Showing posts from December, 2022

"An Additional Claim": Amputee officers in Nelson's Navy

By Teresa Michals A victorious career fighting the French at sea as a Royal Navy officer during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars required a lot: highly specialized seamanship skills, charismatic leadership, absolute indifference to death or injury, well-placed and active patrons, and luck. What it did not require was two arms or two legs. From 1795 to 1837 at least twenty-six officers survived amputation of limbs damaged in battle and continued in active service, including command at sea. They continued to capture, sink, or burn enemy ships. Six returned to fight without a leg; twenty without an arm (Michals, Lame Captains and Left-Handed Admirals: Amputee Officers in Nelson’s Navy . All statistics and quotations from this source.). All these officers were gentlemen and thus well-positioned within patronage networks.  The support offered by their elite social and professional status shaped their experience of limb loss in their day, as did the fact that this loss was not congenita