Podcast Episode 61 – The strange history of Stonewall Jackson’s left arm

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Yes…Stonewall Jackson’s left arm is buried in a different spot than his body. Join us as we visit this historic and quirky site.

Video from the Virginia burial site


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Ep61 – Stonewall Jackson’s left arm

Scott: You ever seen the boot of Benedict Arnold? Well, what about the leg of Santa Ana? Did you know that you can also visit the leg of Civil War General Dan Sickles. And even the heart of King Richard, the first, AKA Richard the Lionheart. Well, you may not have heard of visiting some of those famous appendages or body parts.

Perhaps you have heard of the separate burial site of Stonewall Jackson’s arm. Yes. That famous Confederate General who stood there like a Stonewall at the Battle of Bull Run, was not buried with his left arm. In fact, he outlived it by just over a week. So join us this evening as we talk about the strange story of Joan Stonewall Jackson’s left arm, and how he lost it at Chancellor’s.

Welcome to Talk With History. I am your host Scott, here with my wife and historian Jen. Hello. On this podcast, we give you insights into our history inspired world travels YouTube channel journey, and examined history through deeper conversations with the curious, the explorers and the history lovers out there.

Now, before we get into our main topic, I’ve got a couple things I wanna cover. There’s our, our newsletter over@historynewsletter.com has doubled and almost tripled in size in the past month. It’s pretty incredible. So if you guys are curious, We’re excited to share more interesting history articles and other recommendations there that we may not be able to share on this podcast or in our video.

I really do encourage you guys to go check it out. Um, history newsletter.com. You can sign up for free. It’s once a month. We don’t. Spam folks history newsletter.com. And last but not least, I want to give a shout out to YouTube, uh, subscriber and viewer. Um, Leo G he gave us a recent super thanks on our Arlington two video.

That video has been picking up some steam, so he gave us a super thanks. We really do appreciate that. And this is the video, the one with Gunny I on the thumbnail. So Leo, your contribution has helped the show keep running and growing, and we really do appreciate you guys’ support. So what are we talking about tonight?

So we’re

Jenn: talking about Stonewall Jackson’s arm, right? Specifically that he’s buried without it. And it’s buried in a separate location. Can

Scott: you again set the scene for. Chancellor’s Ville, kind of what’s going on just before Yes. And then up into that and how this, how this all happens.

Jenn: So Chancellor’s Ville is a, is a couple day long battle.

It’s not, uh, so it’s, it’s not like a one day battle. It’s a couple day long battle and it’s a Confederate win. And Stonewall Jackson is leading that battle. It’s in the Virginia area. Mm-hmm. And there will have a couple battles in that general area. Further on down in the Civil War, but that first day is successful for the Confederacy.

And in the evening, Stonewall Jackson is riding along the line at night and it’s a dark night and he’s riding along and he comes across the North Carolina, the 18th, North Carolina, and they yell out and he’s with. His aids. You can imagine it’s not just him by himself. He’s with his aids.

Scott: Yeah. He’s got a whole haunt, like a, like four or five people with him.


Jenn: I mean, four or five people die, so he probably has like 10 people with him. Yeah. And the 18th Kara line yell, halt, who’s there? But before they can answer, they just start shooting. And so then they say, stop. You’re firing on your own. Men. Stop. We ain’t, we’re not Yankees. And they don’t believe ’em. They think they’re lying.

And so they, they fire some more. Oh, okay. And so they end up killing several men, Stonewall Jackson’s men. And I tried to look up the names of those men. So if anyone knows. The names of those men, I would be interested in that because you would think that would be folklore saying, I died, or our family member died the night that Stonewall Jackson lost his arm.

Sure. Yeah. But Stonewall Jackson has hit three times, uh, in his, twice in his left arm, uh, halfway between his elbow and his shoulder, and then in his left wrist. And then he’s lift, he’s hit in the right palm of his hand as well. And if you remember from the first Battle of Bul, and he’s also shot in his.

