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James E. Hanger is 171 years old today

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One hundred seventy one years ago today, in Churchville, VA perhaps the unlikeliest of all Civil War heroes was born – James E. Hanger.

Hanger was a very short-time member of the Churchville Cavalry, of the 14th VA Cavalry. He arrived in Philippi, VA just in time to be hit with a wayward 6 pound cannon ball. His leg amputation was the first from a battle in the Civil War. Hanger went on to develop a prosthetic, as he hated the peg leg he was given.

Hanger’s artificial limbs became so popular that he set up factories in Stanton, Churchville and Richmond, VA to provide for Confederate veterans who had lost limbs. A meeting with President Abraham Lincoln opened the door for his operations to include providing limbs for dismembered Union soldiers when the war ended.

When Hanger died in 1919 he had factories in Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Paris and London. Over 60,000 persons world-wide wore Hanger limbs. Today the company that is named after him, Hanger, Inc. over 1 million patients annually and operates over 740 clinics.

He was the ultimate example of “when given lemons, make lemonade.”

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