Battle of Sidi-Brahim - Battle

Battle

The encounter was unplanned and poorly commanded by Montagnac, and went badly for the French troops. After a first encounter, the French's numbers were reduced from 450 to 82 chasseurs and hussars against 10,000 Algerian Berbers. Cornered, the chasseurs of the carabinier company took refuge in a marabout, from which they repulsed all assaults. After a siege lasting many days, without food or water and short of munitions, they were reduced to cutting up their musket balls in order to keep firing. Emir Abdelkader captured captain adjutant major Dutertre and taken under guard to the front of the marabout to demand the chasseurs' surrender, but instead used his time there to exhort the survivors to fight to the death, for which Abdelkader beheaded him. Abdelkader then demanded that the French bugler sound the retreat, but he instead sounded the charge, whilst one chasseur replied to another of Abdelkader's other demands for their surrender with the word "Shit! (in reference to Cambronne's answer at Waterloo). When the remaining 80 survivors completely ran out of munitions, they managed to break through the enemy lines with a bayonet charge, but only 16 of them managed to rejoin the French lines (5 of which died some days later). Among the dead was Montagnac himself. The remains of the soldiers killed at Sidi Brahim were gathered at Djemmaa Ghazaouet in the "Tombeau des Braves" then reburied at the Musée des Chasseurs at the old fort in Vincennes in 1965.

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