Marengo (1793–1831) was the famous war mount of Napoleon I of France. Marengo, a grey Arab was believed to have been bred at the famous El Naseri Stud. Although depicted in art as a big horse he was only 14.1 hands. However, he was a steady and courageous horse that repeatedly carried Napoleon into battle.
Napoleon had his own personal stud with around 52 horses which included this plucky little grey Arab. However, it was Marengo that carried the Emperor in the Battle of Austerlitz, Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, Battle of Wagram, and Battle of Waterloo. This brave horse was wounded eight times during his working career and was left behind at Waterloo when Napoleon fled.
Marengo long outlived Napoleon from his death in 1821. He was captured by the Grenadier Guards and brought to England by Lt Col John Julius Angerstein. He initially stood at stud at New Barnes, Ely at the age of 27 which was unsuccessful. He then spent his old age in peaceful retirement before passing away in 1831, aged 38.
His skeleton was preserved (minus his hooves) which today is on display at the National Army Museum in London. One of his hooves was given to the office of the Brigade of Guards by Lt Col Angerstein and was made into a snuff box. The other two were mounted as silver inkwells, still owned by the Angerstein family. They loan them out for display at the Household Cavalry Museum. The fourth hoof which had been missing since the horse’s death in 1831 – was recently found in a kitchen drawer at a cottage in Somerset which was once owned by the family who bought Marengo following the 1815 battle.
This small but stoic horse will always be remembered, earning a place securely in war horse history.
Written by Samantha Hobden
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons