Charleston Zouave Cadets

1st Regt. Rifles

On the 26th of February the Zouave Cadets were called upon, as part of the 1st Regiment Rifle, S.C. Militia, to assemble at Military Hall for duty with the regiment. It boarded a steamer, landing at Dill's Bluff, and the regiment was again on the way, its destination being Secessionville. On the 5th of March the Steamer "Excel " carried the regiment to Sullivan's Island. The Zouave Cadets as guards for some stores that could not be carried on that trip, were left behind for the time being. On the 8th a large flatboat carried the company and the stores over to the regiment, then quartered in the different houses at Moltrieville, with the regiment headquarters at the Moultrie House. There the regular routine of drill and guard duty was resumed within a few days before the bombardment of Fort Sumter, when the regiment was ordered to the Myrtles, at the other end of the Island where they were encamped in tents. The object of this move being to prevent a landing of troops from the enemy's vessels there for the purpose of flanking the battery lower down. During the nights of the 12th and 13th, April, while the bombardment was going on, the men of the different troops were ordered to sleep "on arms," that is fully dressed, with belt with filled cartridge box, buckled around the waist and the gun at hand; but they had their pains only for the trouble, as no movement was made, all outside remaining silent spectators of the scenes taking place in the harbor.

On the l9th, April, the regiment was relieved by Col. Jenkins' regiment, and returned to the city, leaving the company behind again with stores till the next day when the boat "Pieris" brought both the company and the stores over to the city. As the steamer was leaving the wharf at the Island, with the company aboard. A small boat was seen to leave the wharf at the same time, in which sat a Confederate officer in full uniform with a red military cap, a somewhat small and wiry figure, but with a military bearing about him that would betray high rank; knowing ones to others told that the officer there was none less than the commanding General Beauregard, upon the company giving him "three cheers and a tiger," General Beauregard returned the compliment by rising in the boat and saluted by touching his cap.

During its stay in the city, until called on later again, the company made use of the interval by stated drills on the Citadel Square, where its evolutions, that of the skirmish drill with bayonet exercise, of the French Zouaves, proved quite an attraction to the public and was not missed by many.

On the 12th, September, our stay in the city was brought to a close by orders to take charge of some Federal prisoners that had been captured at Manassas and were to arrive by railroad from Virginia, the regiment being ordered out also to escort the company with the prisoners to their destination.

At the first sight of the prisoners one hundred and fifty in number, a feeling of fear overcame many of the men for a while, for many of those given in their charge were of the 11th New York Fire Zouaves. But this soon passed away, and every thing being satisfactorily arranged, the line of march was taken up for Charleston jail, where the prisoners were placed, with the company on duty as guard, where they remained till September 20th, when they were taken over to Castle Pinckney and quartered in the casements of the same.

The company, having reached the city with the prisoners, who were again taken to the jail with their appointed guard that were to take them on to their destination. Should arrive for them-a Sergeant and squad of the company were left in charge of them until then and the company returned to the Castle to act as garrison for the same. Alterations having been made at the fort for the accommodation of the prisoners these were now to be redone and everything restored for its original purpose, guards mounted etc. Capt. Charles A. Leanlan, of the engineers, was ordered to direct the work, and the Emerald Light-Infantry, another company of the regiment, was sent over to assist in the same; after considerable trouble and hard work the object was accomplished and the Castle was in a condition to take part in any demonstration in the harbor. The Emeralds were then removed and the Zouave Cadets entered on their duties as garrison with Capt.C.E. Chichester in command of the post.

The men became leery of the monotony of their duties and longed for more active in the field, a number of them, to accomplish their objective formed themselves into a nucleus for an infantry company for services in Virginia, which, as the South Carolina Zouave Volunteers, Co. H". of the Hampton Legion, did effective service there; many of the former members of the Zouave Cadets dedicated their devotion to their State and the Confederacy with their life blood on the battlefields around Richmond, and elsewhere in Virginia. During the latter part of January, 1862, orders were extended to the various militia companies that such should enter the regular Confederate service, all not mustering a sufficient number to do so will be disbanded. The question having been brought before the members of the Zouave Cadets, a number of these wanting to change their branch of service, there remained not a sufficient number to volunteer for the Confederate army, so the company was relieved at the Castle by a company of regulars, returned to the city and dissolved of itself, the majority of its former members immediately connecting themselves with other organizations for the regular service.

Several of the officers and a number of men of the old company united as a nucleus and organized the "Gist Guard Artillery", under the command of Capt. C.E. Chichester, which did effective service at Battery Wagner and around the harbor to the end of the war, and surrendering with Gen. Jos. E. Johnston's army at Greensboro, N. C. on the 26th, April, 1865.

Harper's Weekly Engraving, courtesy Doby Pilgrim.


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