Leg irons

Teaching with Curated Collections

Leg irons

These leg irons were used in the Confederacy, just before and during the Civil War.

Irons were locked around the ankle of an enslaved person, and the 17 metal links in between each foot would make it possible only for the wearer to stand still or walk, limiting chance of escape.

Leg irons were used for a long time either in order to punish enslaved people or to prevent them from breaking free. The irons are very heavy and would rub the skin of a person's legs, causing them to bruise and bleed.

ca. 1850-1865
Type of source: