Ensign Ewart and the Scots Greys at Waterloo

200 years ago today the last battle of the Napoleonic Wars was fought at Waterloo. Famously remembered as a “close-run thing” (though the quote is apparently “It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life,”) it was a bloody nightmare. A total of around 48,000 men were killed inside 10 hours.

Last month I visited Edinburgh Castle. Among the memorials on its esplanade is this one, erected in 1938, to Ensign Charles Ewart, of the Royal North British Dragoons (more commonly known as the Scots Greys,) who captured the Imperial Eagle of the French 45th infantry regiment during the battle.

Ensign Ewart Memorial Edinburgh Castle Forecourt

The Eagle itself is normally on display in the relevant Regimental Museum in the castle grounds but it wasn’t on the day I visited. I think it’s on loan to the National Museum of Scotland at the moment. I did find, though, this Memorial to the men of the Scots Greys who died in the Great War.

Royal Scots Greys Memorial, Edinburgh Castle

Also, inside the Castle’s Great Hall, there is a painting, executed by Richard Ansdell some thirty years or so after the event, of the moment of the Eagle’s capture. Titled “The Fight for the Standard” the picture is huge – 13 ft by 11 ft. It is somewhat triumphal in tone and perhaps ridiculously sentimental given the likely conditions of the actual battle.

The Fight for the Standard by Richard Ansdell

Picture from Eric Gaba at Wikimedia Commons.

Perhaps a more famous painting of the Battle of Waterloo is “Scotland Forever!” by Elizabeth Thomson, Lady Butler.

Scotland Forever!

The original is in Leeds Art Gallery but a reproduction is in the Regimental Museum.

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  1. Napoleonic Eagle – A Son of the Rock -- Jack Deighton

    […] This is the Napoleonic Eagle captured at the Battle of Waterloo by Ensign Ewart. […]

  2. ALAN STOCKTON

    We have two “water coloured” paintings in my modest hall (We live in a bungalow) I bought them in a Antique shop in Salisbury (I think) or nearby town. We bought them as a pair because the shop said “They had to be sold as a pair”?? We do not think they are valuable and bought them because at the time I was RQMS of “The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys) stationed in Tidworth (Circa 1986 to 1990). I would be interested to find any information about their origin.

  3. jackdeighton

    Alan Stockton,
    Due to your background I’m assuming your paintings are of the Scots Greys.
    There are many paintings of military scenes in places like Regimental Museums and such and no doubt elsewhere. The ones you have most likely have a connection to the regiment depicted in them – maybe even painted by a former member of the regiment, though many artists have painted military subjects.
    If yours are signed by the artist it may be easier to get more information about them.

    Thanks for looking in and commenting.

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