Brief stories from The Battle of Waterloo ~ General Uxbridge

Lieutenant General Henry William Paget, who became 2nd Earl of Uxbridge and Marquis of Anglesey (1768-1854)

400px-Henry_William_Paget_00As I said in my last brief story, when I visited the site of the Battle of Waterloo for the bicentenary, it was the personal stories of those who fought there which inspired my emotion and General Uxbridge’s story is one of those that could have come out of a novel.

General Uxbridge, as he was at the time of the battle of Waterloo, began his military career in the 7th (or the Queen’s Own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars). He became Colonel of the Regiment in 1801. He commanded the cavalry in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular wars. But he was then wrapped up in a real romantic, rakish, scandal, as he seduced the wife of Henry Wellesley, a political envoy, who happened to be the future Duke of Wellington’s brother. Henry Wellesley’s suffering was described by Viscount Castlereagh in a letter to King George III on the 5th June 1809. “He was overwhelmed by domestic misfortune.”

Henry’s wife, Lady Charlotte, daughter of the 1st Earl of Cadogan, had run off with Lord Paget (who was later the 2nd Earl of Uxbridge). Lord Paget had eight children with his first wife, who were left behind, and Lady Charlotte left four children. In 1810 Henry Wellesley and Lord Paget (Uxbridge) obtained divorces from their respective wives (note Paget’s wife was also discovered to be having an affair – you wonder then how many of the eight children were his ~The Dangerous Love of a Rogue style 😉 ). Paget then married Lady Charlotte, and was sued for £24,000 for the harm he’d done, a huge sum in that day.

Robert Ward wrote to Lord Lonsdale about the affair on the 8th March 1809. ‘Lady Charlotte Wellesley seems to have been the utter victim of her seducer, after resisting him long and sincerely; she has even often retained Sir Arthur Wellesley near her in public for the express purpose of avoiding Lord P’s importunities. She has written to Arbuthnot, W’s friend to say she knows she has consigned herself to perdition and unhappiness for life but was irresistibly driven to it by what she could not avoid. Lord P. has written in  a similar way to his father, adding he had sought death frequently in Spain, to avoid this misfortune and that the greatest benefit that could now befall him wd. be to have his brains blown out. Wellesley is like one distracted’ Lonsdale wrote again three days later. ‘I was correct I find what I stated respecting the elopement, and Ld Uxbridge, half heart-broken, has written, Pole tells me, in these words to Ly. Charlotte, “Madam, I implore you as an old and dying man, to restore to his father a son; to disconsolate a wife, her husband, and to unprotected children, their father, Uxbridge.” Ly.Charlotte resents this as a letter that would not have been written to a housemaid, and Lord P. is profligate enough to intimate to his father that he joins in the resentment. The times seem indeed to be out of joint.

Of course for Lord Paget’s and Lady Charlotte’s first year, officially, together they were ostracised by polite society as they lived together while still being married to others. Wellington was furious and Uxbridge’s military career was over for a while. But at least when he was called to a pistol duel  on Wimbledon Common by Col Henry Cadogan (Charlotte’s brother), he acted honourably. When Cadogan missed, Uxbridge refused to return fire, knowing himself to be in the wrong.

Wellington commanding the reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo June 2015

Wellington commanding the reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo June 2015

Wellington’s next encounter with Uxbridge was not until the Battle of Waterloo, when Uxbridge, now as a General was appointed to lead the cavalry. When Wellington received the news that he must fight with Uxbridge he said, “Lord Uxbridge has the reputation of running away with everybody he can, I’ll take good care he don’t run away with me.”

Uxbridge was considered one of the heroes of the battle though, even by Wellington, and following their victory was appointed the rank of Marquis (Marquess in today’s spelling).

He was injured in the battle though. When he was caught in the leg by a cannonball. He was watching the battle with the Duke of Wellington and responded. “By God, sir. I’ve lost my leg.” To which Wellington replied. “By God, sir. So you have.”

The French cannon fire from the near ridge at reenactment of The Battle of Waterloo, Belgium, June 2015

IMG_6310It was near the end of the battle, and Uxbridge was carried off the field and taken back to the inn which Wellington was using as his headquarters in the village of Waterloo, where his damaged leg was amputated. John Robert Hume, the surgeon, recorded Uxbridge’s operation in his notes, and pointedly mentions Uxbridge’s silence, bravery and calmness throughout the operation, when he would have had no painkillers. The only indication that he found it difficult was that he commented on the knife perhaps being too blunt. The surgeon would have first cut a flap of skin if possible to fold over the amputation site, to enable better healing.

IMG_6342The owner of the inn M. Hyacinthe Joseph-Marie Paris asked if he could bury the leg of one of the heroes of the battle in his garden, and he gave it its own tomb stone. People then came to visit the inn and the tomb for years to see the place where Uxbridge’s leg was buried. It became a monument which macabre tourists favoured.

 

 

This is the inscription recorded on the stone in the garden of the inn, in Waterloo village.

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The leg was taken from the grave at one point and rather gruesomely displayed in the Wellington museum which is now established in the inn, but after complaints it was reburied, and now it is believed to have gone missing. However, the museum does have the artificial leg which Uxbridge used following his amputation, which was the first ever moving prosthetic leg as far as anyone is aware.

