Saturday, July 26, 2003

I'm running a day late on this week's Amputee of the Week because of yesterday's journey from Cardiff to London, which saw me popping in for lunch with BBC Jerusalem Correspondent Jeremy Cooke and family (in Monmouthshire, not Israel) before heading to Windsor for a wedding party. There I met up with Christina Rhule (pictured centre), who's been following the blog from the very start. Christina got very excited when I told her I'd put her picture up -- and guys I promise to forward on all fan mail and proposals of marriage.

In fact, for good measure, here's another picture of her shaking her booty on the dancefloor. You go girl!

Excuse me, I'm starting to sound like Nigel Dempster.

So, although he's a day late, the new AOTW is well worth the wait...and I thank Derek for drawing my attention to him.

Here goes....

Dan Sickles commanded III Corps, Army of the Potomac during the Battle of Gettysburg.

During the battle, a shell mangled Sickles' right leg. Sickles was seen smoking a large cigar as he was carried from the field on a stretcher. Thomas Sim, a III Corps surgeon, later amputated the leg just above the knee and, instead of having it buried with the rest of the amputated limbs, wrapped and preserved the leg "for whatever disposition Sickles might later want to make of it."

Sickles had a minature coffin made for his amputated leg, and donated it to the Army Medical Museum. For years afterward he delighted in taking friends there to "visit" his leg. It now resides in the National Museum of Health and Medicine.

Sickles was born on 20 October 1819 in New York City. In 1852, against the wishes of both families, he married Teresa Bagioli.

Sometime in 1858, she began having an affair with Philip Barton Key. The day after confronting his wife about the affair and having her attest to it in a written affidavit, Sickles saw Key in front of his house signaling to Teresa in an attempt to arrange another assignation. In a rage, Sickles went upstairs, grabbed his pistols, went out to confront Key, and shot him several times; the last shot in the head at close range. Arrested and tried for murder, Sickles was acquitted, resting his defence on the plea of temporary insanity -- the first time this plea was used.

Sickles is the subject of Thomas Keneally's book American Scoundrel and is far too larger than life to describe in full. You can read and hear more about him here.

However, for the sheer chutzpah of a having a minature coffin made up for his amputated leg alone, Dan Sickles is a classic Amputee of the Week.


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