1. Welcome to the CivilWarTalk, a forum for questions and discussions about the American Civil War! Become a member today for full access to all of our resources, it's fast, simple, and absolutely free!
Dismiss Notice
Join and Become a Patron at CivilWarTalk!
Support this site with a monthly or yearly subscription! Active Patrons get to browse the site Ad free!

J.E. Hanger, artificial limb innovator

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by CSA Today, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. CSA Today

    CSA Today Colonel

    Dec 3, 2011
    Laurinburg NC
    The J.E. Hanger Story
    [​IMG]On June 1, 1861, 18-year-old engineering student James Edward Hanger left his family, forgoing his studies at Washington College (now Washington & Lee University), to join his brothers in the Confederate Army. On June 3, less than two days after enlisting, a cannonball tore through his leg early in the Battle of Philippi. Becoming the first amputee of the Civil War, the young Hanger survived an excruciating battlefield amputation necessary to save his life by Dr. James D. Robinson.
    “I cannot look back upon those days in the hospital without a shudder,” Hanger said. “No one can know what such a loss means unless he has suffered a similar catastrophe. In the twinkling of an eye, life’s fondest hopes seemed dead. I was the prey of despair. What could the world hold for a maimed, crippled man!”
    A prisoner of war until August 1861, upon returning home to Churchville, Virginia, Hanger requested solitude. His family assumed he was writhing in despair; however, unbeknownst to anyone else, he immediately began work on what would prove to be a revolutionizing prosthetic solution.
    Whittled from barrel staves, the “Hanger Limb” was first worn by Hanger in November 1861 as he descended the steps of his home, to the astonishment of his family who didn’t know what he was doing while locked away for months in his upstairs bedroom.
    “Today I am thankful for what seemed then to me nothing but a blunder of fate, but which was to prove instead a great opportunity,” Hanger said.
    [​IMG]In the same year, Hanger secured two patents from the Confederate government and was commissioned to develop prosthetic limbs for veteran soldiers. In 1891, Hanger was granted a U.S. patent for his prosthetic innovation.
    By the time of his death in June 1919, the J.E. Hanger Company had branches in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, London, and Paris.
    Today, as a national $800+ million company, Hanger Orthopedic Group still honors and abides by the tenets articulated by its founder, James Edward Hanger: “There is sound logic in our determination not to extend our activities beyond our capacity. If we have learned no other lesson, we are fully convinced of the wisdom of the policy we have followed all these years, never to allow our output to grow faster than our standards of quality and individual attention will allow.”

  2. (Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
  3. east tennessee roots

    east tennessee roots 1st Lieutenant

    Dec 31, 2010
    Kingsport, Tennessee

    Thanks for posting. My wife's 2nd great-grandfather was one of his patients and is supposedly listed in his records. http://civilwartalk.com/threads/con...nroe-harris-company-d-37th-va-infantry.86224/
    I recently received this e mail about a book in progress about Mr. Hanger's work :
    Mr. Land
    > I am writing a book about James Hanger who built the first artificial leg
    > in the Civil War. Although my book is historical fiction, it is based on
    > fact. I like to use as many real situations as possible.
    > I have run across James M. Harris' name (37th VA Infantry) in a list of
    > prosthetics provided for Confederate soldiers provided by Hanger's
    > company. I got your e-mail from Military History on-Line.
    > Do you have any information on his artificial leg, photographs of him with
    > his prosthesis, documents where he talks about his amputation or leg or
    > anything of the sort that I can incorporate into my book?
    > Thank you for your time. I hope to hear from you. Bob O'Connor
    chellers and CSA Today like this.

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

Share This Page

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)