James E. Hanger, founder of Hanger, Austin, Texas, is the protagonist of a recently published historical fiction account. The Amazing Legacy of James E. Hanger, Civil War Soldier was written by Bob O’Connor, Charles Town, West Virginia, a four-time finalist in various national book award competitions.
According to an online article in West Virginia’s The Journal, O’Connor thinks Hanger is the most significant soldier of the Civil War in terms of his relevance today. The article goes on to describe how O’Connor, a Civil War buff, chanced upon Hanger’s story. “The author came upon this interesting story while participating in the annual Blue and Gray Civil War event held at the end of June each year in Philippi, West Virginia. In the event brochure they offer a special attraction several times on the weekend called ‘the reenactment of the Hanger amputation.” There, ‘doctor’ Noel Clemmer explains, and shows those who aren’t too squeamish, how Hanger’s amputation might have taken place.”
“After watching that I became intrigued,” O’Connor told The Journal. “I wanted to know more.”
According Hanger’s website, in 1861, its founder became the first amputee of the Civil War. Hanger was given a wooden peg leg, and when he returned to his hometown in Virginia he made his own prosthetic leg with a hinged knee. That source goes on to say that the prosthesis worked so well that he was commission by the state legislature to manufacture similar devices for other wounded Civil War veterans.