French Eagles and other trophies captured by the British…

The other day I visited the Scottish National Museum where the two French Eagles captured at Waterloo are now on display.

I was quite in awe..not that they were much to look at, you understand, but because of what these two brassy-coloured little birds had seen in their time. The last Frenchman to hold the eagle of the French 45th Line regiment had his skull cloven in two – from top to bottom by Sergeant Charles Ewart of the Scots Greys, and here it was, just sat there, having witnessed the greatest battle ever fought. That eagle had been touched by the hand of Napoleon himself – the greatest military commander ever to grace the planet, and here it was, sat next to the eagle of the French 105th Line; the first time these two trophies had sat together since Wellington’s funeral.

One thing which struck me was the amount of visitors who really had no knowledge of these things. Even the most educated had known only of French Imperial Eagles from the ‘Sharpe’ series. Many, claiming to know something, asserted that these were the only two ever captured. Others stated that there must have been a few more, surely? Well I had to chime in and play ‘tour guide’ and give them a few stories and a list of others taken, but then I got to thinking; how right was I? Was there anything I didn’t know? – One of the things that keeps me going as a historian is always that there is more to know, and always something new if you look past what you think you know.

So I decided to do my research and to come up with a full list of French Eagles and other trophies taken by the British during the Napoleonic wars, and have found that though I knew most of it, there is always something new to learn. Trophies of war might just be that; trophies. Cheap ‘baubles’ as Napoleon would have called them, there to lead the masses and to serve the vanity of those who captured them, but each one was so much more. The stories, the struggle, that last heave of the captor to drag it from the lifeless fingers of the colour-bearer who gave his last breath to defend it. There is a story in every one, and here it is; the story of eagles, colours and other trophies taken from our oldest enemy:

1) The Antilles and West Indies (Five Eagles and two colour-pikes)

No less than Five eagles were taken by the British from the French in Martinique and Guadeloupe – a little known conflict outside of the Peninsular War where Sir Arthur Wellesley was to win his great fame. These were as follows: 3 Eagles of the French 82nd Regiment and one of the 26th Regiment taken at the siege of Martinique on February 24th 1809, and one eagle and two colour-pikes (which were small guidons topped with a spontoon) of the French 66th Infantry Regiment taken at the fall of Guadeloupe on January 27th 1810. Of these five eagles, three of them (82nd, 26th and 66th) are on display at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, one more of the 82nd’s is in the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum in Caernarfon North Wales, whilst one of the 82nd’s Eagles in on display at the Royal Fusiliers Museum at the Tower of London.

2) Talavera (Very nearly Two Eagles and several fanions)

At the battle of Talavera on July 27th-28th 1809 the honour of capturing the first French Eagles in the Peninsular war very nearly went to the 29th Worcestershire Regiment – and perhaps they did, who knows? The 29th – recorded by Wellington as “The best regiment in the army” took part in the repulse of Ruffin’s French division at the critical point in the battle. Advancing to the front alongside the 48th Gloucestershires to plug a gap in the line, the 29th charged, routing the French 24th regiment and capturing their eagle standard, and wheeled into the flank of the French 96th Regiment, whom the Gloucestershire boys had just put to the rout. The official dispatch states that both eagle standards were captured by the 29th, but that one was destroyed in the melee and the other, when found, was missing the eagle from the top; it having been unscrewed (a method which the French employed in time of peril) and possibly spirited away. There is conjecture over whether this eagle was, in fact, taken, but all that is known is that the surviving eagle standard was presented to Wellington (Sir Arthur Wellesley as he still was then) and he returned it to the regiment, since when its whereabouts are unknown. Perhaps it, or even the eagle which surmounted it, will reappear one day.

The initial report from the battle told of ‘five colours or eagles’ being captured at Talavera: The two already mentioned and three more by the King’s German Legion. Certainly these were not eagles or perhaps even colours, which provides a mystery. However we have the words of Marshal Jourdan who confirmed in his writings at the time that the “Pretended flags or standards that Wellesley glories in having taken or destroyed. They are nothing more than small flags (fanions) placed at the right and left of each battalion to keep the ranks aligned and that are thrown away by those who carry them when they have to use their weapons.” – The whereabouts of these remain unknown.

