The small brick house situated outside the main town square of Gettysburg, PA is overshadowed by the hustling and bustling of tourists and the sheer height of the neighboring hotel. However, the Jennie Wade House is far more than a small brick structure. There is plenty of history that lies within its’ walls and behind the statue of the matriarch of the house. Still to this day, there are bullet holes, cannonade stuck in the walls, and even walls which were destroyed during the Battle of Gettysburg. In the early days of July, 1863, the house was in the epicenter of a bloody battle which would dictate the outcome of America. At the time, no on was aware of its’ importance. Jennie Wade was one of few civilians who stayed behind to help watch over her family, but years later, she would stand for so much more.
Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade became a household name following the Civil War, infamous for being the only civilian to die during the three-day battle in the small town. Even though the name suggests it, the Jennie Wade House was never her home. It was the house her sister, Georgia, lived in. Only four days prior to the battle, Georgia had given birth. Because of that, Jennie and her family stayed at the house with Georgia to help support her through the battle.
Even though the majority of the national battlefields are located in fields and woods, the town itself was a large part of the battle. Sharpshooters were positioned all throughout the town. They would sneak up to attics and rooftops to attempt to eliminate as many patrols as they could without being spotted. A Confederate sniper spotted Union patrols outside of the Jennie Wade House and fired. The bullet missed the intended target and passed through two solid wooden doors. Jennie Wade was kneading bread in the kitchen as that stray bullet penetrated the doors. It entered her shoulder, entered her heart, and killed her.
It is quite astounding that Jennie Wade was the only civilian to die during the bloodiest battle in American history. The public and the town of Gettysburg grieved for her and her family. Jennie Wade became a heroine and a statue and hospital were both named in her honor. Her sister’s home was preserved and can still be toured today. The town truly honored its’ fallen hero who never even picked up a rifle, she fought for her family the only way she knew how; with her heart.
A bloodstained floorboard from Jennie Wade’s fatal wound is preserved inside the home. This floorboard was scrubbed tirelessly but was never able to be removed. It has been said that Jennie Wade does not want anyone to forget about the tragedy of the war and the extreme loss of lives in the town, and that she refuses to let the bloodstain disappear because of it.
The doors where the bullet struck are still in operation and the bullet holes can be seen to this day. Rumors claim that if female guests stick their finger in the bullet hole, and it fits, they will be given a gift of a marriage proposal that year. These legends state that since the engaged Jennie Wade was unable to marry her love, that she does not want any other woman to experience her fate.
It is reported that Jennie Wade has been seen wandering the house and grounds waiting for her beloved to return to her in the afterlife. There have been countless photographs of oddities throughout the house. Shadows show up in these pictures, peering out of windows and even on the front porch of the house just looking out in the distance, as if waiting for a long-lost love. Other experiences of the paranormal include footsteps and doors opening and closing on their own, as if someone is walking through the house. A loud bang noise has been heard from the kitchen as if a replay of Jennie Wade’s fatal fall and last moments is scarred into the house forever, replaying for all eternity.