Disarmed

This one’s rather macabre, so if you have a sensitive constitution, don’t click through to the picture that accompanies the article.

Shortly after the battle of Antietam, a farmer plowing his field dug up a dismembered arm.  For some reason, he and the doctor he consulted about it decided to pickle it rather than bury it, and it wound up in the collection of a private museum.

Wunderlich said he hopes to have a Smithsonian Institution forensic anthropologist examine the arm for clues about the owner’s diet and origin.

Battlefield Superintendent Susan Trail said the arm can’t be displayed at the Antietam visitor center because the National Park Service generally forbids displaying human remains. But she said the medical museum could display it at the Pry House, a field hospital site that the museum runs on the battlefield.

This imagery reminded me of a passage from Sam Watkins’ Co. Aytch, where he describes a very human reaction that led to many mangled and dead boys:

I saw another man try to stop one of those balls that was just rolling along on the ground. He put his foot out to stop the ball but the ball did not stop, but, instead, carried the man’s leg off with it. He no doubt today walks on a cork-leg, and is tax collector of the county in which he lives. I saw a thoughtless boy trying to catch one in his hands as it bounced along. He caught it, but the next moment his spirit had gone to meet its God.

via Md. Civil War medical museum aims to exhibit severed arm thought to be from Antietam battle – The Washington Post.

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