At Home and in the Field The Newsletter of The Society for Women and the Civil War

Download 122.65 Kb.
Size122.65 Kb.
  1   2

At Home and in the Field Volume VIII Number 2

At Home and in the Field
The Newsletter of The Society for Women and the Civil War Volume XII, Number 3

Thanks to those members who renewed their memberships! Welcome to all new members! Remember, an SWCW membership makes a great gift all year round!

Our mission statement: To increase awareness and understanding of women's roles related to the Civil War through education and scholarship.

What do Belle Boyd and Jennie Wade have in common?

Belle Boyd and Jennie Wade are the subjects of the essays that won this year’s Scholarship Contest.. See the wonderful essays that won the awards in this issue of At Home and in the Field.

Our Women and the War” Harper’s Weekly, September 6, 1862 page 570

Call for Proposals Conference on Women and the Civil War 2014
The Society for Women and the Civil War is seeking proposals for presentations for its 2014 Conference on Women and the Civil War. The Conference will be held in Nashville, TN, July 25 – 27, 2014. As part of our Sesquicentennial Remembrance of the women of the Civil War era, our 2014 Conference will highlight the women of 1864 especially those associated with having the war brought to their homes with the theme “War at Her Doorstep.” We invite proposals examining all the women of the homefront and in the field, of the North or the South.

The Society for Women and the Civil War is dedicated to recognizing the lives and efforts of women from 1861-1865, both Union and Confederate, showcasing original and innovative research in its conferences.

Potential presenters should submit:

1. A synopsis of the presentation, not more than 3 pages. The synopsis must include a description of visual aids used to illustrate and highlight the presentation.

2. A bibliography of the sources used, with an emphasis on the primary sources.
3. A personal vitae or biography, not more than 1 page, including contact information.

Submissions will be evaluated principally on the following criteria:

1. Originality of the topic.

2. Relevance of the topic to the lives and efforts of women in the Civil War era.
3. Quality of research, highlighting the use of primary sources.
4. Quality of the presentation, including use of visual aids.
5. Anticipated interest-level in the topic.

We encourage submissions from graduate students and are particularly interested in student subjects examined from a micro-history perspective. Only presentations based on original research will be considered for selection.

Send your submission, and any questions or inquiries to: Meg Galante-DeAngelis at or
Deadline: All submissions must be RECEIVED by November 30, 2013. The Society will contact all submitters in January 2014. Presentation submission indicates acceptance to speak if selected by the Conference Committee.

Cake, Pudding and Pie Recipes from Southern Newspapers

Collected by Vicki Betts

DALLAS HERALD, December 26, 1860, p. 4, c. 1

Cakes for the Holidays.

A lady correspondent of the American Agriculturist gives the following receipts for making good cake for the holidays:

Welcome Cake.—Stir a cup and a half of sugar and half a cup of butter together, with three well beaten eggs. Sift a teaspoonful of cream of tartar, and half a teaspoonful of soda with three small cups of flour; this, with half a cup of milk, must be mixed with the above, and baked in a moderately quick oven. By adding raisins and currents, ½ lb. of each, a very good fruit cake may be made.

New Year's Cake.—1 cup of butter, 1 of sugar, 1 teaspoonful of cream of tartar, ½ teaspoonful of soda, and caraway seeds to the taste. Flour must be added till the dough is fit to roll—these require a quick oven.
Spice Cake.—1 cup of sugar, 2 of molasses, ½ cup butter, a teaspoonful of spice, and one of soda dissolved in a little milk; add flour till it is quite stiff; then roll thin and cut in cakes. Bake quick.
Wealthy Cake.—Take ½ pound of butter, ¾ pound of sugar, the same of flour, 4 eggs, 2 lb. of seeded raisins, 1 pound of currants, ¼ pound of citron, 1 gill of brandy. Spice well with nutmeg and ground cloves. Bake slowly three hours. This cake will keep six months. Icing for the cake: beat the white of two eggs to a froth, then stir in half a pound of powdered sugar. Flavor with a little essence of lemon, and spread on with a knife when the cake is cold. 


