Mar 6



The McClellan House, better known as the Jennie Wade House, is located at 528 Baltimore Street on the east side of the street. The Holiday Inn is on the left, and the distinctive Cemetery Hill blue/green water tank is in the right background. This view was taken facing east at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.

Our series of Gettysburg battle damaged structures continues with the John Louis McClellan/Catherine McClain House. This building is more commonly known as the Jennie Wade House, after the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. On July 3, 1863, Mary Virginia “Jennie or Ginnie” Wade (1843-863) was baking bread for Union soldiers when a bullet pierced two solid doors, hit her in the back, exploded her heart, and instantly killed her. The house shows other battle damage besides that shown on the door by the minie ball which killed Jennie Wade. Today’s post will not cover the lifetime of Jennie Wade, but briefly cover the events surrounding the battle damage to the house.

As we do with many local history questions, we went back to look up an article by Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Tim Smith that he wrote for the Adams County Historical Society Journal in 1996. Tim is also a research assistant at the historical society, and his article in that year’s Journal (Volume 2), “A Tour of Gettysburg’s Visual Battle Damage,” presents a good overview of the buildings we have been featuring. We highly recommend that you pick up a copy at the Adams County Historical Society on Seminary Ridge in Schmucker Hall, or order a copy ($6.95) from the Adams County Historical Society. Click this link for their online giftshop.



This map shows the buildings with visible battle damage that we will be featuring over the next couple of weeks. We have marked the locations with red stars. #1 is the McClean House at 11 Baltimore Street. #2 is the Wills Building at 9 York Street. #3 is the John Kuhn House at 221 North Stratton Street. #4 is the Crass Barbehenn House at 218 North Stratton Street. #5 is the David Troxell House at 221 Chambersburg Street. #6 is the Carrie Sheads House at 331 Buford Avenue. #7 is the Samuel Schmucker House on West Confederate Avenue. #8 is the Gettysburg Academy Building at 66 and 68 West High Street. #9 is the old Methodist Parsonage Building at 304 Baltimore Street. #10 is the Garlach House at 319 Baltimore Street. #11 is the Winebrenner House at Baltimore Street. #12 is the Sweney House (Farnsworth House) at 401 Baltimore Street. #13 is the McClellan House (Jennie Wade House) at 548 Baltimore Street. This map was created at approximately 9:00 PM on Sunday, January 11, 2009.



The house is named for Jennie Wade, whose statue is located on the west side of the house. However, she did not live here, and this was a double house. Her brother-in-law, John Louis McClellan (1838-1913), owned the north (left) side of the structure, and Catharine McClain (1829-) owned the south (right) side of the building. This view was taken facing east at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



On June 26, 1863, Jennie’s sister, Georgia Wade McCellan (1841-1927) had a baby in this house. Louis Kenneth McClellan (1863-1941) was born on the day that Confederate Jubal Early’s Confederates first entered Gettysburg. Jennie and her mother, Mary Ann Filby Wade (1820-1892) lived on Breckinridge Street with Mary’s sons Samuel Wade (1851-1927) and Harry Wade (1855-1906), and with Isaac Brinkerhoff (1857-). They would all be at the McClellan House to take care of Georgia and to hopefully escape from the battle which began northwest of town on July 1, 1863. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



As Union soldiers retreated through the town and past the McClellan/McClain House, located near the foot of Cemetery Hill, Jennie Wade brought water from a well located on the east side of the house for the soldiers. This view was taken from the facing northeast at approximately 4:40 PM on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.



