Philippi's Reenactment of first Civil War amputation; Mummies "not involved"
The First Amputation of the Civil War will be reenacted in Philippi, WV on May 31 and June 1. On June 3, 1861 Confederate J. E. Hanger was hit by a cannonball in one of the first artillery volleys of the first land battle of the War. The town commemorates the battle with a festive parade and an elaborate reenactment.
J.E.'s great-grandson Floyd Hanger, 80, reports he is invited each year as a Blue and Gray Reunion honored guest, to ride through town in the parade. Floyd's status as a bona fide descendant also guarantees him a good seat at the Hospital Tent, where the historic limb hacking is performed on Saturday afternoon, and reprised on Sunday.
The town of Philippi is also known for its Mummies of the Insane, turn-of the-century mental patients who were preserved using the Secrets of the Egyptians by a local farmer. They play no role in the reenactment or the parade.
"People stop and see them at the museum, but the mummies aren't involved," Floyd said.
After J. E. was hit by a cannonball, his leg was amputated by a Union doctor. J.E. later invented an artificial limb, and started a company which became one of the largest manufacturers of wooden legs in the world. A plaque in Philippi commemorates the fateful cannon blast.
Floyd isn't so sure that he'll make it over to the festivities from his home in Michigan this year, but he urges all with an interest in history to attend.[04/30/1997]
- Main St., Philippi, WV
- Junction of US 119 and 250. (Possibly in park next to covered bridge.)
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