700-1830).

  • The Kouloughlis were soldiers who were born to the Ottoman Algerian Janissary permitted to marry locally [1].
  • The Kul-Ogloue, constituted a force of eight thousand subordinate to the Janissary force in Ottoman Algeria (1517-1830) [2].

Additionally, there was a force of Three thousand Arab horsemen, usually employed by the Dey of Algiers and the Beys of provinces, to accompany the detachments of Janissaries responsible for collecting taxes.

Right - Illustrations the Vinkhuijzen collection shows this figures identified as Turkish soldiers, from between 1600 and 1805; and is likely an Algerian Kouloughlis:

  • This, figure, like the ones above wear a type of pointed red hat with a red tuft at the top.
  • This feature is similar to the figure (above) extracted from plates in the book by Mahmud Sevket Pasa ‘L'Organisation et les Uniformes de l'Armee Ottomanne (1907)’, showing the Koul-Oglou chief of the Ottoman Algerian Janissary (1700-1830).

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[1] Elizabeth Isichei. A history of African societies to 1870. Cambridge University Press, 1997: 273.

[2] Antoine de Juchereau de Saint-Denys. 1831 Considerations Statistiques, Historiques, Militaires et Politiques Sur La Regence d'Alger. Delaunay: 75-77.

Flag of the Dey or Regency of Algiers 

Above/Right – The green swallow-tailed flag with white crescent being carried by the Algerian Kouloughlis (Vinkhuijzen collection) is the same as that pictured in the 1830 - dated illustration of 'Fighting at the Gates of Algiers in 1830'.

Right - Part of an illustration 'Fighting at the gates of Algiers in 1830':

  • This shows a flag of the Dey or Regency of Algiers (Algeria) and Tripoli under the Ottoman Empire (from 1671 onwards).
  • This flag is the same as that being carried by the Algerian Kouloughlis (Vinkhuijzen collection - shown above).

Ottoman Algerian Army

The Ottoman Algerian army consisted of several elements [1]:

  • Janissary-led infantry (formed into local Sekban), recruited from Ottoman subjects.
  • The Janissaries were able to marry, and their offspring – the ‘Kuloglu’, composed a large part of the military forces available to the Ottoman rulers of Algeria. 
  • Auxiliary European mercenary soldiers (Czechs, Italians and Corsicans).
  • Local Ottoman Sipahi fudal cavalry.
  • Berber tribesmen provided auxiliary cavalry.
  • There were also Zouave infantry battalions led by Berber officers [2].

The local population of Algerians were excluded from military service.

Right - Part of an illustration of various Ottoman troops in Algiers, dating from 1830, showing 'Fighting at the gates of Algiers in 1830'. The Algerian army led by Ibrahim Agha, during the French invasion of Algeria 1830, consisted:

  • 1,000 Janissaries.
  • 3,000 Arabian Volunteers.
  • 5,000 Andalusian (Moors) Soldiers.
  • 2,000 Amazigh (Berbers) Volunteers.

Above/Left - This small group pf sword armed semi-naked warriors rushing the French troops, at the 'Fighting at the gates of Algiers, 1830'; are likely to be another example of the common Ottoman warfare practice, namely the figure of the ‘‘Deli’’: Daredevil or literally ‘‘crazy’’.

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[1] David Nicolle. Armies of the Ottoman Empire 1775-1820 Osprey Publishing, 1998: 35.

[2] The 'Zouaoua' Tribe, are actually, the origins of the Zouaves of the French Army, that were first raised in Algeria in 1831 with one and later two battalions, initially recruited solely from the Zouaoua (or Zwawa), a tribe of Berbers located in the mountains of the Jurjura Range. The Zouaoua had formerly provided soldiers for the Deys of Algiers and in August 1830 the commander of the French expeditionary force which had occupied the city recommended their continued employment in this role.

Berber Infantry

Right - Extracted from the Vinkhuizjen Collection illustrations which shows "A Berber of Algeria or Tunisia", from around 1800-1809

The Ottoman Algerian Navy (Till 1830)

The Ottoman Algerian navy had by 1830, largely ceased to exist, and up till some 40 years earlier had been very small [1] [2].

  • In 1815, the Algerian flagship Mashouda (also spelled 'Mashuda' or 'Meshuda'), was seen, this was a forty-six gun "Kalyon" - an Ottoman galleon (Ottoman man-of-war).
  • In 1815, seen was the next largest ship, was the Algerian brig Estedio (22 guns).

The Algerian fleet is often it is discribed as having been 'destroyed at the Greek naval battle of Navarino in 1827' [3];

  • However, this statement is not correct as it was actually a Tunisian Navy Squadron of four ships [4] [5].

Right - There is one reference to the 'Boberach', an Algerian xebec seized by the French in 1830.

Algerian navy ships were manned by the urban Baladi:Moors of Algeria [6].

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[1] Moulay Belhamissi, Histoire de la Marine Algerienne (1516-1830) 3 Vols. (Algiers: E.N.A.L., 1983).

[2] According to records, the French Admiral Duperre, in 1830 captured in Algiers harbour, a ‘fleet of Algerian ships’, consisting of one disarmed old frigate; one old corvette; four 10-gun brigs; one schooner brig; some seven more small schooners, and 30 armed boats.

[3] J. F. Ade Ajayi (ed.). Africa in the Nineteenth Century Until the 1880s. UNESCO, 1989: 498.

[4] H. J. Kissling, Bertold Spuler, N. Barbour, J. S. Trimingham, H. Braun, H. Hartel. The Last Great Muslim Empires. BRILL, 1997: 134.

