Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Civil War and Prosthetic Limbs: 1/2

I'm so pleased to host author Jocelyn Green again. She's an amazing woman and author of inspirational fiction surrounding the Civil War.  Jocelyn will be here over the next three weeks sharing wonderful information about her research. Often times, during war, there is a lot of advancement in medical technology which is why I'm giving her so many days.

Plus, I just love her.

As an added bonus, Jocelyn has graciously offered to give away a personalized copy of her latest novel, Widow of Gettysburg, to one commentor. To enter, leave a comment on any of her posts over the next three weeks WITH your e-mail address. Must live in the USA. Winner drawn midnight, Saturday, May 11th, 2013 and announced here at Redwood's on May 12th, 2013.

Jocelyn has also graciously said she'll send you a signed bookplate if you have any of her novels and would like one. Again, MUST have your e-mail. 

Good Luck!

Jocelyn appeared before at Redwood's and you can read those posts here and here.

Welcome back, Jocelyn!



“It is not two years since the sight of a person who had lost one of his lower limbs was an infrequent occurrence. Now, alas! There are few of us who have not a cripple among our friends, if not in our own families. A mechanical art which provided for an occasional and exceptional want has become a great and active branch of industry. War unmakes legs, and human skill must supply their places as it best may.”
~Oliver Wendell Holms, M.D., “The Human Wheel, Its Spokes and Felloes,” 1863

If necessity is the mother of invention, it should come as no surprise that the Civil War, which produced some 45,000 amputee veterans, also prompted major progress in the development and production of artificial limbs. One of the characters in my novel Widow of Gettysburg is the recipient of one of these limbs. Let’s take a closer look at what was involved in this rehabilitation of amputee veterans. (You can see more on amputations from a previous blog I wrote for Jordyn, here: http://jordynredwood.blogspot.com/2012/08/civil-war-amputations-and-anesthesia_31.html

Double Amputees of the Civil War


Once the stump was healed after amputation and the patient able to do without dressings, the surgeons' work was finished, and the patient was left to shift for himself in securing the best apparatus. But not everyone was a good candidate for a prosthetic. If the limb was taken off at the joint, such as the hip or shoulder, there was no stump to which an artificial limb could be attached. The surgeon may have performed the operation too high or too low on the limb for a good fit to be possible. Also, if the stump was prone to frequent infection, it would have been too painful to attach an artificial limb to it.

For those who could pursue a prosthetic, in the North, the most popular artificial leg was a “Palmer” leg, named for Benjamin Franklin Palmer, who patented the design. A previous design by James Potts was made of wood, leather, and cat-gut tendons hinging the knee and ankle joints, and dubbed “The Clapper” for the clicking sound of its motion. Palmer improved upon this design with a heel spring in 1846, and his “American leg” was produced continuously through World War 1.

Palmer’s leg cost about $150, a prohibitive amount for the average private, whose pay was about $13 per month. Add to that the cost of travel and lodging expenses to see a specialist, and the number of amputees who could afford it went down even further. The cost of an artificial limb for Confederate veterans was between $300-$500, due to the soaring inflation.

Since the majority of veterans had been farmers, planters, or skilled laborers before the war, the need for artificial limbs was, indeed, a crippling problem. To help address it, the U.S. government appropriated $15,000 in 1862 to pay for limbs for maimed soldiers and sailors. In January 1864, a civilian association in Richmond was established to pay for artificial limbs for Confederate amputees.
After the war in 1866, North Carolina became the first state to start a program for thousands
of amputees to receive artificial limbs. The program offered veterans free accommodations and transportation by rail; 1,550 veterans contacted the program by mail. During the same year, the State of Mississippi spent more than half its yearly budget providing veterans with artificial limbs.

 Return for Part II on Friday.

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 A former military wife, Jocelyn Green authored, along with contributing writers, the award-winning Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and Faith Deployed . . . Again. Jocelyn also co-authored Stories of Faith and Couragefrom the Home Front, which inspired her first novel: Wedded to War. She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two small children in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

45 comments:

  1. Among my mother's geneology papers was a copy (bad copy - early xerox) of a photograph. The pictue was a house - really not much more than a shack and in front of it sat and stood a gathering of family. It is a post civil war era picture of the South. Taken in either lower North Carolina or upper South Carolina regions. Seated in the picture is a bearded man who wears a wooden peg leg. It is my grandmother's father and he fought in the civil war.

    In researching geneology of the family someone in the "family" found records of his military service. He lost his leg during the war and he was given the wooden peg leg. He went back into the war to fight. At the end of the war, he had to make his way back home the best he could.

    This man had been and after the war was the school teacher. So even though he lived in measly means, he was a respected and educated (at least more than others) member of the community.

    godleyv at [yahoo]doc(com)

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    1. Vera, wow, such fascinating history. I'm sure your great grandfather was a beloved school teacher, even more so after his service in the war. Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. Vera, that is a fascinating look at your great grandfather's life and sacrifice. Thank you for sharing.

