With all the people who died in the Battle of Gettysburg, estimated to be around 8,000 on both sides, only one was a civilian - a young lady named Mary Virginia Wade, but most folks called her "Jennie." The battle was raging in the city on the third day of the battle, July 3, 1863, and Jenny was staying at her pregnant sister Georgia's house. She was taking care of the expectant mother, but was also providing food and water to the soldiers of the Union Army.

One morning as she was baking bread for the soldiers, a Confederate sniper (thought to be in the attic window of Gettysburg's Farnsworth House) was shooting at the Union troops, and his bullet struck the house instead. It passed through two doors, and killed Jennie instantly. She was twenty years old at the time.

The above photographs are from the Jennie Wade House: (1) A bedroom in the house; (2) the basement where Jennie's body was carried, and the family hid from the war; (3) the kitchen where Jennie died while baking bread; and (4) the bullet hole in one of the doors from the shot that killed Jennie... legend has it that if an unmarried woman puts her ring finger in the hole, she will be wed within the year (and they have letters that people have written to back it up!).

Many people believe that the Jennie Wade House (although actually the home of her sister, Georgia McClellan) is haunted, and many stories seem to support that fact. Some say that Jennie's spirit still lingers where she was shot and killed. Visitors are sometimes overcome with emotion in the room where she died, while others smell fresh bread baking. Photographs that are taken in the house also reveal unexplainable images, and at night when the house is locked up, a figure has been seen in an upstairs window. Perhaps the strongest feelings in the house come in the basement where the tour concludes - it is where Jennie's body was carried while the family waited out the third day of the battle.

The family & two Union soldiers hiding in the basement of the house

Tours of the house are extremely interesting, and should be part of any visit to Gettysburg. For more information, visit the Jennie Wade House website.

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