It’s doubtful whether the Lauderdale Zouaves company of the 13th Mississippi Regiment still had uniforms as presentable as this when the regiment attacked Fort Sanders on Nov. 29, 1863. But such apparently was their appearance when the war began.
Their romantic uniforms were not uncommon on both sides of the war. They commemorated the French colonial soldier who distinguished himself in the Crimean War of 1855. Of which it was written in 1862: “…he knows he is looked upon by his officers, by France, and by the world, as a soldier to whom nothing should be impossible; and he would rather die than disappoint the expectation formed of him; his is a corps d’elite, and every Zouave considers himself a ‘death or glory man.’”
The Zouaves of Lauderdale Station, Lauderdale County, Mississippi, originally were led by then-Captain Kennon McElroy, 21, a University of Mississippi graduate and farmer, who was elected colonel and promoted after Gettysburg to command the regiment. As such he is recreated in the novel. McElroy was killed in the attack on the fort.