Henry Paget, Lord Uxbridge, (1768 – 1854), fought at the Battle of Waterloo

Lord Paget

At a critical stage in the battle, he personally led a charge of 2,000 heavy cavalry. They succeeded in sweeping the French infantry away in disorder, but Uxbridge was unable to rally his troops, who ran on in pursuit and were cut up by counterattacking French cavalry. He spent the rest of the battle leading a series of charges by British light cavalry formations, and had eight or nine horses shot from under him.

Charge of the Light Brigade found here

One of the last cannon shots fired on 18 June 1815 hit his right leg, necessitating its amputation above the knee. According to anecdote, he was close to the Duke of Wellington when his leg was hit, and exclaimed, “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!” — to which Wellington replied, “By God, sir, so you have”

one legged race found here

After being wounded, Lord Uxbridge was taken to his headquarters in the village of Waterloo, a house owned by a certain M. Hyacinthe Joseph-Marie Paris. There, the remains of his leg were removed by surgeons without antiseptic or anaesthetichis only comment through the dreadful procedure was, “The knives appear somewhat blunt.”

image found here

According to an account recorded by Henry Curling in 1847:

“ Just after the Surgeon had taken off the Marquis of Anglesey’s leg, Sir Hussey Vivian came into the cottage where the operation was performed. “Ah, Vivian!” said the wounded noble, “I want you to do me a favour. Some of my friends here seem to think I might have kept that leg on. Just go and cast your eye upon it, and tell me what you think.”

one legged man boxing one armed man found here

“I went, accordingly”, said Sir Hussey, “and, taking up the lacerated limb, carefully examined it, and so far as I could tell, it was completely spoiled for work. A rusty grape-shot had gone through and shattered the bones all to pieces. I therefore returned to the Marquis and told him he could set his mind quite at rest, as his leg, in my opinion, was better off than on.”

Viktoria, hottest one legged model in the world

M. Hyacinthe Joseph-Marie Paris asked if he might bury the leg in his garden, later turning the place into a kind of reliquary shrine. Visitors were first taken to see the bloody chair upon which Uxbridge had sat during the amputation, before being escorted into the garden, where the leg had its own ‘tombstone’ 

cemetery by Caspar David Friedrich found here

The leg attracted an amazing range of tourists from the top drawer of European society, from the King of Prussia to the Prince of Orange. It was a nice earner for Monsieur Paris and his descendents, all the way down to 1878, when it was the occasion for a minor diplomatic incident.

Prince of Orange found here

Uxbridge’s son visited, to find the bones not buried, but on open display. On investigation by the Belgian ambassador in London, it was discovered that they had been exposed in a storm which uprooted the willow tree beside which they were buried. The ambassador demanded repatriation of the relics to England but the Paris family refused, instead offering to sell the bones to the Uxbridge family, who, not surprisingly, were enraged. At this point the Belgian Minister of Justice intervened, ordering the bones to be reburied. However, the bones were not reburied; they were kept hidden. In 1934, after the last Monsieur Paris died in Brussels, his widow found them in his study, along with documentation proving their provenance. Horrified by the thought of another scandal she incinerated them in her central heating furnace.

bone reliquary found here

Uxbridge’s close family lost several limbs during the Napoleonic Wars: his brother, Major-General Sir Edward Paget, lost his right arm during the Second Battle of Porto in 1809, and his daughter lost a hand tending her husband on a battlefield in Spain.

Uxbridge himself used an articulated artificial leg invented by James Potts, with hinged joints and raisable toes which became known as the Anglesey leg, after his marquessate. One of the artificial legs designed by Potts and worn by the marquess is still extant, preserved at Plas Newydd in Anglesey, as is also a leg of the hussar trousers worn by the 1st Marquess at Waterloo. The loss of his leg did not impede the Marquess of Anglesey’s career – he rose to become a Field Marshal and Knight of the Garter, twice serving as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and twice as Master-General of the Ordnance.

prosthetic toe found here

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52 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It is apparent that the “Charge of the Light Brigade” photo is from a movie scene of course, but I suggest inaccuracy. The various units of cavalry charged against Russian cannon emplacements supported by infantry. In reviewing battle documentation I found no reference to cavalry fighting cavalry as this picture indicates. I wonder if there is any irony that Lord Paget lost his leg on June 18, which is the day I was born? I don’t want to “run” out of luck.

    • I didnt realize you were that old.

      • Bwahahahahaha!

  2. Have had a few close encounters with reliquary this past weekend, which I might keep mum for another time.

  3. Who foot the bill for the war in which the British got a leg up on the French? The people, of course, who always get the boot if they don’t toe the line.

    • Hey Ian, great to see you back here again

  4. I’m feeling a whole lot of ouch right now. No anaesthetic? Those were the days of hardcore soldiering, what!

    • I am hoping there was plenty of liquor around at least.

