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!
Uxbridge, true to his nature, remained stoical and composed. According to his aide-de-camp, Thomas Wildman, during the amputation Paget smiled and said, "I have had a pretty long run. I have been a beau these forty-seven years, and it would not be fair to cut the young men out any longer." According to another anecdote his only comment through the dreadful procedure was, "The knives appear somewhat blunt."
According to the account of Sir Hussey Vivian 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." "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."
A further anecdote reports him saying "Who would not lose a leg for such a victory?" The saw used to amputate his leg is held by the National Army Museum. Uxbridge was offered an annual pension of £1,200 in compensation for the loss of his leg, but refused.
Here lies the Leg of the illustrious and valiant Earl Uxbridge, Lieutenant-General of His Britannic Majesty, Commander in Chief of the English, Belgian and Dutch cavalry, wounded on the 18 June 1815 at the memorable battle of Waterloo, who, by his heroism, assisted in the triumph of the cause of mankind, gloriously decided by the resounding victory of the said day.
Some were impressed; others less so. According to an article headed Marquis of Anglesey's Leg in Notes and Queries, 1862, a wag wrote on the tombstone -
The leg attracted an amazing range of tourists from European society of the very top drawer, 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. 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.
Uxbridge himself used an articulated above-knee artificial leg invented by James Potts, with hinged knee and ankle and raising 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.
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