Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The perils of soldiering

As I put together Monday's post about World War I, I was reminded of a footnote in Andrew McConnell Stott's excellent new book on Byron, the Shelleys, John Polidori, and Claire Clairmont, The Poet and the Vampyre. Though it's hard to dispute that the experience of the soldier in World War I was likely the worst in human history, the footnote from Stott is a reminder that the lot of the soldier has always been fairly awful:
A similar fate befell Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby, the brother of Byron's former lover, Caroline Lamb. Wounded in both arms and lanced in the back, he fell off his horse and spent most of the battle [of Waterloo] lying helpless on the field where he was robbed, used as cover by a rifleman, trampled under the hoofs of Prussian cavalry, and robbed again. Despite lying out all night and suffering seven major wounds, he lived for another twenty-two years.
Jesus. I'd like to think that he at least was able to shape his experience into the kind of story that would get him stood drinks for the rest of his life.


  1. "used as cover by a rifleman," wow.

  2. Yeah, it's hard to even process that one. Was he alert enough to register a complaint? What a nightmare.