5 Famous Body Parts From History You Can Visit

Naming a part to replace the whole – that’s metonymy, as in “suit” for executive, or “Washington” for the United States government. The veneration of parts of saints, or relics, is a funerary version of metonymy. There is a somewhat parallel phenomenon for military commanders. Meet five famous people from history who are remembered with a body part.

1. Stonewall Jackson’s arm

While Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was preparing his troops on the evening of May 2, 1863, near Chancellorsville, Virginia, he was hit by friendly fire that caused his left arm to be amputated. The Reverend Beverley Tucker Lacy, who acted as chaplain, took the severed arm to Ellwood Manor, her brother’s nearby plantation, and buried it in the family cemetery – with full Christian ceremony.

Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson’s severed arm was buried in a cemetery and given its own headstone near Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Eight days later, while waiting for a train to Richmond, Jackson, 39, died of pneumonia in Woodford, in a small office building on the Fairfield Plantation. This site is now managed by the National Park Service as Jackson’s death site.

As for his arm, Jackson’s wife refused an offer to reunite the arm with the general, and rumor has it that Union soldiers repeatedly dug up the general’s arm and reburied it. A granite marker today marks “Arm of Stonewall Jackson, May 3, 1863” at the approximate location of his burial in Ellwood Manor Cemetery, which is now owned and operated by Wild Battlefield Friends.

2. Benedict Arnold’s boot

To honor the centennial of the American Revolution and promote post-Civil War reconciliation, the Saratoga Landmarks Association occupied himself with erecting monuments marking the critical Patriot victory over the British at Saratoga. One mile from where British General John Burgoyne surrendered his troops on October 17, 1777, a 155-foot-tall granite monolith now honors Continental Army Generals Horatio Gates and Philip Schuyler, as well as Col. Daniel Morgan in niches at the three corners of its base.

But the fourth corner niche remains empty, a repudiation of Benedict Arnold, the talented American general who led a daring charge and drove back the British forces at Saratoga, but then defected to the British.

More enigmatic is the so-called Boot Monument, depicting a boot, a two-star epaulette of a major general, and a laurel leaf atop a howitzer. It is tellingly located where Arnold was shot in the left thigh during the battle. The dedication reads: ‘In memory of the brightest soldier in the Continental Army who was hopelessly wounded at this place, the exit from the great port of Burgoyne [western] dreads on October 7, 1777 winning for his compatriots the decisive battle of the American Revolution and for himself the rank of major general.


Subscribe to our Historynet now! newsletter for the best of the past, delivered every Wednesday.

3. Antonio López de Santa Anna’s leg

The first time Mexican general and former president Antonio López de Santa Anna lost a leg was in 1838 in Veracruz, during a brief dispute with France over the treatment of French citizens residing in the country. He honored the lost limb with a funeral in Mexico City and was fitted with a cork prosthesis. In 1844, however, Mexican citizens angry at his rule dug up his lower left leg and dragged him through the streets.

Santa Anna has lost her artificial leg—again, near Veracruz—at the Battle of Cerro Gordo on April 18, 1847. During one of his many terms as President of Mexico, he had resigned to serve in the Mexican–American War. After having to rush from a campsite without his leg as US troops approached, soldiers in Illinois took the prosthesis, used it as a baseball bat and put it on display in a peep show. It is now part of the artifacts of the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield, Ill.

Mexico asked for his return. Illinois refused.

4. The leg of Dan Sickles, the first person to use Insanity Defense

A New York congressman and Union general, Sickles was paralyzed on the evening of the second day of battle at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, when a cannonball shattered his right leg.

He couldn’t keep it. A year earlier, US Surgeon General William Hammond had ordered military doctors to send specimens, notes and artifacts of battlefield trauma to what would become the National Museum of Military Medicine, Maryland. Sickles himself presented his amputated leg in a metal box bearing a note: “Compliments of Major General DES, United States Volunteers.”

People at Hammond repaired Sickles’ limb to expose the intricate fractures, and the tibia and fibula specimen were put on display – Sickle was said to have visited it regularly with guests.

Civil War General Dan Sickles’ amputated leg and other medical oddities. (Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Sickles’ greatest claim to fame is that he was the first person in the United States to plead temporary insanity to defend himself against a murder charge. On February 25, 1859, Sickles shot and killed Philip Barton Key – the son of Francis Scott Key – who was having an affair with Sickles’ young wife, Teresa Bagioli Sickles. After a sensational trial, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

5. The Heart of Richard I “Coeur de Lion”

The first of three King Richards of England died, possibly of sepsis, from a poorly treated arrow wound sustained in the left shoulder during an attack on a castle on 26 March 1199 at Châlus, in France. He was not wearing chainmail. As was then the custom, his body, his entrails and his heart were separated to be buried in different places. The heart of 41-year-old Richard the Lionheart, as he was known, was buried at Cathedral of Our Lady of Rouen329 miles from Châlus and headquarters of the English occupation of Normandy.

In 1838, a lead box containing his desiccated heart was found during renovations to the cathedral, bearing the Latin words “HIC IACET COR RICARDI REGIS ANGLORUM” or “Behold the heart of Richard, King of England”.

In 2013, scientists analyzed the heart, which had by then turned into powder, and discovered that it had been wrapped in linen and buried with a variety of substances to preserve it, including myrtle, daisy, mint, creosote, mercury and frankincense. (And, no, the heart wasn’t actually leonine.) Richard’s heart was later reinterred in Rouen Cathedral.

net history magazines

Our 9 best-selling history titles feature in-depth storytelling and iconic imagery to engage and inform about the people, wars, and events that shaped America and the world. Sale! Save $7.99 on your subscription today!

Facts, Information, and Articles About George Custer, a Civil War General During the American Civil War


George Armstrong Custer was a United States Army officer who, after finishing last in his class at West Point, was still called upon to serve in the Union Army at the start of the Civil war. After serving in the American Civil War, he then served in the Indian Wars, meeting his end at the Battle of Little Bighorn.


December 5, 1839, New Rumley, Ohio


June 25, 1876, Little Bighorn, Montana

Highest rank achieved

Certificate of Major General of Volunteers

Engaged battles


  • Civil War Cavalry Commander
  • Indian Wars
  • little big horn

Related Stories and Content


The youth of George Custer

Custer was from the first 13 German immigrant families. They arrived in North America around 1693 from Krefeld and the Rhineland region of Germany. He had older half-siblings, a younger sister and a sick brother as well as two healthy younger brothers who served and died with him at Little Bighorn. He had a wide range of nicknames: Autie, Armstrong, Boy General, Iron Butt, Hard Ass, Ringlets.

Previous 'Body Parts' Season 2: 5 Things You Should Know About TLC Medical Reality TV
Next Look who dresses up at the Body Shop! - Alyson Engle