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Early Gettysburg Souvenir Picture Book - Jennie Wade

$40.00 $35.00
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Product Description

This is a nice Gettysburg souvenir piece being offered; it is a wooden book with early black and white photographs of the Gettysburg Battlefield. The overall dimensions are approximately 3” x 1 1/4” x 1”. The front has a picture of Jennie Wade and “Gettysburg, Pa. / July 1, 2, 3, 1863”. On the inside of the back cover has stamped “Made at Gettysburg, PA”.   


Mary Virginia "Jennie" Wade was a 20-year-old resident of Gettysburg engaged to be married to Corp. Johnston H. Skelly of the 87th Pennsylvania. She 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.


Her sister had given birth with great difficulty around 2:15 P.M., one hour before the Confederates rode into Gettysburg, and Jennie was caring for her. The McClellan side of the house on Baltimore Street, less than 50 yards north 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.


Protected by the sturdy brick walls of the house, they lived for three days in the midst of the greatest battle ever seen in this hemisphere. Jennie spent most of July 1 distributing bread to Union soldiers and filling their canteens with water. By late afternoon on July 2, 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 7 A.M. on the morning of July 3, the Confederate sharpshooters began firing at the north windows of the house. The prep work to bake biscuits was begun at 8:00 a.m. Around 8:30 a.m., while Jennie stood in the kitchen kneading dough, a Confederate musket ball smashed through a door on the north side of the house, pierced another into the kitchen, and struck Jennie in the back, beneath her left shoulder blade embedding itself in her corset, killing her instantly.


The cries of her sister and mother attracted Federal soldiers who carried her body to the cellar. Later she was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in a coffin some Confederate soldiers had fashioned for an officer. In the early afternoon of July 4th, Jennie's mother baked 15 loaves of bread from the dough Jennie kneaded.  


Jennie Wade was the only civilian casualty of the battle of Gettysburg. Nor was the tragedy complete, for unbeknownst to Jennie, her fiancée, Corporal Skelly, had been wounded and taken prisoner at Winchester on May 13. Transferred to Virginia, he died in a hospital on July 12. News that he had died in Confederate hands came several days after the Southern Army had withdrawn from Gettysburg.

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