In July of 1863, the Union and the Confederate forces clashed in this small town taking over 50,000 soldier’s lives over a three day period. In the middle of the battle, lay a double ( like a duplex) house owned by Georgia McClellan. Georgia had just given birth to her first child. Her sister Jennie had come to assist her when the battle took place. Together they were held captive in the house as bullets blazed around them.
As night time approached, the guns silence. Jennie had been assisting wounded soldiers with water and bread. As Jennie was at the stove getting more bread, a stray bullet blazed through the door and ripped through her back going straight to her heart. She died instantly being the only civilian to die at the Battle of Gettysburg.
The family knew that they needed to get out of the house for safety. However, the only way to the basement was on the other side of the house. Luckily, an artillery shell blasted through the ceiling but did not explode. The shell opened up a hole in the wall separating the two houses allowing the family to get to the basement on the other side. Two Union soldiers carried Jennie’s body to the basement.
On July 4,1863, the battle was over. Jennie was buried in the garden, she was only 20 years old. The town was in shambles and literally turned into a graveyard. People’s lives were forever changed. Abraham Lincoln arrived in November to give his Gettysburg Address to honor the lives lost. He states that those who died here did not die in vain, a small consolation for such a big sacrifice.
Jennie’s body was eventually moved to the Evergreen Cemetery where a statue was erected in her honor with a perpetual flag hung over. She was revered as a hero and her mother was granted a pension as her daughter was serving the union cause when she was killed.
However, is Jennie really at rest in the cemetery? According to the Jennie Wade House Museum, multiple witnesses have seen her walking the rooms and countryside. Is she seeking answers? Does she want her story told?
Regardless of why and if she is still walking the streets of Gettysburg, her house tells a story. A story of war, a story of brother against brother, and a story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rest in peace, Jennie Wade, you truly were a hero worth remembering.