January 19, 1860, p. 1, c. 2

Cranberry Pudding.--Boil one pint and a half of cranberries cleared of the stalks in four ounces of sugar and water, until they are broken and form a kind of jam; make up a large ball of; cover it well with rice washed clean and dry; then round each fold a floured piece of cloth, which tie as for dumplings. Boil them one hour; sift sugar over when served, and butter in a boat. 

BELLVILLE [TX] COUNTRYMAN, February 20, 1861, p. 4, c. 1

Golden Pie.—Take one lemon; grate the peel, and squeeze the pulp and juice in a bowl—be sure to remove every seed—to which add one teacup of new milk, one tablespoonful of powdered starch, and the yolks of three eggs, well beaten; pour this mixture into a nice paste crust, and bake slowly. Beat the whites of three eggs to a stiff froth, and when the pie is just done pour it over the top evenly, and return to the oven, just to stiffen, not brown. 

BELLVILLE [TX] COUNTRYMAN, June 5, 1861, p. 4, c. 2

Water muffins.—Sift one quart of flour; add one teaspoonful of salt; make a batter with tepid water, putting first into the flour two teaspoonful of cream tartar; when just ready to bake, add one teaspoonful of car soda [sic?], dissolved. Bake on a griddle, in rings.

COLUMBUS [GA] ENQUIRER, April 15, 1862, p. 2, c. 3

Rice Cakes.—As rice is the cheapest kind of food we have, as well as the most nutricious [sic], the following from a correspondent of the Field Notes, will be read by every good house-keeper with interest.

While visiting the West India Islands, I became very fond of rice, cooked after this fashion: they boil the rice in the usual manner and let it cool, then add a little water or milk to it, making it about the consistency of common buckwheat cakes. Add to this a little salt and a handful of flour, and bake on a griddle as you would batter cakes and buckwheat. An egg will help some by making them bake quicker. Try it, housekeepers; I think you will find it an excellent dish. Any dyspeptic can eat these rice cakes.

SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY [ATLANTA, GA], September 17, 1862, p. 2, c. 2

Receipts for Making Bread, &c., from Rice Flour.
Russell County, Ala., Sept. 8.

Eds. Sun: I read an article in one of your papers lately in which receipts for making different kinds of bread with rice flour, were inquired for and having a few that I think will be found good, I send them to you. They were printed in Charleston, S. C., several years ago.                                                           Respectfully, Elizabeth B. Lewis.

                To Make Loaf Rice Bread.--Boil a pint of rice soft, and a pint of leaven, then three quarts of rice flour, put it to raise in a tin or earthen vessel, until it has risen sufficiently; divide it into three parts and bake it as other bread, and you will have three large loaves. Or scald the flour, and when cold, mix half wheat flour or corn meal, raised with leaven in the usual way.

                Another.--One quart of rice flour: make it into a stiff pap, by wetting with warm water, not so hot as to make it lumpy, when well wet add boiling water, as much as two or three quarts, stir continually until it boils; put in 1/2 pint of yeast when it cools, and a little salt, knead as much wheat flour as will make it a proper dough for bread, put it to rise, and when it has risen add a little more wheat flour; let it stand in a warm place half an hour, and bake it. This same mixture only made thinner and baked in rings make excellent muffins.

                Journey or Jonny Cake.--To three spoonfuls of soft boiled rice, add a small tea-cup of water or milk, then add six spoonfuls of rice flour, which will make a large Jonny cake, or six waffles.

                Rice Cakes.--Take a pint of soft boiled rice, a half pint of milk or water, to which add twelve spoonfuls of the rice flour; divide it into small cakes and bake them in a brick oven.

             Rice Cakes Like Buckwheat.--Mix one-fourth wheat flour to three-fourths superfine rice flour, and raise it as buckwheat flour, bake it like buckwheat cakes.

                To Make Wafers.--Take a pint of warm water, a teaspoonful of salt, add a pint of the flour, and it will give you two dozen wafers.

                To Make Rice Puffs.--To a pint of the flour add a teaspoonful of salt, a pint of boiling water, beat up four eggs, stir them well together, put from two to three spoonfuls of lard in a pan, make it boiling hot, and fry as you do common fritters.

