Ginnie Wade

Ginnie Wade

Usually the armies were good about rounding up local soldiers to serve as Guides. One of the first things Longstreet did when he got to Chickamauga, in GA, was to find two brothers in one of his regiments whose farm was in the middle of the battlefield and use them as guides.

AT Gettysburg, at least one such source was overlooked. Wesley Culp - of Culp's Hill fame - was serving in the Stonewall Brigade, but was never called upon to help out. ( TERRY MOYER) says:

I know that someone had posted a request some time ago, requesting information concerning instances of brothers fighting on opposite sides during the Civil War. In _The Jennie Wade Story (A True and Complete Account of the Only Civilian Killed During the Battle of Gettysburg)_ by Cindy Small there is a description of such an engagement called according to the author, 'the battle of Carter's Woods', in Va. In this case Wesley Culp in the 2d Va. Inf. and William Culp, his brother in the 87th Pa Vol., are said to have both participated in the battle on opposite sides. See page 16, 1st paragraph. The book is published by Thomas Publications (address is on the web site) and is readily available in the burg. The source cited for this reference is the Gettysburg Times, April 28, 1973. (Nikki Roth-Skiles) says:

Along this same line, Greg Coco in his books _On The Bloodstained Field_, On The Bloodstained Field II_ and _War Stories_ writes of brothers who fought on opposite sides at Gettysburg. In most of the cases in his books, if not all, the brothers were reunited at Gettysburg upon one being taken prisoner by the other side. In one case, they were actually in units about 100 yards apart. These books are also published by Thomas Publications and are readily available - where else - the Burg!! (Nikki Roth-Skiles) says:

According to Cindy Small's book, _The Jennie Wade Story_, 1991, Thomas Publications - the McClellan family (Jennie's sister who had the baby and at whose home Jennie was killed) still believed in 1991 that Jack Skelly had sent a message to Jennie with Wesley Culp, but since no one involved had survived, there was no way to prove it. Since the letter was never delivered or found, no one knows what was written in it. As to where Wesley Culp was buried - "On the evening of July 3, B.S. Pendleton, an orderly with the Stonewall Brigade, told Wesley's sisters the sad news of Culp's death. He soon left their home after minutely describing the burial spot as he had taken the pains to remember it. Wesley was supposedly buried under a crooked tree on Culp's Hill, his grave plainly marked. Wesley's sisters, Annie and Julia searched for their brother's grave along with uncles and cousins, but all looked in vain for the body. They found dozens of broken trees and lots of bodies under them, but they never found Wesley. They were able only to find the stock of a rifle with the words "W. Culp" carved on it." The author goes on to theorize maybe the family found the body but left it there due to possible anger by the residents over burying him in a local cemetery.


John Kelly says:

During our cemetery tour, the rumors about Jennie Wade's character were mentioned in an off-handed manner. This is the first I've heard of this, but the rumors/facts/ speculation were apparently virulent enough to drive the family to move to Iowa. Is there any one who has documentation on this, or more information to substantiate these rumors?


Jack Kelly

I know a few Gettysburg residents, and they all seem to echo the same sentiments; one said that she wasn't baking bread in that house; she was entertaining soldiers. I doubt if there is any documentation, and the whole thing sounds like the typical kind of character assasination that people like to go into about well-known people, and also the usual local questioning of a single woman's character, but there might be something to it...

Stephen Haas ( TERRY MOYER) says:

Cindy Small (Greg Coco's wife) put out a small book through Dean Thomas publishers (see Web page: [book-slingers] for ordering info) entitled: _The Jennie Wade Story / A true and completed account of the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg_

The book has just about everything that is known about Jenny (Ginny) Wade included in it (the full details of the Jack Skelly, Wesley Culp, Jenny Wade 'message' story, etc.). There are several small appendices at the end covering non-story line related asides such as: II. The Moral Factor in Determining the Reputation of Mary Virginia Wade (pg 60-62). III The Relationship Between Jennie Wade and Jack Skelly(62-64) IV. Why Was John Burns antagonistic toward Jennie Wade and others in Gettysburg.

I don't have time to excerpt from these this a.m. (got to go to work), but this book contains some great information about the stranger-than-you-think story of Jennie (such as her 3 burials).

