1st Battalion Rifle Brigade - The Commanding Officer’s Charger, 1859
1st Battalion Rifle Brigade - The Commanding Officer’s Charger, 1859
1st Battalion Rifle Brigade - The Commanding Officer’s Charger, 1859
1st Battalion Rifle Brigade - The Commanding Officer’s Charger, 1859
1st Battalion Rifle Brigade - The Commanding Officer’s Charger, 1859
1st Battalion Rifle Brigade - The Commanding Officer’s Charger, 1859
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1st Battalion Rifle Brigade - The Commanding Officer’s Charger, 1859

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Overall: 68.5cm (27in) x 86cm (34in)

Oil on canvas. Equestrian portrait of ‘The Marshal’, a Barb or Berber horse, equipped with the review order horse furniture of a field officer of the Rifle Brigade, comprising black fringed bridle with silver fittings, hunting pattern saddle, black lambskin saddlecloth, rifle green head rope and chain, and black throat plume. Signed and dated lower 'Halby 1859’ Canvas: cm (20.25in) x cm (26.75in). Contained in its original giltwood and gesso frame with applied plaque, inscribed, ’A Barb Horse originally belonging to Marshal St. Arnaud, / the Commander-in-Chief of the French Army in the Crimea, / by whom it was sold to Field Marshal Lord Raglan, who sold it to General E.A. Somerset. General Somerset / rode it as a Charger whilst commanding the 1st Batt./ Rifle Brigade, and subsequently when Quarter Master General at Portsmouth. It was eventually given to / Colonel the Hon. F.C. Morgan, M.P. and died at Ruperra.’

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Belonging to the North African breed of riding horse renowned for hardiness and stamina, The Marshal took his name from the Marshal of France Armand-Jacques Leroy de Saint-Arnaud (1798-1854). Prior to commanding the 30,000-strong French component of the Allied Army deployed to the Crimea in 1854, Saint-Arnaud’s career encompassed a scandalous private life, hard service with the Foreign Legion in Algeria and massacres that were regarded with horror in the French press. In 1851 he returned to France to become minister of war and to mastermind the coup d'état which placed Louis Napoleon on the throne. In 1854 The Marshal numbered among the chargers Saint-Arnaud took to the Crimea, but just one week after the Allied victory at the Alma, Saint-Arnaud was dead from a long-standing illness. His remains were interred at Les Invalides.

The Marshal was purchased by the British Commander-in-Chief Fitzroy Somerset, Lord Raglan whose failure to deliver orders with sufficient clarity resulted in the fateful Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava. Despite repeatedly referring to the Russian enemy as the French, the one armed Peninsula and Waterloo veteran is said to have been on good terms with Saint-Arnaud with whom to conversed fluently in French. If it was The Marshal that Raglan rode at the Battle of Inkerman, then both master and mount had luck on their side, as The Times war reporter William Howard Russell recorded: ‘Perhaps there was never an infantry action in which so many chargers and artillery horses were destroyed, Altogether, with staff, we lost about 150, the French about 100, and the Russians nearly 400 horses. Their mangled bodies covered the ground. Lord Raglan and staff were in front of the troops, and in the very thickest of the fire. So hot was the cannonade and mystery round his lordship that no one can understand how he escaped uninjured. An eight-inch shell came roaring and hissing between the legs of Lord Raglan’s horse, and exploded behind him and the staff …’ Three staff officers were hit next to Raglan, two of whom being wounded were mercilessly cut to pieces and bayoneted by a Russian officer running in with five or six men. 

The severity of the Crimean winter and a poorly coordinated Allied assault on Sevastopol in June 1855 ultimately did for Raglan who died later that month while suffering from dysentry and depression. Ownership of The Marshal meanwhile passed to Lord Raglan’s nephew Major Edward Arthur Somerset of the Rifle Brigade.  Somerset  who was to become Governor of Gibraltar and Colonel Commandant of the King's Royal Rifle Corps from 1884 until his death in 1886, was a veteran of the Eight Xhosa War in South Africa saw action at the Alma, Balaclava and Inkermann. He was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel on 23 March 1857. 

The Marshal came to England with Somerset and in 1861 was ridden during the latter’s appointment as QMG Portsmouth in 1861. The Marshal’s latter years were spent at Ruperra Castle, Caerphilly, Wales, the seat of the Rifle Brigade and Crimea officer Colonel Frederick Courtenay Morgan (1834-1909). who later held successive appointments in the Militia and like Raglan and Somerset was a sometime Tory Member of Parliament.