The Objects

30th Jun 1815

Stump Cover Image Cropped.jpg
Source: © Trustees of the British Museum; reproduced with permission.

The Earl of Uxbridge's Stump Cover

Contributed by: Tim Clayton

The Earl of Uxbridge was hit in the knee by a grape shot in one of the last French attacks. In the film Waterloo (1970) his leg is shot off, but in fact the grape shot made a neat hole in his Colpacks: when Lady Charlotte, his wife (who had been married to Wellington's brother before running off with Uxbridge in 1810) visited the battlefield in July, she took away a grape shot of the same diameter as a souvenir.

The shot cut the outer hamstring in two, smashed the head of the tibia and filled the ligaments with shards of bone and cartilage. Some aides hoisted Uxbridge into a gig while Sir Horace Seymour rode to Waterloo to prepare John Robert Hume, Wellington’s surgeon, to receive Uxbridge. Not wishing to be seen to take sole responsibility for the decision to amputate, which he thought necessary, Hume persuaded some artillery surgeons to support his opinion. He then removed the limb, first cutting back the flesh and then sawing through the bone. He tied the arteries and dressed the stump.

Uxbridge took the operation with the greatest sang froid and wrote to his wife the next day: 'Dearest Charlotte, Be bold, prepare for misfortune, I have lost my right leg'. She arrived in Brussels on 25 June with their 4 year-old son Clarence, having crossed the Channel in the Prince Regent's yacht, and visited the battlefield on 2 July. Uxbridge wore the stump cover over the wound for many years.