To Make a Rice Pudding.--Take a quart of milk, add a pint of the flour, boil them to a pap, beat up six eggs, to which add six spoonfuls of Havana sugar, and a spoonful of butter, which when well beaten together, add to the milk and flour, grease the pan it is to be baked in, grate nutmeg over the mixture and bake it.

                Rice Flour Sponge Cake.--Made like sponge cake except that you use 3/4 of a pound of rice flour, thirteen eggs, leaving out four whites, and add a little salt.

                Rice Flour Blance [sic] Mange.--Boil one quart of milk, season it to your taste with sugar and rose water, take four tablespoonfuls of the rice flour, mix it very smooth with cold milk, add this to the other milk while it is boiling, stirring it well; let all boil together about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally; then pour it into moulds and put it by to cool. This is a very favorite article for invalids.

                Rice Griddle Cakes.--Boil one large cup of whole cold rice quite soft in milk, and while hot stir in a little wheat flour or rice flour; when cold add two eggs and a little salt, bake in small thin cakes on the griddle.

                In every case in making rice flour bread, cake or pudding, a well boiled pap should be first made of all the milk and water and half the flour, and allowed to get perfectly cold before the other ingredients are added; it forms a support for them and prevents the flour from settling at the bottom; stir the whole a moment before it is set to cook. 

SAVANNAH [GA] REPUBLICAN, November 27, 1862, p. 1, c. 3

[For the Savannah Republican.]
Practical Hints for Hard Times.
"What man has done, man may do."

1. PRESERVING MEAT WITHOUT SALT.—We need salt as a relish to our food, but it is not essential to the preservation of our meats. The Indians used little or no salt, yet they preserved meat and even fish in abundance by drying. This can be accomplished by fire, by smoke or by sunshine; but the most rapid and reliable mode is by all of these agents combined. To do this select a spot having fullest command of sunshine. Erect there a wigwam five or six feet high, with an open top, in size proportioned to the quantity of meat to be cured, and protected from the winds so that all the smoke must pass through the open top. The meat cut into pieces suitable for drying (the thinner the better) is to be suspended on rods in the open comb, and a vigorous smoke made of half decayed wood, is to be kept up without cessation. Exposed thus to the combined influence of sunshine, heat and smoke, meat cut into slices not over an inch thick can be thoroughly cured in twenty-four hours. For thicker pieces there must be, of course, a longer time, and the curing of oily meat, such as pork, is more difficult than that of beef, venison or mutton.

To cure meat in the sun, hang it on the south side of your house, as near to the wall as possible without touching.

Savages cure fish by pounding it fine, and exposing it to the bright sun.

2. PEMMICAN is dried meat, pounded fine and packed in its own grease. Mr. Ballantyne, who was in the service of the Hudson Bay Company, gives the following account of the preparation of dried meat and pemmican: "Having shot a buffalo, the hunters cut lumps of his flesh and slitting it up into flakes or layers, hang it up in the sun or before a slow fire to dry, and the fat can be dried as well as the lean. In this state it is often made into packs and sent about the country to be consumed as dried meat. But when pemmican is wanted it has to go through another process; the meat, when dry, is pounded until it is broken into small pieces; these are put into a bag made of the buffalo's own hide, with the hair on the outside, and well mixed with melted grease; the top of the bag is then sewed up and the pemmican allowed to cool. In this state it may be eaten uncooked; but the men who subsist on it when travelling mix it with a little flour and water and boil it, in which state it is known by the elegant name of robbiboo. Pemmican is good, wholesome food, and will keep fresh for a great length of time." Galton, in his "Art of Travel," says: "The best pemmican is made by mixing five parts of pounded dry meat with four parts of melted or boiled grease, and put into a skin bag or tin can whilst warm and soft. The grease ought not to be very warm when poured on the dry meat."
4. WHEAT FLOUR.—"The finest of the wheat" is not always the best; the whiter the flour the less the nourishment. In pure white flour, the heart of the wheat (answering to the eye of a kernel of corn, and known as the sweetest and most nourishing part of the grain) is all sifted out. This rejected part is all contained in the cream colored "seconds" or "shorts," which are usually sold at flour mills at half price.