By the evening of the first day, the battle lines became stabilized, with Union troops in this area on Cemetery Hill, and Confederates occupying the houses a couple of hundred yards away (such as the Sweney House, Garlach House, and Winebrenner House). Although this house was not used to house Union troops, the Union soldiers were constantly skirmishing around the house, and frequently coming to the house to ask the occupants for food. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



Union soldiers were wounded (some mortally) around the McClellan House, and the vacant lot in front of it on July 1, 1863. That night, Jennie Wade came out of the house to bring the soldiers food and water. This view was taken facing south at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



While many other families in the town hid in the basements/cellars, the residents of this house were not as careful. The McClains on the right (south) side of the house were using the upper floors on July 1st and July 2nd. The Wades/McClellans on the left (north) side of the house all had their beds or other furniture items on which to sleep on the first (main) floor. This view was taken facing east at approximately 4:40 PM on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.



The McClellan House was not a very safe place, as over the three days of battle, it was stated that over 150 bullets hit the sides of the structure. Minie Ball damage is visible below this window on the north side of the house. This view was taken facing south at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



The morning of July 2, 1863, the skirmishing between the two sides began in earnest, and would continue throughout that day. This view was taken facing south at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



And while Confederate bullets were peppering the sides of the house, especially the west, and here the south side, Jennie Wade and her mother were inside the kitchen baking bread for the many hungry Union soldiers in this area. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



That afternoon a Confederate artillery shell hit the southern part of the house, near the roof. It did not explode, but Jenny Wade fainted. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



The artillery shell made a large hole in the wall separating the McClellan and McClain sides of the building. It alerted the McClain family on this south side of the house to their dangerous situation, and they finally went to their basement for the rest of the battle. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



The Wade/McClellan Family, on this north side of the house, closer to the enemy, continued to stay on the main floor. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



The fire kept the occupants on edge. They had not slept well the night of July 1st, and Confederates from Louisiana would attack Cemetery Hill just east of the house on the evening of July 2, 1863. This view was taken facing east at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



The United States soldiers finally drove the Confederates off the top of Cemetery Hill that night, but Jennie and her mother kept baking bread. This view was taken facing east at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



The night of July 2, 1863, Jennie and her mother were running out of flour. Soldiers came to the door to beg for bread as late as 9:00 PM, after the fighting was over behind the house at the top of the hill. Jennie and her mother had to start more yeast, which was mixed into sponge late that night. It was left to rise the morning of July 3, 1863. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



At 4:30 in the morning of July 3, 1863, Jennie and her brother Harry went outside to retrieve wood for the fire to bake the bread dough. Therefore, in the dark house on the United States skirmish line that morning, a fire was burning. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



A soldier came to the door that morning to ask for food, and was told to come back after the bread was ready. The family had their breakfast, and Jennie then laid down on a lounge in the north parlor. She began to read her Bible. This view was taken facing south at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



She was reading from Psalms 27 and Psalms 30, especially the verses that included the words, “The Lord is my light and my slavation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” Her sister Georgia became very uncomfortable hearing these words, and asked that Jennie stop reading the passages. Jennie said, “If there is anyone in this house that is to be killed today, I hope it is me, as George has that little baby.” This view was taken facing south at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



Around 7:00 AM, Confederates fired multiple shots towards the north side of the building. One bullet entered the right (west) window, struck Georgia’s bedpost, hit the wall, and fell at the foot of the bed where Georgia and her baby were laying. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



Around 8:00 AM, Jennie decided that she must finish baking the bread which she had promised the soldiers she would make. She began to knead the flour and baking soda at a mixing tray. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



At approximately 8:30 AM, Jennie asked her mother to start the fire in the stove so that she could bake the dough. A Confederate bullet penetrated the outer door on the north side of the house, passed through another door and into Jennie Wade’s back below the left shoulder blade. It pierced her heart and rested in her corset at the front of her body. This view was taken facing south at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



Her hands were still covered with dough, which along with the flour was strewn all over the room. The bullet entered the door on the right side, at the hole near the middle, and top of the right handrail. The hole has a dark stain near it. This view was taken facing south at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



Here is a closeup of the hole in the door through which the fatal shot passed. This view was taken facing south at approximately 4:40 PM on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.



