On December 25th the Algerian hero embarked with his family and followers in a French frigate for Toulon.
Today’s installment concludes Abd-el-Kader and France’s Conquest of Algeria,
our selection from a Hero Patriots of the Nineteenth Century by Edgar Sanderson published in 1891. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of seven thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Abd-el-Kader and France’s Conquest of Algeria.
On January 11th, Abd-el-Kader gathered his armed force, marched at dead of night and fell furiously on the first division of the Moors and Arabs. The slumbering foe awoke to see the thick darkness illumined by flashes of light from muskets. Seized with panic, the men rushed away in all directions, abandoning arms, tents, and baggage. In the mean time Abd-el-Kader and his men swept onward and attacked the second division, which was also defeated and dispersed. In half an hour the third division was reached. This force had time to prepare for defense, and the assailants withdrew before a steady fire of infantry and artillery to an adjacent hill. At midday five thousand Moorish cavalry moved out against Abd-el-Kader’s little army. At charging distance he led on his men, swept through the foe, and by a skilful combination of assault and retreat regained his deira by the river Melouia, before sunset. The deira had nearly effected its passage across the river, with the baggage and the spoils taken from the enemy, when the Moorish army was seen cautiously advancing.
The situation was full of peril. The deira had never been so exposed. The ammunition was expended and the infantry was thus counted out of the fight. Abd-el-Kader could only depend on his “Old Guard” — his matchless cavalry. At length the Melouia was passed, and, although the foe was pressing on, he would not leave its bank until the noncombatants had gained a full hour in advance. Then the deira crossed another stream and reached a place of safety, for the time, on French territory. Not a life had been lost nor a beast of burden of all that crowd of men, women, children, and animals. Coolness, intrepidity, and skill had been their protectors. Of the fighting men, however, more than two hundred had been slain, and nearly all the rest were suffering from wounds.
Abd-el-Kader now turned toward the hills inhabited by a tribe which still, in part, adhered to him. His horsemen followed him in anxious silence, suffering and exhausted. The rain fell in torrents. Their chief was tormented by conflicting thoughts. A French camp was visible in the distance, three hours’ march away, occupying a pass. He and his cavalry might yet escape by narrow defiles into the Sahara. But what of his aged mother, his wife and children, his helpless followers in the deira? All would become captives to the foe. He called his men around him and reminded them of the oath which, eight years before on the renewal of the war, they had taken at Medea that they would never forsake him in any danger or suffering. All declared themselves ready still to adhere to it. He set before them the peril of the people in the deira and suggested submission. All the warriors cried: “Perish women and children so long as you are safe and able to renew the battles of God. You are our head, our Sultan; fight or surrender, as you will, we will follow you wherever you choose to lead.” After a few moments’ pause Abd-el-Kader declared that the struggle was over. The tribes were tired of the war and there was nothing left but submission. He would ask the French for a safe-conduct for himself and his family, and for all who chose to follow him, to another Muslim country. The universal answer was, “Sultan, let your will be done!”
The incessant rain rendered it impossible to write down any terms. Abd-el-Kader therefore affixed his seal to a piece of paper, and dispatched it in charge of two horsemen to the French general as a sign of authorization on his part for demands to be verbally made. It was Lamoriciere who received the two emissaries; and he sent a verbal reply, acceding to all proposals. Abd-el-Kader then sent a letter, and received in reply a written promise and stipulation that the Sultan and his family should be conducted to St. Jean d’Acre or Alexandria. The new Governor-General, the Duc d’Aumale, was close at hand, and on the evening of December 23, 1847, the fallen hero, attended by some of his chiefs and men, escorted by five hundred French cavalry, who showed great respect and sympathy for the captives, arrived at headquarters. Abd-el-Kader, attended by Lamoriciere and Cavaignac, was presented to the son of Louis Philippe. The Prince pledged himself that Lamoriciere’s promise and stipulation should be strictly observed. He knew little that his father’s throne was about to fall, and that the decision as to Abd-el-Kader’s fate would, within a few weeks, rest in far different hands. The ex-Sultan then withdrew to his deira, which had now joined the French encampment.
On the next morning, December 24th, the Governor-General held a review. His honored prisoner and guest, riding a splendid black charger of the purest Arab breed, and surrounded by his chiefs, awaited his return from the field. When the Prince approached, Abd-el-Kader dismounted and offered his steed as a present in testimony of his gratitude, and expressed the hope that he might always bear his new master in safety and happiness. The Duc d’Aumale replied, “I accept it as a homage rendered to France, the protection of which country will henceforth be ever extended toward you, and as a sign that the past is forgotten.”
On December 25th the Algerian hero embarked with his family and followers in a French frigate for Toulon. He had seen the last of his native land. Lamoriciere accompanied him on board and supplemented his poor resources with a present of four thousand francs, receiving Abd-el-Kader’s sword in return. The Moniteur of January 3, 1848, paid a high tribute to the genius and ascendancy of the captive in these words: “The subjugation of Abd-el-Kader is an event of immense importance to France. It assures the tranquility of our conquest. To-day France can, if necessary, transport to other quarters the hundred thousand men who hold the conquered populations under her yoke.”
This ends our series of passages on Abd-el-Kader and France’s Conquest of Algeria by Edgar Sanderson. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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