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British 1st Royal Dragoon

British 1st Royal Dragoon

The Death of Ponsonby and Capture of the Eagle of the French 105th Ligne

Ponsonby’s Heavy Dragoon Regiments which included the 1st Royals attacked the French infantry under the command of Generals Donzelot and Marcognet. The Royals and the Inniskillings were in the first line while the Scot’s Greys were used in a supporting role in the second. The Royals charge successfully broke up Donzelot’s 2nd Division. In the melee that followed, Captain Alexander Kennedy Clark and Corporal Francis Stiles of the Royals successfully captured a French Eagle from the retreating French 105th Ligne Infantry.

The Union Brigade suffered most of its casualties during the disorganised withdrawal in the area around the French artillery. The Royals lost 198 men or 45 percent of their number. Included in these losses was Major General Ponsonby who was mounted on one of his less able horses, which became mired in the mud near enemy lines where he was killed by lancers from the French 3rd and 4th Line Lancer Regiments. Although combined losses to the British Heavy Cavalry were significant, the charge successfully routed the initial French infantry assault that Napoleon had hoped would break the Anglo-Allied line.

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