[News from France]
The "Holy War".— The Emperor of Morocco has declared a "holy war" against France and Frenchmen, and is rousing the various peoples and tribes within and contiguous to his dominions to arms [in] defence of the one faith, and for the extermination of the "Infidels". Abd-el-Kader, the African Wallace, is the leader of this national enterprise for the overthrow and expulsion of the French conquerors. The latest accounts represent the advanced section of the Moorish army as being within sight of the French forces.
From accounts received from Constantine, it appears that the Duke d'Aumafe has met with some reverses, which seem to have been the result of his own imprudence and want of experience. It will be seen from the subjoined extracts, that a small body of troops, left in charge of Biskra, has been surprised, the French garrison killed, and the whole of the baggage, ammunition, and stores, carried away by the natives.
A Toulon letter of the 3rd says: —
"We have received most afflicting news from the province of Constantine, dated the 20th ult. The Duke d'Aumale had left at Biskra a very small garrison, composed only of Lieutenant Petitgand, commandant, Sub-Lieutenant Crochard, and Aide-Surgeon Major Arcelin, with about forty men, from the battalion of the Constantine Fusileers. This small corps was intended to form the nucleus of a new battalion, to be raised from among the tribes in the environs of Biskra. Of all these, only a serjeant-major, named Pelisse, escaped. The new recruits opened the gates of the Casbah during the night to Mahommed Seghir, the Calif of Abd-el- Kader, and his followers, who surprised our men in their sleep, and killed them all. Plunder became general, and 70,000 fr. left with the commandant to pay his men, and all the cannon, muskets, ammunition, and other stores, were carried off. This unfortunate affair is said to have encouraged the surrounding tribes to take up arms. The fatal news having reached the Prince while in the mountains of the Ouled Sultau, he instantly marched to Biskra with a column of 3,000 men. He arrived on the 18th, but the Calif had left on the preceding day. The third battalion of the African Light Infantry marched from Constantine on the 24th for Biskra, to form its garrison."
On Friday, the Chamber of Deputies voted by a majority of 190 to 53 a sum of 7,500,000 f. to defray the expense of increasing the present military force of France in Algeria (96,000, by 15,000 more; thus raising the number of bayonets in Algeria to 111,000).
Written in the first half of June 1844
First published in The Northern Star
No. 344, June 15, 1844, with an editorial
note: "From our own Correspondent"