5. WHEAT BRAN.—It is stated by those who profess to know, as an important chemical and gastronomical fact, that there is more nourishment in one pound of wheat bran than there is in two pounds of white flour.

6. GRAHAM BREAD, or bread made from unbolted wheat, is coarse and rather unpalatable, but it is far more nutritious than bread made from more costly flour, besides which, it will go nearly twice as far in housekeeping, and prove ten times more wholesome.

7. MATURE BREAD.—When a wheaten loaf is allowed to stand and cool for some hours after being taken from the oven, it undergoes certain chemical changes which better prepare it for the digestive organs, and which make a less amount of the bread sufficient for the demands of the system. The difference in economy between the hot loaf and the cold is such that, in times of scarcity in the old countries, laws are sometimes passed forbidding the use of bread under a day old.
8. LEAVENED BREAD, when baked at the proper time, is more nutritious and more economical than the unleavened, because the sugary and glutinous parts are more fully developed. There are three stages of fermentation. Baked in the first of these, bread will be light and sweet; baked in the second, it will be light and insipid; and in the third, it will be light and sour. It is only when baked in the first of these stages that leavened bread is either economical or wholesome.

9. RICE FLOUR AND BREAD.—Rice consists almost wholly of starch. It is this which makes the fine bolted flour of rice so clammy and adhesive when wet, that it is difficult to be converted into palatable bread. This tendency to clamminess is best corrected by intermixing with it something which shall tend to keep the glutinous particles apart. Equal parts of bolted rice flour, corn meal, and the pulp of the sweet potatoe [sic], with a slight admixture of wheat flour, lightened with leaven, and made into a very soft dough, gives a pan (not loaf) of delightful bread.
A much more manageable form of rice flour, than the bolted, can be produced by pounding in an ordinary mortar. The rice grain must be softened by water, then partially dried, and the pulverized. The coarseness of the flour is a partial preventive of clamminess.

10. CORN MEAL AND BREAD.—Any field negro at the South can make better corn bread than can be found in Northern hotels. The simpler the process the better the bread. The only art practiced by the negro is in mixing well, and in allowing his dough to stand half an hour before baking; it is then in the incipient stage of the saccharine fermentation. Corn dough, allowed to stand over night, will rise without yeast.

Corn, when ground into meal, is apt to become musty or acid after a few weeks. This renders it unfit for army use, or even for storage at home. Whoever will take the trouble to kiln dry it, will find it no more difficult to keep than the flour of any other of the cereals.

What a treat the kiln dried meal would be to our boys in the army! Will not some one start a kiln for their supply?
11. GRINDING.—No doubt many a poor family has been straitened for want of access to the mill. Let such remember (if the information can reach them) that in the old Revolutionary War many a peck of wheat and other grain was ground in coffee mills and sifted in a sieve.
12. INDIAN SAFKEE [?], OR BIG HOMINY.—The Indians, who had no mills, had no difficulty in preparing their corn for use. One mode of preparing it is by means of lye. The grain is steeped in good strong lye until the cuticle or outer skin is dissolved, when it is thoroughly cleansed from the lye and boiled until soft. Another mode is by means of hot water and the mortar. The corn is to be scalded just long enough to loosen the cuticle without softening the grain. It is then to be pounded in a mortar and rubbed by hand until the husk is separated. Another mode pursued by the Indian was by the mortar and pestle alone. the mortar was a slightly dished block of wood, with a small cavity in the middle, about two or three inches wide, and the same deep. The pestle was like a rail splitter's maul, and the part used for beating was the handle—the corn being put into that little cavity in the mortar and then beaten to powder.
13. SUBSTITUTES FOR COFFEE.—Except in its stimulating qualities, and its peculiar and delicate aroma, coffee can be so perfectly counterfeited as to defy detection, by mixing together [illegible] the following substitutes in such [illegible] that the coffee taste of all of them shall predominate, and the peculiar flavor of no one of them shall be perceived: viz: Rye, wheat, barley (scalded and then parched,) okra seed, rice (parched black, but not ground,) sweet potatoes (cut into ribbons, or into dice, dried in the sun and then parched,) corn grits (parched to a dark brown,) sweet acorns, chiccory (parched brown, then broken and ground.) These should be parched separately, and then combined in about equal proportions, or in such proportion as experiment shall decide to be necessary. If possible, a little coffee should be combined, simply for truth's sake. The best critic can scarcely distinguish between the spurious compound and the real coffee.
14. THE SWEET POTATO.—All persons who have enjoyed the sugary sweetness of the sweet potato, [illegible] so as to bring out its candy. But has any one ever tried to extract that sweetness in the form of syrup? Who will make the experiment and let us have the result? Marooner, Sr. 