He’s, uh, he’s shot in his right hand and through his finger, and that’s when he wraps up and kind of holds on his, um, side when he side when he’s posing there. Interesting. So, um, so I, it seems like he gets hit in his arms kind of often, but anyway, he gets hit three times, uh, and it basically shatters his left arm.

Yeah. Yeah. And so this is the night of May 2nd, and more than likely they’ve shot his horse and, uh, I don’t think they actually kill his horse, but they more. He doesn’t have a horse now because they carry him on a stretcher. Oh, okay. And the, this is another thing that’s gonna cause his demise. He’s carried on a stretcher and he’s dropped twice from stretcher height and he’s dropped so hard on his side that he has very bad bruising on his side.

And this is what they think contributes to his pneumonia. Oh,

Scott: cuz that’s what

Jenn: gets him later. Yes. Cuz he’s so injured in his side and it’s starting to, you know, Liquid and, and blood. And so interesting. So they, they get into a hospital tent and if you watch our video, we not only go to where the gunshots happened that shattered his arm, we go to the hospital tent where his arm is amputated and his arm is amputated by Dr.

Hunter McGuire and we’ve gone to Hunter McGuire’s grave. Yep. Hunter McGuire is a. Very well known doctor in the Civil War, and not just Confederate doctor. He is the one who’s gonna write to President Abraham Lincoln when doctors are captured. And he’s going to have this program called the Winchester Accord, which is very, the very first, um, non-combatant article.

Yeah. Okay. Where he, he makes a case to President Lincoln. We should release doctors on both sides when they’re captured.

Scott: So kind of just like that, that. That, um, what do you call it, like kind of rule of engagement? Yes. Where, hey, if they’re on there with

Jenn: the, with the Yes. And then they can. Either side. Like they, they, you don’t have to release them right away, just release, they’re not prisoners and they’ll just help.

Oh, interesting. And they say that because he did that and because Lincoln was like, yes. He right away released the Confederate doctors and the Confederacy released union doctors. They say that they saved so many more lives and would’ve been lost because of that. Oh, interesting. So Hunter McGuire did that.

Huh? And so is that the statue that we saw in Richmond? That’s the statue we saw in Richmond. Okay. That’s the grave we went to in Richmond. And he amputate. Jackson’s arm. Yeah. And he’s also Jackson’s personal doctor. He’s gonna be with him when he gets Jackson’s last words. He’s also at the surrender at the battle.

And, and, and one

Scott: thing to remember too is at this point in the war, right, it’s been about almost two years. Yes. And. And he is Stonewall Jackson. I mean, he has the name, he has the reputation, he is this legend. Mm-hmm. For the Confederate, he’s on both sides, right? Mm-hmm. It’s not just for the Confederacy.

Yeah. You know, on the other sides, they’re like, oh my gosh, like we’re going up, up against the Stonewall. I’m sure there were soldiers that were like, they would, were dread that they’re like, they, they would hear, they’re going up against, you know, Stonewall Jackson, and, and that carries so much weight and so that’s why this was kind of such

Jenn: a big.

Yeah, so Stonewall Jackson, he’s the class of 1846 at uh, west Point. Okay. And he’s teaching at V M I from 1851 to 1861. So 10 years. He’s taught at V M I. Yeah. And then when the South Secedes in May of 1861, he joins. And it’s in July of 1861 that he gets the reputation Stonewall Jackson. So it’s not even two months.

Yeah. After the war. Cuz it’s that first battle of Bullen that he gets that reputation. Can you

Scott: imagine? I mean that just, that thought just pops into my head. Like imagine being one of his students. Right. And all of a sudden you hears your teacher and like you hear this like massive reputation, right? How like I am sure there’s plenty of young southern men soldiers that were ins truly inspired by that.

Um, you just thinking about putting yourself in their shoes and not, not calling one side or the other, but that’s one of the things we try to look at is what was it like? Yes. You know? And just, it’s interesting thinking

Jenn: about that. Well, you, the other things I found interesting. It, it’s general B. Who makes that statement?