[5] The Admiral of this fleet, was likely an Algerian officer.

[6] David Nicolle. Armies of the Ottoman Empire 1775-1820 Osprey Publishing, 1998: 35.

Armee D'Abd-El-Kader (1832-1847): Rank Insignia

The New Army of Algeria formed in 1832, by Emir Abdelkader was called the 'Jaish Al -Mohammadi' (Mohammad’s Army), and the total forces raised:

  • 5,960 Regular soldiers.
  • 10,240 Irregulars

The New Army was divided his army into three divisions:

  • Khayala (Cavalry);
  • Moushat (Infantry); and,
  • Tobajiya (Artillery).

The New Army's Tobajiya (Artillery) were deserters from the French army who were Turks and the Kouloughlis, who were experienced in maintaining light and heavy canons:

  • 2,240 light canons and 20 heavy cannons.
  • Each artillery unit had an aditional 12 infantry soldiers alocated to it.

Officers in the New Army, had an embroidered sword badge attached on each shoulder [1], and on the left cuff rings to indicate rank:

  • Agha - Four gold Cuff Rings: Commanded a Katiba (Battalion of 1000 men).
  • Sayaf - Two Gold Cuff Rings: Commanded a Sariya (Company of 100 men).
  • Khaba - One bronze Cuff Ring: Commanded a Fasela (Platoon of 35 men).

There were also two other ranks:

  • Rais Sayaf: Two Silver Cuff Rings.
  • Jaouche: One Silver Cuff Ring.

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[1] It is not known what this sword motif looked like; however, Berber flags of the Regency of Algeria, in the 17th and 18th centuries, often included an arm and sword (Right).

Armee D'Abd-El-Kader (1832-1847): Bodyguard

These were 500 men commanded by Emir Abdelkader. As well, Abd-El-Kader's bodyguard “consists of thirty negro slaves, who constantly surround his tent, but are never relived; nor have they any night quarters but the bare ground.” [1]

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[1] The United Service Magazine. Foreign Miscellany. Part II. July, 1837: 388.

Armee D'Abd-El-Kader (1832-1847): Red Cavalry

Right - The Cavalry uniform created by Emir Abdelkader consisted:

  • Red jacket with some black stripes on the sleeve seams and back.
  • Red vest decorated with blue hair on it.
  • Haik which covers his head and his shoulders which is made from camel’s hair including a turban. It was also likely, that worn on the on head, “protected by three or four sloping Greek caps, over which he is wont to draw the hood of his mantle” [1].

The cavalryman was armed with:

  • Rifle.
  • Yatagan.
  • Pistol.

“Ever since September, 1836, the cavalry have worn red jackets and trousers in the Turkish fashion, with a haik and cloak over them. Slippers are the only cover to their feet. Their arms consist of a musket, sabre, and cartouch-holder, which hangs by a strap from the neck and falls on the right hip: the dozen cartridges it contains .... Their saddles are wood, covered with morocco leather, and stand very high both front and behind. The stirrups are short, and the irons have sharp corners which serve the purpose of spurs.” [2].

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[1] The United Service Magazine. Foreign Miscellany. Part II. July, 1837: 388.

[2] Algiers: Abd-El-Kader’ Camp. The United Service Magazine, Volume 26, April 1838: 531-532.

Armee D'Abd-El-Kader (1832-1847): Regular Infantry

RIght - The Infantry uniform created by Emir Abdelkader consisted:

  • Jacket made from a grey wool, that included a hoody.
  • Red sedria (vest).
  • Blue trousers are also made from wool.
  • Burnous (long cloak made from wool).
  • Yellow leather pair of shoes.

Each soldier had the following weapons/equipment:

  • Leather bag which can be worn with a belt worn over the right shoulder.
  • Musket rifle with a bayonet.
  • Pistols and a yatagan (curved blade) attached to the belt of the soldier.

“The infantry wear a woollen vest, trousers, and black woollen surcoat, with a cap.” [1]

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[1] Algiers: Abd-El-Kader’ Camp. The United Service Magazine, Volume 26, April 1838: 531-532.

Armee D'Abd-El-Kader (1832-1847): Flags

Right -  Flags captured during the seizure of Abd-el-Kader's army, at Smalah:Smala (Battle of the Smala was fought in 1843 between France and Algerian resistance fighters during the French conquest of Algeria)

  • These are two of "several flags were captured.
  • They have not been preserved, but records of them are in the French Army Museum. Another flag was destroyed by fire in 1851 and its descriptive record has not been preserved.
  • The flags shown above were captured in front of the Emir's tent, but it is not certain what they represent."

After 1832, it is known that Abd-El-Kader’s campaign tent, was described as containing a special display of four rolled silk standards [1]:

  • “one is red, and belongs to the cavalry”;
  • “another is composed of a yellow stripe between two blue ones, and used by the infantry”;
  • “a third is white and grey”;
  • “and the forth is red and yellow”.

It is further stated that these flags were “hoisted in front of the tent every Friday” [2].

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[1] [2] The United Service Magazine. Foreign Miscellany. Part II. July, 1837: 388.

Armee D'Abd-El-Kader (1832-1847): Camp Organisation

“The camp is disposed in the form of a circle, the tents in which the infantry are quartered forming the outer edge, and the centre being occupied by those of the cavalry. Every tent contains from fifteen to twenty men, and their horses are fastened with cords to stakes. Abd-el-kader’s tent stands in the centre of all, the space in front of it being left quite open for this own horses and those of his follower." [1]

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[1] Algiers: Abd-El-Kader’ Camp. The United Service Magazine, Volume 26, April 1838: 531-532.

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