3) Barossa (One Eagle)

Taken on March 5th 1811, the Barossa Eagle – captured at the battle of the same name, is recorded as the first French Eagle to be captured by the British in the Peninsular War. Barossa was a small battle by comparison with Talavera or many others which followed it, and came about as an attempt to loosen the French hold on Cadiz by an attack upon their rear. The battle was a fiasco, with the British army’s Spanish allies refusing to engage, and the British under Sir Thomas Graham were trapped almost against the sea and forced to advance alone to bowl the French back. In the savage melee, the French 8th Regiment was engaged by the 87th Royal Irish Rangers. Ensign Edward Keogh struck down the French eagle-bearer (whose name is recorded as Gillemin) and seized the trophy, but the French charged back to retrieve it in a bloody brawl which Keogh and seven French officers, sergeants and soldiers were successively killed, as Sergeant Masterson now held them off. Finally slaying the French Lieutenant Gazan, who fell riddled with wounds, Masterson wrenched the eagle from his hands and held it aloft, crying out to his comrades; “Bejabbers boys! I have the cuckoo!” – The eagle of the 8th French Line was returned to London amidst great pomp and ceremony and laid up in the Royal Hospital Chelsea. On April 16th 1852 a thief broke in through the roof of the Hospital and stole the eagle, breaking it from its staff. It has never been recovered, although a replica was made from drawings, which was present at the Duke’s funeral, and this sits atop the original staff.

4) Foz de Arouce (One Eagle)

The combat of Foz de Arouce occurred as Wellington attempted to drive the French out of Portugal on March 15th 1811 – just ten days after the Barossa Eagle was captured. Surprising the French rear guard, Wellington attacked and sent them into a panic which saw the French 39th Infantry Regiment dissolve into a panicked flight for the crowded bridge in their rear. fearing the capture of their eagle, the men of the 39th hurled it into the fast-flowing Ceira river. It was recovered in about mid-June after Welington offered a vast sum to the peasants for its recovery, and now resides at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

5) Arroyo dos Molinos (One colour and possibly one Eagle)

The battle of Arroyo dos Molinos was fought on 21st October 1811 by General Sir Rowland Hill and his Spanish allies against the isolated division of General Girard. In a surprise morning raid, the British and their Spanish allies quickly attacked and routed the French, who trapped in a valley, took to the mountains to escape, abandoning most of their equippage. It is known that the battalion colour of the French 40th Regiment was taken, but there are rumours again of an eagle, as the Spanish General Giron wrote to his C-in-C Castanos; “a standard taken by the British troops, and those under my orders took the flag of the 4th battalion of regiment No. 40 of line infantry, that I have the honour to send to Your Excellency. The enemies have also lost an eagle, but it has not been possible up till now to find it” – It never was found, if it existed at all, and the remains of this and the flag of the 40th are nowhere to be found today.

6) Badajoz (Four colours)

After the siege of Badajoz, four flags and colours were captured. Some supposed ‘experts’ still maintain that there was at least one eagle, but even Wellington refutes this; “the battalions of the French garrison did not have eagles, but the flag of the garrison (the flag of the citadel) is as good a trophy as an eagle….it is like a colander and part is totally red with blood. The second is the flag of the Picurina fort, taken by a brilliant assault on the second night of the Siege. The other two are the flags of a Hessian regiment in the service of France” – Of these flags, it is known that the final two mentioned were of the ‘Graf und Erbprinz’ regiment of Hesse-Darmstadt by Private George Hatton of the British 4th Regiment. One was the Colonel’s own banner, the other the regimental colour, both captured together by Hatton who slew the guards. For his services, Hatton was rewarded by Wellington with some money and a recommendation for promotion. Of the flags, the flag of the citadel and the other taken at the Picurina Fort are not to be found. Of Hatton’s captured trophies, the Colonel’s own banner was stolen from the Royal Hospital Chelsea by a Frenchman. the other – the battalion colour, resides at the King’s Own regimental Museum where it was interred on September 28th 1947.

7) Almaraz (One colour)

Following on from the capture of Badajoz, Wellington sent General Hill to oust the French garrison from Almaraz which commanded a vital bridge over the River Tagus. On May 18th 1812 Hill attacked and quickly overwhelmed the garrison, with the British 71st regiment taking the battalion flag of the Prussian 4th Foreign Corps, who attempted to save it by throwing it into the river, from whose banks it was recovered.

8) Salamanca (Definitely Two Eagles, possibly even 3-4 and six other colours)

One of Wellington’s most famous victories; the battle of Salamanca fought on July 27th 1812 saw a French Division (Thomieres) isolated after the French commander Marshal Marmont sent it in a flank march around Wellington whom he presumed to be withdrawing behind the cover of the hills. Spying his chance, Wellington had roared “By God, that will do!” and fell on it with his full force, destroying the division and routing the French in a general action. Of trophies captured, there is some confusion, but here we go:

The 44th East Essex Regiment engaged the French 62nd Regiment and Lieutenant Pearce arrived on the scene just as the eagle-bearer had unscrewed his eagle and tucked it beneath his coat. A fight broke out with two Frenchmen dashing to protect their standard as three more men of the 44th jumped in, with Private Finlay blowing out the brains of one of the Frenchmen who was about to bayonet Pearce. Pearce then dispatched a second man himself (presumably the third Frenchman gave up the struggle) before hoisting the eagle onto the point of a sergeant’s pike. This eagle now has pride of place at the museum of the Essex Regiment in Chelmsford (some sources state that it is in the collection at Chelsea Hospital but this is false – I have seen it).

The second eagle taken on that day was purportedly the famous ‘Jingling Johnny’ of the French 101st Regiment taken by the 88th Connaught Rangers. This standard was an old Moorish standard adorned with crescents and bells and taken by the French in Egypt which had then become the standard for their eagle. This trophy was taken along with the eagle which adorned it  according to many (especially the men from Connaught) although the whereabouts of the eagle are uncertain. The standard was carried by the regiment in India in 1860 where its bells were stolen and it was sent to Paris – of all places, to be repaired. Carried again throughout the Boer War 1899-1902 the shaft was damaged through wear and tear and it was again sent to Paris for repair, being replaced by a replica for use on ceremonies. The ‘Johnny’ now resides at the Conaught’s Regimental Museum with the replica housed at the National Army Museum in Chelsea.

The third eagle was that of the French 22nd Regiment taken by Major Crookshank of the British 38th Regiment but was found amidst a pile of dead after the battlefield. Although this eagle certainly exists, there are different versions of its capture, to include that it was found by a Portuguese Cacadore of the Portuguese 12th Regiment (which Crookshank commanded at the time) and was merely presented by Crookshank, and another version that it was found by Ensign John Pratt – an English Sergeant of the 30th regiment who gained his promotion by enlisting with the Portuguese (a common move to gain a promotion). Possibly Pratt and the unknown Cacadore are the same man and presented it to Crookshank. Either way, the eagle now resides at the Royal Chelsea Hospital.

The fourth speculative eagle was purportedly taken by the 88th Connaught Rangers (some sources attribute it to the 44th East Essex) but was cut up by the soldiers with the saw-backed bayonets who thought it was made of gold. Nothing more is known of this. A best guess from myself is that this might well have been one and the same with the eagle of the ‘Jingling Johnny’ of the 101st Regiment which is unaccounted for. My own belief is that this fits the bill.Colonel Fraser mentioned the taking of the eagle of the 101st too, and it has never turned up, so though the rumour-mill could give as many as four eagles taken, my own belief is that the bill is three taken (22nd, 62nd and 101st Regiments) and one (101st) destroyed.

Of the six other flags taken, four were colour-pikes (as above, small pennants attached to the spontoons of the colour party) of which their captors included one J. Scott Lillie, a Liuetenant Francis Macguire of the 4th Regiment and theother also by the aforementioned Ensign John Pratt. The remaining two trophies were battalion flags. One is recorded to have been of green cloth and taken by the 1st Battalion 11th English Regiment, the other is unknown. Two of these ‘small flags’ are housed at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The whereabouts of the others are unknown, though they certainly existed.

9) Madrid – Retiro Forts (Two Eagles)

Following up from his victory at Salamanca, Wellington marched on to take Madrid. The French, stung by their reverse, evacuated the place, leaving a token garrison in the Retiro forts overlooking the city, which surrendered soon after Wellington’s arrival. Inside, two eagles were found in storage; their owners – the 51st Infantry regiment and 13th Dragoon regiment being away fighting guerillas. The eagle of the 51st infantry was in a bad condition, the eagle itself being damaged and missing its head, whereas that of the 13th Dragoons was in an excellent state. Both now reside at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, although the flag of the 13th Eagle banner has since disappeared.

