Artificial Limbs historical marker

Artificial Limbs (H-112)

North Carolina was first state to provide limbs to Confederate amputees. Factory, which operated 1866-67, was 1/4 mi. NE.

Location: McDowell Street at Lane Street in Raleigh
County: Wake
Original Date Cast: 2004

North Carolina responded rapidly to the needs of its Confederate amputees. Legislators in January 1866 asked Gov. Jonathan Worth “to make a contract with some manufacturer of artificial limbs to supply the need of the State at an early day.” An editorial in Raleigh’s Daily Standard mentioned the Federal program for supplying limbs and encouraged support for a similar program in North Carolina. The Raleigh Sentinel also praised the initiative. Nowhere can any opposition to the program be found. In response to the mandate, Worth in February 1866 asked each county sheriff to compile the number of limbs (legs and arms) that would be required for his county. Most sheriffs did not simply make lists, but provided names of amputees and which limb was missing.

Revised legislation provided only artificial legs at no charge and $70 to amputees who wished to procure their own choice of leg or did not want one. Arms could be purchased through the state for $50. The policy was changed a year later when the General Assembly approved a resolution to provide artificial arms or $50. Worth expressed support for a contract with Jewett’s Patent Leg Company. The state accepted an option whereby North Carolina would provide Jewett’s with a building where limbs could be manufactured and pay a $5,000 advance. Jewett’s would then sell legs to the state for $75 dollars each. Selected as the manufacture site was the Raleigh bayonet factory, located near the terminus of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, facing Salisbury Street between North and Johnson Streets. Once the facility was in operation, the amputees were notified as to when they should report to Raleigh for fittings. Details of the program appeared in newspapers throughout the state.

The state devised a plan by which the amputees incurred no out-of-pocket expenses while in Raleigh and issued railroad passes for the trip to and from the capital. The fittings and adjustments usually took a couple of days, and a house was provided for the amputees during this time. The governor advised the amputees to bring blankets for bedding and a basket of bread and dried meat for their meals. The facility in Raleigh remained open until June 18, 1867. At that time, it was reported that the shop no longer had enough work to continue on-site manufacturing. North Carolina’s artificial limb program was the first among former Confederate states to begin operation. It served as a model for Virginia’s program. The total cost of the artificial limbs program to the state was $81,310.12. The program faced difficulties, but with public and governmental support, the state persevered. Even the Reconstruction government continued the program established by its predecessors.

Ansley Herring Wegner, Phantom Pain: North Carolina’s Artificial Limb Program for Confederate Veterans (2004)
Patrick J. McCawley, Artificial Limbs for Confederate Soldiers (1992)
Jennifer Davis McDaid, “With Lame Legs and No Money,” Virginia Cavalcade (Winter 1998): 14-25
North Carolina State Archives, Military Collection, Correspondence Relating to Artificial Limbs, 1866-1869

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