THE SOUTHERN BANNER [ATHENS, GA], May 11, 1864, p. 1, c. 4

Good batter cakes.--Excellent batter cakes can be made without either milk or eggs.
Take equal portions of corn meal and flour, make into a better at night with warm water and a little yeast. Bake on the griddle in the morning, as you would any other batter cake. A little more flour than meal will be rather better than equal quantities. If kept too warm at night, the batter may become a little sour, which every house keeper knows can be easily remedied by adding a little soda.--Lex. Gaz. 

SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY [ATLANTA, GA], August 29, 1861, p. 2, c. 4

Useful Hints to Planters' Wives.--Editors Rural:--The following recipes are at your service:

Corn Starch, or Farina.--Grate well filled green corn from the cob into a tub of clean water, say a bushel into each tub. Let it remain a few hours, then strain the contents of each tub into fresh water. The finest hair sifter or fine muslin must be used for a strainer. After straining into fresh water, let it remain twelve hours or more; then pour off the water--the starch will be precipitated to the bottom of the tub, which must be spread on a clean cloth, and dried in the sun. It must be kept stirred to prevent it from molding.--When thoroughly dry put it into glass jars.
Was Not that Genuine Heroism?” The Heroism and Sacrifice of Jennie Wade”

Michelle L. Hamilton

orn Starch Blanc Mange.--
Take a teacup full of the starch, mix it up with cold water perfectly smooth; add this to a quart of milk which must be boiled, stir in the starch while the milk is boiling; it must be stirred while it is boiling to prevent it from burning. Let it boil up once or twice, then take off and pour it into moulds. This Blanc Mange must be eaten with loaf sugar and cream.--Any seasoning, such as lemon, or vanilla, can be used to season it; and if preferred the Blanc Mange can be sweetened while it is boiling. Mrs. W. P. W.
Auburn, near Laconia, Arkansas.
Michelle Hamilton is the winner of our college essay competition. She earned a BA in history from San Diego State University graduating as cum laude in 2009. Currently Michelle is working on her master’s in history from SDSU where she is writing her thesis - entitled “‘I Would Still Be Drowned in Tears’: The Lincolns and Spiritualism.”
Was Not that Genuine Heroism?

The Heroism and Sacrifice of Jennie Wade
The heroism and sacrifice of Mary Virginia “Jennie” Wade has been obscured through 150 years-worth of rumor, legend, and innuendo. Today when Jennie Wade is mentioned she is featured as minor figure in Civil War studies, serving as a statistic as having been the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. Killed while baking biscuits for the Union soliders that surrounded her sister’s residence on July 3, 1863, Jennie quickly became a heroine in the Northern press. “While she was busily engaged in her patriotic work, a minie ball pierced her pure heart, and she fell, a holy sacrifice in her country’s cause,” poet Mary Henderson Eastman eulogized. However local jealousy over her being signaled out in the press has tarnished the young woman’s reputation to this day with whispered accusations of her disloyalty to the Union cause and sexual impropriety.

In popular culture, Jennie Wade is known only through the ghostly legends that surround the house where she died. In 2010 the popular television series Ghost Adventures introduced Jennie Wade to the present generation. The series host Zak Bagans alleged that while straddling the mannequin of Jennie Wade a spirit grabbed his derriere. Like most depictions of Jennie Wade, the television show failed to show the true Jennie Wade and give voice to her experiences during those dark days of July 1863. Once we dig past the legends and rumors we can see the true Jennie Wade and in the process get a better understanding of the heroism and sacrifice made by her 150 years ago.

