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Pay tribute at Stonewall Jackson's left arm's grave

May he rest in pieces.

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Created by Anna Hider - October 18th 2016

Bad news, hardcore Civil War buffs; if you wanna pay proper tribute to one of the most prominent generals in the war, it might take two trips-- after all, you can't say you've technically visited famous Confederate General Thomas Stonewall Jackson's final resting place until you've visited both of his graves.

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Yep, "both"-- because even though most of his body is buried in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia, one arm remains interred at a small family plot near Fredericksburg.

It all started the night of May 2, 1863. General Jackson was riding with some of his men to do a little late-night spying on the Union army to get a better idea of their position, or, according to some accounts, simply returning after a long day of battle. Whatever the reason, it didn't end well-- Confederate guards, mistaking Stonewall and his buds for evil, rebel-hating Yanks, fired at them, striking the Confederate General. His left arm was entirely shattered, and he was taken to a nearby makeshift field hospital/tavern where doctors unceremoniously sawed it off.


Orange, VA

However, this being Stonewall freakin' Jackson's bloodied pulp of an arm, it couldn't just be tossed on the amputated limbs pile with all the other bits and pieces-- Jackson was kind of a big deal back then, and his arm deserved a proper burial. The chaplain of Jackson's 2nd Corps rescued the limb and took it to his brother's house nearby to have it laid to rest in their family cemetery at Ellwood Manor. Jackson himself never recovered from the wounds and died several days later after pneumonia set in. His arm was never reunited with the rest of his body because his wife didn't want to "disturb a Christian burial" by having his body exhumed so the arm could be returned.

It wasn't until 1903 that the small granite headstone was erected on the property, and no one is 100% certain if the arm is even actually there; rumor has it that Union soldiers may have dug it up and reburied it elsewhere. However, another source claims that in 1921, General Smidley Butler was conducting training maneuvers nearby and, not believing the tale, had his men dig below the gravestone. As the story goes, he was surprised to find the arm actually existed, and reburied it out of respect. It has remained undisturbed by the many visitors since. The Plantation where you can find the Grave to the Arm of Stonewall Jackson is run by the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield and can be toured on weekends between May and October.

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The more you think about it, the weirder it is that Stonewall Jackson's arm is buried in a random family's cemetery plot, but I think Robert E. Lee summed up Ol' Stonewall's importance best: "He has lost his left arm; but I have lost my right arm."

Anna Hider

Just a Civil War beard enthusiast, writer at Roadtrippers, and aspiring astronaut reaching for the stars.