Modern Prosthetics have unusual Civil War Connection~ THE AMAZING LEGACY OF JAMES E. HANGER, CIVIL WAR SOLDIER by Bob O’ Connor ….With review

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Welcome, Bob!!

Modern prosthetics have unusual Civil War connection

A man in Florida recently showed me his Hanger limb – a modern artificial leg. He had worn a Hanger limb for 40 years.  Yet he had no idea why it was called a Hanger limb.

His limb is named after the inventor, a virtually unknown inventor who happened to also be the first amputee of the American Civil War – James E. Hanger, a Confederate member of the 14th Virginia Cavalry from Churchville, VA.

Hanger was absolutely in the wrong place at the wrong time, as he was injured in a barn by a cannon ball that struck a tree and ricocheted, hitting his leg.  The leg was amputated seven inches above the knee.

Hanger, an engineering student at Washington College in Lexington, VA, used his ingenuity to build an artificial limb that had a hinge at the knee and a hinge at the ankle. His “Hanger limb” became popular with other dismembered soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

His first factory opened in Staunton, VA in 1861 so he could start building limbs for others.  First his customers were Confederate veterans, but after the war, Union veterans sought them out too.

With over 35,000 amputees, there was a great need for his products. By 1919, when Hanger died, over 60,000 people wore Hanger limbs made in his factories in Richmond, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, St. Louis, Paris and London.

Today the company that still carries his name (Hanger Inc.) is a member of the NY Stock Exchange, operates over 700 clinics and serves 1 million patients annually. They are the country’s largest provider of prosthetics and orthodics.

Today that Florida man finally knows who to give credit for in allowing him to take every other step for the last forty years – James E. Hanger, a Civil War soldier.


What an amazing legacy and story! Thanks for sharing!!



Robert J. O'Connor 2About the Author

Bob O’Connor’s first book was published in 2006. He now has ten books published including 6 historical novels and 4 non-fiction books. He has been named finalist four different times in national book competitions conducted by Indie Excellence Awards and USA Books.

O’Connor writes about the Civil War in a way in which persons of interest find compelling as he writes about the soldiers on the front lines instead of the generals and the battle strategy. He speaks around the country on the Civil War and has appeared over 600 times in 18 states since his first book was published. His presentations have spanned the spectrum, as he has spoken to first graders and cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy, in national parks and public libraries, at historical societies and Civil War round tables.

His main topics include abolitionist John Brown, Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguard (Ward Hill Lamon), the United States Colored Troops, the invention of modern prosthetics, and brothers fighting against brothers.

His latest book is the historical fiction, The Amazing Legacy of James E. Hanger, Civil War Soldier.

You can find out more about the author at his website or connect with him on Facebook.

The Amazing Legacy of James E. Hanger 7About the Book:

James E. Hanger was wounded at Philippi, Virginia on June 3, 1861 and became the first amputee of the American Civil War. He hated the Yankee peg leg his Union doctor gave him. Instead, he used his ingenuity and engineering background to invent an artificial leg with a joint at the knee and a hinge at the ankle. He patented his Hanger Limb.

His invention revolutionized the prosthetic industry. The company Mr. Hanger founded still operates today (Hanger Inc.) as the country’s largest provider of artificial limbs. His story is quite remarkable.


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THE AMAZING LEGACY OF JAMES E. HANGER, CIVIL WAR SOLDIER by Bob O’ Connor is an interesting Historical Fiction/Civil War Period 1850-1877/United States. It is “based on true accounts of Mr. Hanger’s remarkable life”.

Mr. Hanger was wounded at  Philippi, Virginia on June 3, 1861. He was the first amputee of the Civil War. Due to his amputation, he hated the Union doctor who performed the surgery, and used his engineering ability to invent an artificial leg with a knee joint and a hinge, which became the “Hanger Limb”.

