a photo of a two musket balls and a small case

Worsley’s Balls

These must be one (or two!) of the weirdest relics of the Napoleonic War. Lieutenant Thomas Taylor Worsley, a Yorkshireman from Hovingham, was adjutant and a junior officer in the prodigious 95th Rifles – 3rd battalion.

There were only two companies of this battalion at Waterloo. They fought with General Adam’s brigade, on Wellington’s right centre, along with the 52nd and 71st Light Infantry.

Three years before Waterloo, during the punishing 3rd siege of the border town of Badajoz, in Spain, Worsley, whilst in a storming party received a spent ball in the left side of his neck. This tracked around under the skin and damaged one of his neck muscles, so turning his head to the right. At Waterloo, miraculously surviving another spent ball injury, the same type of injury, but on the opposite side, restored his head to its normal position!

His niece was the last family member to possess the two French balls that wounded him. She kept them in a horn box. This strange couple of relics are on display at the Surgical Museum at Mont St Jean Farm, in Waterloo. To survive two neck wounds is remarkable, but to have mirror-image injuries like this is almost beyond belief.

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