10) Vittoria (One colour)

The battle of Vittoria fought on June 21st 1813 was Wellington’s crowning victory of the Peninsular War, after which he finally ousted the French from Spain. During the battle, Wellington turned his opponents’ flank and soon had the entire French army running for the only road in their rear as the British closed in to seal the trap. The French army carried with it years of accumulated personal wealth and plunder, and only escaped when the British, Spanish and Portuguese set to looting the spoils. Most men found a fortune in coin and other treasures, and Marshal Jourdan’s baton was amongst the trophies captured. A flag of the 4th battalion, 100th French Regiment (claimed to be an old model since replaced) was found inside an ambulance. On July 20th it took pride of place at a banquet given in Vauxhall, and was transferred to Windsor Castle where it resides today.

11) The ‘Maya’ Eagle

The eagle of the French 28th Infantry Regiment arrived in London and was displayed at Whitehall. Purportedly, it had been captured – or more properly ‘found’ in the pass of Maya in the Pyrenees in July 1813. This is a spurious story at best, as it was never recorded and Wellington himself seemed not to know of it. It was later lent to an artist to make a drawing and was never returned. Rumours abound that it was sold to a high ranking officer whose identity was concealed.

12) Waterloo (Two Eagles – Possibly three)

The two eagles which I saw at the Museum were the eagle of the French 45th Line Regiment taken (as described) by Sergeant Ewart and typically held today at the Scottish Imperial War Museum – Edinburgh Castle. The second was of the French 105th Infantry Regiment taken by Captain Clark-Kennedy and Corporal Styles. Sources claim that Kennedy killed the eagle bearer, who dropped the staff which landed across the neck of Styles’ horse, with Kennedy being now killed beside him. Styles at first confirmed this story but later refuted it, stating that he had captured it himself. The descended families of the two still argue about it, I am told! This Eagle (which I have seen many times) is housed at the National Army Museum in Chelsea.

Rumours abound over a third eagle captured at Waterloo, which even featured in Wellington’s own despatches as well as the official report of General Kempt and the memoirs of Sir Harry Smith. The author Gareth Glover has done this subject some excellent research in his book ‘Waterloo: Myth & Reality’ and the best conclusion is that the Eagle of the French 55th Regiment was captured around the vicinity of La Haie Sainte by a Lieutenant Tathwell of the Horse Guards, who was then captured himself and the eagle recovered by the 4th Lancers…there are many other cases from Waterloo of eagles being saved, taken and recaptured, and even of a third being seen after the battle, but the version above seems the most likely.

The final count:

So in total, that’s a lot of eagles; best case that’s 20 eagles, worst case 13 officially captured…but if we accept three for Salamanca, and that the Maya eagle at least existed, then we are at 15 at least. Who knows the real figure? Three more eagles were captured by the Spanish at Bailen, but these were later returned to the French when they invaded Andalusia, whilst one more was taken by the Spanish at the battle of Tamames – yes they genuinely took one for themselves!

Of other colours captured with less information and in other theatres, there are one Battalion colour of the French 21st Demi-Brigade taken in Alexandria, Egypt, by Private Anton Lutz of the Minorca Regiment, two more flags of the 2nd and 3rd Prussian Foreign Corps Regiments taken at Walcheren in Holland, the flag of the 2nd battalion 5th Dutch Line Regiment taken at Veere in Holland and finally from Spain the flag of a provisional regiment and another taken from a fort (both certainly taken before May 1811) although with no further information. Many of these colours resided at the Royal Hospital Chelsea but were found to be in such bad condition that they were replaced by replicas. Over time, most were studied, drawn and documented but were found to be in such poor state – literally tattered, disintegrating pieces of rag, that they had to be destroyed.

