Place of Birth: South Wales
Famous For: Viscount Lord Tredegar's charger
Trivia: Godfrey Morgan was so grateful to have survived the Crimea, he had Sir Briggs buried in his garden.
Biography: The horse that led Godfrey Morgan into battle, and survived the carnage.
John Greeves tells the full story:
A visitor will find the grave of Sir Briggs in the cedar garden of Tredegar house. The inscription reads:
In Memory of Sir Briggs
Favourite charger. He carried his master the Hon. Godfrey Morgan, Captain 17th Lancers boldly and well at the Battle of Alma, in the first line of the Light Cavalry Charge at Balaclava and the battle of Inkerman, 1854. He died at Tredegar Park February 6th 1874. Aged 28 years.
Sir Briggs was bought in 1851, the same year he won the hunt Steeple Chase at Cowbridge.
When the Crimea war broke out, the most sensible thing would have been to send horses and men by steam ship to the Black Sea. It wasn't to be.
Sir Briggs set sail from Portsmouth in 1854 on board the Edmundsbury, a sailing ship carrying forty horses, four of which belonged to Godfrey. They lost horses to seasickness. Atheist Captain Morgan's 2nd charger died and was thrown overboard. Other horses continued to die.
The vessel stopped briefly at Malta, and by 19 May had reached the Dardanelles. The vessel anchored at Constantinople for four days. The regiment had lost twenty six horses, and others continued to die.
The troops then embarked for the Bulgarian port of Varna. The Bulgarian phase ended when the Turks took Silistria, and the Russians retreated.
At the Crimea, the cavalry remained largely inactive. It was not until Balaclava, that bloody action was seen. The exact numbers taking part in the charge is controversial, and put between 661 and 673. After the charge only 195 came back. Sir Briggs received a sabre cut to the forehead.
Inkerman followed. Horses became 'hog-maned' and 'rat-tailed'. Many died from starvation.
Godfrey Morgan became sick and returned to Constantinople. Sir Briggs remained in the Crimea with his brother Frederick Morgan, and was used as his staff horse. In the same year that Sebastopol fell, Sir Briggs won the military steeplechase at Sebastopol.
In 1855 Sir Briggs returned to Tredegar House, where he was finally buried.
- There is a painting of Sir Briggs in action at the Charge of the Light Brigade. It hangs in the side hall of Tredegar House in Newport. Apparently the picture was based on a sketch drawn by Godfrey Morgan fifty years after the event. Next to the painting hangs a horseshoe belonging to Sir Briggs used to frame a photograph of Godfrey as an older man.
- My daughter first heard about Sir Briggs whilst on an educational trip with her primary school and she was absolutely captivated with the stories about this famous horse. When we gave Meryl a pony for her tenth birthday, she promptly named her new pony .... Sir Briggs !
- What a wonderful story of Sir Briggs ! Also in Wales, the painter Stanley Lewis (now 103) had a charger who went to France in the First World War, and amazingly survived the battlefields and returned to the family farm in Wales some five years later.
- I write on behalf of the sculptor Steven Merchant who has chosen 'Sir Briggs' as a source of inspiration for a proposed sculpture of a classic charger (without tack or rider). I would be most grateful for any information regarding portraits of this horse,or indeed any other information, that might assist Stephen in his quest. Many thanks, Paul.
- I am trying to trace a painting of Sir Briggs for a major exhibition on animals and war at the Imperial War Museum. Does anyone happen to know the location of this? (The Welsh connection is of personal interest to me as I grew up in Pontypridd). Any help would be much appreciated.
- Sir Briggs won a steeplechase at Cowbridge Hunt Steeplechases over the old Penlline or Penlynne racecourse. Not Cambridge! Lord Tredegar's racing colours were purple & orange.
[Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/southeast/halloffame/historical_figures/briggs.shtml (published August 2009 - accessed 25.1.2013)]