Algeria History – French Expedition

Causes of the French expedition. – The remote causes (see above) are to be found in the centuries-old disagreements between France and the dey of Algiers as a result of the acts of piracy which this latter exercised for a long time against French ships, dissidents that led France to an armed expedition against Algiers. The enterprise had already been planned by Napoleon, who had also had to give it up due to the European situation. At the peace of 1815 relations between the French government and the dey were resumed, but, after various events, in 1827 they were again broken following an insult made by the dey (April 27) to the consul of France. After a useless and costly maritime blockade that lasted three years and vain attempts at negotiations in 1828 and 1829, the French government, having failed to obtain the intervention against Algiers of the pasha of Egypt Moḥammed ‛Alī for the

Occupation of Algiers. – Despite the evident discontent of England, which demanded a declaration of renunciation by France of any territorial occupation, obtained the consent of the other powers and the neutrality of the bey of Tunis and the sultan of Morocco, the expedition was quickly prepared to Toulon, and was composed as follows:

Land forces (about 37,000 men and 4000 horses).

Commander: ten. gen. De Bourmont, Minister of War;

3 infantry divisions on 3 brigades of 2 regiments (2 batt. Of 8 companies) (30,000 men);

the cavalry regiment on 3 squadrons of hunters (500 men);

4 field artillery batteries, 1 mountain battery and 80 siege guns;

8 companies of genius (1300 men);

Various services (about 2000 men);

A 4th reserve division (8000 men, 4 batt., 2 engineering companies) was organized in Provence.

Naval forces (676 ships with 27,000 sailors).

Commander: Admiral Duperré;

104 warships (including 7 steam ships);

572 transports.

On 25 May 1830 the expedition set sail from Toulon and on 31 was in sight of the African coast, but due to the sea conditions it had to take refuge in the Balearics; only on 13 June the warships, having left the convoy in Palma, reappeared in front of Algiers, and on 14 the landing began, 20 km. west of the city, on the peninsula of Sidi Ferruch where, between 14 and 18, a strong base was established. The forces of the regency, about 45,000 indigenous and Janissaries, had meanwhile gathered in the plain of Staoueli and on the 19th they attacked the French, trying to wrap their wings and throw them back into the sea, but were rejected and forced to retreat. On the 24th they reappeared and, between the 25th and the 28th, bloody clashes took place in Sidi Calef and Deli Brahim, but without result; on the 29th finally, the expected siege material arrived, the French moved on three columns towards Algiers, which they reached the same evening by laying siege there in the following days, while the fleet bombed the city, preparations were made for the strong attack, which took place on July 4, preceded by a violent bombing of forts; the same evening the dey surrendered and on the 5th the French took possession of the city and the public treasury. The beys of Titeri and Oran submitted, at least in appearance; that of Constantina did not pronounce; in effect, French authority remained limited to the city of Algiers; in fact a column headed to Médéa on 23 July was arrested in Blida by the indigenous resistance and forced to return on 25th; two detachments were sent to occupy Bona and Oran, but, in the meantime, Charles X having fallen in France, those presidencies were withdrawn and De Bourmont replaced with gen. Clauzel.

It soon appeared that the populations of the interior were completely hostile, so much so that Algiers remained as though blocked; on the other hand, the French government, not having a well-defined program and being constrained by internal and international political difficulties, was unable to come to a firm decision: to extend the occupation or to evacuate. To the great detriment of the French prestige among the natives who, interpreting indecision as weakness, became more and more aggressive. For Algeria 2005, please check

The gen. Clauzel, although without clear instructions and completely unaware of the country, understood the situation and tried, with the few means at his disposal, to improve it.

In November he occupied Médéa, driving out the treacherous Bey of Titeri, dismissed the Bey of Constantina and in January 1831 he had Oran occupied for good. But the government did not approve of his work and replaced him with gen. Berthezène; part of the troops were repatriated and only one division remained in Algeria. Médéa was cleared out (July 1831) and an attempt to reoccupy Bona failed. The insurrection became general and extended to the gates of Algiers and Oran. General Savary, who succeeded Berthezène in December 1831, reorganized the troops and the administration, but his extreme rigor only aggravated the insurrection, so much so that, in March 1833, following an investigation he was replaced by gen. Voirol. These, more moderate, he partially succeeded in calming the spirits and was able to carry out the reoccupation of Bona and the capture of Bugia (September 1833); but, while he was preparing for an expedition to Constantine, in July 1834 he too was replaced, the French government having decided to keep Algeria as a colony, and having assigned a governor general there, in the person of the old Drouet d’Erlon. At this time, the figure of Abdel-Kader (v.) Appeared in the province of Oran, who in 1832, a young man of 25, who had himself proclaimed emir, had settled in Mascara, setting up a small regular army with which he subdued the tribes. surrounding. Managed with the shrewdness to win the trust of the gen. Desmichels, commander of the Oran garrison, obtained all sorts of aid, he also made him sign a treaty (February 26, 1834) by which France recognized Abd el-Kader as emir, possession of the territory of Oran, minus this city and that of Arzew, the concession to procure weapons by sea, etc.; essentially the faculty of forming a state. The enterprising and daring sovereign did not take long to attract the attention and the sympathies of all the peoples of Algeria and to mature far more ambitious plans.

First phase of the fight against Abd elKader. – In fact, he soon began to raid outside the territory assigned to him, occupied Médéa and Miliana, and when the gen. Trézel, who succeeded Desmichels, called him back to the pacts, he arrogantly replied and, in the spring of 1835, openly rebelled and marched against Oran. The Trézel moved to meet him with 2500 men and 6 pieces, but after a bloody clash, sustained on June 26, he had to fall back towards Arzew and on the 28th, surprised and surrounded in a gorge of the Macta, he was completely beaten and retired with a few survivors in Arzew. Following the disaster, the governor Drouet D’Erlon was replaced by gen. Clauzel who, in order to take revenge, planned an expedition against Mascara, the capital of the emir.

Leaving in November with 11,000 men from Oran, he beat the emir in the gorges of the Habra on December 3, who retired without defending his capital. Mascara was taken and burned, and the expeditionary force returned to Oran.

In January 1836 a second expedition occupied Tlemcen, leaving behind a garrison; shortly after a column (Gen. d’Arlanges), landed at the mouth of the Tafna to establish a supply base for Tlemcen, but was blocked by Abd el-Kader and, in an attempt to break the blockade, at Sidi Yagoub, suffered severe losses (April 25); running out of supplies, it would have found itself in a bad way if a brigade arrived in reinforcement from France, under the command of gen. Bugeaud (v.), Had not forced the emir to lift the blockade. The gen. Bugeaud then moved with a supply column to the rescue of Tlemcen and, with skillful maneuvering the emir into a battle, defeated him (6 July 1836), inflicting heavy losses (1600 men), and liberated the city. The success was believed to be decisive and, considering Abd el-Kader now out of the question,

Algeria History - French Expedition