State Highway Marker

State Highway Marker

Friday, April 18, 2014


Some background on a not very well known organization of the Confederate war effort . . .

The object of the Association for the relief of maimed soldiers, is to supply artificial limbs gratuitously to all officers, soldiers and seamen who have been maimed in the service of the Confederate States; and to furnish to them such mechanical compensation of other lost parts of the human body, as may be practicable. Previous to the present war, only the few who were maimed in consequence of accidents or disease, required these substitutes, and such were readily obtained in the Northern cities, where mechanical pursuits were more practised.
It is probably correctly estimated that more than 10,000 men have lost limbs by casualties of battle, during this war, and the sight of empty sleeves, and of men hobbling on wooden pegs, or swinging on the galling crutch, is now familiar, and should suggest to all observers the necessity for organization for the relief of these sufferers, and for the encouragement of proper manufactures. As is not known to all, artificial limbs can be made so perfect in symmetry, motion and color, that the loss endured, or the loss supplied, can scarcely be detected by the observer. Considerable sums are required to buy these, and thousands of the maimed have no means to purchase; others cannot obtain for want of necessary information, while many more manufactories than now exist, are required to furnish these substitutes of human contrivance to those needing them.
In consequence of the publication of an earnest appeal from the present President of the Association, in the Richmond papers, and in printed circulars of date January 12th, 1864, after a preliminary meeting, this Society was formally organized on Friday night, January 22, 1864, at a large public meeting, in the African Church, Richmond, Virginia, by the adoption of a constitution, election of officers for one year, and the collection of large subscriptions.
The constitution provides for the cooperation of all persons favorable to its object, and contemplated aid or countenance from Municipal, State, and the Confederate Governments, yet it was designed to appeal principally to benevolent and patriotic Confederate citizens, to unite and present to each of those deprived of their limbs, an artificial limb, not as an act of charity, but of esteem, respect and gratitude .
The constitution further provides for an annual meeting, reports and re-election of officers, on the 22d of January; the Directors being empowered to act during intervals, as the Executive of the Association. The Treasurer is required to collect and receive all subscriptions to the finances of the Association, and appropriately acknowledge them, make disbursements, and report monthly to the Directors, an report annually to the members, the state of the finances. The Corresponding Secretary is the organ of the Association, under the direction of the Directors, in communicating with applicants for the benefit of the Association, with manufacturers, and in conference with other societies and the public.

 . . .
In February, 1864, the Directors invited the manufacturers throughout the Confederate States, to send in specimens of their work, with proposals, stating the number they could furnish, their cost, and the time and place of delivery. The three first manufacturers above named having complied with this invitation; contracts were made with Wells & Brother, on February 10th, 1864, with Hanger & Brother, on March 12th, 1804, and with Spooner & Harris, on January 2d, 1865, at the following rates:

For leg below the knee, $150,
For leg at the knee, $175.
For leg above the knee, $200.
For shoes to correspond, $65.

Wells & Brother have been paid for 309 legs already made. —
Hanger & Brother for 97, but Spooner & Harris are not yet in operation.

. . .

The Corresponding Secretary will give or send to the applicant, an order on a contractor for an artificial leg, and a suitable pair of shoes; with a ticket for admission into the Way Hospital at the Post— where board, lodging, and all necessary attention will be given during his stay. Manufacturers will send, if desired, a blank form for measurement, with directions. If taken accurately, legs may be made to fit well by these measurements, and sent by Express — but it is much preferable to have the persons present, and, consequently, all legs made for the Association, must be examined and fitted by Inspectors, to ascertain definitely their efficiency, and the fitness of the stumps to bear them. In future, when the agents and con tractors. of the Association are multiplied, such measurements can be taken by any one of these agents; but now if legs are made and furnished only on measurements forwarded, the cost will not be defrayed by the Association. It is important for his future comfort also, that each wearer of an artificial limb, should receive certain preparations and instructions from the manufacturers and Inspectors. The mechanism should be explained to him, as it is frequently necessary to tighten or loosen screws, springs or axis— to adapt them to his peculiar step or gait, or to repair displacements, and injuries, which at first slight may become serious by neglect. He should be instructed how to tightly bandage the stump, so as to compress, solidify and adapt it to a conical socket, and to obtain free and perfect action of the stump and joint, by passive motion, and never allowing them to remain flexed or semi flexed, if avoidable.

 -Brief review of the plan and operations of the Association for the Relief of Maimed Soldiers

"Taken from the Hall in the Capitol at Richmond, Va. - lately occupied by the Rebel Congress"
- manuscript note at head of title, dated April 20, 1865

An interesting exhibit from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

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