Another treasure from a back corner of our 50+ year accumulation where we have had an affinity for squirrelling away relics as fodder for future research. We acquired this well used but still intact SALEM LEG Co. prostheses some years ago at the legendary old Brimfield Antique Market in Brimfield, Mass. Laid out on a table in the early morning light along with a myriad of papers, books and other culch from the Burns family in Salem, Mass. was this vintage artificial leg. As the table proprietor peered at me over his steaming coffee cup, he advised upon my inquiry that all this stuff had come together from a Salem clean-out. The family had advised that the leg had been used by Charles Burns who according to family lore had lost his leg in the Civil War. Clearly a scarcely surviving Civil War vintage prostheses, which was worthy in and of itself, the coffee drinker's account seemed realistic to us given other items on the table with the Burns family name, so we purchased the piece, brought it home, stuffed a notation of the name in the leg socket and leaned the relic in a corner of the barn for future study. That had to be nearly 30 years ago! Some advantage though, for as we dug it out recently we found ourselves in a new age, a time when by the wonders of the internet we can assemble a mere scrap of knowledge as to the relic's origin, plug it into the internet and voila! we have the following!
Charles E. Burns was a 21 year old sailmaker resident of Salem, Massachusetts when on June 26, 1861 he enlisted and was mustered in as a Private of Co. D 12th Mass. Volunteer Infantry . As such he would have seen action at Ball's Bluff, Winchester, Gaines Mill, Cedar Mountain and at Thoroughfare Gap before he fell severely wounded on the field at 2nd Bull Run. Pvt Burns would for a time be considered a POW (see illustrated POW Certificate) as he lay on Confederate controlled ground and would be counted among 79 killed or wounded, 9 POWs, and 46 missing in action members of the 12th Mass. Eventually carried from the field, Co. rolls would none the less record Pvt. Burns as wounded and missing in action for a time before the September / October, 1862 Co. Muster records as Absent in Hospt. from wounds received Aug. 30 at Bull Run Va. (see illustration). Pvt. Burns is recorded in the Civil War Medical / Surgical History Part III, Volume II as having a double flap amputation of the right leg performed by Surgeon J. H. Baxter U. S. V. Finally discharged on July 11, 1863, Burns returned to his native Salem where he became a member of the local Phillip H. Sheridan Post No. 34, GAR. Evidently pleased with his locally manufactured SALEM LEG Co. prosthesis Burns wrote the wrote them in 1870 extolling the virtues of their product which he had begun to wear since the summer of 1863 and had been in almost constant use ever since. The Salem Leg Co. chose to publish their local patron's testimonial in their period brochure. (see illustration) Charles E. Burnes died in Salem in 1916.
Measuring approximately 32 inches in total length, this piece offers the eye appeal of age and originality with good evidence of period use while remaining sound and functional. (A note about our document illustrations: A documents illustrated are images from internet or research DVD sources. Digital images for printing may be provided to the buyer upon request. The image of the unknown amputee is from our own clip-art files.) Buy with confidence! We are pleased to offer a no questions asked three day inspection with return as purchased on direct sales! Just send us a courtesy e-mail to let us know your item will be returned per these provisions and your purchase price will be refunded accordingly. Thanks for visiting Gunsight Antiques! COLOR=#0000FF>

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