|Gen. John Bell Hood|
Alongside the road in the woods of northwest Georgia lies a grave containing only a leg.
It’s a limb left behind by Confederate General John Bell Hood, a Kentucky resident known as a brave but sometimes reckless soldier. He served with Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet in the Civil War, but his left arm was badly wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg. He moved south with his troops and was injured again at the Battle of Chickamauga in Georgia, this time with a leg wound that needed to be amputated.
The wound was so severe that after the amputation four inches below the hip the surgeon placed his leg in the ambulance so that leg and man would be buried together in the likely event they did not survive.
But Hood did survive and returned to active duty, fighting in the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 and other skirmishes until he was defeated at the Battle of Nashville. Legless and with a useless arm, the general spent the rest of his life working as a cotton broker in Louisiana until he, along with his wife and oldest child, died of yellow fever in New Orleans.
His leg, however, was buried on Sept. 20, 1863, near the Western and Atlantic Railroad Tunnel in what is known as Tunnel Hill, Georgia, just outside the city of Dalton.
If you visit the leg of the Gallant Hood, be sure and walk through the old train tunnel, completed in 1850 and the site of the Great Locomotive Chase. In 1862, several Union Civil War spies stole a locomotive known as the General and headed toward Chattanooga with the aim of damaging the railroad and telegraph lines, therefore cutting off Confederate lines with Atlanta. The Confederates, however, chased them with everything they could get their hands on and stopped the spies before their destination. You can watch the 1956 movie starring Fess Parker to get a more dramatic idea of what went down in Georgia.
The train tunnel, by the way, is rumored to be haunted. Maybe it’s the ghost of John Bell Hood’s leg.
Chere Coen is a travel and food writer who loves weird Southern stories, not to mention a ghost or two.