FINALLY – Of other Eagles lost but NOT captured, we should include the eagle of the French 86th Line Regiment which sank along with many hundreds of its men returning home to France after the Convention of Cintra in a storm. This is still at the bottom of the Ocean somewhere. Next is the Eagle of the 47th Infantry, which was buried during the French retreat from Oporto at Senafelle on the orders of its Colonel Donadieu along with the three eagles of the 18th Dragoons which vanished, one reappearing after the war in the hands of a French officer who had concealed it throughout his time as a prisoner in England, which he later presented to Marshal Davout in 1815. The other two remain unaccounted for.

To my knowledge, this extensive list (more extensive than any other in existence) comprises all that we know of trophies captured from the French during Britain’s Napoleonic War, and as you can see, there are a lot of them and also a lot of conjecture. Some trophies are held in Regimental Museums, others doubtless in private collections whilst most are held at the National Army Museum and the next door Royal Hospital at Chelsea, which has a vast array of captured colours from French to American, Russian, Chinese, Dutch, African and more…in fact, just to finish this expansive list, here is a tally of all the flags hanging in Chelsea…I am drooling at the thought of my next visit! – Happy reading!!


The captured Standards and Eagles enumerated below were brought here in 1835 from St. Paul’s Cathedral, Whitehall and the India Office through the instrumentality of Sir J. M. Wilson, Adjutant of the Royal Hospital.

South Side of Great Hall

3. A Martinique (French Republican) Flag, taken in 1809.

42. Chinese Flag, taken in 1841 by General Gough at Chinhai or Ningpo.

1. Standard of the King of Kandy, in Ceylon, taken in 1803.

6. Standard of the King of Kandy, in Ceylon, taken in 1803.

7. Netherlands Flag, probably taken in the Walcheren Expedition, 1809.

15. American Flag, the 2nd Regiment of U.S. Infantry, date of capture not known.

12. French Tricolor, date of capture not known.

13. Imperial French Flag, date of capture not known.

9. Maltese Flag, taken at the Surrender of Malta in 1800.

39. Arabian Flag, taken at the Capture of Aden, 18th January, 1839, by a force under Captain Smith of H.M.S. “Volage,” Major Baillie commanding the troops.

8. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

38. Arabian Flag, taken at Aden in 1839.

18. Dutch Flags (East India Co.), date of capture not known.

11. East Indian Flag (Mahratta Infantry), date of capture not known.

North Side of Great Hall

19. Dutch Flag (East India Co.), date of capture not known.

27. Maltese Flag, taken at the Surrender of Malta in 1800.

14. French Flag, date of capture not known.

17. East Indian or French Flag, date of capture not known.

24. American Flag, date of capture not known.

46. Chinese Flag, taken in 1841 by General Gough at Chinhai or Ningpo.

28. French Flag.

45. Chinese Flag, taken in 1841 by General Gough at Chinhai or Ningpo.

5. East Indian or French Flag, date of capture not known.

25. French Republican Flag, taken at the Battle of Alexandria, in Egypt, by Antonie Lutz, 97th Regiment, or Queen’s Germans, 21st March, 1801.

20. French Republican Flag, date of capture not known.

44. Chinese Flag, taken in 1841 by General Gough at Chinhai or Ningpo.

34. French Republican Flag, date of capture not known.

43. Chinese Flag taken in 1841 by General Gough at Chinhai or Ningpo.

Placed in the Gallery on Left of Entrance

4. French Republican Flag, date of capture not known.

26. French Flag, date of capture not known.

2. French Tricolor, date of capture not known.

10. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

35. French Flag, date of capture not known.

33. American Flag, 4th Regiment of U.S. Infantry, date of capture not known.

23. French Flag, date of capture not known.

Placed in the Gallery on Right of Entrance

32. French Republican Flag, supposed to have been taken at Martinique, in 1809.

21. American Ship Flag, date of capture probably 1812–14, as it contains 17 stars, showing that it was taken after the War of. Independence.

16. Hesse Darmstadt Flag, taken at Badajoz, in 1812.

31. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

22. Hesse Darmstadt Flag, taken at Badajoz.

30. American Flag, date of capture not known.

36. Standard of the King of Kandy, in Ceylon, taken in 1803.


Over Door Leading to North Entrance

47. Russian Imperial Flag taken at Kinburn, 1855. Presented by H.M. Queen Victoria.

Over Door Leading to Centre Court

31 & 32. Standards taken at the Storming of Seringapatam, 4th May, 1799. These Standards were borne in State before the Sultans, Hyder Ali and Tippoo Saib.

