Action at Bou Denib: Part 1

I finally was able to pull together a good run-down on the combat that occurred around the upper Guir River (the Haut Guir) in 1908.  This fighting involved the Foreign Legion to a great extent but it was not the only place were the Legion was fighting.  There were two other main campaigns happening elsewhere in Morocco around the same time.  In the summer of 1907 the French landed forces at Casablanca and throughout the rest of that year and well into 1908 they were busy chasing insurgents in the Chaouia region of Morocco.  Also in latter part of 1907 the French (and the Legion) were actively involved in putting down an insurrection (the Beni Snassen) just across the northern Algerian border in what was known as the Taza Corridor.  This was right in the vicinity of an earlier French foothold at Oudja.

The actions in the Haut Guir/southeast region of Morocco began when rumors of a large rebellion led by a rabble rousing holy man (Moulay Ou Lahsen) began making their way to the French.  Large concentrations of fighters were uniting under his banner (forming what is known as a harka) and were threatening to attack the French at Colomb Bechar.  The French commander, General Vigny, sent out three columns to look for the enemy forces.  On 15 April, in a dusty town of Menhaba, the harka found one of the French columns and attacked at dawn.  The French suffered a bad defeat that could have been a disaster had the tribesmen not stopped their attack in order to pillage the camp.  Vigny gathers his forces together to track down the attackers and avenge Menhaba but fails to find the enemy.  He does manage to destroy the empty headquarters of Lahsen but then is informed that a large force of insurgents is gathering at Bou Denib.  The French double back for resupply then head back west to Bou Denib.  The first set of slides (Bou Denib Part 1) I created provide maps and pictures of the early battle fought at Bou Denib in May.  It was in September, when the harka grew to almost 20,000, that the real battles took place.  I will cover these in Bou Denib Part 2.  In Part 3 I will cover Bou-Denib after 2008 and how it became a significant hub of French military activity in the area.  I will also provide some articles (in French) that cover this action along with Part 3.  My sources for much of this information came from Galica.  I also found the auction site, Delcampe, to be a tremendous source for vintage pictures (which I shamelessly borrowed for my little history presentation).  The Petit Journal picture below is somewhat related.

Bou Denib Part 1

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About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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