|Dan Sickles in a wheelchair in 1913. He died at age 94 |
on May 3, 1914 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
(Library of Congress collection)
On July 2, 1863, the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Union General Dan Sickles' lower right leg was shattered by artillery fire as he sat atop his horse near the barn of a farmer named Peter Trostle. In an act of bravado typical of one of history's great characters, the 43-year-old officer puffed on a cigar as he was carried from the field after suffering the grievous wound. The general survived the amputation of the leg and after the war became a champion for memorializing and preserving the battlefield.
In another odd twist for a man who once introduced a prostitute to the Queen of England, Sickles often visited the bones of his leg at Washington's Army Medical Museum (now National Museum of Health and Medicine). "With the compliments of Major General D.E.S," he wrote on a visiting card that accompanied his donation of the bones to the museum. (You can still see Sickles' leg there today.)
In the summer of 1913, less than a year before his death, a feeble Sickles was so determined to attend the 50th Gettysburg anniversary soldiers' reunion that he reportedly wrote a friend that he would gladly give up his other leg to be there. According to a 1913 newspaper account, the 93-year-old Sickles demanded that "a private ambulance as big as procurable be obtained to convey him about the battlefield," and the notorious ladies' man requested that two women be "obtained" to take care of him while at the reunion. Sickles apparently wasn't worried about getting to the third floor of Gettysburg's Eagle Hotel, where he usually stayed during his frequent visits to town. An elevator had been installed in the lobby years earlier just for him.
Source: Hartford Courant, June 28, 1913, Page 8