That would be James Edward Hanger; born in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley in 1843. Apparently, Jimmy lost his leg to a six pound cannon ball in the first land battle of the civil war at Phillipi, Virginia (now West Virginia) on June 3, 1861. That unfortunate encounter made him the war’s first amputee.
Hanger survived the operation, recovered in a nearby residence, and in August was released in an exchange of POWs, hobbling his way home to Churchville, Virginia, on crutches and a crude peg-leg. Asking his mother for privacy, he secluded himself in an upstairs bedroom, requesting only food, a knife, barrel staves, and a few limbs from the willow tree in the yard. He seemed to be literally whittling his time away. Or so his family thought.
But Jimmy had a surprise . . .