Thursday, May 9, 2013
THIS PROSTHETIC LEG SERVED IN BOTH THE UNION AND CONFEDERATE ARMIES
When Confederate Captain John Newton Ballard of Mosby’s Rangers lost his leg in battle in 1863 (see post earlier today), like many of his fellow officers, he didn’t waste time fretting over his amputated limb. Instead, he acquired a second hand artificial leg and got back to war. Unfortunately, he was left literally without a leg to stand on near Halltown, Virginia, when his horse collided with a Union cavalry soldier’s mount and his prosthetic was crushed, making him the only Civil War soldier to lose the same leg twice.
However, he was about to have a stroke of luck. In March 1864, Union Colonel Ulric Dahlgren was killed near Richmond, Virginia, during a cavalry raid. He, too, had lost a leg in 1863 (in fact, the severed leg was given a military funeral and is still sealed within the wall of Building 28 in the Washington Navy Yard). Dahlgren’s body was found by 13 year old Confederate, who took his wooden artificial limb as a souvenir. The Yankee prosthetic made its way to John Ballard, who wore it in active service to the end of the war.