Mrs. Wade watched Jennie fall and saw her lying in a puddle of blood. Almost calmly, she walked into the next room and announced to her remaining daughter: “Georgia, your sister is dead.” Georgia’s screams brought Union soldiers running to the house. This view was taken facing east at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



Jennie’s body was wrapped in a quilt, and the soldiers had the family go upstairs. They made the hole through which the artillery shell had come through the afternoon before larger. They then took everyone, including Jennie’s body, to the McClain side of the house, and into the McClain basement. There both families would stare at the body from approximately 8:30 AM on July 3, 1863 until 1:00 PM on July 4, 1863. This view was taken facing east at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



Then these sympathetic soldiers convinced Jennie’s mother, a reluctant Mary Wade, to go back through the house and finish baking the bread. Mary Wade baked 15 loaves of bread, keeping her head turned from the bloodstained part of the floor. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



It is difficult to get a good idea of where the shot came from because the landscape has changed on this side Cemetery Hill significantly over the years. The Holiday Inn was constructed in the 1970s, one of its major selling points being, “the ideal central location in Gettysburg’s Historic District.” This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



Its close proximity to the Jennie Wade House partially obscures it from view. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 4:40 PM on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.



When one stands at the north door of the Jennie Wade House and looks back to see from where the fatal shot came, here is the view of Gettysburg’s Historic District. Various places claim the distinction of being the location where the fatal shot was fired. The candidates include the John Rupp House, the Harvey Sweney House, and the Schriver House. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 4:40 PM on Tuesday, January 13, 2009.



On July 4, 1863, at approximately 4:00 PM, “Jennie’s body had been carried from the cellar and placed in a coffin on the brick pavement outside the cellar doors on the south side of the house.” The coffin was one which the Confederates had taken material from the Henry Garlach House to the Daniel Culp House for one of their Colonels. One of the most likely candidates was Colonel Isaac Avery, whose North Carolina soldiers failed to take Cemetery Hill the night of July 2nd. The Confederates had to leave Gettysburg before the coffin was completed. It was finished and given to the Wades for Jennie. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



Her body was not embalmed. Her family and six to eight soldiers attended the funeral. There were no prayers or hymns. This was the first of three burial places for Jennie Wade. The second burial place was in January, 1864 at the cemetery which at that time was for members of the German Reformed Church. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 4:30 PM on Wednesday, January 21, 2009.



Her third burial and final resting place was in Evergreen Cemetery in November, 1865. The monument was placed here on August 17, 1900, and the flagpole was placed here in 1910. The flag flies day and night as a historical custom and without specific legal authority. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 8:00 AM on Monday, December 22, 2008.

See the following related posts:

Gettysburg’s John Winebrenner House Battle Damage on February 3, 2009.
Gettysburg’s Henry Garlach House Battle Damage on January 24, 2009.
Gettysburg’s Methodist Parsonage Cannonball on January 22, 2009.
Gettysburg Female Institute Artillery Projectile on January 16, 2009.
Gettysburg’s Samuel Schmucker House Artillery Shell on January 15, 2009.
Gettysburg’s Carrie Sheads House Artillery Shell on January 13, 2009.
Gettysburg’s David Troxell Artillery Shell on January 9, 2009.
Gettysburg’s Crass-Barbehenn Artillery Shell on January 7, 2009.
Gettysburg’s John Kuhn House Artillery Shell on January 6, 2009.
Wills Building Artillery Shell Might be the Actual Shell on January 2, 2009.
Gettysburg’s McClean House Artillery Shell on December 27, 2008.
Christmas Decorations on the Carrie Sheads House on December 25, 2008.
Sweney House (Farnsworth House) Christmas Decorations on December 24, 2008.
Christmas Decorations at the Gettysburg Academy on December 21, 2008.
Civil War Artillery with Licensed Battlefield Guide George Newton on November 21, 2008.
Hanover’s Henry Winebrenner House on November 11, 2008.


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