What an amazing story of fortification, knowledge, the human spirit and legacy. Truly, Mr. Hanger revolutionized the prosthetic industry. What a remarkable story and one I would highly recommend to readers of the Medical field, as well as Historical fiction readers. Not a romantic tale, but an wonderful historical based on facts, a man’s determination, the need to overcome what life handed him, and it shows the human spirit is amazing, to say the least.

The company Mr. Hanger founded, Hanger, Inc., is the world’s largest providers of prosthetics and orthotics and is still in operation today. It providers artificial limbs to millions with clinics all over the United States.

A remarkable story of a remarkable man, Mr. James E. Hanger. Mr. Hanger surely left behind a legacy for one and all. An educational read as well as enjoyable. Received for an honest review.



REVIEWED BY: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More







*Image from the publisher’s site*

Kathy Hepinstall is the author of three previous novels, The House of Gentle Men (a Los Angeles Times bestseller), The Absence of Nectar (a national bestseller), and The Prince of Lost Places. She is an award-winning creative director and advertising writer, whose clients have included top brands in American business. She grew up in Texas.


MBA&M: Kathy, please tell our readers a little about Kathy Hepinstall?

I work as an advertising creative and also write novels.


MBA&M: What was the inspiration behind writing “BLUE ASYLUM”?


I’d been wanting to set a love story in an insane asylum and was visiting Sanibel Island to write a novel on an entirely different topic and the story just kind of fell together.


MBA&M: How hard was it to write a compelling story about “madness”,”abuse”,”and “spousal crudity” during the Civil War era?


 It was a time when it was fairly easy to lock away a wife on some kind of trumped up charge of madness.  A very sad time in the history of women’s rights.


MBA&M: How much research was involved in writing “BLUE ASYLUM”?


Did quite a bit on asylums, and my sister and I had done a lot on the Civil War for another novel.  Also researched the history of Sanibel, along with flora, fauna, etc.


MBA&M: For those readers who do not know you, who would you compare your writing style to for this era?


 Don’t really have a comparison of that era.


MBA&M: If you could step into a book,which book you most want to be in,and why?


That’s a great question. If you mean a book of mine, I’d love to hang out with Persely, Boone and Alice in Absence of Nectar because I like them so much as characters.


MBA&M: Who would you say most influenced your writing career? Why? 


 Toni Morrison comes to mind.


MBA&M: What piece of advice would you give to any inspiring writer?


Think of writing as a combination of magic and muscle.  Both need to be exercised to exhaustion and with faithfulness and hope.


MBA&M: Please tell our readers where to find you and where “BLUE ASYLUM” is available? Blue Asylum is available at Amazon and surviving bookstores.



                     Kathy, do you have anything else you would like to add? 

Thank you so much for your support!

You are so welcome. What a great pleasure to have with us and our readers today!




Hardcover:288 pages

Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 10, 2012)



ISBN-13: 978-0547712079

Book Description(from Amazon)

Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness. It is the only reasonable explanation the court can see for her willful behavior, so she is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a good, compliant woman. Iris knows, though, that her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing with him on notions of justice, cruelty, and property.

On this remote Florida island, cut off by swamps and seas and military blockades, Iris meets a wonderful collection of residents–some seemingly sane, some wrongly convinced they are crazy, some charmingly odd, some dangerously unstable. Which of these is Ambrose Weller, the war-haunted Confederate soldier whose memories terrorize him into wildfits that can only be calmed by the color blue, but whose gentleness and dark eyes beckon to Iris.

The institution calls itself modern, but Iris is skeptical of its methods, particularly the dreaded “water treatment.” She must escape, but she has found new hope and love with Ambrose. Can she take him with her? If they make it out, will the war have left anything for them to make a life from, back home?

Blue Asylum is a vibrant, beautifully-imagined, absorbing story of the lines we all cross between sanity and madness. It is also the tale of a spirited woman, a wounded soldier, their impossible love, and the undeniable call of freedom.



Check out our “Thoughts” on “Blue

Asylum” by Kathy Henpinstall!



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