" Georgeanna, Your Sister Is Dead ", Ginnie Wade , July 3, 1863

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,184
Location
Central Pennsylvania
mcclellan wade house.jpg

Tipton's era ( ish ) photo of Georgeanna McClellan's half of the duplex shows the old basement doors entered from the street. Her sister's body was carried there, a battle making burial hazardous. Mary Filey Wade, Harry Wade, Ike Brinkerhof, Lewis Kenneth McClellan and mother Georgia huddled feet away in darkness. Until the shooting stopped.

From legend to myth, lost in Time, our women's war seems fossilizing into irretrievable molds poured for them, not deliberately but perhaps carelessly. Dad used to say " The Civil War was yesterday. " I never got that until fairly recently. It really was not long ago, generationally and close enough we can still reach back and listen to our women, faithfully recording their war, finally. And forever. Would like to delve into a few stories, one by one, with a good halogen flashlight.

Mary Virginia Wade, our poor " Jenny ", seems a perfect victim of historical happenstance.

wade location 1.jpg
wade location 2.jpg

We all know our setting- our Gettysburg. Did anyone know ' Evergreen ' was called ' Citizen's Town Cemetery '? Mary Virginia's Cemetery, not far to go, from her sister's house.

With Buford's Cavalry clanking and ratting through Gettysburg streets, an unsettled citizenry greeted them, front ranks among them, young girls waving handkerchiefs and singing patriotic songs. names still threaded through Time in Gettysburg crowded for a view- the Culp girls, Sophia, Mary, Florie, Dora Fleming, Anna Garlach, Sallie McClellan, Salome, Susie and Jennie Myers, the Powers sisters, Alice and Jane- it's a familiar list.

Who was not there? Mary Virginia Wade. Not yet at her married sister's home, either. Why? Little busy. Brother James, 17, had been sewn into his new uniform and hurried out of town, bugler in one of the call-ups, 21st PA Cavalry, Co. B. 6 year old Ike Brinkerhoff lived with them, his mother working ' out '. Some muscular weakness prevented the child from walking hence the Wade family as caretakers. Crowded house- brother Sam skedaddled with men safeguarding Gettysburg horses.

Legend is correct, Mary Virginia was engaged to be married, and that September. Compounding the tragedy, doomed Union soldier Jack Skelly would not come home. Compounding both tragedies, 150 years later rumors bubbled up on some infidelity, on Mary Virginia's part. Can find exactly no source or reason to believe it to be true.

Riding out the storm in sister Georgia McClellan's home, the little band consisted of six- Mary Ann Filey Wade, Mary Virginia's mother, Harry Wade, Ike Brinkerhof, Georgeanna , 5 week old Lewis Kenneth McClellan and Mary Virginia Wade. Until everyone was huddled in the basement, gruesomely confined with her body... then there were only five civilians and a dead loved one. " Wrapped in a quilt sister Georgia had pieced together at the age of 5, soldiers carried her up ". She'd been known in life, affectionately, as " Ginnie ".

wades comfort mcclellan.jpg

Georgia ( Georgeanna ) , Mary Comfort and Mary Virginia- we've all seen this around a gazillion times, maybe without seeing them. 1861, beginning of the end.

Posthumously christened ' Jenny ' by a journalist, buried in a coffin partially constructed and hastily abandoned, intended for a Confederate officer, the shattered little remaining band was largely ignored by History. Even Mary Virginia, re-named and dubbed heroine-patriot in death, has been ignored. Why would I say that, when ' Jenny Wade ' is one of Gettysburg's most famous stories? Because it was not her name, the ' Jennie Wade ' house was her sister's half of a duplex and did anyone know she had brothers?
wade nephew lewis.jpg

Terrible photo, it's Tipton and was tiny to begin with- from an Archives book on Mary Virginia's story. This is Lewis Kenneth McClellan, Wade's nephew.


Mary Virginia Wade deserves so much more than the rather ignomious fate we've granted her. Last seen dead of a bullet wound, dough clinging to her fingers, another Wade death, in another war occurred September 1tth, 1777. Colonel Chidley Wade, at The Battle of Brandywine. Colonel Chidley was her grandfather. Shouldn't we know this of our much vaunted, still mourned American patriot, ' Jenny ' Wade, as part of her narrative? James, her father, was Captain, if ' only ' the 80th PA militia

Georgeanna Wade McClellan buried her sister, handed baby Lewis to her mother, July 5th, and headed for the hospitals. To nurse wounded men. Her husband had answered Lincoln's first call. No one knew if he had heard he had a son, or had lost a sister.

wade house door snip.JPG

Pitted brick, a single hole. And the cellar doors, lower left. Rest well, Ginnie Wade.

