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Private Confederate Agency set up to help Veterans

J. E. Hanger artificial limb factory
J. E. Hanger artificial limb factory

The Confederate government was unable to fund programs for their Civil War dismembered veterans as the Union had already established. In its place, a private group of concerned citizens including medical surgeons formed the Association for the Relief of Maimed Soldiers (ARMS) in the early part of 1864.

The organization had determined that as many as 9,000 of their southern veterans would return home missing a limb or perhaps more than one limb. They sought bids from southern companies who had factories to build artificial arms and legs.

Three companies were chosen as having the capabilities to provide the service, but only two had operations already established and operating.

The two approved ARMS’ companies were G. W. Wells and Brother of Charlottesville, Virginia and J. E. Hanger and Brother of Staunton, Virginia. ARMS assigned their representatives to inspect the two artificial limb plants on regular occasions to make sure that the workmanship of the product was worth of their continued endorsement.

ARMS solicited donations throughout the South to fund their programs. Confederate General Robert E. Lee was among those who supported the program, sending in contributions to ARMS on two different occasions.

Veterans had to apply for their benefits by filling out an application at their local post offices.

On March 11, 1865, the Confederate Congress in Richmond finally authorized support of the ARMS programs. However, that authorization came only one month prior to the war’s ending and never had any significant impact on the artificial limb programs.

Shortly after the war ended, the G.W. Wells and J. E. Hanger limb companies were added to the list of Union manufacturers to provide limbs for the 35,000 or so Civil War amputees from both sides.

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