Antietam - Confederate bodies arranged in a line. 1862
The arm probably didn't come from 1862's Battle of Antietam.

Shriveled Human Arm and Lincoln Bullet

Field review by the editors.

Boonsboro, Maryland

The most memorable object on display in the Boonsboro Museum of History is a shriveled human arm, resting on pegs with a Civil War-era bullet lodged near where the elbow used to be. Its label mentions the nearby Battle of Antietam, where a local church "had all its pews filled with wounded soldiers, and outside the windows amputated arms and legs were piled high."

Doug Bast, the museum's curator and owner, told us that the bullet was added by him as a visual aid, and that the arm is not a Civil War relic at all, but a grotesque "initiation item" used by a turn-of-the-20th-century Masonic lodge in neighboring Williamsport. "It was very popular back then to have a skeleton to scare 'em," said Doug of the Freemasons. While some believe that the arm -- which really is a genuine human arm -- was originally severed from a soldier after the Battle of South Mountain, Doug thinks that it's just an everyday arm that came from a medical school.

"I've been called 'a miniature Smithsonian' because I have such a variety of things that you just won't find anywhere else," said Doug of his museum, which he's opened to the public since 1975. Among the items that caught our attention: a beheading ax, Egyptian mummies, part of a window from The White House, several dozen cannons, and a Civil War bullet carved by a soldier into Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address, complete with his stovepipe hat. "I have one of the best collections of carved bullets in existence," said Doug.

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Shriveled Human Arm and Lincoln Bullet

Boonsboro Museum of History

Address:
113 N. Main St., Boonsboro, MD
Directions:
Downtown, on the east side of Main St./US Hwy 40, just north of a three-story brick building that's probably the tallest in town.
Hours:
May-Sep. Su 1-5 pm, or by appt. (Call to verify)
Phone:
301-432-6969
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Spook HillSpook Hill, Burkittsville, MD - 8 mi.
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Giant Crab on a RoofGiant Crab on a Roof, Hagerstown, MD - 10 mi.
In the region:
Gettysburg - Sit with Abe Lincoln, Gettysburg, PA - 31 mi.

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November 22, 2014

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