Grave of the Arm of Stonewall Jackson.
Grave of the Arm of Stonewall Jackson.

Arm of Stonewall Jackson

Field review by the editors.

Fredericksburg, Virginia

Virginia's big monuments to Confederate General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson have been taken down -- but one of the smallest and strangest is likely to remain standing. It's the lonely tombstone of the general's chopped-off arm. Some Southerners thought so highly of Stonewall that they gave his body part its own grave, and then later had it memorialized with its own grave marker.

Thomas Jonathan
Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson.

This is how it happened: Stonewall was mistakenly shot in the arm by one of his own men during the Battle of Chancellorsville. He was taken to a field hospital tent where his arm was cut off. Like countless other amputated limbs during the Civil War, the arm was tossed out of the tent and onto the ground. The next day Stonewall's chaplain retrieved the arm and buried it in the small plantation cemetery of his brother, who lived a mile down the road. A few days after that, the rest of Stonewall died.

On hearing the news, Confederate General Robert E. Lee said, "I have lost my right arm," although it was the loss of Stonewall's left one that killed him.

The arm lay buried in obscurity for 40 years. Then James Smith, one of Stonewall's former staff officers and an apparent expert on the arm, was taken to the cemetery and asked to direct the placement of a tombstone to mark its grave. The stone still stands, battered and tilted with age, inscribed, "Arm of Stonewall Jackson, May 3, 1863."

Drawing of Stonewall Jackson on his death bed.
Stonewall Jackson on his death bed, minus one arm.

In 1998 the National Park Service wanted to pour a concrete slab over the arm to protect it from possible looters. Yet despite much careful digging, no trace of the arm could be found! That was good news for looter-discouragement, but bad news for anyone wanting closure on Stonewall Jackson's arm.

So where is the arm of Stonewall Jackson? Some people believe that it was dug up decades ago, perhaps as a grisly Lost Cause relic (There are others). The National Park Service, however, believes that James Smith may have been protective of the arm and deliberately vague with the placement of the tombstone. Park Service experts think that the arm really is buried somewhere in the tiny cemetery -- and that its unknown exact location guarantees that it will always remain there.

Also see: National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Arm of Stonewall Jackson

Ellwood Manor

Address:
36380 Constitution Hwy, Fredericksburg, VA
Directions:
Ellwood Manor. I-95 exit 130B. Drive west on Hwy 3 for 12 miles. Turn left at the stoplight onto Hwy 20. Drive a half-mile. On the left you'll see a sign for Ellwood. Turn and drive up the gravel road a half-mile to the parking area (During non-business hours, park at the Ellwood Manor gate just off on Hwy 20, then walk the half-mile from the gate to the grounds). When you reach the house, bear right. You'll see a small "Cemetery" sign and a path between some hedges. Follow it, walk down a small flight of stairs, and you'll see the small cemetery straight ahead.
Hours:
Daylight hours (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Phone:
540-786-2880
RA Rates:
Major Fun
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Giant Roller SkateGiant Roller Skate, Bealeton, VA - 15 mi.
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Grave of Washington's MomGrave of Washington's Mom, Fredericksburg, VA - 15 mi.
In the region:
International Spy Museum, Washington, DC - 55 mi.

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