Look, look at him standing there like a stonewall. Right. Rally up behind the Virginians. They don’t know if that was meant to be a compliment or if he was like mad at him. Oh, interesting. Uh, because B gets killed. Right. And they never get a chance for him to clarify his statement. Huh. So some people say he’s mad, like, look at him.

Just stand there while we’re trying to defend everything. Or it could be, look at him standing there. Get behind him. He, he’s given us a lot of, uh, morale right now. Yeah. So, and another thing I found interesting is that, All this time, Jackson is wearing his blue Union uniform. He doesn’t get the gray uniform until 1862.

Oh really? So even when he gets the gravitation, Stonewall Jackson, he’s wearing a blue. He’s

Scott: wearing the blue. Because you talked about in our other video that they hadn’t really settled on the blue versus gray.

Jenn: Yes. They had, and this is like two months after they seceded. Right. So they haven’t had time to like switch out uniforms and everything.

So yeah. So moving

Scott: back to Chancellorville. He got shot, he got dropped a couple times because it’s probably the middle

Jenn: of the night. Middle of the night trying to get him to a medical tent. Right? And so it the, he gets shot late on May 2nd. Yep. Gets to the medical tent as you can see, pretty far away by foot.

Yep. Early, early morning, May 3rd. So it’s about 2:00 AM His arm is amputated.

Scott: Yeah. We’re showing if, if you’re listening, we’re showing on the live stream a kind of a, a picture of where Jackson was injured and where they actually amputated his arm and even driving. It’s a couple miles. Yes. Right. So think about these guys carrying him in the middle of the night.

I can understand why they, they probably dropped him. Yes. Um, because they’re, you’re hitting a random ditch and all of a sudden someone falls over and they accidentally drop. Drop that. Yes. Um,

Jenn: so when he gets to the medical tent, hunter McGuire. Amputating limbs, like it’s not, Jackson’s arm is not the only limb he’s amputating that night.

It’s not like a pile outside. They have a pile outside. So that’s what happens. That’s crazy. And you get Reverend James Power Smith who comes in in the morning and sees that General Jackson’s arm has been amputated and he asks where? Arm and they say, you know, McGuire says it’s outside in the pile now. I think probably to distinguish his arm, maybe he put it off to the side, or maybe he still has the general clothing on it.

I’m not really sure. Off the clothing? Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know how he was able to distinguish, but somehow was able to distinguish it. That was general Stonewall Jackson’s arm and his brother-in-law lives in a plantation as you, you can see on the map, like right across the field. Yeah, so it’s not even Ellwood house is the levy plant.


Scott: again, if you’re listening, if you’re listening, um, I encourage you one to, to kind of look this up. I’ll put in the podcast a notes description, a link to the video. Um, but it’s, you know, Jackson was injured much further away. His arm was actually amputated at the hospital tent, and like you said, essentially across what we drove across the, the way.

But probably it was probably like less than a mile. Less than a mile. Yeah. Less, less than a mile. Yeah. You know, over to this, over to this farmhouse. Um, to the, to the Ellwood house. To the Elwood house where they would ultimately, uh, take

Jenn: his arm and they take his arm and they bury it that day. And it’s not marked, but they give it a Christian funeral.

They read from the scripture as they bury it, and they bury it in their fam family cemetery, their family plot there. And then Jackson is moved away from the battle, uh, to, to keep. And he’s moved to Guinea station. He’s moved down to, uh, the chancellor home, and he’s not even moved into the home. He’s moved into their back like office shed.

Mm-hmm. And he, that’s where he will eventually die eight days later, but they wanna move him away. Now, the Battle of Chancellorville will be a Confederate win, but Lee sends a message when he hears of the, of Jackson having his, um, his arm am. And he knows that he, um, could be dying. He says, give General Jackson my affectionate regards and say to him he lost his left arm.

But I, my right. And that is the kind of the saying that goes with this whole demise because as most people know, this is a real turning point for the Confederacy because of what Jackson brought from morale. But it wasn’t just morale, it’s. Lee and Jackson had together.

Scott: Yeah. And they, they were both, and, and I think pretty much all historians agree and mm-hmm.

