Nelson's Right Arm
July 25, 1797 - Today was the day that Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson lost his right arm during his attack on the Spanish port city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in the Canary Islands.
The British were trying to finish off remnants of the Spanish Navy that had taken shelter in the port, but the Spanish defenses on the island were stronger than anticipated.
As Nelson was leading an amphibious assault, he was wounded by a musket ball that shattered his arm. Bleeding badly, Nelson reportedly said, "Doctor, I want to get rid of this useless piece of flesh here." A quick and primitive surgery was performed and Nelson's arm was lopped off and tossed overboard, despite his plea to keep it as a souvenir.
Battered and beaten, the British withdrew in defeat. They had lost 250 men, while only 30 Spaniards were killed.
In an act of chivalry, the Spanish General Antonio Gutiérrez offered a couple of schooners to the British to aid in their return home. Nelson famously responded with a thank you letter and offered his victor some cheese.
Despite the loss, Nelson's bravery during the battle would add to his growing legend and he was welcomed home as a hero.