Ensign Charles Ewart

Charles Ewart was a Sergeant in the Scots Greys, who captured a French Eagle at Waterloo. He was born at Biddles Farm, near Kilmarnock, Scotland in 1769 and joined the 2nd Royal North British Dragoons (The Scots Greys) in 1789 at the age of 20. He joined in the ranks, not being from the wealthiest of families. He was a giant of a man, at somewhere between 6 foot 4 inches and 7 foot. Yet, despite his height, he was an extremely accomplished rider and swordsman.
Ensign Ewart fought in the French Revolutionary Wars and was taken prisoner in Spain, but escaped and rejoined the Greys, earning the rank of Sergeant by 1815. 

June 1815 saw the Battle of Waterloo. Sergeant Ewart, along with the rest of the 5th Division, moved to the crest of a hill to hold the line. In the ensuing fight, Sergeant Ewart found a French officer, whom he was about to cut down when an Ensign, the lowest ranking officer, stopped him. Ewart turned to continue the fight elsewhere, and heard a shot ring out. The Ensign was dead. He charged at the officer, filled with rage, and cut him down. As his horse continued the charging run, Ewart found himself in the middle of the French column, close to a French Eagle. 

A French Eagle is a staff, about ten feet high, with an eagle clutching it, made from bronze. The symbol was designed to inspire men, much like the flags of the British Army. To capture one would bring the regiment great honour, to lose one, great shame. Sergeant Ewart fought an intense skirmish with several Frenchmen, as well as the Eagle Bearer, and eventually grabbed the staff and made off with his prize. 
In his own words: - "One made a thrust at my groin, I parried him off and cut him down through the head. A lancer came at me - I threw the lance off by my right side and cut him through the chin and upwards through the teeth. Next, a foot soldier fired at me and then charged me with his bayonet, which I also had the good luck to parry, and then I cut him down through the head". Thus he made his way to the Eagle, which he grasped firmly and carried off, and earned himself a name forever as "the greatest and most illustrious Grey in military history 

The Sergeant returned to Britain a hero, and was honoured by being promoted to Ensign by the Prince Regent, into the 5th Veteran Battalion. This was rare in British Military History; at this time, promotion to officer-class through the ranks was near impossible. 

In late 1816, Ewart received the Waterloo medal, the first medal of its kind, awarded to all combatants at the Battle. This was new because it was given to Officers and men alike. 

Ewart left the army in 1821, when the regiment was disbanded. He retired with full Ensign's pay. He married Margaret Geddes, from Stockport, and moved to Hampson Street, Salford. He used his skills from the battlefield to teach fencing and swordsmanship in Salford. 

He died in 1846 at the age of 77 and was buried beside the New Jerusalem Church in Salford. The church, located on Bolton Street near what is now Salford Central Station, was demolished years later and the graves paved over. His body was then removed to Edinburgh Castle where it now lies buried beneath a granite memorial, while the Eagle and Standard are displayed in the Castle itself. 
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