Um, even anecdotally, they’ll say like, both of them are great military minds, great strategists. Yep. Right. And so that combined with. How long they’d been in and their stature, um, and then their reputation at the same time, and some of the successes that they had. Again, if we go back to the Battle Bull run, nobody expected the Confederacy to win that battle.

No. Um, I mean, especially on the union side. So it just, it, it caught everybody flatfooted. So it was a drastic shift in momentum at the paddle bull run. And so the first couple years of, of the Civil War, I mean the, the South really had. Really serious momentum.

Jenn: And that was Jackson and the thing that Lee and Jackson have together.

And I think the thing that Lee loves about Jackson is Lee can basically tell Jackson his end game. Yeah. He’s like, this is what I want. Yep. And Jackson will get it done. Yeah. I’ll, I’ll go figure it out. And he figures it out. And that’s, and people said Jackson was very quiet. He didn’t really tell people his tactical plans, but he knew what Lee wanted from whatever battle he was in.

He knew what, what Lee’s outcome. Was, and so he would make that happen. And that made Lee, he trusted him. Yeah. So he felt like, I don’t have to give him the step by step. I tell him what I want. He goes and executes.

Scott: Yeah. And what’s interesting now is too it, you know, we’ll talk about actually being there and filming the video.

So there’s two markers. There’s two markers. We, we found the, we found the two markers. We kind of had to like, TRAs through the, you know, we had to be really careful. Tell the kids to stay in the car. We’re like walking along the freeway to get to the one where he was wounded. The other one where his arm was actually amputated was a little bit easier.

It’s by like a winery now. Yeah, it’s by, by a winery and actually it’s on the battlefield. In the video description, I believe I put a Google Maps link if you ever want to go visit. I’m pretty sure I marked all the spots where we were. Yes. And in the Ellwood Manor. So it was actually, normally you can drive up to it, I think more in like the tourist

Jenn: season.

It was gated off. You could still walk to it. Right. Um, and

Scott: that’s what we did. That’s what we did. But we walked to, it was like maybe a quarter mile. Mm-hmm. But it was like 45 degrees. It was really, it was really cold. Kids were troopers. But Elwood house, I mean, it’s a decent sized house. And one of the things about Elwood House was there, um, like a year later.

A bunch of the union use it as headquarters for a while.

Jenn: Yeah. So another, you know, these, these areas are kind of used over and over again when you think of Bull Run and the Battle of Manasas. Right. I tell you like there’s two battles there and people will call it the First Battle of Manassas, or the first Battle of Bull Run and the second battle of Manassas.

Like you don’t know. And so Chancellorville, another battle that happens in that general area is the battle of wilderness. Yep. And during the Battle of Wilderness, you. The union setting up headquarters at Ellwood house.

Scott: Yeah. And the, the marker for Jackson’s arm didn’t come till the early 19 hundreds.

Yeah. 1903. And so they, they may not have even realized that, hey, Stonewall Jackson’s arm was buried like

Jenn: 20 yards from here. Yeah. Like if you go to the Ellwood house, the, the cemetery is just right. Outside, it might be 50 yards away. Right. And right by a big oak tree. Yeah. And it’s a family plot. They say now that the markers for the family are no longer there, but I’m sure at that time they were sure.

And the arm isn’t marked where today just the arm is marked. Yeah. And there’s no family marker Is um, now there’s folklore that the arm has been dug up. Mm-hmm. More than. But even in this, like the seventies, yes. But everybody, but from what I read, they still think the arm is there in that cemetery, just not where the marker is today.

Right. And the, uh, national Park Service is not gonna dig

Scott: and look for it. Yeah. And then last, last, but not least, we went to the place where he actually died, where he died. And so that, um, on the map, they actually call it like a Stonewall Jackson Shrine. I didn’t really see it as a shrine. It was basically just like a house.

Jenn: Yeah. It’s like the, it, it’s a little. Farmhouse. It, it was, like I said, the, the office store room for the Chancellor Plantation. It was a plantation. Yeah. And so Jackson doesn’t wanna go in the house and bother the people. They put him in this, that. They make him as comfortable as they can in that and,

Scott: and I think at that point he’s like hallucinating.

