By 1830 Algeria was part of the Ottoman Empire but in reality was pretty much independent of the Porte. The city of Algiers had been home to Barbary Pirates for generations and a number of attempts had been made in the past to eliminate them but without success. Britain had bombarded Algiers in 1816 but this did not stop the piracy. The British were concerned about French expansion into Africa but were delighted at the same time that the Algerian pirates had been eliminated.
The amphibious landing at Sidi Ferruch was the biggest such operation ever attempted before World War Two. 33,000 men and their guns and stores were landed in one day from specially built rafts carried on the ships’ decks. This was considered to be an amazing feat at that time. The French landed at Sidi Ferruch and marched to the city of Algiers which fell after a few days’ siege. The Dey of Algiers surrendered with the city and went into exile in Naples with his harem.
It was the start of a long campaign for the French which lasted until 1847 by which time the army numbered over 100,000 men.
Many Napoleonic personalities fought in the initial campaign. The first commander was General Bourmont who gained notoriety by defecting to the Allies during the Waterloo campaign 15 years before. D’Erlon, also of Waterloo fame, commanded the Army in Algeria at one time as well.
The infantry regiments comprised only two battalions. Any man deemed to be not fit enough was transferred into the third battalion which was left behind in France. The heat was intense and many young men died of heatstroke in the first few days. The shako proved to be unsuited to the heat and, after much experimentation, was finally replaced by the ‘Casquette d’Afrique’ which eventually developed into the famous kepi.
The French infantry in 1830 marched under the Lily Banner of Charles X who was the last Bourbon king of France. He was deposed shortly after the landing during the 1830 Revolution in Paris and succeeded by King Louis-Phillipe – the Citizen King – who was from the House of Orléans. The tricolour flag and shako cockade were subsequently re-introduced into the French Army.
The Zouaves, the Chasseurs d’Afrique and the French Foreign Legion were formed shortly after this time. The Turcos and Spahis came some time later.
Below are some figures painted for the French invasion of Algeria in 1830. The skirmishing figures are Waterloo Dutch-Belgians by Campaign Game Miniatures (CGM) which are ideal except that there are no figures in this range wearing epaulettes suitable for Grenadiers and Voltigeurs. 1815 French CGM figures could be used for those of course.
The next few photographs show the French infantry after the initial invasion but this time with tricolour flags and cockades. These figures are mostly Eureka 18mm Waterloo French infantry. The only modification to the figures is the removal of any protruding coat buttons as the 1830 French had single breasted jackets. The Grenadiers’ and Voltigeurs’ Napoleonic plumes had to be shortened.