About six months ago, my daughter and I were blessed to be able to take an epic trip from our Minnesota home to visit the nation's Capitol and several historic sites along the way.
For my daughter's birthday, I gave her the gift of a guided tour of the Gettysburg battlefield, a real treat for both of us. Our guide, Jim, was excellent, and I highly recommend, if you're going to Gettysburg, that you hire one of their knowledgeable and well-trained guides.
Arriving in the small Pennsylvania town the night before our scheduled tour, we decided to walk around town and see some sites.
Next door to our hotel was the Jennie Wade House. It's always interesting to me to see a place in person that I've only read about before. Like meeting a person you've only corresponded with on paper in the past.
Mary Virginia Wade, known as Jennie, was a Gettysburg resident and seamstress. Her father, a tailor, had been committed to an asylum for the insane, and Jennie (also known as Ginnie) and her mother took in sewing to make ends meet. When war came to her doorstep, she and her mother, along with Jennie's younger brother and a 6 year old disabled boy they had care of, left their own home to go across town to stay with Jennie's sister. It wasn't that they thought they would be safer there, but because Jennie's sister, Georgia, was pregnant. She gave birth just before Confederate forces overran the town.
Jennie and her mother, Union supporters, did what they could to support the Union troops, including baking bread and providing water.
The house, now known as the Jennie Wade House, though in reality it belonged to her sister, suffered much damage during the fighting, sustaining more than 150 bullet strikes, as well as taking an artillery shell. (The shell went through the roof and lodged in the eaves, where it remained, un-exploded for 15 years!)
Early on the third morning of the battle, Jennie rose to knead bread dough. Confederate soldiers began firing south toward the battlefield, shooting the north side of the Wade House. One bullet passed through two doors, hit Jennie in the back, and went through her heart, killing her and making her the only civilian killed during the three days of battle.
Jennie was quickly buried, but later she was interred at the Evergreen Cemetery next to Corporal Johnston (Jack) Skelly, to whom it was believed Jennie was engaged. A portrait of Jack was found in her pocket when she died.
An American flag flies over Jennie's grave day and night at the Evergreen Cemetery, only the second woman in American history to be given that honor. (The other being Betsy Ross.)
Jennie was 20 years old when she died. A statue memorializes her life in front of the house where she was killed.
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Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. She’s a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota, and she married her total opposite and soul mate! When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.comwhere you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/ where she spends way too much time!