Jenn: He’s like, so the first couple days he doesn’t, and then when the pneumonia sets in Yeah. He really starts to

Scott: hallucinating. Yeah. He starts like giving orders to people, acting like he’s on the battlefield.

Jenn: Yes. And he’s with Hunter McGuire. His doctor is with him. His wife will make it to his bedside before he dies.

And their young daughter. That’s right. She’s there with him. And his final words are to Hunter McGuire. He says, let us cross over the river and rest beneath the shade of the.

Scott: Which, which is interesting, like to, for that to be your last words. It’s a very kind of, I

Jenn: think it’s biblical. It’s very poignant.

Yeah. Hen McGuire said he got like a, a, a smile on his face cuz he was very like, agitated before that because he, like you said, he was like given battle orders, right. Going up, uh, going up the hill and do this and do, and then Hunter said, he got like a smile on his face and then said, you know, let’s cross over the river and rest beneath the shade of the trees and.

Line has inspired, even Ernest Hemingway uses that line. Oh, really? In the opening of one of his books. So it’s like that, that lives in American history too. The Stonewall Jackson’s last words were this kind of, you know, uh, I’m gonna go rest. Pleasant. Yeah. Yeah. Rest. My time is done. I’m gonna rest beneath the shade of the trees like that.

It’s, it’s a very, Historic thing to say.

Scott: Yeah, that’s, it was very interesting and, and being out there, we were, it was like February for us. Yeah. So a lot of times it kinda wasn’t open. Nothing, nothing was open, you know, but we show you everything, but we get to show you everything. We kind of peeked, peeked inside the windows a little bit.

And again, just being around in that area where there was union troops going all throughout and Confederate troops going all throughout, I mean, all this area, we were just driving around circles trying to find things, you know. That’s where the war was

Jenn: happening. And it’s interesting when he dies at Guinea station, he dies May 10th, 1863.

It’s right on a railroad line. Yep. Because the railroad came by right when we were there. So after he dies, you know, they can put his body on the the train car and he goes back to Richmond and his body lays in state at the governor’s mansion at. Um, Jefferson Davis’s house. Yeah. Which we have a video on which we’ve been there.

So you can imagine Stonewall Jackson’s body laid, laid address there. And then he was buried in, uh, Oak Grove Cemetery in Lexington, and his wife was given the option to dig up the arm and bury him with his arm. And when she heard that the arm had a Christian funeral, She said Better better to leave it at rest.

Yeah. So that’s why he’s not buried with his arm is she decided And she never remarries, she’s considered the widow of the Confederacy. Oh, that’s,

Scott: she gets a, does she kind of have that title? She

Jenn: has that title. She writes two books about Jackson. Oh, interesting. Um, and that’s, uh, that’s how she’s kind of a martyr for the rest of her life.

But, uh, it was just a very interest. The quick demise of Jackson. Like it’s a, it’s fast and it’s happens by his own men. Yeah. Which I find interesting because so much of what Jackson did to, to boost morale and put the air into, you know, the, the sails of his fellow men, they, they completely suck the air out of the sails with his death because he was killed by his own men.

His arms amputated. He dies eight days later and that’s it. There have been historians who conjure, like if he was a Gettysburg, would it have made a difference Because that first day the Confederacy waivers and doesn’t take Cemetery Ridge when they actually could have, because the union were regrouping.

And Lee has said like, he would’ve known if he would’ve told Jackson, I want that ridge. He would’ve made it happen instead of the Confederate General all the time was like, oh no, we, we kind of himmed and hot a bit. Yeah, we probably shouldn’t do that. And I think that, you know, losing Jackson is really what starts to undo the south and leave us, right?

He lost his right hand man. And Jackson still lives on an infamy, just like we went into, uh, bull run, but, Even when we went to Richmond, Virginia, his statue was there. Oh yeah. Beside, uh, hunter McGuire. Yeah. Right in the capitol of Richmond, Virginia.

Scott: Yeah. Right, right there. Right there. Smack in the middle of everything.

