Gettysburg Lore, Part 2
One of the compelling stories around the Battle of Gettysburg tells the story of a young woman named Jennie Wade. Mary Virginia Wade was born in Gettysburg and grew up there, and was 20 years old at the time of the battle. She worked as a seamstress with her mother. Early in the war, she became engaged to Corporal Johnston “Jack” Skelly, who served in the 87th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. When Confederate troops first approached the town, she and her mother and their border left their home and moved in with Jennie’s sister Georgia McClellan, who had just given birth. Georgia’s house was made of brick, and as the battle developed, the house on Baltimore Street sheltered the inhabitants, who baked fresh bread and distributed it to the Union soldiers, as well as filling their canteens. On July 2, their supply of loaves was diminishing, and Jennie and her mother made another large batch and left it to rise overnight. On the morning of July 3, Jennie was up to kneed the dough, in spite of Confederate sniper fire hitting the house. As she worked, a Confederate musket bullet came through the outside door, down the hall, and through the kitchen door, and struck her in the back, killing her instantly. Union soldiers nearby came and helped take her body down to the cellar. Her mother went ahead and finished the batch of dough and baked the bread Jennie had been kneeding.
Unknown to her, her fiancé Corp. Skelly had been wounded at the Battle of Winchester on May 13, and taken prisoner. While in the Confederate hospital, he met Wesley Culp, a boyhood friend from Gettysburg who had gone South before the war, and was in the Confederate Army at the time.
|Wesley Culp, 2nd Virginia Inf. Reg.|
Skelly died of his wounds on July 12, and still did not know the fate his fiancée Miss Wade. Culp, as it turns out, was unable to deliver the note, as he was shot and killed while fighting on the slopes of Culp’s Hill, on his family farm.
|Corp. Johnston "Jack" Skelly, 87th Penn. V.I.|