If it had not been for the cataclysmic meeting of General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate forces and General George Meade’s Union forces on the rolling terrain that surround Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in July 1 to 3, 1863, Jennie Wade would have passed into obscurity. Born on May 21, 1843 to working-class parents, Jennie Wade entered a world where opportunities for her social advancement were limited. Her father, James Wade, Sr., had left his native Virginia to ply his trade as a tailor in Gettysburg, PA. In September 1850, James Wade was arrested for taking three hundred dollars that had dropped out of the pocket of a Gettysburg resident. Instead of returning the money, James took his ill-gotten gains into Maryland. Arrested and returned to Gettysburg, James was sentenced to two years in solitary confinement at the notorious Eastern State Penitentiary.
With her father incarcerated, Jennie would have been expected to aid her mother, Mary Ann Filby Wade, in supporting her siblings. This continued even after James Wade was released from prison. Mentally scarred by his time in solitary confinement, James was confined in the Adams County Alms House in 1852 where he would reside for the remainder of his life. To support her family, Mary Wade kept her husband’s tailoring trade operating. To further her family’s income Jennie also cared for six-year-old Isaac Brinkerhoff, the son of neighbor who was unable to walk.
Like most young women, Jennie fell in love with a neighborhood friend, Johnston “Jack” Skelly. However, whatever plans she was making for the future was rudely interrupted by the Civil War. Responding to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers to suppress the rebellion, Jack Skelly marched off to war in 1861. While Jack was serving the Union on the front lines, Jennie was supporting the Union on the home front. During the winter of 1861-1862 the 10th New York Cavalry were stationed in Gettysburg. Jennie helped bolster the morale of the regiment by visiting the camp where she repaired uniforms and invited some of her favorites to accompany her to church.
This behavior shocked some of the town’s more conservative residents who attempted to smear her reputation. Writing home to his mother, Jack Skelly remarked on the ugly rumors being circulated about Jennie, “their has somebody being trying to raise a fuss between us is my honest belief…for I never heard who was going there or what all the talk there was.” Jennie’s active social life would later be used against the young woman as evidence that she was engaging in sexual impropriety.
While Jennie was assisting her mother and writing letters to Jack, war clouds were slowly gathering on the horizon that would eventually engulf her home. Since the beginning of the war, the residents of Gettysburg had been aware that their town was vulnerable to Confederate invasion. Located only ten miles from the state border with Maryland, the town had been a stop on the Underground Railroad in the years leading up to the Civil War. So far, the town had lucked out, but that all changed in June 1863 when Lee’s Confederate forces invaded Pennsylvania. The news hit Gettysburg like a thunderclap. “This made us begin to realize the fact that we were in some danger from the enemy,” Gettysburg resident Sarah M. Broadhead recorded in her diary on June 15, 1863. Though the initial report proved to be false, the resident’s remained on edge.
After weeks of false reports, the Rebel’s finally made their appearance in Gettysburg on June 26, 1863. For Jennie Wade the events of this day would later cast doubts on her loyalty to the Union cause. The sudden emergence of the Confederates on the streets of Gettysburg sent the civilian population scurrying for cover. Concerned that their horses would be stolen, the resident’s attempted to secrete their valuable property out of Gettysburg. One such resident was James Pierce, a butcher, who ordered Jennie’s twelve-year-old brother, Samuel Wade, to take the family’s prized grey horse to the countryside. Despite the boy’s best effort to allude the Confederate’s, Sam and the horse were captured by the Rebels on the Baltimore Pike.
Matilda “Tillie” Pierce recalled the moment when she saw her family’s horse being paraded down the streets of Gettysburg by enemy soldiers. “As they were passing our house my mother beckoned to the raiders, and some of them rode over to where she was standing and asked what was the matter, Mother said to them: ‘You don’t want the boy! He is not our boy, he is only living with us,” Tillie recorded in her memoir. At this moment, Jennie Wade saw her brother being held in Confederate custody. The sight must have been horrifying. Earlier in the day, Jennie had seen her other brother, John James, off as a member the 26th Pennsylvania Emergency Regiment. Now one of her brothers was a prisoner of the Confederates.
