Battle of Philippi

Randolph Enterprise
June 11, 1925

A Desperate Operation

The First Surgical Instrument of The Civil War Was a Hand Saw.

By C. W. Maxwell

The first surgical operation of the Civil War, so far known, was performed in the town of Beverly on June 4, 1861.

The Battle of Philippi was fought on the morning of June 3rd, 1861 and was the first land battle of the Civil War. The Confederates were surprised and a young man by the name of Leroy Parker Daingerfield, was shot in the leg. In the confusion and excitement every thing was forgotten and by accident a soldier saw the wounded man, and took him out of the danger zone. Dr. John Huff, was one of the doctors with the Confederates and had been a school friend of the wounded soldier. He took him in charge and hauled him in a wagon to Beverly, about thirty miles away.

Dr. Huff having lost all his instruments and medical supplies was confronted with a problem of immediate action, and acting with courage and good judgment, which characterized him all his life, with a butcher knife and a meat saw removed the injured leg.

The above picture is a photograph of the saw which has been kept as a relic.

Dr. John Huff who lived in this section was a man of great influence in this part of the country. He was born at Port Republic on July 11, 1833 and died at Parsons, W. Va. on February 1st, 1925. He was a graduate of the Winchester Medical College, and was connected with the Confederate army as inspecting surgeon for North Western Virginia.

Dr. Huff lived at Beverly from 1870 to 1872 and then moved to Centerville. Thence to Buckhannon and lived there from 1878 to 1911 and from that date until his death at Parsons, W. Va. He was a man of kindly feeling and many thousands of people today living today in this part of the state remember him as a doctor and a friend. He was interested in the ills of man and also in his welfare and was always spreading sunshine and happiness wherever he went.

Leroy Parker Daingerfield was born in Frederick County Va., December 14, 1829 and was in the Confederate Army at the Battle of Philippi. Was the first soldier in the Civil War to be operated upon and considering the present day methods of operations, and what happened at that time, he must have been an iron man to have stood the ordeal.

He was hauled in a wagon to Beverly, and after having been tortured all the distance, without an anaesthetic, had his leg amputated with a butcher knife and a meat saw. After resting a while Dr. Huff took him over the mountains to Warm Springs, Va. He recovered and lived until October 8, 1905. He died at Staunton, Va.

The operation was performed in the James H. Logan house at Beverly, Va., and the house is still owned by the granddaughter of Mr. Logan.

There is much history and much to commemerate [sic] in the Tygarts Valley. During the four years of the Civil War there was almost a constant marching and camping of soldiers along the peaceful valley and one time early in the war, if the Generals in charge of the armies had entered into a general engagement, the war might have ended.

Civil War

West Virginia Archives and History