The Salem Zouaves were founded in the spring of 2000 by the late Dr. Patri Pugliese and Paul Kenworthy.  Patri and Paul had been meeting on a regular basis for years to practice 19th-century bayonet fencing.  Their demonstrations of bayonet fencing and military sabre drills were popular at local ACW re-enactments, so in 1999 they began to look around for an appropriate historical military unit to recreate that would give an identity and context to their activities.  A mutual friend, local historian, and fellow re-enactor, Dr. David Goss of Gordon College, pointed them to a long-forgotten volunteer militia company from Salem, Massachusetts that had been at the forefront of the Zouave craze of 1860-1861.  The exotic colorful uniforms, flashy French light-infantry drill, and the wealth of surviving primary source material made Company J of the 8th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia a perfect fit for their purposes.  And so the Salem Zouaves were born.

Initially growth was slow.  The first recruit to join Patri and Paul, John O’Brien, began drilling in October of 2000.  The second recruit, Mark Millman, joined in October of 2001.  The strength of the unit remained at 4 privates for the next five years.  2007 saw the loss of Patri to cancer, but also a surge in new members that has brought the current strength up to 7 privates.

The second phase in the evolution of the group was adding a 17th-century English colonial militia impression.  This was occasioned by an invitation from the Massachusetts Army National Guard to participate in their National Guard Heritage Day celebration in Salem.  The Army National Guard considers its birthday to be the date of the first regimental-sized muster in North America on Salem Common in the spring of 1637.  The Mass National Guard celebrates this event by holding an inspection and review on Salem Common to which they invite re-enacting groups that represent the military heritage of the region.  They found out that we were re-enacting a Salem militia company and invited us to parade with them.  Up until that time, we had not been aware of the special position of Salem in the history of militia in North America.  We discovered when we began to study it, that the militia organization in Salem actually dates back to 1628/29 and that quite a lot of source material survives from that period.

We began drilling with half pikes in the summer of 2005 and three of our members gave a demonstration at Pioneer Village in Forest River Park in Salem in the fall of 2005.  Our first full unit demonstration was for the opening of the colonial arms and armor exhibit at the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester in June of 2007.  Since then the demand for our early colonial presentations has grown steadily and we continue to expand and improve our equipment and demonstrations.

10 Responses to About

  1. Greetings, Salem Zoaves!

    Looking forward to your appearance on February 17, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. in Salem as part of the Old Town Hall Lectures — this one featuring David Goss on Salem and the Civil War: 150th Anniversary. You can read the press release at the Old Town Hall Lectures website, in the Press section. Should be a grand evening! http://oldtownhalllectures.com/press/

  2. Intersted in history of the Salem’s Zouves regiment as re-enactor/wargamer and historian enthusiast. Her ein Italy is quite hard to find historical infos about amercican civil war. I’d like to know where the Salem’s Zouves have fought during the war and their history.
    Thanks you in advance for any info you may give !
    Ruggero Romano

  3. Arthur Hurley says:

    I talked to you Sunday about participating in the Bunker Hill Parade on June 12th. If you are interested I will send you an application. I need your address.

  4. If you’re interested in doing a demonstration at the Forbes House in Milton, please let me know. The event will be on either the 7th or 14th of August.

  5. Maurice Healy says:

    My name is Maurice Healy. There were 7 relatives in my family that served for the Union. Two of whom served in the 15th Mass Co I other known as the Slater Guards. The Slaters Guards left for Washington Aug 8, 1861. This coming Aug 20th the town of Webster is hosting a commemoration to honor the Slater Guards. So far some members of the 15th, Battery B 1st RI LA and the young Marines will be in attendance. Located at the town hall is a very large 40 foot high Civil War monument. With 5 soldiers in 125% size. There are two opperational Boat Howitzers on the lawn. Also inside the lobby is a very sexy rifled howitzer like near perfect all original. We will be conducting a ceromony, drilling on the guns, training new cadets and letting the young Marines show us up lol. It would be an honor if your regiment could attend. Also on this day the town has a grand opening of a new park directly accross the street. A big crowd is expected, there will be food vendors on site as well. The Providence Brigade Band could be there as well. There is two bands the Yankee Dogs and the Pulaski Brass Band alreadt scheduled to play. I know that this is a late invite but your regiment would be a crowd pleaser.
    Pvt Maurice Healy

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