*edited thread title and text respelling ' Georgia ', to ' Georgeanna ' based on how her name is spelled by her family, on Find a Grave .
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,184
Location
Central Pennsylvania
These were small homes albeit normal, if you were a young couple beginning life. I can't find who owned it at the time but being a duplex, it could have an inexpensive, purposefully built little place. You can't imagine a lot of attention went into repointing bricks and leveling foundations.

Small? Both sides together are 32 feet, across. Less than 15 per, when you subtract wall thickness. Think about the size of that cellar. Width would have been better but not a lot.

wade house 32 feet.jpg
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,184
Location
Central Pennsylvania
I'd always thought Ginnie's sister was Georgiana, not Georgia, and continuously found ' Georgia ' - 1860's census states Georgiana, although census are not infallible. It does back up something, which is their sewing abilities ( not mentioned except as Sam's uniform was being fitted ). Also no idea what happened to Sarah Little and Augustus- may also be boarders, like Ike.

Mary Virginia may also have been a milliner, crazy stuff. She's young, to have a profession listed here. Georgia/Georgiana was, Mary, mother, tailor, we know Mary Virginia sewed- we see her at it, sewing a brother into a uniform.


wade family 1860.JPG
 
Last edited:

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,184
Location
Central Pennsylvania
wade house era.jpg

In this era shot, the fence separating the two homes is visible, two entrances, two doors and walkways. It was taken down, as a museum- will find who politely asked the other family to please vacate, and who they were. Can you imagine? Famous neighbor famously deceased, please go away, we'd like your home?

wade house museum.jpg

McClennen / ??? house.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,184
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Well, here's something no one mentioned at the time. James Wade, Ginnie's father, whose illness is spoken of but not his death, was from Virginia, naming a daughter ' Mary Virginia ' not such a mystery and WAITAGOSHDARNMINUTE. Was ' Jenny ' really an accident?

Hang on. Would this story, turning this poor, dear girl into a ' patriot ', a symbol for all which was fought for and a martyr ( they did, or tried it ), have worked if her name had been ' Virginia ' ( 1850's census ) interestingly turned into ' Mary V ', by 1860 ? AND named ' Virginia ' because her father was ( gasp ) SOUTHERN?

wade famil 1850.JPG

Er, James, tailor, from Virginia, daughter Mary Virginia referred to as ' Virginia ' in 1850, and ' Mary V ' by the 1860 census? Interesting.

Look. Hope I'm balanced enough poker-around-in-Time to withstand being scoffed at, no shock-horror for the sake of causig a ruckus here. James is also nowhere in sight in 1860, author carefully stating ' broken health ' ( does not say dead ), and eldest son, John/James, in uniform somewhere in 1863, out of sight, in 1860.

BTW, James and Mary had a daughter in 1849, Martha, who must have died- Ginnie was not Mary Filey Wade's first loss.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,184
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Yes, at the time of the battle, James, Sr, was alive, not dying until 1872. He died in the Alms House, of which we've seen photos. If his health was broken, it is unclear why he would have been separated from his wife and daughters, who could have nursed him? Really do not mean to be so intrusive, it's just part of story, badly truncated and partially obscured. Why? Not a widow, there is some deeper tragedy here suffered by Mary Wade, family losses we cannot fathom.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,184
Location
Central Pennsylvania
You just must see Georgiana, husband and her son Lewis, heck, the family attached to all this, on Find A Grave. The name ' Jenny ' remains prevalent on markers but the rest of the information is crazy good- a photo of one of our grand old dames, a Civil War nurse serving not just Gettysburg but other battles under Annie Wittenmeyer can be found. Crazy good history on one of most famous names- if we would but look.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60505475/georgeanna-McClellan

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/76096487/lewis-kenneth-McClellan

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60505504/john-louis-McClellan


And Ah Ha. Eldest Wade, James was Virginia's half brother, his mother was Mary Kuhn. Born 1839.

" Civil War veteran, he enlisted in Harrisburg October 31, 1862, and mustered into federal service there November 8 as a private with Battery C, 3rd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery (152nd Pa). Allegedly, he served as dispatch carrier for General Darius Couch. On April 1, 1864, he and many comrades transferred to Co. I, 188th Pennsylvania Infantry, and he honorably discharged with his company November 8, 1865. " From Find a Grave, another of our veterans we were fortunate to have welcomed home, post war.
 
Last edited:

AnnaLee

First Sergeant
Joined
Sep 4, 2017
Messages
1,302
In the old Gettysburg Museum I remember seeing a door with a bullet hole in it. I may be wrong but I thought the label said it was the bullet that killed Ginnie Wade. Any thoughts on this?
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

GS

Retired User
Joined
Jan 31, 2017
Messages
2,529
Thank you for this post. Annie, once again you've brought the War's cruel reality home to our hearts, the shattered humanity... collateral damage. May dear Ginnie rest in peace.
 

