African Regiment Cavalryman
Lossignol (from Paris)
His madder-red fez, banded with black, over one ear, chest squeezed tight by a wide red sash at the waistband, he is a fine representative of the cavalry, and the African cavalry especially: he is a Parisian, with the quick look and lively mocking air of men from there. No doubt he enlisted in one of those fine regiments through his love of adventure, a taste for the picturesque, the grey horses under the palm trees, the hot sun, remembering perhaps the great campaigns of yesteryear, the times of glory in the Crimea, or on the plateau of Floing. This war has also been glorious, certainly, but it has made men pay more dearly for their rewards. They had to be earned in the humble mud of the trenches, with longsuffering and daily privation. After the first months, when the cavalry, worn out by straining every sinew and sparing no effort, arrived in front of the positions where the enemy had dug in, their role was over. Right up until the last day, they waited for their hour to come. If it was not given to the cavalry to watch the squadrons of the enemy flee before their drawn sabres, they gave enough of their strength, spilled enough of their blood, that no-one would have disputed their worth. They had not experienced the intoxication of the charge, but they knew at least the bitter taste of sacrifice, they saw the suffering in the trenches: there is no higher claim on our gratitude.