On Left of Entrance to Great Hall

12. East Indian Flag, taken at the Storming of Bhurtpore, in 1826.

9. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

15. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

1. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

23. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

41. Chinese Flag, taken in 1841 by General Gough at Chinhai or Ningpo.

48. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

On Right of Entrance to Chapel

28. Belonged to a French Corps in the Service of Tippoo Saib, taken at Seringapatam, in 1799.

11. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

20. French Republican Flag, taken at Seringapatam, 1799. Belonged to a French Corps in the service of Tippoo Saib.

2. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

40. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

3. Maltese Flag, perhaps first captured by the French, but finally by the Troops under Sir Ralph Abercrombie, at the Surrender of Malta, in 1800.

35. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

The three remaining groups of flags are situated as follows:—

1. 6 Flags on right of entrance to Great Hall.

2. 5 ” on left of entrance to Chapel.

3. 7 ” over entrance to Chapel.

These groups consist of nine Regimental Colours, two Union Jacks pre-1800, five Soudanese Flags, and in the Centre over the Chapel door:

4. A Maltese Flag, perhaps first captured by the French; but finally by the Troops under Sir Ralph Abercrombie at the Surrender of Malta, in 1800.


5. American Flag, 68th Regiment, James City, Light Infantry, captured at Bladensburg by the 85th Regiment, in 1814. An eagle on white ground, with stars and the scroll E. Pluribus Unum. on the reverse, and stripes and Cap of Liberty, and “Virginia” on a blue band.

6. Eagle of the 8th French Regiment of Infantry, captured at the Battle of Barrosa, in 1811, by the 87th Regiment.

7. American Cavalry Flag, captured at Bladensburg by the 85th Regiment, in 1814. An eagle on blue ground, 1st Har . . . Light Dragoons. On scroll “Touch me not.”

8. American Flag, The 2nd Regiment of Infantry, date of capture not known. Eagle on blue ground.

10. Eagle of the 82nd French Regiment, taken at Martinique, in 1809. Inscription “L’Empereur des Français au 82 Regiment de ligne.”

29 & 33. Two Pendants belonging to the Standards (Nos. 31 & 32) which were fixed in front and rear of the Howdah of Hyder Ali and Tippoo Saib’s State Elephants, taken at Seringapatam, 4th May, 1799.

13. Netherlands Flag, probably taken in the Walcheren Expedition, 1809.

14. Eagle of the 82nd French Regiment, taken at Martinique, in 1809.

16. American Flag, date of capture not known.

18. Eagle of the 13th French Regiment, found in the Retiro, Madrid, August, 1812.

17 & 19. East Indian Flags, date of capture not known.

21. French Republican Flag, taken in Egypt, date of capture not known. Tricolor with fasces or Cap of Liberty in centre. Inscribed “Montenotte, Millesimo, Mondovi, Pont de Lodi, Castiglione, d’Arcolo, da Brenta, Rivoli, St. George, d’Anguilari.”

30. American Flag (4th Regiment of U.S. Infantry), taken at surrender of Fort Detroit, 12th August, 1812. (The Regimental Colour of the Regiment.) (See No. 52 for National Colour.)

24. Dutch Flag, date of capture not known.

25. East Indian Flag, taken at the Storming of Bhurtpore, in 1826.

26. Eagle of the 62nd French Regiment, taken at Salamanca, July, 1812, by Lieut. (later Lt.-Col.) William Pearce of the 44th Regiment.

27. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

51. Belonged to a Prussian Regiment in the Service of France, supposed to have been taken in Spain, date of capture not known. Inscription on one side—”L’Empereur des Français au Regiment Prussien,” and on the other—”Valeur et discipline, 3me Bataillon.”

43. Belonged to a Prussian Regiment in the Service of France, supposed to have been taken in Spain, date of capture not known.

34. Eagle and Flag of the 105th French Regiment, taken by Captain Kennedy Clark and Corporal Stiles, 1st Dragoons, at Waterloo, 18th June, 1815. Inscribed “Jena, Eylau, Eckmühl, Essling, Wagram.”

36. Dutch Flag, date of capture not known.

38. Eagle of the 22nd French Regiment, taken at Salamanca, 1812, by Lieut. (later Major) John Pratt of the 30th Regiment.

