legless

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