Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Marengo Napoleon's Skeleton Horse

The skeleton of Marengo at the National Army Museum, London (photo by Nick-D)

Today is the birthday of Napoleon (born August 15, 1769). Marengo was his favorite horseThe grey Arabian was named after the Battle of Marengo (June 1800). He carried the Emperor through several famous battles in which he was wounded eight times. The stallion survived the dramatic retreat from Moscow, but he was captured at Waterloo by William Henry Francis Petre.

Marengo, by Antoine-Jean Gros (mirrored image)

Baron Petre brought the horse back to England where he died at the old age of 38. His skeleton was preserved and is now on display at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, London.

next episode: Charles Alexandre Fay


  1. I studied Napoleon in school hstory and was captivated by the stories of Marenego in factual accounts as well as in the fiction I read as a result of being a bit obsessed with Napoleon at the time (I'm over it now).

  2. That dwarf of Napoleone Bonaparte... He invaded, destroyed and raped all our continent down 17 years and he is somehow remembered as a hero or a good man of history.
    In my opinion he had been not better than Adolf Hitler.
    The "strategic mistake" of Napoleon was to fall in love with Maria Łączyńska Walewska; the "strategic mistake" of Hitler was attacking the USSR. And now both of them are firing in the hell.

  3. Another nice slice of Napoleonia. Thanks, Rob. I am curious as to why there are only to hooves on display.

    1. "His hooves were removed and turned into snuffboxes, one playing a daily role amongst the regimental silver at St. James Palace, London. Each day the Captain of the Changing of the Guard, lunches in the Officer's Mess with the hoof in front of him. On the silver hinged lid are the words: Hoof of Marengo, Barb charger of Napoleon, ridden by him at Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, Wagram, in the campaign of Russia and lastly, Waterloo."

    2. Very interesting! Thanks, Rob.

  4. This is truly interesting, and while reading your post today this photo in the sidebar captured my interest!

  5. Marengo is believed to have been captured at Waterloo by Henry William Petre, a lieutenant in the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons and not by his cousin (and future brother in law) Lord William Henry Petre who was not present at the battle. Henry Petre, my great, great grandfather, is understood to have recognised the wounded charger which he saved from the looters. He was allowed to keep the horse which he shipped back to his family in England. Marengo is known to have come into possession of both Henry's father in law, Captain Howard of Corby Castle and then, Lord Petre before being sold. Henry Petre continued to serve until 1819 before being placed on half pay. He later inherited the Petre estate at Dunkenhalgh in Lancashire.

    Desmond Clarke

    1. Thank you Desmond for the added information, that is an interesting story about your great great grandfather!


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