Algeria History – The Great Insurrection of 1871

Algeria History - The Great Insurrection of 1871

Conquest of Kabylia. – The Cabili, sedentary Berbers and farmers of the chains of the Little Atlas, between Algiers and Constantine, at first neutral and not hostile to the French, later, seeing their independence threatened by the advance of these, had finished, albeit with repugnance (given the their traditional hostility towards the Arabs), by giving hospitality in their mountains to all dissidents and to Abd el-Kader himself. After the capture of this, the Kabyles, governed by their leader Ben Sālem, continue to form, in the already pacified country, a dangerous independent and threatening island for some of the most important centers of the colony, such as Algiers, Bejaia and Constantina; it was therefore necessary to reduce them to awe: a first expedition was conducted in Little Kabylia in May-July 1851, but without concrete results. The following year the new governor, gen. Randon, undertook the methodical conquest of the region; at the end of 1853, with the two divisions Mac-Mahon and Bosquet, he occupied Little Kabylia; the following year he penetrated the Djurdjura massif (great Kabylia), where he beat the dissidents in Sebt (June) and Taurirt (July); meanwhile, other columns penetrated into the Sahara, occupying Ouargla and Tuggurt where the fugitive Kabyles had taken refuge. In 1855 the Crimean War, absorbing part of the troops of Africa (30,000 men), imposed a halt, but in 1856 the gen. Randon again enteredDjurdjura with 15,000 men, occupying solid bases.

In 1857 finally the gen. Randon with 32,000 men on 3 divisions completed the conquest, after seven years of harsh campaigns, by beating the Kabble at Ismaiseren, Sough el-Drbaa and Registriden, who asked en masse to submit.

In 1864 the tribe of the Ouled Sidi Chekh, inhabiting the Saharan regions of Laghouat, Ouargla and Tuggurt, to which the Randon had placed the Sharīf Moḥammed at the head, rose up under the leadership of his son, Sidi Slīmān, and proclaimed itself independent, massacring of a little later a French column.

Troops rushed from Algiers and, with repeated operations and clashes, it was possible after four years to locate the insurrection in the SO., Obtaining an apparent tranquility, as the dissident leaders were refugees in Moroccan territory.

The great insurrection of 1871. – But shortly thereafter, as a consequence of the disasters suffered by France in Europe, a much more serious insurrection was to break out, mainly due to the inappropriate substitution of the so-called “civil” government for the military one. The foolish measures adopted by the new regime, together with the rumors that were circulating about the serious conditions of France, caused the discontent, at first latent and localized here and there, to spread rapidly, also due to the lack of troops, under the leadership of those same indigenous leaders who, for years and through numerous trials, had shown themselves to be extremely loyal; many of them, despite themselves, had to betray France under the pressure of the mass of their employees. The insurrection broke out openly in the spring of 1871 throughout Kabylia, from Constantine to the gates of Algiers, and to S. up to Ouargla and Tuggurt: the colonies were sacked and destroyed, the settlers massacred, captured or dispersed, the garrisons blocked. The French government then hastened to send as many troops to Algeria as it could, and these, under the command of Vice Admiral de Gueydon, surrounded Kabylia with several columns and recaptured it. At the end of 1871 the revolt could now be said to have been subdued.

Subsequently there were only partial insurrections of minor importance: in 1876 the revolt of el-Amri in the Zibane; in 1879 the uprising of Aurès, subdued by gen. Forgemol, who surrounded the insurgents with three columns, beating them at R’baa and Medina. For Algeria 2015, please check

In 1875 the Ulad Sidi-Cheikh, who since 1870 had been pushed back to the SW regions. at the Moroccan border, and which had always remained hostile, they began to agitate again, under the guidance of the marabout Bū Amena. For a few years the government did not give too much importance to the movement, until in 1881 Colonel Flatters, in an attempt to reach Niger via the Sahara, was attacked and massacred with almost all of his followers by the Tuāregh Haggār, near Insāla.

Bū Amena took advantage of the impression that the episode had exerted on the populations to move towards the north.

A column rushing to block his way was surprised and beaten at Chellala; the rebels advanced as far as Saïda. Meanwhile, the operations for the occupation of Tunisia had ceased and the troops made available were sent against the insurgents who, energetically driven out, took refuge in the oasis of the Tuat (south Moroccan). To insure the South Oranese against new incursions, in December 1882 the oasis of Ghardaïa, in the Mzāb, was occupied. Subsequently, the French occupation gradually extended to the whole of the Sahara, especially after the establishment of the protectorate over Morocco, so that today it is possible to cross in almost every direction and with relative safety the immense, and until a few years ago mysterious, region. African.

Algeria History - The Great Insurrection of 1871