Civil War re-enactor Robert “Maynard” Kufrovich will portray a Zouave of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment when he talks about The Zouave Element at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 20 at the Isaac Farrar Mansion, 166 Union Street, Bangor. His talk is part of the Civil War Lecture Series presented by the Bangor Historical Society.
Kufrovich will talk about the colorfully uniformed Zouaves and their roles in the Civil War. Although more Zouave regiments served in the Union army, Confederate Zouave regiments existed, too.
“The Zouaves were considered light infantry,” and “one out of every 10 soldiers at the start of the war was a Zouave,” says Kufrovich, an education technician at the Adams School in Castine.
Because “the French army was in vogue at the time,” the Zouave regiments wore colorful uniforms “patterned after the French Zouave units involved in the Crimean War” in the 1850s. Such uniforms “were based on those worn by Moroccan troops in the French army,” he says.
“What made a Zouave? It was the uniform,” Kufrovich says. Among the components of his Zouave uniform are a soft wool fez; a striped turban unique to the 114th Pennsylvania; a rib-cut jacket; a clasp, called a “frog,” that fastened the jacket at the throat; powder-blue cuffs also unique to the 114th Pennsylvania; a gold “A” that identified a member of the original “Zouaves d’Afrique,” a pre-Civil War unit that became a company in the 114th Pennsylvania; and a red shirt that, Kufrovich admits, “made a Zouave a good target” on the battlefield.
There were other aspects to a Zouave’s uniform that Kufrovich will explain during his April 20 program.
Zouave units actually predated the Civil War; young men ages 16 to 20 “would form Zouave companies in American cities and come up with fancy names for themselves,” Kufrovich says. Many such companies joined fledging state infantry regiments after the war began.
“The Lewiston Zouaves, our only company of Zouaves [from Maine], went to war” as Co. K, 1st Maine Infantry Regiment, Kufrovich says.
Among the early Union Zouaves were “firemen from the big cities,” he says. The firemen wore bib-style shirts that they adapted as part of their Zouave uniforms.
The 114th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment was led by Col. Charles Collis, a Philadelphia lawyer. When the 114th was forming, Collis “had special material imported from France to make the uniforms,” Kufrovich says. Collis kept procuring new uniforms for the 114th throughout the war.
“The South had many Zouave regiments, also,” he says. “The Richmond Zouaves wore a uniform similar to the 114th’s.”
Kufrovich will talk about the Zouaves’ suave and flamboyant style and an attitude that carried over onto the battlefield, where they earned reputations as fierce warriors.
Be sure to learn about these unusual soldiers by attending The Zouave Element at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 20, at the Isaac Farrar Mansion, 166 Union Street, Bangor.
Brian Swartz can be reached at email@example.com. He loves hearing from Civil War buffs interested in Maine’s involvement in the war.