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Mending Broken Soldiers

Mending Broken Soldiers

The Union and Confederate Programs to Supply Artificial Limbs

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Soldiers furnished with artificial limbs

About the Book

The four years of the Civil War saw bloodshed on a scale unprecedented in the history of the United States. Thousands of soldiers and sailors from both sides who survived the horrors of the war faced hardship for the rest of their lives as amputees. Now Guy R. Hasegawa presents the first volume to explore the wartime provisions made for amputees in need of artificial limbs—programs that, while they revealed stark differences between the resources and capabilities of the North and the South, were the forebears of modern government efforts to assist in the rehabilitation of wounded service members.

Hasegawa draws upon numerous sources of archival information to offer a comprehensive look at the artificial limb industry as a whole, including accounts of the ingenious designs employed by manufacturers and the rapid advancement of medical technology during the Civil War; illustrations and photographs of period prosthetics; and in-depth examinations of the companies that manufactured limbs for soldiers and bid for contracts, including at least one still in existence today. An intriguing account of innovation, determination, humanitarianism, and the devastating toll of battle, Mending Broken Soldiers shares the never-before-told story of the artificial-limb industry of the Civil War and provides a fascinating glimpse into groundbreaking military health programs during the most tumultuous years in American history.

Univeristy Press Books for Public and Secondary Schools 2013 edition


Guy R. Hasegawa is a pharmacist and senior editor of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. He is a coeditor of Years of Change and Suffering: Modern Perspectives on Civil War Medicine and has written many articles on the history of pharmacy and on Civil War medicine. He serves on the board of directors of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and is a director emeritus of the Society of Civil War Surgeons.


"This historiography is a great read for anyone interested in the development of government-run artificial limbs programs, which originated during the Civil War. The book's educational value cannot be overstated—as prosthetic professionals, there is much to learn from the mistakes of the past to help us avoid failures in veterans' care today."—American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists

“One of the great medical and humanitarian accomplishments of the Civil War was the way mutilated soldiers were given a way to get back into society by way of artificial limbs. Dr. Hasegawa’s scholarly and well-researched book takes the reader from the crude beginning of the artificial-limb program of both the North and the South to a system whereby so many men were helped to a new life. It is especially relevant today as we help our 'wounded warriors' with new products and devices that enable them to have a productive and active life. Everything has a beginning, and what was begun in 1862 was the precursor of our efforts to mend the lives of our military men and women today. I highly recommend this work.”—Gordon E. Dammann, D.D.S., founder and board chairman, National Museum of Civil War Medicine

“Dr. Hasegawa’s book is an interesting, detailed description of the personalities and the medical and administrative problems that arose during and after the Civil War because of the need to supply artificial limbs to soldiers and sailors. Many remarkable characters, several who were amputees themselves, rose to the occasion, and artificial limbs became available to injured soldiers all over the country. The book illuminates this rarely mentioned aspect of the care needed by wounded men as a result of the war. I highly recommend it.” —Alfred Jay Bollet, M.D., author of Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs

“A number of technological innovations occurred during and shortly after the American Civil War. Among these were significant improvements in artificial limbs and the means of providing them to soldiers who needed them. Dr. Hasegawa has thoroughly researched the subject and shown how clever design and creative use of the available materials transformed artificial limbs from crude devices such as peg legs to lightweight, strong, multifunctional prostheses. He also tells of the social and political revolution that provided the means to pay for and distribute them, usually at little or no cost to the maimed soldiers. In my opinion, this book is the definitive reference on Civil War artificial limbs.” —F. Terry Hambrecht, M.D., senior technical advisor to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine and former head of the Neural Prosthesis Program, National Institutes of Health (U.S.A.)

"Mending Broken Soldiers is a valuable contribution to the history of medicine and disability during the Civil War era." —Alan Branstiter, H-Net Reviews

"Hasegawa’s work provides a concise overview of the artificial limb programs during the Civil War. He uses his sources meticulously, captures the voices of the agents doomed to coordinate the program, and reveals the difficulties in keeping the broken soldiers economically valuable to society. " —Andrea Zittlau, H-Net Reviews