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Mending Broken Soldiers: The Union and Confederate Programs to Supply Artificial Limbs Hardcover – September 13, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"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.)

About the Author

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.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press; 1st Edition edition (September 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809331306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809331307
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,617,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Guy R. Hasegawa earned a doctor of pharmacy degree from the University of California, San Francisco, and works in suburban Maryland as an editor for a pharmacy journal. He has had a long interest in Civil War medicine and has published many scholarly articles on the topic. His books include "Years of Change and Suffering: Modern Perspectives on Civil War Medicine" (2009) and "Mending Broken Soldiers: The Union and Confederate Programs to Supply Artificial Limbs" (2012). His latest book, "Villainous Compounds: Chemical Weapons and the American Civil War," was released in September 2015. Visit his website at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Redd VINE VOICE on October 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Civil War is without doubt the most deadly and life changing war that the United States has been part of. While the charged feelings on both sides were a huge part of this technology however was a major driver in the carnage that took place on the battlefield. The development and spread of rifled weapons along with the use of the minie ball led to injuries never seen before. When a soldier was struck by a minie ball the result was often shattered bone and massive tissue damage in the surrounding area. This type of damage often led to amputation of the injured limb. The Civil War led to somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000 such amputations.

With the large number of maimed soldiers returning home it became imperative that these men be taken care of. In his new book Guy R. Hasegawa introduces us to the artificial limb industry and how it developed during the Civil War.

The artificial limb industry was not new during the war however it did expand dramatically both in terms of patents and also in manufacturers. In the two decades leading up to the Civil War there were less than 25 patents issued dealing with artificial limbs. In the decade of the 1860s this exploded to over 100. None of these patents were issued to citizens living in the states of the Confederacy.

As was the case with headstones for the dead the federal government was willing to provide for Union soldiers but not those from the Confederacy. During the war the United States government agreed to pay authorized vendors $50 for an artificial leg. The program was later expanded to include payment for artificial arms as well. While this program went through growing pains the basics stayed the same with the government picking up the tab, including replacements, for Union soldiers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jim Schmidt on September 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
[Disclaimer: I had the great pleasure of reading this book while the manuscript was being written and the even greater privilege of being invited to write the Foreword to the book. This was done happily. I received no compensation for writing the Foreword and have no financial interest in the book]

At its heart, this book is about attempts to fix the "broken soldiers" of the American Civil War. The unprecedented scale of that conflict - in terms of armies raised, battles fought, technologies employed, and soldiers wounded - resulted in no less than 60,000 amputations. Not coincidentally, there was a large increase in inventive activity in prosthetics: patents for artificial limbs increased from less than thirty in the previous decade to more than a hundred in the 1860s.

Still, the book is about much more than just the appendages themselves, and that is what makes it all the more original, interesting, and important. The author describes the political considerations of providing veterans with prosthetics at government expense; the continued professionalization of medicine as boards of experts examined and passed judgment on what limbs would be used and paid for; recriminations among inventors over patent infringement; the ethics of providing artificial limbs for prisoners of war; the lack of a native artificial limbs industry in the Confederacy - symptomatic of other industrial shortcomings - that handicapped its ability to provide for its own amputees; the inevitable encroachment of the "middle man"; and much more.

This book is marked by thorough research backed by the author's expert knowledge of archival material, an entertaining narrative from his ever-able pen, and a refreshing economy of words owing to his eye as a professional editor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Johnnie P on December 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone with an interest in the Civil War has either read or heard stories of piles of amputated limbs below windows of field hospitals where Surgeons discarded the amputated limbs. Have you ever wondered what became of those wounded soldiers? Oh yes, we have seen war time or post war images of soldiers with amputations using crutches and occassionally wearing a prosthetic device. But, have you ever wondered if there was a war time program to provide artificial limbs to soldiers?

Wonder no longer! Guy R. Hasegawa has produced an excellent research work that describes the political considerations and funding sources of providing upper and lower limb prosthetics to amputated soldiers, North and South. Though both programs were starkly different, they both provided artificial limbs to amputated soldiers and Mr. Hasegawa covers both programs. In the United States the artificial limb industry was not new. Industrial and farm accidents accounted for the need of an artificial limb industry. However, during and after the Civil War the artificial limb industry expanded as a result of the many surviving amputee veterans, who needed an artificial limb to continue living productive lives.

I applaud Guy Hasegawa for bring this work to the public. It adds greatly to the understanding of how amputated soldiers fared during and after the war. Highly recommended for every student of the war.

Johnnie P. Pearson
Editor - Lee and Jackson's Bloody Twelfth. The Letters of Irby Goodwin Scott, First Lieutenant, Company G, Putnam Light Infantry, Twelfth Georgia Volunteer Infantry.
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