The Truth About Jennie Wade In The Battle Of Gettysburg

The American Civil War began in 1861, and by June 1863, the war had moved to Pennsylvania where the Union Army and the Confederates clashed at Gettysburg. Mary Virginia Wade, who was called Jennie, was a seamstress during the Civil War. She lived with her mother and brother on Breckenridge Street, but because of the war, she felt that it would be better to temporarily be with her sister Georgia, who had just given birth, according to Gettysburg Battlefield Tours.

Georgia lived in a two-story home on Baltimore Street with her days-old son. Jennie and her mother did what they could to help soldiers in battle. They would bake bread and water to the Union soldiers. The Battle of Gettysburg started on July 1, and by the second day, troops were moving toward Cemetery Hill, where Georgia's home was located (via Britannica).

The Confederate soldiers were closing in on Georgia's house, and bullets were flying in every direction as the battle went on. On the morning of July 3, Jennie was preparing to bake bread in the kitchen. She was kneading dough when a stray bullet penetrated the doors of the house. The bullet hit Jennie in the back and pierced her heart, which instantly killed her, according to Civil War Ghosts.

The Jennie Wade House

No other members of Jennie's family were harmed. According to Gettysburg Battlefield Tours, Jennie's mother continued the task Jennie left behind. She used the dough Jennie was working on when she was shot to bake bread. The dough yielded 15 loaves of bread, which she gave to Union soldiers.

At the time of her death, Jennie Wade was just 20 years old. According to accounts, she had been engaged to a Union soldier named Jack Skelly, who was gravely injured and captured in Winchester. Jennie never learned of this fact before her death, and Jack never received the news of Jennie's death. Jack died of his wounds on July 12.

Union soldiers helped bury Jennie temporarily in her backyard. She was the only civilian casualty of the Battle of Gettysburg, and today, the house where Jennie died still stands and has been turned into a museum called the Jennie Wade House (via Gettysburg Battlefield Tours). There are still bullet holes on the structure, and artifacts from 1863 are displayed. Small renovations were made to the house, but the furnishing stays true to the time.

Jennie Wade is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery and is hailed as a hero for her patriotic efforts of helping Union soldiers during the Battle of Gettysburg, according to Battlefields.