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Battle of El-Moungar
Part of South-Oranese Campaign
Bonifacio Légion JPG1.jpg
Monument to the French Foreign Légionnaires who died during the Sud-Oranais campaign
Date2 September 1903
LocationSouth of Oran, Algerian - Moroccan border
Result French victory
Belligerents
Flag of France.svg France Moroccan Berbers
Commanders and leaders
Captain Vauchez , then Lieutenant Selchauhansen, then Maréchal-des-logis Damien, then Sergent-fourrier Tisserand (WIA), then Corporal Detz
Strength
113 Légionnaires
2 Mokhaznis
20 Spahis
3,000 horsemen
Casualties and losses
38 dead, 49 wounded Unknown

The Battle of El-Moungar was a battle fought during the South-Oranese Campaign between a contingent of the French Army of Africa, especially the French Foreign Legion, and Moroccan tribesmen.

Background

In the early twentieth century, France faced numerous incidents, attacks and looting by uncontrolled armed groups in the newly controlled areas to the south of Oran (Algeria).[1] Under the command of General Lyautey, the French army's mission was to protect these areas newly occupied in the west of Algeria, near the poorly defined Moroccan boundaries.[1] This loose boundary, between French Algeria and the Sultanate of Morocco, promoted incursions and attacks by Moroccan tribesmen.[1]

On 17 August 1903, the first battle of the South-Oranese campaign took place in Taghit when a contingent of the French Foreign Legion was attacked by more than 1,000 well-equipped Berbers.[1] For three days, the legionnaires repelled repeated attacks of an enemy more than 10 times their number, and inflicted huge losses to the attackers, forcing them finally into a hasty retreat.[1]

The battle

A few months after the Battle of Taghit, 148 legionnaires of the 22nd mounted company, from the 2e REI, commanded by Captain Vauchez and Lieutenant Selchauhansen, 20 Spahis and two Mokhaznis were escorting a supply convoy, when they were ambushed at 9:30 am on 2 September by 3,000 Moroccans marauders.[1]

The first shots wounded or killed half of the detachment. Both officers and most of the non-commissioned officers were killed in the first stage of the fight.[1] At 10:30 am, Quartermaster Sergeant (sergent-fourrier) Tisserand, who commanded the survivors, sent two cavalrymen to Taghit for reinforcements. They immediately left.[1]

About forty survivors gathered on a nearby hill and under a scorching sun, on hot sand and without water, fought off the enemy for more than eight hours.[1] Near the end of the battle, Tisserand, wounded, gave command to Corporal Detz, the highest ranked man still able. At 5 pm, they were relieved by Captain de Sulbielle, who rushed from Taghit with his Spahis.[1] At the sight of the approaching French cavalry, the Moroccans retreated in small groups.[2]

Aftermath

A presidential decree granted to all survivors of the battle the Colonial Medal, and Tisserand was promoted to lieutenant.

References

Bibliography

Jean-Paul Mahuault, L'épopée marocaine de la Légion étrangère, 1903-1934, ou, Trente années au Maroc, L'Harmattan, 2005.

Coordinates: 35°26′00″N 4°03′00″E / 35.433333°N 4.05°E / 35.433333; 4.05

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