We were walking past the Jackson and Lee statue on the other side of the BMA and I told Laura the story of a Marine general exhuming Stonewall Jackson’s arm because he didn’t believe it was buried where some dudes said it was. But I misremembered it as Chesty Puller, when in fact it was the rather more awesome Smedley Butler (from Wikipedia we learn aka “The Fighting Quaker” and “Old Gimlet Eye”) (and this is somewhat less distressing than attributing “who’s your fat friend” to Oscar Wilde, but not much).
Anyway, as described here:
In 1921 the U.S. Marine Corps conducted training maneuvers on farms adjacent to Ellwood. The legendary and eccentric commander of this force was General Smedley Butler. According to the then owner of Ellwood, Butler dismissed the notion of Jackson’s arm being buried there and ordered a squad of Marines to dig beneath the Smith marker to prove that nothing was there. Much to his astonishment, they unearthed the arm. Butler had it reburied and ordered a bronze plaque cemented to the top of the stone.
The main thing I take from this anecdote is how funny it would be to have squads of Marines to order around when death is not on the line. When I had been thinking about the story earlier, I had not remembered that the exhumation happened while they were on maneuvers, and had instead imagined Smedley Butler going around to parties and things accompanied by a small troop of Marines, presumably with a disassembled field piece distributed among them so that they could storm the occasional fortified position.
And I think that “The Adventures of Smedley Butler and Stonewall Jackson’s Arm,” in which the somewhat zombified arm flies around and is conscious, would make a pretty sweet comic.