Officer, Regiment of Zouaves, Imperial Guard, 1870 (P.Lourcelle). Napoleon III’s Imperial Guard included, from March 1855, one regiment of Zouaves, raised by drafts from the 3 line Zouave regiments. The new regiment served with distinction in the remainder of the Crimean War, in the Italian War of 1859; and, in the Franco-Prussian War, fought bravely at Rezonville/Mars-la-Tour (16 Aug. 1870), but was later encircled in Metz with the rest of the Guard.
French Imperial Guard of Napoleon III, Eagle-Bearer of the 2nd Regiment of Grenadiers. (1870 by P.Lourcelle). The Grenadiers performed particularly well at the Battle of Magenta (4 June 1859) — holding a bridgehead over the Naviglio Grande canal against superior numbers of Austrians until the rest of the army could come up.
“Le Peloton des étendards des Cent-Gardes revenant de la revue sur les Champs-Elysées” (Paul-Albert Girard, 1869, oil on canvas). In a private collection. The French Cent-Gardes, among other things, sometimes escorted the Eagle-standards of the other regiments of the Imperial Guard. Here, the color escort platoon is seen bearing Eagles of the other Guard regiments to a review on the Champs-Elysées in Paris.
The Imperial Guard of Napoleon III was a military unit in the French Army formed by Napoleon III as a re-establishment of his uncle Napoleon I’s Imperial Guard, with an identical uniform and almost the same privileges. It was formed by a decree of the emperor on 1 May 1854, and was made up of 17 regiments of cavalry, artillery and infantry, squadrons of workmen and mounted gendarmes, and a division taken from the corps of military engineers. The emperor added a regiment of Zouaves to the Guard in 1855, cherry-picked from the 3 regiments of Zouaves which he had created in 1852. This fourth Imperial Guard Zouave regiment had their uniform trimmed in yellow rather than the red of the other 3 Zouave regiments, and yellow instead of blue tassels.
A row of houses in the English style were built in Rue Alquié, Vichy for the officers of this unit, which would accompany Napoleon III to Vichy. The American officer Philip Kearny was a member of the unit at the 1859 Battle of Solferino.
Battle of Malakoff (the final and decisive assault against Sevastopol), during the Crimean War.
The final assault on Sevastopol took place on 8th September 1855. The French, under the command of General MacMahon, poured into the Malakoff and took the advanced works. The Russians emerged from the interior of the bastion and counter attacked. The savage fighting raged from midday until 4pm, when finally the French took the bastion. French zouave Eugene Libaut installed the French flag on the top of the Russian Redoubt.
The loss of the Malakoff with its dominant position overlooking Sevastopol and its defences caused the Russians to give up the struggle. The fall of the Malakoff was the end of the siege of Sevastopol.
In the final attack, the French lost 5 generals killed and 4 wounded. French casualties were 7.567 officers and men. The British lost 2.271 officers and men (3 British generals were wounded) during their failed attack against the Redan. The Russians suffered 12.913 casualties.
MacMahon personally led the successful attack, spearheaded by the 1st Zouave Regiment. The newly formed Zouave Regiment of the French Imperial Guard, at the time with only one battalion, lost 311 out of 600 men taken into the charge.