James N.

Lt. Colonel
Forum Host
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Featured Book Reviewer
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Messages
12,020
Location
East Texas
A Tour of the Jennie Wade House
DSC04457.JPG

In the old Gettysburg Museum I remember seeing a door with a bullet hole in it. I may be wrong but I thought the label said it was the bullet that killed Ginnie Wade. Any thoughts on this?
According to the current tour guide pictured above during my 2016 September to Remember visit these are original bullet holes in the door and door facing. This is the north side of the house which faced toward the Confederate lines in the buildings in the south edge of town. The hole in the door would've of course been the fatal shot.

DSC04458.JPG

DSC04460.JPG

The bullet had to also penetrate the interior door above that separated the kitchen; it passed through and struck Jennie in the back as she stood at the shelves in the background. Her body fell on the floor between the door and the shelving unit.

DSC04461.JPG


Below, the bedroom where her sister was still bedridden following the birth of her child; note Jennie's portrait above the fireplace:

DSC04459.JPG


At the time nothing could be done with her body until the battle was over, so she was carried into the basement and her body laid on the bench below.

DSC04462.JPG


Thank you for this post. Annie, once again you've brought the War's cruel reality home to our hearts, the shattered humanity... collateral damage. May dear Ginnie rest in peace.
And indeed she does, in Evergreen Cemetery, where the flag flies over her grave both day and night:

DSC04472.JPG
 
Last edited:
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Tom Elmore

2nd Lieutenant
Member of the Year
Joined
Jan 16, 2015
Messages
2,534
Excerpt from: Fourth Annual Pilgrimage of the 15th New Jersey Volunteers Veteran Association, May 11-15, 1909, p. 67; New Jersey State Library, Trenton, call # AM/Fiche No. 506 (139)

"The women in the party particularly were attracted to the Jennie Wade house. It was in this house that the only woman victim of the battle of Gettysburg lost her life. She was in the kitchen of the modest little house, kneading bread, when a bullet entered the door and struck her in the back, killing her instantly. In the front room of the house at the time was her sister and a son only a few days old. This woman, now an old lady, is still living, as is also the son. They reside in the West and visit Gettysburg every year or two. The interior of the Jennie Wade house is well riddled by bullet marks and the mark produced by the bullet which killed Jennie Wade is viewed with extraordinary curiosity."
 

Yankeedave

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Dec 3, 2012
Messages
4,740
Location
Colorado
What's with the bricks ? In the first photo, they look like a drunk layed them but in the one of the door, they are all nice and straight.
There isn't a level line in any of it. Looks like drunks took the photos. Not lady giving the tour tho. She looks very nice. But she should be careful they have missed her five times.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Mrs. V

First Sergeant
Joined
May 5, 2017
Messages
1,706
Amazing and heart rending, all in one go. She likely never knew that the sting was a mortal injury. Brings to the forefront that no one was safe during the War between the States. It was the first time we experienced total war.
 

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 14, 2012
Messages
19,184
Location
Central Pennsylvania
Excerpt from: Fourth Annual Pilgrimage of the 15th New Jersey Volunteers Veteran Association, May 11-15, 1909, p. 67; New Jersey State Library, Trenton, call # AM/Fiche No. 506 (139)

"The women in the party particularly were attracted to the Jennie Wade house. It was in this house that the only woman victim of the battle of Gettysburg lost her life. She was in the kitchen of the modest little house, kneading bread, when a bullet entered the door and struck her in the back, killing her instantly. In the front room of the house at the time was her sister and a son only a few days old. This woman, now an old lady, is still living, as is also the son. They reside in the West and visit Gettysburg every year or two. The interior of the Jennie Wade house is well riddled by bullet marks and the mark produced by the bullet which killed Jennie Wade is viewed with extraordinary curiosity."

Found a photo of an adult Lewis, that famous baby, with his brothers and Georgeanna, very elderly. I can't post it because I didn't ask permission. Her grave is fascinating! I knew she handed Lewis to her mother and went straight to the hospitals like every, other Gettysburg woman. Did not know her work continued through the war. Annie Wittenmeyer, is mentioned by her family, as who she was assigned to work under! If she was rubbing elbows with Annie, she saw battlefield hospitals equal to those she encountered at Gettysburg.

It's a crazy good Gettysburg, family story, not always tragic. Would the war have been enriched by another vital nurse, had her sister not been killed? No idea. Maybe? Brother barely in his teens answered the call for men, during the invasion, half brother, enlisted early and found the mysterious father a Captain in 1840, forming a company. Poor Mary Virginia had company, in a patriotic family, goodness.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top