Mm-hmm. Um, it was, it was kind of a neat one to do because where the, where the arm is buried, where the Ellwood Manor house, it’s, it’s not close to too much. Um, no. It, it, we, I mean, we had to. Very intentionally go out there. It’s not like it’s a quick trip away. I mean, I guess if you lived in Richmond, it was probably maybe 30, 40 minutes from Richmond.

Um, yes. But we had to like very specifically go out there. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere. There’s not much around there. There’s some wineries. Yeah. You know? Yeah. That’s pretty

Jenn: much it. That’s pretty much it. If you’re going to like, maybe the battlefield of wilderness, you would see it. Sure. Uh, I would say more people.

We, we saw nobody at El, at El Woodhouse. More people were stopping at the, the death site of, of Jeff, of

Scott: easier to Jackson, a

Jenn: little easier to get to. And they have a big sign on this, on the interstate, the main interstate that says Stone Stonewall Jackson death site. Yep. So I think more people saw that and pulled off and, and wanted to go see the death site.

And like I said, it’s a house. It has, it has a stone there, it has some little information

Scott: panels. Typical kind of, you know, national park. Mm-hmm. Kind of

Jenn: informational things, but that’s about it. Yeah. It’s not. It’s not like too exciting. And then I, if it’s open, you can see like a bed frame in there and other things.

But yeah, it’s pretty basic. But it was neat to tell that entire story and that demise, especially since we’ve been to bull run, especially since we’ve been able to kind of follow his legacy from where he made his name to where he ba ended up losing it.

Scott: Right, right. Where he lost his name and, and kinda an interesting kind of sub.

Niche of history of these like famous appendages mm-hmm. That were forever separate, forever separated from the famous person that they

Jenn: used to be attached to. And it’s funny how these appendages. Get their own story. Right, right. Like they, these appendages actually live on, on their own. Yeah. Without who They’re connected to, uh, Jefferson Davis for a very long time.

I mean, Jefferson Davis, I’m sorry, Stonewall Jackson for a very long time will be celebrated in Virginia. His birthday is a holiday for a very long time until they switch, uh, into election day. Oh, interesting. So he’s very much like, Still seen as, as the hero of the south. And if you go into vmi, you go into area, his home is still preserved.

You can go visit his home. His horse is buried at vmi, uh, close to where the statue is at a vmi. What’s his horse’s name? Is it that like it say Old Sorl or something? Something, something like that. Okay. So when you go, if you ever go to, um, Stone Mountain in Virginia and they have the carving of Lee and Davis and Jackson on their horses.

Oh really? Yeah. Don’t want Jackson’s on his horse. Yeah.

Scott: Well, again, th this was just a, another one of those neat ones because it’s such an interesting story all by itself. Like you said, it, that story of his le of his left arm really kind of just is a story in and of itself. It lives by itself attached to, you know, not.

Physically, but you know, attached to this famous, this larger than life character and, and this interesting story and all these interesting little kind of folklore, and people said this in the seventies, some Marines were out there and maybe dug it up and gave a 21 gun salute and then reburied it and all this crazy stuff like start Google.

Google some of the stories around Jackson’s. Left arm sometime, and, uh, I, I think you’ll have a good evening at home. Kind of just smiling. So, legends of the past are often seen as larger than life succeeding at every turn, overcoming insurmountable odds and almost invulnerable to injury or death. In the early part of the Civil War, no one fit that description better than Stonewall Jackson.

But if you’ve been paying attention, Jackson was only that larger than life character for barely half. A civil war. His loss was so significant that even General Lee wrote, Jackson has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right. So thank you for listening to the Talk with History podcast, and please reach out to us at our website, talk with history.com.

But more importantly, if you know someone else that might enjoy this, please share it with them, especially if you think today’s topic would interest a friend. Shoot a text and tell ’em to look up the talk with hi History podcast, or send them a link to this livestream video. We rely on you, our community to grow, and we appreciate y’all every day.

Jenn: Thank you.

Published by Scott

The mountains are calling, let me grab a jacket and my kids.

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