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Lord Uxbridge lived on into his 80s with Charlotte and regularly when people asked him how he was, the answer that he gave was, ‘I have one foot in the grave.

🙂

There are still more Waterloo stories to come, follow my blog via email not to miss them.

 

*********It’s the lase weekend for the discount of The Lost Love of a Soldier**********

If you would like to read my fictional story set around the lead up to the Battle of Waterloo, then now is the time to do it, Harper Collins have put on some amazing deals this month to commemorate the battle. In one country the deal only lasts two weeks, though, I have not put the amounts as they are different in different countries, just click on the cover of The Lost Love of a Soldier in the side bar to find out your great cut price deal.

If you would like to see all the pictures and videos of Waterloo 200 which I will share on my Facebook page, click Like on the Jane Lark Facebook link in the right-hand column.

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The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel

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June 18th 2015 will be 200 years since the Battle of Waterloo

Skip to the bold lettering if you’ve already read the introduction 🙂

04 The lost love of a Soldier 300dbiOn the 18th June 2015 it will be 200 years since the battle of Waterloo took place, which was fought near Brussels in Belgium. This is the setting for scenes in my novel The Lost Love of a Soldier so I want to take this chance to share some of the things which I learned while researching the story of the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of foot which my fictional character, Paul, had a place within, to commemorate the anniversary of the battle.

I picked the name of a real regiment randomly when I began writing Paul’s and Ellen’s fictional story, in The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, and chose the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of foot. So when I decided to place the characters in a prequel, which would incorporate the battle of Waterloo, I had to research the background of the 52ndand develop an understanding of what happened to them before they reached the battle. Looking up where they’d come from before the battle? How they had lived? How would they have felt during the lead up to Waterloo?

This is the true story I am sharing on my blog in the lead up to the bicentenary commemoration of the battle. Read part one and part two 

Part Three

The allied generals started to more seriously prepare following the news on June 10th. They had spies out trying to track Napoleon’s movements, but they still did not move. Their plan was that Napoleon would come to them and that they would manoeuvre him, through their positions, on to the ground where they hoped to fight. Napoleon’s plan was to catch them when they were not expecting an attack.

The Duchess of Richmond had planned a ball for the 15th June , her husband, the Duke, commanded the troops based in Brussels. When the Duchess heard the news on the 10th she asked Wellington if she should continue with the ball. He approved it. He would have known the French had spies too and he wished to make Napoleon believe they were not worried. There’s a fabulous description of the ball, written by someone who attended it; for instance they say it was not in a ballroom but in an outbuilding converted for the purpose, and the letter even describes the wallpaper and the dancing… Apparently the Scottish regiment danced jigs to entertain the others at times.

But then came the news that Napoleon had struck the far left of the Allied Forces. Wellington and his generals disappeared into a room at the Richmonds’ to work out their steps of response, and then the officers began peeling away from the ball, returning to their regiments. Before dawn the regiments camped within city and on the other side of the city were marching through Brussels.

More tourists left once the soldiers had gone as the possibility of a battle close to Brussels became certain, but many stayed.

Four long days of fighting followed, and at times the war could have been won by Napoleon, and that was when panic broke out among the remaining tourists, who fought over the horses to leave the city. The war came to its conclusion on the 18th June 1815 on the fields around Waterloo, and I say in the book that Ellen must have heard the cannon fire in the city. We live about fifteen miles from Salisbury plain but we still hear the guns when the army is practicing. It shakes our front door.

Over two hundred and fifty thousand men took part in the battle of Waterloo, in the allied forces alone, and of those twelve thousand men lost their lives. Those men changed the course of history in Europe.

I am really lucky to be going over to Belgium, to Brussels, this month to watch the commemoration, it’s expected that there will be five thousand plus reenactors and over sixty thousand people attending to watch. There’s also a new museum on the site, and some of the most well-known areas of battle are now open to the public. I shall be thinking of the 52nd and I will share my experiences on my return.

If you can’t make it to Brussels but would love to learn more and you’re in the UK, then Aspley House in London, and Wellington Arch, which are both open to the public, have displays established to commemorate Waterloo.

Follow my Facebook Jane Lark Author page (see the righthand column to ‘Like’) to make sure you see all the pictures and facts I discover on my trip to Belgium.

Check out the exceptional discounts Harper Collins have placed on The Lost Love of a Soldier during June 2015 to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo

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The Lost Love of a Soldier

The stunning prequel to Kindle bestseller The Illicit Love of a Courtesan!

Life is for grasping and living…

Naïve and innocent, Lady Ellen Pembroke falls for a dashing young army officer. Captain Paul Harding has such an easy, enchanting smile and his blue eyes glow; vibrancy and warmth emanating from him. She is in love.

In turn, the Captain finds his attention captured by the beautiful young daughter of the Duke of Pembroke at a house party in the summer. Finding Ellen is like finding treasure on the battle field. His sanity clings to her – something beautiful to remind him that not all in the world is ugly.

Ellen is someone to fight for and someone to survive for when he is inevitably called to arms in the battle of Waterloo…