Civil War Mummy Arm Moves to Frederick Museum

Arm of the Unknown Soldier: A Friendly Wave

(By, 2/29/2012)

It’s been years since we last glimpsed the Arm of the Unknown Soldier, a grisly Civil War relic displayed in a box at the long-gone Antietam Battlefield Museum in Sharpsburg, Maryland. Imagine our surprise, then, when we discovered that the arm had not been tossed in the trash when the museum closed, but instead had found its way into the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, only a few miles from its old home.

The arm.“It may not be alive, but it’s well,” said George Wunderlich, the museum’s executive director. The arm, a shriveled right-handed horror with claw-like fingers and a ragged upper end, was apparently blown off a soldier during the Battle of Antietam in 1862. The generally accepted story is that it was found on the battlefield several weeks later, wrapped in a towel, stuck in an attic, and preserved by liberal amounts of salt (and possibly arsenic).

George assured us that every effort was being made to put the arm back on public view by September 17, 2012, the 150th anniversary of its dismemberment. That auspicious date would appeal to ghost hunters as well as vengeful undead enthusiasts.

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