Preston’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Neil Darby, visited the Museum to view to our most prized possession – our Salamanca Eagle.
Neil is an avowed enthusiast for the famous series of Sharpe novels, by Bernard Cornwell, which follow the adventures of the fictitious Captain Richard Sharpe and his ‘chosen men’ during the Napoleonic Wars. Sharpe’s greatest exploit was to capture an Imperial Eagle, the battle standard carried by every French regiment and held in near-mystical reverence because it was received from the hands of the great Napoleon himself. To lose an Eagle to the enemy was the ultimate disgrace, while to capture one meant glory, fame and advancement for the captor.
So when, at last year’s Remembrance Day service, Neil learned from trustee Colonel David Waters that our Museum has our very own Eagle - that of the 22nd Regiment de Ligne, captured by Ensign John Pratt of the 30th Foot (later 1st East Lancashire Regiment), at the Battle of Salamanca in 1812 – he was only to keen to accept David’s invitation to see it when the Museum re-opened.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said as he viewed the Eagle in its display case. “Reading about it is one thing but when you’re this close you can almost hear the muskets firing, smell the gunpowder and realise the bravery and sheer guts involved in seizing such a prized object; it makes you very proud of our military heritage. Everyone should come and see it and as a bonus see the rest of this brilliant museum.”