Last week I posted about my trip to North Carolina to pick up an artifact for my museum. This week I’ll finally tell you about the artifact!
Private Mason Myers was a Union soldier from Orwell, New York. He enlisted in September of 1861 at the age of 19 years. His enlistment papers list him as being a farmer. He was 5’8” tall, with a light complexion, dark eyes, and light hair. He served with the 24th New York Infantry, and later with the 76th New York Infantry. He was wounded in action during the Battle of Bull Run in 1862 and also during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. He was discharged for disability in September 1864.
By now, you probably have a good idea about what is contained in the box. Private Myers was shot in the right leg on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, and his leg subsequently had to be amputated. Afterwards, he needed a prosthetic leg.
The U.S. government did have a program which supplied the Union veterans with prosthetic legs. Mason Myers received an articulated prosthetic leg, which would have looked more like a real leg, through this program in 1864. He may have used this peg leg before he was fitted for his government leg, or he could have simply preferred using a peg leg. There were some Civil War veterans who were not satisfied with the articulated legs and chose to use peg legs instead.
There’s an interesting story about how Mason Myers coped with one aspect of being an amputee:
This peg leg is on loan to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine from Gene and Carol Carmney of Marion, North Carolina. We are grateful to them for the opportunity to study and display it. We are working on an arrangement to eventually purchase this peg leg, so that it will become a part of the NMCWM’s permanent collection. Watch for it to be put out on display in the very near future!
Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, except where otherwise noted.
You can view my entire blog at www.guardianoftheartifacts.blogspot.com.