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The Man Whose Leg Was Amputated Twice

Rick Research

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I am out of my depth for British/German Napoleonic awards (more on that anon) so would be grateful for far more knowledgeable input. I simply offer the images and what little I could derve from Gordon's "British battles and Medals" and "Brassey's Dictionary of Battles" offers.

TALAVERA 27-28 July 1809 (Arthur Wellesley became Lord Wellington) 50,000 French troops under Marshal Victor attacked 20,000 British. Over 7,000 French and 5,000 British casualties. A British ?victory? but at cost so high a retreat back into Portugal was required.

FUENTES d?ONOR 5 May 1811 (Mass?na relieved and ordered back to France after the British line held?both sides losing about 1,500 men)

CIUDAD RODRIGO 8-19 January 1812 (Wellington became an Earl but the British lost two Generals killed in storming the city. British losses 1,290 to only 300 French!)

SALAMANCA 22 July 1812 (French Marshal Marmont wounded, French losses 12,000 to the British 5,000 but Wellington was forced to return behind the Portuguese border)

One of the things which STUNS me about the MGS is how FEW of them there were-- and how they can POSSIBLY be "valued" (in national Currencty Units)

For instance-- there were a grand total--circa 1850

of 95 MEDALS issued to this Battalion--

66 bars for Talavera

73 for Fuentes d'Onor

69 for Cuiudad Rodrigo


72 for Salamanca.

Obviously, the number of men alive and aware and interested and able to document their service 40+ years later limited total numbers awarded...

but what do these number mean to us... in 2008?

There WERE 95 medal holders from this battalion 168 years ago

but how many of them even EXIST today? :Cat-Scratch::speechless1::speechless1: :speechless1:

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Serjeant Fischjer had both-- yes both-- his legs smashed at Salamanca-- presumably by cannon shot.

Yet he had one leg-- the same leg--amputated twice, at Burgos.

The initial "silliness" of the statement that he had his leg amputated twice...

on second and reasoned consideration reveals a more horrible reality:

obviously the surgeon TRIED to save as much as he could... failed... and took off more.

Serjeant Fischer spent the rest of his long life hobbling around on a crutch-- a cripple in an age when cripples had NOTHING to support them.

He received the Guelphic Medal, possibly as some small "compensation," but imagine the life he led...

the lack of prospects...

the pain...

the sheer unrelenting punishing physical reality of those 40+ years afterwards. :(

Here is a close up of the back, showing the way the bars were arranged in units of three, with additional bars added above:

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Indeed. Since his records specify that BOTH were "smashed," I can only assume that like the advances in American surgical technique made during our Civil War, Sjt. Fischer was perhaps the beneficiary of a benevolent "Doctor Frankenstein" using him as a human guinea pig.

Though ONE leg was lost--twice :speechless1: the other was "saved."

As always, presumably it was the knee joint that was all important.

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  • 5 months later...

Today found August Finkam's 1901 collection pamphlet--

1,230 GSMs were awarded in TOTAL to the King's German Legion (134 of those to officers)...

out of which total only 68 were 4 bars medals.

And the Official British Price Guides say "subtract 25% for KGL!" :speechless1: :speechless:

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Hello : I stumbled across very interesting entries in Ludlow Beamish' "History of the King's German Legion" as follows:

In the section of officers placed on half pay is listed

Lt. John Charles Christoph Huenicken ( like nearly all names his were apparently anglicised (s) from Johann Carl ..) who rose from the ranks and assigned to the Garrison Company. having on 13th Jan.1812 at Ciudad Rodrigo lost both legs amputated he received the full pay of his rank on retirement which began in Aug.1814.

Lt. Huenicken was commissioned with rank of 21st Feb. 1809. Lt. Huenicken (also given as Hueneeken) apparently served in the First Line Battalion. He had participated in the 1805 expedition to his home state of Hanover, The Mediterranean campaign of 1806-1807, expedition to the Baltic 1807-1808 and finally the Peninsula Campaign from 1808 until his severe wounding in 1812. He died on 4.Jun.1824 in Goslar, Kingdom of Hanover. No medals are listed for this gallant officer.

Amazing that he survived the surgery.

Bernhard H. Holst

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Indeed. Sergeant Fischer had to have been an amazingly tough old bird.

Reading Hall's book on Peninsula casualties, it reveals a drastic negative bias against the Hanoverian volunteers. While British officers routinely received "pensions" (sometime a year or two years pay, sometimes permanent--even after returning to service) the German officers rarely got anything. They were apparently supposed to be taken care of by the Crown of Hanover's budget-- which could hardly happen under French occupation! :speechless::banger:

I never realized-- what a wonder Finkam's 1901 pamphlet was to me--that because Hanover had been absorbed into the French puppet "Kingdom of Westphalia," the French regarded members of the King's German Legion as "traitors" liable to summary execution if caught. No wonder they fought so hard! I can only compare them to the Polish volunteers of the Second World War.

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No, I am but the Epson Operator, through whose wondrous machine the varying components of the Traveling Museum may share their treasures with the GMIC world.

These appeal to me because

1) they are named and have traceable life stories

2) they are beautiful


3) they are so insanely rare that I'm still trying to figure out how many ways that can be counted

by bar, by unit, by rank....

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Herr Rosenberg died before the Nazis came to power and in blessed ignorance of what would follow. In mere months a sale like this would have been...

Please bear in mind that this was at the height of The Great Depression.

I direct your attention to the estimate for Los 827--

RM 75 would have been the equivalent of U.S. $30--roughly a LUCKY employed workman's monthly wage.

If this were fiction, you might deem it incredible that the medal above had passed through my humble abode mere months ago-- and that this 77 year old auction catalog had washed up here against all the odds of space and time.

But if Rule Number One is followed, nothing is impossible, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages.




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A month's pay-- for an Oberstleutnant.

Treasures now-- treasures then. There is no prices actually realized list, nor can I say what happened to Los 827 immediately afterwards.

But just think, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages...

what ADVENTURES "our" silent pieces of metal and cloth have had, long long before us-- and long long after us.

And remember that even more indestructible than that most unlikely of substances-- paper--


Gives ME goose bumps. :catjava:

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