  5. One wonders what would have happened if Mr Hussey’s verdict had been that the leg was indeed better ON than ORF. Probably fortunate that things went the other way.

    It’s all so British isn’t it? The gimpy bugger probably got up later on for a round of croquet and cucumber sandwiches. Leg off? Didn’t notice it old chap.

    Holy crap … I just followed the link attached to that surgical diagram. All I can say is that at least in MASH they had sterile instruments and Hotlips Houlihan. Civil war surgery is definitely for the birds.

    • It’s an interesting article isn’t it?

  6. Long ago and far away, a relative with an artificial leg paid us an overnight visit.

    I still remember my mother’s screams in the morning when she opened the linen closet and found his leg.

    • Was it you who put it there?

  7. His wife bought him his first false leg for Christmas…..but that was only a stocking filler.

    Sorry, that joke was rather prosthetic.

    • Foot in mouth humor ! I get a kick out of it.

  8. We didn’t kneed that. Punning should be stamped out!

  9. This reminds me of “127 Hours.” I saw that movie recently and watched the poor dude cut his own arm off with a very tiny knife. I guess the lesson we can take away from this post and the movie is probably that you should always carry a good sharp knife with you, just in case you or someone else should need to amputate one of your limbs. Most of the time, though, it’s not usually necessary. But you never know.

    • I really wanted to see that film but missed it at the movies. Must watch it when it comes out on dvd

  10. She is indeed a hot one legged model. Heather Mills is a cold one legged model (ex)

  11. I rather like the boner reliquary.

  12. Another fascinating tale! I shall look at prosthetics much differently now. What ever has happened to the one-legged races?

    • I daresay they’re now seen as politically incorrect and appallingly disablist.

  13. I think they should re-make ‘top gun’ as a period war / cavalry film.
    “you’re dangerous maverick”

    • I love it when you *whinny*

      • I do what I can, you know.

  14. I was amazed by Paget’s sang froid… And Old Nosey’s response too! I can only imagine what I would say if my leg had been blown off. AAAAAAARRRRRRGGHHHHH followed by a string of expletives springs to mind. btw I’m back from my break

  15. It took a while but I found it…fast forward in the following clip to 8 minutes 50 seconds…

    • Nick you’re a genius!!!

  16. Of course, and fortunately, the effects of so many of these debilitating injuries can these days be ameliorated by transplants. It’s a little known fact that former Prime Minister Tony Blair ripped his arse off in a skiing accident some years back, and was whisked off to Adenbrooke’s for a largely-undeserved transplant.

    However, significantly, after three weeks the arse rejected him.

    • Significantly? I’d say predictably

  17. So his only comment during the amputation was “The knives appear somewhat blunt.” And nowadays we demand a torrent of anaesthetic for the most minor procedure. By Jove, what a bunch of dashed cissies we’ve all become….

    • I’ve had babies without pain relief and dental procedures without anaesthetic.

      But a sore back or headache has me reaching for the S8 drugs immediately

  18. as to how he survived amputation without anassthetic? i’m stumped…

    • John Adam’s daughter went through a complete mastectomy in 1811 — also with no anaesthetic.

  19. Had no idea there were such things as prosthetic toes. And I love the name Hussey Vivian. Sounds like it ought to go the other way around.

  20. Horses have never liked me and are always bucking me off, although I’ve never done anything to offend them like getting eight or nine of them shot out from under me in one day. Why did those horses keep trusting this guy?

  21. That is bizarre.

  22. That ancient prosthetic toe is amazing. How inventive! And interesting that the craftsperson thought to trouble with the toenail.

    • I found a lot of great images for this post but that one is my favourite too. Do you like Caspar David Friedrich’s cemetery? He is in my top five artists of all time

      • I do. I thought it was a photograph but followed the link to find that it’s an oil painting. Wonderful.



    • I know you’ve got her address so hand it over Norma

  24. Legs! Legs! The trouble they’ve given me. Having one leg shorter than the other, when running for a bus, I have an unfortunate tendency to screw myself into the ground!!!!!

  25. Proving that tourists will go to see anything

  26. Who knew that an amputated leg would prove to be so popular.

  27. A special Corset Friday today for the Queen perhaps?
    I’m just hoping.

    • Brrr…. no it’s too cold. But I am off to The Castle to have dinner with Queenwilly and The King 🙂

      • Maybe something’ll happen!
        Think about thy loyal!

  28. As always Nurse Myra, I am astounded at what you manage to dig up – I mean one-armed boxer versus a one-legged man. Next you’ll being showing us the finals of a one-legged arse kicking competition! You must spend eons of time researching this stuff.

  29. Ah, I love a little slice of life.

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