Captain Edward Hawkins Cheney – A Hero of Waterloo

Waterloo Medal and snuff box of Captain Edward Hawkins Cheney, acquired by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum in 2018 with an NFA grant of £10,000.

Captain Cheney was pivotal to the leadership of the 2nd Dragoons during the charge of the Scots Greys at the Battle of Waterloo. On the battlefield, Napoleon I famously referred to the charge of the Scots Greys as ces terribles chevaux gris (those terrible grey horses). The charge of the Union Brigade, including the Scots Greys, decimated the French Infantry and led to the capture of two French Eagles before forward momentum took the Greys as far as the French artillery; by that time, however, most of the Greys’ horses were ‘blown’ and the Regiment suffered serious casualties from counter-attacking French lancers.

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Waterloo medal awarded to Captain and Brevet Major Edward Hawkins Cheney, 2nd Royal North British Horse (Scots Greys)

The charge of the Scots Greys was later immortalised in two Victorian paintings: Richard Ansdell’s Fight for the Standard (1841) and Lady Butler’s Scotland Forever (1881). The film Waterloo (1970) also helped cement the Scots Greys’ place in Scottish popular historical identity.

Edward Hawkins Cheney was born in Derbyshire in 1776 and joined the 2nd Dragoons as a cornet in September 1794. By 1803 Cheney had been promoted to captain and in 1812 was a brevet-major. In 1811 Cheney married Elizabeth Ayre of Gaddesby, Leicestershire.

Box 1

Agate and white metal table snuff box engraved with Captain Cheney’s initials and the Cheney family crest

At the Battle of Waterloo, on 18th June 1815, Cheney commanded the Regiment after the commanding officer was killed and the two majors seriously wounded. Cheney was in executive command for the last three hours of the battle, having four horses killed under him and a fifth wounded.

The importance of Cheney’s role in the battle was recognised almost immediately afterwards when he was given the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel (although at the time he was still only a captain in the Regiment) and made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) on the personal recommendation of the Duke of Wellington. It is therefore evident that both the Prince Regent and the British military authorities held Cheney in high regard.

Cheney’s medal, as that of the senior surviving officer present throughout the battle, must rank as next in importance to the Waterloo Medal of Sergeant Charles Ewart (who captured the French Eagle and standard), which is now in the collection of the National War Museum. The Eagle and Standard of the 45th French Regiment of the Line are on permanent display in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum in Edinburgh Castle.

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Sculpture by Joseph Gott depicting Captain Cheney astride a wounded horse at the Battle of Waterloo, part of a monument erected to his memory in St Luke’s Parish Church, Gaddesby, Leicestershire

Cheney spent his entire active service career with the 2nd Dragoons until retiring to half-pay in 1818. Following his death in 1848, a large and impressive monument to his memory was erected in the parish church of St Luke in Gaddesby, Leicestershire, where Cheney and his wife lived. It is said to be the only equestrian monument in a British parish church.

 

Edwin Rutherford
Curator
Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum

https://www.scotsdgmuseum.com/

 

 

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Brigadier George Pigot-Moodie: A Distinguished Service

The Orders, Decorations and Medals of Brigadier George Frederick Arthur Pigot-Moodie OstJ, MC (1888-1959), acquired in 2016 by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum with an NFA grant of £3,750.

In late 2016 the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum acquired the collection of orders, decorations and medals of Brigadier George Frederick Arthur Pigot-Moodie, OstJ, MC, who served with the 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys) from 1908 to 1938.

IMG_4648 - alteredAbove: Brigadier Pigot-Moodie’s decorations ‘court-mounted’ on a bar-brooch. From left to right:

  • Military Cross 1915
  • Badge of an Officer (Brother) of the Order of St John 1952
  • 1914 Star (‘Mons Star’) with clasp ‘5th August-22nd November’
  • British War Medal 1914-20
  • Allied Victory Medal 1914-19 with Oak Leaf (signifying Mention in Dispatches)
  • King George V Silver Jubilee Medal 1935
  • King George VI Coronation Medal 1937
  • Russian Order of St Anne, 2nd Class, with swords, 1915

 

George Pigot-Moodie was born in Cape Colony, South Africa, on 3 November 1888 to Scottish parents. The young George was sent to Britain to be educated at Harrow School followed by the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. George was commissioned into the 2nd Dragoons (The Royal Scots Greys) from RMC Sandhurst on 19 September 1908.

At the outbreak of the First World War Pigot-Moodie, by then a lieutenant, mobilised with the Greys and departed for France from York on 15 August 1914. He was the Regiment’s machine-gun officer, commanding twenty-nine other ranks armed with three Maxim machine-guns. The Greys were part of the 5th Cavalry Brigade of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). The 5th Cavalry Brigade was deployed as part of the BEF’s withdrawal, subsequently known as the march ‘Mons to the Marne’ (23 August- 5 September 1914). On 22 August Lieutenant Pigot-Moodie demonstrated the effectiveness of well concealed machine-guns:

Pte. Dykes (Greys) met a patrol of 17 men. Hiding in a wood, the men were allowed to pass. Suddenly Lieut. Pigot-Moodie opened on them with his machine guns at a range of about a mile, and with the first burst hit every man.

