I remember seeing the word Zouave in the ending credits to the Danny Kaye comedy The Court Jester. The marching knights in that film were listed as the Jackson Michigan Zouave Drill Team. They performed a very close formation drill. I recall a lot of stomping. (Loved the film, by the way – “the poison is in the vessel with the pestle…”).
ET may have left home, but Salem was a recent residence and it had not been “home” for all that long. Danvers was his most recent abode as mentioned before, according to the 1860 federal census, but it is difficult to know how long he had lived there, though I do have a clue. I just recently discovered that he was an orphan, and would have been since his mother died in 1853 when he was just thirteen. At the time of the 1850 census he was living in Roxbury, Massachusetts, with his mother and her second husband Calvin Gilson. His step-father re-married in 1858, so I am guessing that he was apprenticed to the cordwainer in Danvers sometime soon after that. His mother had married Mr Gilson in 1848, three years after his father had passed away (I’m going to save the topic of his father for another day).
So arriving in Boston, he was not only returning to the place of his birth, but he was also nearby to Roxbury, the place of his formative years. Though I am sure, those days to him belonged to the past; he had the excitement of the future before him.
Most of the 8th regiment had already reported, all of its companies so far were from Essex County. The SLI marched to the State House and there received overcoats and knapsacks. (ET and the rest of the recruits did not have uniforms. The only thing “uniform” about them would be these items).
While here in Boston the company performed various drills for the curious public. As a result, the newspapers from this time forward would celebrate them as “The Salem Zouaves.”
They took their noon meal with the rest of the regiment and later received their standard from the Governor.
At five o’clock in the afternoon, after a light supper they “took the cars” to Washington DC with Brigadier General B F Butler in command. It was April 18, 1861.
A check with a dictionary described Zouave as a name for a French Algerian infantry unit, known for their colorful uniforms, a swinging stride, close order drill and unorthodox field tactics (i.e. forming themselves into pyramids to scale walls). They came to notoriety in reports of their exploits in the Crimean War in the mid 1850s.
All these things being asides and context, another volume from ILL came and with it I got down to particulars. It was the history of the Salem Light Infantry, its story from inception to 1890. It all began in 1805. Civic minded men (exclusively of the Federalist Party) from the Salem community offered themselves in service by forming a militia company. They were just in time for the War of 1812. Most of the action however for this region took place at sea, but with the constant pressure of the British fleet offshore and their threats of invasion, the SLI was kept busy answering the night alarms. They were ready if the British showed their faces.
A run through the accompanying rosters turned up many names of Salem families: Derby, Lander, Peabody, Endicott, Devereux and yes Osgood, (and of later interest upon other discoveries – the name of Orne).
Over the years they did service in many ways: honor guards for important dignitaries such as Lafayette, Presidents Monroe, Jackson and Polk; annual training in summer musters in the field; and a constant round of entertaining and being entertained by other militia companies.
In February of 1860, a new captain was elected for the company. He was Arthur F Devereux, just recently returned from Chicago. He had been a patent lawyer out there, in partnership with Elmer Ellsworth. Their business failed, but their side passion, involvement in the local militia group, excited the nation when they introduced the Zouave drill there.
And that is what Captain Devereux brought back with him to his home town. So by the time a year had rolled by the company was schooled in the Zouave way and was probably the best prepared company in the Massachusetts militia.
E. T. enlisted in the Salem Zouaves on Monday April 15th 1861, three days after Fort Sumter was fired upon, and the day that President Lincoln had issued his proclamation calling for the state militias to come to the aid of the capital and to put down the rebellion.