Horse Heroes Series

The big chestnut stallion turned his head towards The Duke of Wellington as if to say, “Are we done for the day? Is that all there is?” Copenhagen, as he was called, was a horse of phenomenal stamina and became a household name after the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815.

Born the grandson of the great racehorse, Eclipse, Copenhagen had also raced, but with no accolades. His name was even expunged from the Stud Book once it was discovered that his granddam was not a Thoroughbred. He took his name from his dam, Lady Catherine, who carried General Grosvenor at the Siege of Copenhagen. Unbeknownst to the General, she had been in foal at the time. Once she gave birth to the little ball of fire, he was aptly named after the successful Siege.

He was sold by General Grosvenor and came to belong to the Duke of Wellington through General Sir Charles Stewart because he could no longer ride the then five year old charger. The Duke had his choice from 15 other steeds, but Copenhagen was always his go to mount. Copenhagen became known as the the Duke’s great charger as he had a remarkable calmness about him while under fire and he could be relied upon to stay put. Off the battle field, he had another reputation. One of being fiery, spirited and loose with his hind feet!

On the day before the great battle, he carried the Iron Duke for 60 miles. On the day of the battle, Wellington was in the saddle for more than 15 hours. When he finally dismounted, Copenhagen still had enough energy left in him to kick his heels up, barely missing the Duke’s head. What an ending to a victorious day that would have been if he had not missed the Duke!

In 1836, Copenhagen passed away at the ripe old age of 28 and was buried at the Dukes’ home, Stratfield Saye, with full military honors. His gravestone is engraved with the following inscription:

“Here lies Copenhagen,

the charger ridden by

the Duke of Wellington

the entire day at the

Battle of Waterloo.

God’s humble instrument,

though meaner clay,

Should share the glory of that

glorious day.

Although Copenhagen might not be a name you have heard before, he is still one of the many great horses that have played the part of a hero in the wars and lives of men. Thank you for your service to many, Copenhagen. Rest in green pastures.