Civil War-Prosthetic Limbs
This prosthetic leg was found in Woodhull, Illinois. The sculptural leg is made of hand-carved wood, leather, and hand-forged iron and zinc.
More than 30,000 Union soldiers and 40,000 Confederate soldiers lost limbs between 1861 and 1865, per Robert Gailey, Ph.D., P.T., a professor of physical therapy at the University of Miami School of Medicine and a researcher at the Miami VA Medical Center.
The Civil War marked the end of the era of wooden peg legs and simple hooks. The war set the prosthetics industry on a course that would ultimately lead to today’s quasi-bionic limbs.
Ironically, the person who launched the era of modern prosthetics was also the first documented amputee of the Civil War–Confederate soldier James Edward Hanger. Hanger, who lost his leg above the knee to a cannon ball, was first fitted with a wooden peg leg by Yankee surgeons.