Saturday, 6 June 2015

Sergeant Charles Ewart

The final 1815 post for a short while is the Perry Miniatures Sergeant Ewart vignette.  Ewart, of course, captured the eagle of the French 45th Ligne at Waterloo. Charles Ewart was born in 1769 in Kilmarnock, Scotland. Twenty years later he enlisted in the 2nd Royal North British Dragoons, better known as the Scots Greys.  Accounts from his fellow cavalrymen relate that Ewart was renowned for his strength and skill as a swordsmen, as well as being six feet and four inches tall.  His first experience of combat was in the Flanders Campaign of 1783-85, during which Ewart was briefly captured by the French before being rescued by some Austrian allies.  For his part in that campaign Ewart was promoted to sergeant.  The regiment then took no part in the Napoleonic Wars until it joined reinforcements sent out to Belgium in 1815 in response to Napoleon's escape from Elba.  Ewart's own account of his exploits at Waterloo is well known, but it seems appropriate to include it here:

"It was in the first charge I took the eagle from the enemy: he and I had a hard contest for it; he made a thrust at my groin, I parried it off and cut him down through the head. After this a lancer came at me; I threw the lance off by my right side, and cut him through the chin and upward through the teeth.
Next, a foot-soldier fired at me and charged me with his bayonet, which I also had the good luck to parry, and then I cut him down through the head; thus ended the contest.
As I was about to follow my regiment, the general [General Ponsonby] said,’My brave fellow, take that to the rear; you have done enough till you get quit of it’. which I was obliged to do, but with great reluctance.
I retired to a height, and stood there for upwards of an hour, which gave a general view of the field, but I cannot express the horrors I beheld. The bodies of my brave comrades were lying so thick upon the field that it was scarcely possible to pass, and horses innumerable. I took the eagle into Brussels amid the acclamations of thousands of spectators who saw it."

What colour was Ewart's hair?  No idea, so I painted it brown
The Scots Greys remained with the occupying forces in until 1816 and early that year he was promoted to Ensign in the 5th Royal Veteran Battalion.  Ewart, who was in his mid-forties at Waterloo, retired from the army when his regiment was disbanded later in 1816 (the Royal Veteran Battalions were raised after1802 with men who were considered no longer fit for active duty but who could act as garrison troops; most were disbanded in 1814 but were then re-raised before final disbandment in 1816).  Ewart seems to have spent his time as a fencing instructor and giving after-dinner speeches.  He died in 1846, at the age of 77.   In 1936 his remains were discovered in Manchester and were then reinterred at Edinburgh Castle, where the Scots Greys' regimental museum is located.

This set is a bit fiddly to put together.  Ewart's left hand is attached to the separate eagle/flag pole and I noticed immediately that there wasn't enough space between the hand and the eagle to accommodate my GMB flag.  So I had to cut the pole in half and add some metal rod to lengthen the pole.  I then realised that the flag was too big to sit over Ewart's left shoulder, as it appears on the Perry website, so I re-positioned the flag pole to sit across Ewart's body, which has the advantage of plaing the flag itself more "centre stage", I think (I have no idea how the chap who painted the set on the website did the flag - I'd love to know).  It was only after I'd started painting the figures that I realised that what I had thought was Ewart's sword (the blade isn't attached to the Ewart figure) was actually the French lancer's dropped where was Ewart's?  It then occured to me that what I had thrown away assuming it was a bit of flash on the sprue that held the lancer's sword and  lance was in fact the missing sword blade; so I had to rummage around in the kitchen bin to find it!  Once the figures were painted I had several goes at positioning them on the base.  I think the set is better suited to a rectangular base than a round one, as there isn't quite enough space for the lancer to go past Ewart.  The lancer, incidentally, is from the 3rd regiment of line lancers.  The French cavalry counter-attack against the Union Brigade's charge included the 3rd and 4th lancers from Jaquinot's 1st Cavalry Division.  I chose the 3rd because I preferred their pink facings to the crimson of the 4th.  The lance pennant is from Adolfo Ramos. It was only once I'd taken these photos that I realised Ewart's sword is looking rather clean and bloodless, so I'll need to rectify that this evening.

4 figures. Painted May 2015.  Flag by GMB.



Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Fantastic vignette Giles!! I also really enjoyed the background write up.


Rodger said...

Absolutely excellent Giles!

Kevin said...

Glorious! Nice write up, a piece of history comes alive!

Bedford said...

A very fine d=rendition of the vignette Giles!

A good review of the construction too.


Chasseur said...

Wonderfully done!

David said...

Fine work as ever Giles. Sounds a bit too fiddly for my 10 thumbs though!

Capt Bill said...

Very inspirational indeed!!!Bill

painterman said...

looks fantastic Giles - considering doing one of the Perry Waterloo vignettes for my brother in law.

legatus hedlius said...

Excellent. Those sergeant's stripes are a work of art in themselves. Going to Edinburgh again in August to watch Charlotte dance in the Tattoo so must get to the museum!

Sire Godefroy said...

Now that I'm back on Blogger (for the time being) I notice all the things I've missed. A real shame regarding your blog in particular, since one always finds erudite discussion paired with artfully painted miniatures. Like others I feel inspired.


AJ (Allan) Wright said...

Fantastic action in this piece. I like the use of the fallen to show the scene in midst of the action. Well done. This could even be pressed into service as a officer stand or a rally point marker for a scenario.

Carlo said...

Beautiful work Giles. It is quite a wonderfully scuplted piece and you have captured it wonderfully.

Stefan (aka. Monty) said...

Spectecular work!
Simply stunning.