While commanding officer of the Rockford Greys militia company [There have been other cadets organizations termed “Greys” -DM], Elmer Ellsworth, introduced his men to drills inspired by those used by French Zouave units. Ellsworth himself had been introduced to Zouave military customs by Charles A. DeVilliers, a French physician, immigrant, and veteran of a Zouave outfit during the Crimean War. In 1859, soldiers of the National Guard Cadets of Chicago saw the Rockford Greys performing Zouave-inspired drills and offered Ellsworth command of their unit. Ellsworth accepted the offer, transforming the National Guard Cadets of Chicago into the United States Zouave Cadets.
On July 4, 1859, the United States Zouave Cadets – now 46 members strong – first publicly appeared in their new Zouave uniforms and executed the unique Franco-Algerian Zouave drill in front of Chicago’s Tremont Hall. With a training schedule of three evenings per week, the United States Zouave Cadets established a reputation for parade ground excellence called by one observer as “unsurpassed this side of West Point”. The United States Zouave Cadets saw their biggest audience, estimated to be 70,000 in number, the following September during the seventh annual United States Agricultural Society Fair which was hosted by Chicago.
There was even a march written for the cadets, The Zouave Cadets Quick Step.
To read more about them, visit this site.