37 & 39. East Indian Flags, date of capture not known.

41. French Republican Flag, taken in Egypt (see 21).

22. Eagle of the 82nd French Regiment, taken at Martinique, in 1809.

42. Eagle of the 66th French Regiment, taken at Guadaloupe, 27th January, 1810.

44. American Flag, date of capture not known.

46. Eagle of the 51st French Regiment, found in the Retiro, Madrid, August, 1812.

45 & 47. Ghorka Colours, taken at Mackwampore, 1816.

49. French Tricolor, supposed to have been taken at Fort Pecurinha, Badajoz, in 1812.

50. Eagle of the 26th French Regiment, taken at Martinique, 1809.

52. American Flag, the 4th Regiment U.S. Infantry, supposed to have been taken on the Frontier of Canada, date of capture not known.

53. East Indian Flag, taken at the Storming of Bhurtpore, in 1826.

54. Eagle of the 39th French Regiment, found in the River Ceira, in Portugal, 15th June, 1811.

55. East Indian Flag, date of capture not known.

Note.—The above flags are described and illustrated by coloured drawings in a MS. book compiled by Captain J. Ford (Captain of Invalids) in 1841. A copy is in the possession of the Royal Hospital, having been presented by Queen Victoria on 24th October, 1861, and another copy is in Chelsea Public Library.


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19 thoughts on “French Eagles and other trophies captured by the British…

  1. James Corlis says:

    Hi very interesting reading and I must commend your research. I have seen a copy of the Eagle of the 45th captured at Waterloo. Do you have any information on this. It reported presented by The Royal Scots Greys at some time in the 1930s


    • The only replica of the Eagle of the 45th I know of is the one in the National Army Museum at Chelsea with an alabaster statue of Sergeant Ewart. I have held it, in fact. Sadly, I don’t know the history of this one – indeed you know more than me on the replica, although the National Army Museum collections department could doubtless tell you more.

      I am now trying to work on a ‘Reply’ to that post about British colours and other trophies captured, but it seems like a very long haul. The ones the Americans captured were largely all torn up and the scraps kept as trophies. I also can’t forgive a certain Mr Fagin (if ever a name was more well-deserved) for selling back two of the American colours captured by Tarleton’s boys at Waxhaws a few years back.

      On the main thread, I have since discovered two ‘fanions’ captured at Talavera, but Marshal Jourdan dismissed them entirely as flags to keep the infantry marching in line which would be discarded at the first shot anyway. Still, I will add those in to the list at some point!!


  2. Paul Newman says:

    Just to inform all here that the Eagle of the 45th is held at the Regimental Museum of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. This being the Regiment which the Royal Scots Grey were amalgamated into in 1971.

    Also I wish to say that the two eagle were sadly only together at the National Museum of Scotland for two weeks. The eagle of the 105th is now in a temporary exhibition in Liverpool. The eagle of the 45th will go back into the Castle in September.

    Lastly I must say Mr Phillips you have produced a fantastic resource in one place, thank you.


    • Thank you Paul! It has been something which I have been interested in for a very long time, and no complete list survives, so to my knowledge, this is the most complete list ever produced. As an aside, I actually work at the NMS right now, so got to see both of the Eagles, and now have the eagle of the 45th to keep me company each day. My rotations take me from the NMS to the IWM Scotland at the Castle, so she will be in my life for a while yet!
      Those eagles really started the hunt; a visitor asked how many we had captured in total, how and where, and so the list started!
      Glad you enjoyed it!


  3. Paul Bantick says:

    An excellent piece of work Ricky, well done!

    How is your research going where captured British colours are concerned? And do you intend to concentrate on those Colours that were lost during the republican/Napoleonic wars? Or do you intend to include the war of 1812

    Do you think that there may be a chance that you will publish a book on the subject? I think that if you did it would sell like hot cakes.

    Good luck with this most interesting subject.

    All the best,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Paul, it is something I have looked into. British colours captured by America are really hard to nail down; they tore most of them into shreds for momentos! They thought they had about forty British and Hessian from Saratoga, Trenton, Yorktown etc but they could only find six, and for the most part in truly awful condition. I would like to return to it, certainly. Do you follow my professional Facebook? It’s Ricky D Phillips – Military History Author.