For his services in the early engagements of the war Lieutenant Pigot-Moodie was among thirteen of all ranks of the Greys mentioned in dispatches by the commander of the BEF, Sir John French, on 8 October 1914.

On 1 January 1915 a new decoration for bravery was established, the Military Cross (MC), reserved for junior officers and warrant officers. Lieutenant Pigot-Moodie was the first officer of the 2nd Dragoons and the first from any of the antecedent regiments of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards to receive the award; indeed, he was one of the first in the British Army to receive it.

Pigot-Moodie 1915 - alteredAbove: Captain George Frederick Arthur Pigot-Moodie on the Western Front, 1915

 

In 1915 Lieutenant Pigot-Moodie’s distinguished service, represented by his MC and mention in dispatches, was recognised by the Regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, by the award of the 2nd Class of the Order of St Anne, with swords. Pigot-Moodie was among a number of all ranks of the Greys to be awarded Russian decorations for gallantry and brave conduct on 24 September 1915.

On 16 October 1915 Pigot-Moodie was promoted substantive captain, on secondment from the Regiment. Almost a year later, on 3 September, he was promoted temporary major and, owing to his previous experience, was placed in command of a Machine-Gun School within the newly-formed Machine-Gun Corp. Within a month, on 11 November 1916, Pigot-Moodie was promoted temporary lieutenant-colonel in the Machine-Gun Corps (Infantry).

Pigot-Moodie received his second Mention in Dispatches on 13 November 1916 in a dispatch from the BEF’s commander, Sir Douglas Haig. From 1917 Pigot-Moodie served with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) as part of XX Corps as a Corps Machine-Gun Officer. His third Mention in Despatches was in March 1919 from the commander of the EEF, Sir Edmund Allenby.

With the Armistice declared on 11 November 1918, Pigot-Moodie left the disbanding Machine-Gun Corps, relinquished his temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel and returned to the 2nd Dragoons, reverting to the rank of captain.

On 1 October 1932 Pigot-Moodie was promoted lieutenant-colonel to command The Royal Scots Greys, a post which he held for four years. In mid-1934, in order to raise the profile of the Regiment in its native Scotland and as an aid to recruiting, Pigot-Moodie led 21 officers and 250 men, 200 grey horses and the Regiment’s supporting motor transport on a 470-mile march through the country.

IMG_4643Above: Lieutenant-Colonel Pigot-Moodie pictured with his personal trumpeter during the 470-mile ride of the Royal Scots Greys in Scotland, July – August, 1934

 

Lieutenant-Colonel Pigot-Moodie relinquished command of the Regiment in Aldershot on 1 October 1936 and was promoted to the rank of colonel on the same day. Colonel Pigot-Moodie joined the list of officers on the Half Pay List pending further employment before moving to the Retired List in August 1938.

During the Second World War Colonel Pigot-Moodie appears to have been re-employed, possibly commanding a Pioneer Brigade in Eastern Command between 1944-45, though details of this are vague and await further research. He was finally retired and promoted to the honorary rank of Brigadier on 29 December 1945. In about 1952 it is thought Brigadier Pigot-Moodie returned to South Africa or Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). He died in South Africa on 14 June 1959.

Brigadier Pigot-Moodie’s orders, decorations and medals will be put on temporary display prior to forming part of a permanent display on the First World War in the planned large-scale refurbishment of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum galleries.

 

Paul Newman
Assistant Curator
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys) Regimental Museum

Stephen Wood MSA, FSA
Curatorial Adviser

www.scotsdgmuseum.com

A Waterloo Pistol?

A 1796 pattern Other Ranks heavy cavalry pistol acquired by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum in 2015 with an NFA grant of £4,000.

1796 Other Ranks Heavy Cavalry pistol of the 2nd (or Royal North British) Dragoons, c1800

1796 pattern Other Ranks heavy cavalry pistol of the 2nd (or Royal North British) Dragoons

In 2015, the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum acquired a pistol which has particular significance for the collection. Regimental markings on the trigger guard link the pistol to the 2nd (or Royal North British) Dragoons, better known as The Royal Scots Greys, which is one of the regiments whose history is interpreted by the museum. The Greys formed part of the ‘Union’ cavalry brigade at the battle and, at a critical moment, charged into columns of French infantry, wreaking havoc and halting their advance upon the British and Allied line. During that charge, the Greys’ Sergeant Charles Ewart captured the standard and Eagle of the French 45th Infantry Regiment: both standard and Eagle are preserved in the regimental museum today.

Pistol 1

Detail showing the engraving of Regimental markings on the trigger guard

The pistol is of the type that would have formed part of the personal side-arms of soldiers of the 2nd Dragoons at the Battle of Waterloo. It is a single-shot, muzzle-loading, flintlock weapon with a calibre of 16 bore. This type of pistol was issued singly to Other Ranks (enlisted men) and was carried in a heavy leather holster fastened to the front of the soldier’s saddle on the off-side. It had a maximum effective range of about 50 yards but was most deadly when its lead ball was fired at very close range into the body, or horse, of an adversary.

Paul Newman
Assistant Curator
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers & Greys) Regimental Museum

http://www.scotsdgmuseum.com/