The grave of Stonewall Jackson’s arm (yes, you read that correctly- just his right arm) is located in the middle of a field next to Ellwood Manor near the site of the Battle of the Wilderness. Before I describe my visit, a background history lesson is needed. The Battle of Chancellorsville took place near Fredericksburg. Stonewall Jackson and his staff were returning to camp at night after sundown had prevented any further fighting. They were mistaken for Union soldiers and Jackson was shot three times. Jackson’s arm was amputated and he was sent to rest at Fairfield plantation where his developing chest pain and weakness were thought to be a result of his amputation. Jackson ultimately died of pneumonia in a Fairfield Plantation office building in Guinea Station, Virginia. Before arriving in Guinea Station, however, Jackson’s arm was amputated and a military chaplin decided to save it. There was also a traditional Christian burial for the arm and this is the reason the arm was never reunited with the rest of Jackson; after his burial in Lexington, Mrs. Jackson heard that the arm was given a Christian burial and this persuaded her to leave the arm buried by Ellwood, where it remains today.
I arrived just before sunset. The grounds of Ellwood Manor are technically open during daylight hours, although the gates were locked when I arrived and I had to walk about a half mile to the actual building. I had worried about leaving my car and getting a ticket, but in the end I decided I probably had enough time before it got too dark and I headed down the long gravel road by foot to the Manor.
A quick walk through a mowed section of the field leads to a small plot of land under the only tree in the field. This land is dedicated to the family cemetery, which contains the grave of Stonewall Jackson’s arm.
The grave itself was simple and plain. No frills, just a date. I do appreciate that the headstone specifically labeled the site as the resting spot of Jackson’s arm, just to be sure no one mistakenly believed all of Jackson’s body to be buried here.
All in all, I enjoyed the adventure of hunting for the grave site. I hope to revisit this summer when the building is actually open and park rangers are around to answer questions. The sun was setting and I worried my car would be towed, so I may have rushed the whole experience, but nevertheless, I found the stop at Ellwood Manor to be the perfect mix of quirkiness and history. Next time, I hope to follow the entire journey Jackson took during his final few days. I recently told a friend about my trip to the grave of Stonewall Jackson’s arm and I immediately saw the incredulity on her face. It is almost unbelievable that someone would take the time to bury an arm separately from the body, but again, this is Virginia.
The verdict: The scenery was well worth the trip. A beautiful old farm house and rolling hills leading to the grave of a Confederate general’s arm; what could be more Virginian? Make sure to visit Ellwood Manor, but first check in at Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor’s Center.
Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor’s Center, https://www.nps.gov/frsp/index.htm, (540) 786-2880