The Curious Fate Of Stonewall Jackson's Arm When Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson was accidentally shot by his own troops, his left arm was amputated and buried. But when the general died days later, he was not reunited with his lost limb.

The Curious Fate Of Stonewall Jackson's Arm

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Some very big news this morning. The Supreme Court has effectively upheld President Obama's signature health care law. Chief Justice John Roberts ruled with the majority and wrote the majority opinion, saying that the individual mandate survives because it can be considered a tax, and that Congress has the power to impose taxes.

President Obama will be reacting to this ruling in the next couple of hours. We are poring through hundreds of pages of the ruling and will have more minutes from now.


Meanwhile, we will continue our series Dead Stop.


WERTHEIMER: All summer, we're taking you to unlikely gravesites and cemeteries and resting places on a road trip around the country. Today, Ramona Martinez brings us the story of a strange tomb for a Civil War hero's arm.

RAMONA MARTINEZ, BYLINE: About an hour outside Washington in central Virginia is one of Stonewall Jackson's graves.

CHUCK YOUNG: I'd like to welcome everyone to our Jackson Wounding Walking Tour. So please...

MARTINEZ: That's park ranger Chuck Young speaking to a group of visitors at Chancellorsville. A major Civil War battle was fought here in 1863. And it's where General Stonewall Jackson was accidentally shot by his own Confederate troops. As Young tells the group, Jackson didn't die here but his left arm was amputated.

YOUNG: Both doctors are very pleased with the procedure. There weren't any incidents during it. It went very smoothly. It went, in their opinion, perfectly. And both of these doctors had performed that procedure literally hundreds, if not thousands of times, by this point in the war.

MARTINEZ: His arm was about to be tossed on a pile of limbs outside the medical tents, until Jackson's military chaplain decided to save it.

YOUNG: You remembering that, you know, Jackson was the rock star of 1863. Everybody knew who Stonewall was. And to have his arm just simply thrown on the scrap pile with the other arms, Reverend Lacy couldn't let that happen.

MARTINEZ: So the arm was buried in a private cemetery at Ellwood Manor, not far from the field hospital where it was amputated. Soon after, Jackson died of pneumonia and his body was sent to his family in Lexington, Virginia. But Ranger Young says General Jackson's arm was never reunited with the rest of his remains.

YOUNG: When Mrs. Jackson is informed that the arm was amputated and given a full Christian burial, they will ask her if she wants it's exhumed and buried with the general, she will decline, not wishing to disturb a Christian burial.

MARTINEZ: But that's not the end of the story. Despite Mrs. Jackson's wishes, the general's arm was not left alone. Union Soldiers dug it up in 1864. They said they reburied it, no one knows where. In 1903, one of Jackson's staff officers set up a granite stone in the small cemetery. It's unclear if the stone marked the exact location of the arm or to indicate that the burial happened somewhere. Some believe that the arm was stolen decades ago or secretly put into storage. But park historian Frank O'Reilly says these are rumors.

FRANK O'REILLY: The safe thing for us to say here is that Jackson's arm was indeed buried there, is indeed buried there. It may very well have disintegrated as a result of time, being dug up and aerated, or it just simply is somewhere else in the cemetery, long lost, forgotten.

MARTINEZ: The park service won't disturb the burial site in Chancellorsville, Virginia. But people from all over come to visit where famous limb is or was. Gerald Chambers stopped by to see for himself.

GERALD CHAMBERS: To tell you the truth, I thought it was sort of strange. But I mean, it seems like Jackson is a real hero that doesn't die in this area. It was an interesting idea to bury his arm.

MARTINEZ: Chambers snaps a picture of the granite stone with a simple inscription: Arm of Stonewall Jackson, May 3, 1863.


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