Wm Howard: you can pick this book up anywhere in the burg; especially the visitor's center and/or J.Wade house.

Terry Moyer (Tom Desjardin) says:

Like so many other wonderful Gettysburg books (shameless plug for my publisher) THE JENNIE WADE STORY is available through Thomas Publications.

Regarding the source of this HIGHLY SPECULATIVE discussion about Jennie's character

In her account of the battle, Tillie Pierce Alleman wrote of a young man living with her family on Baltimore Street. His name was Sam and he was Jennie's brother. Jennie lived diagonally across B'more street in the house now occupied by the GBPA. Jennie was worried about her brother who tried to take and hide the Pierce horses.

"About this time the boy's sister, who was standing a short distance off, screamed at the top of her voice to Mother: 'If the Rebs take Sam off, I don't know what I'll do with you folks!' Thus holding us responsible for her brother Sam's safety even in times like that."

Later in the day (July 1) Jennie apparently told CSA soldiers that Tillie's father was a "black Abolitionist; so black, that he was turning black; also that he had two sons in the Union army, whom he supposed had taken as much from the South as they were now taking from him." Tillie believed that this caused the CSA men to keep the Pierce's horses.

"I am afraid her (Jennie's) sympathies were not as much for the Union as they should have been. She certainly manifested a very unkind disposition toward our family, who had been doing all we could for her brother. It would surprise a great many to learn who this person was, but as no detraction is intended, I will dismiss the subject at once."

John Burns once made a sort of flippant comment about Jennie as well...

"I knew Miss Wade very well. The less said about her the better. The story about her loyalty, her being killed while serving Union soldiers, etc., is all of fiction, got up by some sensation correspondent. You can refer to any loyal citizen for the truth...I could call her a she-rebel."

Most of these statements could reasonably be attributed to either schoolgirl jealousies or Burns jeaolousy over Jennie as a competitor for local hero status. It is interesting, however, that so many claim she was promiscuous or "loose" as if any criticism of a 19th century woman must be really about that.

Cindy Small's book offers other information as well.

Tom Desjardin


Esteemed member "Theresa Stimson" Bob

: According to Conklin (p. 129), quoted from J.W. Johnston's "The True Story of Jennie Wade," at about 7am on July 3rd, the Confederate sharpshooters began firing at the north windows of the house. The prep work to bake biscuits was begun at 8am. At "about 8:30am," a Confederate bullet penetrated two doors, striking Jenny in her back, beneath her left shoulder blade, embedding itself in her corset. She "fell dead without a groan." In the early afternoon of July 4th, Mrs. Wade baked 15 loaves of bread from the dough which Jenny had kneaded.

As for your question of why were they baking bread in the first place: it would appear that the family spent most of July 1st, and part of the 2nd, filling the canteens of Union soldiers and passing out bread. Their supply had dwindled, and on the morning of the 3rd, they were simply baking more bread to give to the Union soldiers.


Esteemed member Laurie Chambliss Theresa--

On the Jenny and the Bread situation, thanks for the background. To tell you the truth, I have never looked into her activities and was not aware of a lot of the details.

As far as her possibly being, how do we put this politely? A few pickles short of a picnic? No, that would not be polite...I will settle for "mentally slow". I submit the following.

1) My grandmother was born in 1899 and grew up in exceedingly rural Missouri, with kitchen technology not much, if any, advanced from that available in 1860's Pennsylvania. We talk a great deal about her early life, and she talks about bread baking like we treat brushing our teeth--just a daily fact of life. Lack of preservatives, refrigeration, etc., and the huge appetites engendered by farm life, made it something you had to do every day even if a battle wasn't going on.

2) The one little-known fact I DO know about Jenny is that her father was not a stable fellow at all. He was up on criminal charges several times, including assault, rape, and bastardy. He was eventually committed to the Adams County Almshouse by his wife, and died there. His wife, on the other hand, took the child he had begotten during the rape and raised it as a member of her family.

3) People have an amazing capacity to ignore calamitous things going on around them, as if, if they ignore it, it will go away. Look at how people behave even now in floods, fires, etc. I can easily see an attitude that, well, if these folks want to have a battle here that's their problem, I am going to get on with business.

Just a few random thoughts on ol' Jen..