      Kathy Maher

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  2. Wow, what a great post! I wish that I had some pictures of the Civil War soldiers in my family! Unfortunately both my great-great-great-great grandfather and his son were both killed in the War- the father in Libby Prison, and son in Andersonville.

    This was a great post! I learned a lot from it. Thanks for the chance to win!

    lubell1106(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Hi Elyssa, that's so sad about your relatives dying at Libby and Andersonville. My author friend Tracy Groot is currently working on a novel about Andersonville, and my fourth book in the Heroines Behind the Lines series focuses on Libby Prison!

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  3. Your post tracked pretty much with what I found through research when I wrote my own post-CW novel, featuring the character of a Confederate veteran with an arm amputated between elbow and wrist. I am working on another story now, set ten years later, and another writer friend has reminded me to make note of the many widows and amputees there would have been at the time, and how a visitor from another country would have noted them.

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    1. Hi Celia, what's the name of your post-CW novel? I would love to check it out! And yes, your writer friend is right, widow and amputees abounded. I read somewhere, during the course of my research for Widow of Gettysburg, that in some Southern city (Atlanta? Richmond?) after the casualty lists from a recent battle were published, the city smelled from all the dye pots as women were dying their clothing black. It was too expensive to purchase new mourning clothes. Isn't that an eerie detail? The smell of women going into mourning. Gives me the chills.

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  4. Interesting post. I love to read about the Civil War history. My grandfather was a double amputee and I always wondered about how much harder it would've been for him back in those days.
    campbellamyd at gmail dot com

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    1. Amy, thanks for coming over! Your grandfather was a double amputee? WOW. Arms? Legs? The majority of amputees in the Civil War made a living with manual labor, like farming or carpentry, etc., so the loss of a limb could have spelled financial disaster for the family, too.

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    2. Sorry, I forgot to mention that it was both of his legs. Even in the 1960s to 1980s, my grandparents had financial hardships.

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  5. The numbers are incredible. Sometimes I think the wounds of this century's soldiers tend to be more mental than physical, perhaps easier to hide and harder to treat. I only have one branch of the family tree here during the Civil War and I do hope I can find out more.

    I won't need to be in the drawing as I have/will have both of your books, Jocelyn!

    Thank you Jordyn!

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    1. Hi Debra! Thanks so much for dropping by. There is so much more recognition for post traumatic stress these days, but Civil War soldiers had it too. They just called it something else: Soldier's Heart, I believe it was. Part 2 of this prosthetic limb series shows a video about a quadruple amputee from my hometown, and his journey from the hospital bed to walking, swimming and dancing with his girlfriend again. Grab a Kleenex! It's very moving.

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  6. Terrific post. Always learn so much from Jocelyn and Jordan! Love you two girls!
    I have both books, so no need to enter me. :)

    Kathy Maher

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    1. Thanks so much Kathy for stopping by!

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  7. I'm glad the government stepped up to help cover the cost of the artificial limbs.

    Thanks for the chance to win your new book, Jocelyn!

    ckbarker at gmail dot com

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    1. Hi Cheryl, YES I agree, that was really helpful! It didn't help everyone who needed it, but still it was better than nothing. Thank you so much for stopping in and good luck in the drawing!

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  8. I enjoyed reading this post and look forward to the book as well. I love all things Civil War related. Thank you for the chance to win it.

    griperang at embarqmail dot com

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Angela!

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    2. Hi Angela, so glad to see you here! If you love all things Civil War you might be interested in this collection of my Civil War blog posts: http://www.jocelyngreen.com/reader-love/civil-war-history-2/ There aren't a ton of posts there yet, but I will be adding more! :) Also, if you're on Pinterest, I have a few Civil War themed boards to check out. pinterest.com/jocelyngreen77

      Good luck in the drawing!

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  9. This was a really interesting post! I love learning more about history and I can't wait to read this book-I loved Wedded to War!
    gatorade635(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Abbi! Keep stopping by. The more comments . . . the more chances you'll have at winning!

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    2. Hi Abbi! So good to see you pop up here! Did you see your photo with Wedded to War on my new Web site? :) Scroll down to the bottom of this page: http://www.jocelyngreen.com/about/fiction/wedded-to-war/ You are also in a slide show on the FREE STUFF page. :)

      Hope you get a chance to read Widow soon! Since you loved Wedded, I think you'll love Widow even more.

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  10. I would love to win this, I have Wedded to War but haven't had a chance to read it yet. They both sound so good, I'm really looking forward to reading both books.

    wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Hi Wendy! Now if you win Widow, you have to promise to read Wedded first, OK? Otherwise you will find out what happens at the end of Wedded and that's no fun!

      Good to see you again here!

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  11. I loved Wedded to War and am looking forward to Widow of Gettysburg!

    Stephanie
    mybabyblessings AT gmail DOT com

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    1. Hi Stephanie! I remember you reviewing Wedded to War last summer, right? Thank you so much for that! Hope you love Widow at LEAST as much!