      • Paul Bantick says:

        Well Ricky,

        I don’t follow you on facebook but I will have a peruse. When I asked about colours captured in North America, I Must admit that I am much more interested in the Actual and alleged British colours that were captured during the war with Republican and Imperial France.

        We have websites and historians quoting things like the British had lost 42 colours in total (1793-1815) 34 from 1805-15, and 22 captured in the Peninsula 1809-14; with 10 alone being captured at Cacabelos ( Prietos) in January 1809, and four captured at Talavera.

        There is also the controversy over whether 4, 5 or 6 colours were captured at Albuera. Did the 69th really try to ‘cover up’ the loss of the kings colour at Quatre Bras, as William Morris of the 73rd claimed and repeated by John Elting? And how many Allied colours were lost at Mont St. Jean?

        These are the the things that I would most like answers to.


        Paul 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Paul, in truth you may know more than me here. I have never heard of ten colours captured at Cacabelos – and I wrote of that battle and studied it at length a wee while back. Considering that the British were the other side of a river, stopped the French crossing it, killed General Colbert when he tried to rush it and then slipped away, I cannot see any way in which even one – much less ten were claimed – though I would love to see the evidence if you have it? All evidence is of value! Now Talavera, I had heard something about colours, but whose and from where I don’t know. Ian Fletcher makes no mention of it in ‘Wellington’s regiments’ and he is quite an authority (and a good mate, as it goes) – did we lose 42 in that period 1793-1815? It is possible as we were fighting all over the world. To me it sounds steep. We lost a few but the French burned all of their captured colours in 1814 (over 1,400 of them!) so it is hard to be definite! If you have any evidence on these, I can pick up the threads and have half a go…or call on some of the ‘Old Guard’ historians of my acquaintance. Send me a PM via FB if you can, I’m happy for you to have my email.


      • Paul Bantick says:

        Thanks for the prompt reply. I will do as you requested.and P.M you later today, possibly this evening.

        Just to be clear, I do not hold to the claims outlined above and please read ‘Thomas Morris’ and not ‘William Morris’.


        Paul 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. arthur mcclench says:

    A couple of points worth raising.

    At Talavera, do you mean the 48th (Northamptonshire) Regiment or the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment ? – You can’t really have both. There were in fact two regiments associated with Gloucestershire at Talavera. The second was the 61st South Gloucestershire. (Whether many of either regiment were in fact “Gloucestershire boys” or mainly Irish is another matter)

    It seems odd that you don’t mention the regiment that took the Eagle of the 105e- the 1st Royal Dragoons- not a Scottish regiment, of course. It also seems fair to get Alexander Kennedy Clark’s name right. The Clark-Kennedy’s are a different branch.

    Also your report of Captain Kennedy Clark’s death is greatly exaggerated, given that he survived the charge of the Union Brigade to pursue his claim of being the captor of the Eagle of the 105e.

    Sorry, three points.


  5. Adam Quinan says:

    I have read that there was an Eagle on Villeneuve’s flagship Bucentaure at Trafalgar which was displayed to the crew before the battle. Villeneuve is even said to have declared that he would throw it on to the Victory’s deck so that the boarders would be more determined to save it by boarding and capturing her.

    Were these naval Eagles the same as the regimental ones? Were any captured, do you know?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Adam Quinan says:

    I have been doing some more digging and it appears that French ships of the libe (mostly 74 guns and larger) were issued with Eagles, identical or very similar to those issued to te regiments. However, none were ever captured by the Royal Navy, it would have been easy to drop one over the side as the ship surrendered.
    There is one Eagle captured from a French ship, the Atlas which was in a Spanish harbour when the Spanish rose against the French in 1808 and captured her. That Eagle is in the Naval Museum in Madrid.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Ricky. Do you happen to know the date that the Eagle of the 45th was handed over to the Scots Greys at The Royal Hospital Chelsea so that it could be taken to Edinburgh Castle? I think it was July 1956 but may have been 1952. I am writing about the history of this trophy for a site on the Scots Greys as part of the British Empire website.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Charles, I don’t, however the Heritage Manager at RHC is a very nice man and will surely know. I have his card somewhere…struggling to think of the name, but if you call or write and ask for him, he will be able to tell you certainly!


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