the Battle of Gettysburg Resource Center
The Death of Jennie Wade -
|The following comes from a special Gettysburg edition of the Civil
War Times Vol. 2 No. 4 dated July 1963, plus other sources:
Jennie Wade, 20 years old at the time of the battle, worked as a seamstress with her mother in their home on Breckenridge Street. To make ends meet, they also took care of a 6 year old boarder named Isaac. For safety during the first day's battle, Jennie and her family moved to the home of Jennie's sister, Georgia Wade McClellan, on Baltimore Street. Georgia had given birth to a son "about half past two---one hour before the Confederates rode into Gettysburg". The McClellan side of the house on Baltimore Street at the foot of Cemetery Hill thus housed Mrs. Wade, Jennie, her brother Harry, her young boarder Isaac, her sister Georgia, and the newborn son
There was no heavy fighting in the area but a Federal picket line did run behind the little brick house, there was intermittent skirmishing between it and Confederate outposts in the Town proper.
Jennie spent most of July 1st distributing bread to Union soldiers and filling their canteens with water. By late afternoon on July 2nd, the diminishing supply of bread made it apparent that more bread would be needed the next day. Jennie and her mother left the yeast to rise until the morning of the 3rd.
At about 7am on the morning of the July 3rd, the Confederate sharpshooters began firing at the north windows of the house. The prep work to bake biscuits was begun at 8am. At about 8:30am, while Jennie stood in the kitchen kneading dough, a Confederate bullet pierced two wooden doors and struck her in the back beneath her left shoulder blade embedding itself in her corset. She fell dead with a groan. The cries of her sister and mother attracted Federal soldiers who carried Jennie's body to the cellar. Later she was buried in a coffin some Confederate soldiers had fashioned for an officer. In the early afternoon of July 4th, Mrs. Wade baked 15 loaves of bread from the dough which Jenny had kneaded
Jennie was engaged to a Cpl. Johnston Skelly who, unknown to her, had been wounded two weeks earlier in the Battle of Winchester. News that he had died in Confederate hands came several days after the Southern army had withdrawn from the Gettysburg area.
An additional note: Jennie's full name was Mary Virginia Wade, her nickname "Ginny" was apparently misprinted as "Jennie" in a newspaper story reporting her death and the incorrect moniker stuck.
last revised 10/03/04