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  12. Thank you for featuring Jocelyn and her Civil War novels. I am a huge fan of Civil War history, and enjoy gleaning any information to enhance my knowledge. Thank you for offering a copy of Widow of Gettysburg!
    Nancee
    quiltcat26[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

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    1. Nancee, you're such a sweetheart. I hope you keep coming back to Jordyn's blog because I have LOTS more fascinating information I'll be sharing! Can't let all that research go to waste, right? :)

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  13. I am so happy to find your website. I have a special interest in the Civil War. One of my ancestors that I researched was a Union guard of some captured Confederate soldiers. He had to stay on top of a train car all night in the cold. He got back from the war with all his limbs but always had trouble with his lungs and died shortly after his return. I added your book to my wish list. I looked at it on Amazon and was very impressed. I really want to read this book. I am so excited to find this website and this book!

    CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Hello Carol! It's lovely to meet you here! That's so sad about your ancestor dying shortly after his return. Disease and illness took far more lives during the Civil War than injuries did. I'm glad you enjoyed what you saw on Widow's Amazon page! If you want more cool stuff about the series, though, including photos, resources, etc., please visit www.heroinesbehindthelines.com. I think you'll love it!

      If you plan to read the entire series, start with Wedded to War! Please feel free to stay connected with me at facebook.com/jocelyngreenauthor! I'd love to see you there. (This goes for ALL commenters here, too!)

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  14. Having loved Wedded to War, I rejoiced when the Widow of Gettysburg arrived in the mail! Just finished Widow last night at midnight. Absolutely loved this book! Well, as much as a person can "love" a book chock full of violence, mayhem and murderous war. Jocelyn's writing shimmers. Historical details and Scriptures flow through the book like the meandering creek through Holloway farm -- refreshing,authentic and enlightening. Unobtrusive faith lessons pepper the book. A smattering of mystery keeps the reader page turning. Although a bit of a romance, the book never spills the beans too soon. Again, it keeps the reader guessing. There's a couple of plot twists that grab and then there's the characters who sparkle! Well done Jocelyn! Another home run book just like Wedded to War. Don't enter me in the draw, because I obviously have both books and recommend them highly.

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    1. Hi Cass, so you finished it already!! I'm thrilled! Thanks so much for offering your very valuable perspective of Widow of Gettysburg here. I'm delighted you found it a worthwhile read.

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  15. Strangely, I absolutely needed an article just like this one. THANK YOU!! You've condensed all the information I needed into one tidy, entertaining post! :D

    And the book looks terrific!

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    1. Virginia, hooray! I am so thrilled. Sometimes researching small historical details is like searching for a needle in a haystack. I'm so glad if this post saved you some time. Come back tomorrow for part 2--there might be something else helpful in it for you!

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  16. I would love a signed bookplate for my copy of "Wedded to War" and please include me for the drawing for a copy of the Widow of Gettysburg. Thank you, Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House
    lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

    Jocelyn, If you are ever in our part of Missouri, I would love to have you join us for lunch at Los Amigos ~ I love their steak fajitas! And... our sweet little first grade granddaughter's name Joslyn ~ our daughter didn't realize it was the first three letter of my dad's name and the last three letters of last name! Isn't that cool! Joseph Lynch (also my grandfather's name) ~ love history lessons

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    1. Hi Kathleen, I'd be delighted to send you a bookplate for your copy of Wedded! I'll email you for your address in a moment. I would love to join you for fajitas some time! Love the story about Joslyn's name. I have a sweet little first-grader, too. Almost second grade though! wow!

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  17. Very interesting information. What a devastating problem for those men who lost limbs! It was sad enough to lose the arm or leg, but then, possibly having no means to obtain an artificial limb. We need to count our blessings.
    may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

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    1. Right you are, Kay! Heart breaking in many, many cases. Thanks so much for stopping by, and I hope you'll come back again tomorrow for part 2 of this topic!

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  18. Wow, very interesting stuff here! I never knew prosthetic limbs cost so much!!

    Thanks for the chance to win this great looking book!

    marissamehresman(at)aol(dot)com

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    1. Hi Marissa, So glad you found this interesting! I'm always fascinated by medical history. Thanks for stopping by!

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  19. Hi Jocelyn. So enjoy hearing these parts of history. Wasn't my favorite subject in school, but different listening to you girl's history in story form. My great and grand parent came to Texas, from the Carolinas. One who fought in the civil war is buried in the little town I grew up in. Kosse, Tx. Not sure about the other one. Don't know enough about my ancestors. Wish we knew more. Wish some of the family had important papers, but if they ever did, no-one knows what happened to them. This much was info. my nephews found while doing geneology. Know even less about my mother's family. Sad! Hope to win the Widow book to go with the first one. Should have read more of my books, but spend too much time on the computer. I'm too slow with it.
    Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

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    1. Hi Maxie! Good to "see" you again! I think a lot of people would agree with you-history can be dry when it is reduced to dates and names, as we were told to memorize in school, but when we consider the drama of it in a personal, human context, it's far more interesting! :) Thanks for coming by!

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  20. Such an interesting post. I would love to win.

    deamundy(at)gmail(dot)com

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  21. This sounds fascinating! I love the Civil War setting. shopgirl152nykiki@yahoo.com

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  22. Thanks so much for all the GREAT comments.

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