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DHS graduate pens Civil War soldier’s story

Nationally renowned author, Bob O’Connor, who has been named a finalist four times in national book award competition, has released his 10th book.

His new book is a historical fiction account entitled, “The Amazing Legacy of James E. Hanger, Civil War Soldier.” The book was published by Infinity Publishing of West Conshohocken, Pa.

O’Connor is a 1963 graduate of Dixon High School. He is the son of the late Charles and Wilhelmina O’Connor of Dixon. 

The author came upon the story of Private James E. Hanger while participating in the annual Blue and Gray Reunion held at the end of June each year in Philippi, W.V. In the event brochure, they offer a special attraction several times on the weekend called “the reenactment of the Hanger amputation.”

There, Noel Clemmer explained how Hanger’s amputation might have taken place, saying “After watching that I became intrigued. I wanted to know more.”  

As the new book describes, Hanger joined his brothers and a cousin, who were members of the Churchville Cavalry, Company I, 14th Virginia Cavalry at Philippi, Virginia on June 2, 1861. In the early morning of June 3, in the first land battle of the war, an errant Union 6 pound cannon ball mangled Hanger’s left leg.

His leg was amputated 7 inches above his knee by a Union doctor and was, in fact, the first amputation of the war.  The doctor had never done an amputation before. Fortunately for Hanger, the doctor had read up on procedures and obviously did a pretty good job. 

According to O’Connor, Hanger was fitted with a peg leg, which he hated. He found it frustrating and pretty much useless. A man with a good sense of humor, Hanger thought it could actually serve better on a table that might be missing a leg.

It also annoyed Hanger that it was a “Yankee” peg leg.

When he was sent home to Churchville, Va., Hanger used his engineering background from Washington College and ingenuity to build himself an artificial limb that had both a hinge at the knee and a rotating angle joint.

His invention, called the “Hanger Limb,” and his many subsequent patents helped revolutionize the prosthetic leg industry.

For more about Hanger or to order any of O’Connor’s books, visit,, and 

His books may be purchased locally through Books on First, 202 W. First St., Dixon.

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