Legion Forts: Camp Bugeaud, In Salah

Camp Bugeaud In SalahCamp Bugeaud is located in the middle of the Algerian Sahara in the tiny oasis town of In Sahah, the capital of the Tidikelt region in Adrar Province.  It was built around 1900-1901 and named after the French Marshal Thomas Robert Bugeaud (15 October 1784 – 10 June 1849) who was influential in the conquest of Algeria.  The French garrisoned one of their three camel mounted cavalry companies here in 1902 and this unit (Compagnie Méhariste Tidikelt) is depicted on parade above.  The previous unit stationed in In Salah, a Saharan Spahi Company, formed the basis for the new camel cavalry unit.  I’m not sure the Foreign Legion ever garrisoned at Camp Bugeaud but it is reasonable to assume that this location was frequented by patrols of the Legion’s motorized or cavalry units in the inter-war years.  The fort, and the town of In Salah, is a good example of the type of architecture commonly found in far flung Saharan towns and military camps and it hasn’t really changed much–lots of white washed stucco over mud and adobe bricks, wide courtyards, walled compounds and very ascetic landscaping.  In researching these forts over the years its amazing to see that much of the French colonial construction in Algeria remains intact and is used to this day in its original function.

I can’t specifically identify or trace out the exact outline of this fort on Google Maps.  The city has seemingly swallowed much of the fort (in the same way the sand dunes have swallowed parts of the city) but there is a good entry for Camp Bugeaud at Saharayro.  There are also some good, recently taken pictures posted on Panoramio by a photographer appropriately named “le mehariste”.  There are also four Ksars (native forts) located in In Salah but these was not occupied by the French who preferred to build their own.  My little assembly of maps and photos are posted below.

Camp Bugeaud

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About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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