Alone, without the aid of her mother who was attending to Jennie’s sister who had just given birth, the young woman tried to take care of the situation. Likely angry at the selflessness of the Pierces who placed a young boy in danger over a horse, Jennie lashed out at the Pierce family. “If the Rebs take our Sam, I don’t know what I’ll do with you folks,” Jennie angrily yelled at Mrs. Pierce. Years later, Tillie Pierce still could not understand Jennie’s position declaring, “Thus holding us responsible for her brother Sam’s safety even in times like that.” It is possible that Jennie tried to secure her brother’s release on her own. Testimony from Tillie Pierce hinted that it was Jennie who informed the Confederates that James Pierce was a Republican, claiming, “The information given to the Rebels, we afterwards learned, was the act of Sam’s sister…I am afraid her 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.”
Here we must separate what it meant to be loyal to the Union. For the Pierce family complete loyalty to the Union cause meant full support for the Republican Party that was waging the war. While Jennie might not have supported the politics of the war, the acts of charity she performed during the battle should once and for all stand testimony of her devotion to the Union soldiers.
Eventually through the intersession of Mary Wade, Sam was released from Confederate custody. The appearance of Confederate soldiers hinted that the dark clouds of war were finally coming to rest over the town of Gettysburg.
The long awaited battle finally started on the morning of July 1, 1863. The contest started out as a simple skirmish, but by the early afternoon it had quickly turned into a full battle between the Union and Confederate forces. At the start of the battle town resident’s went out to watch the battle and were soon caught in midst of the combat. “There was then a general stampede toward town and I quickly slipped from my perch and joined the retreat to the rear of our gallant men and boys,” Daniel Alexander Skelly recalled. It soon became apparent that fighting was coming close to the heart of the city. Gettysburg resident Michael Jacobs recorded, “Soon after the battle had begun, the residents of the west end of town were advised by General Reynolds to leave their residences, that the shot and shell of the enemy might not reach and injure them, and to retire to a position to the north and east of the borough.” The civilians had good reason to fear, during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia fought in December of 1862, the Union forces had fired upon the town to drive out the Confederates.
Frightened, Jennie Wade decided to evacuate to her sister’s duplex home on the south end of Baltimore Street near Cemetery Hill. Georgia Wade McClellan had married John McClellan, who was currently serving in the Union army, in 1862. Since June 26th, Jennie’s mother had been staying with Georgia who had given birth. At home caring for young Isaac and her youngest brother Harry, Jennie needed to be with her mother and older sister. The streets of Gettysburg by this time were clogged with fleeing civilians. Fannie J. Buehler later remembered the chaotic scene, “Officers dashed through the streets ordering everyone to their cellars, as the town would be shelled; people running hither and thither, not knowing what to do or where to go to safety.”
Jennie Wade must have felt tremendous relief when she at last arrived at Georgia’s home accompanied by her young charges. Yet, what at first appeared to be a refuge from the battle, soon turned into a living hell. Pushed by the Confederate forces, the Union forces were forced through the town eventually gathering on Cemetery Hill. The Union forces that were gathered around the McClellan residence soon noticed that there were inhabitants in the house. Coming to the door they begged for water and something to eat. Jennie sprang to action and furnished the beleaguered boys in blue with water and bread. The presence of Union soliders around the residence drew the attention of Confederate sharpshooters. Throughout the day a number of Union soldiers were killed or wounded in Georgia’s front yard.

Finally, the day ended, but rest in the McClellan residence would prove allusive for Jennie and her family as the moans and cries of the wounded soliders in the yard disturbed their sleep. Throughout the town most of the civilians were also having an uncomfortable night’s sleep. “Of course we had no rest last night,” Sarah M. Broadhead noted in her diary.

When day finally broke on July 2, 1863, Jennie Wade and her family woke to a chaotic scene. Nobody knew what the day would bring. Daniel Skelly would later recall the confusion experienced by the town’s residents, “Day dawned on the second of July bright and clear, and we did not know what to do or expect.” For Jennie, the day would bring terror and heroism.
Throughout the day Confederate sharpshooters continued to pelt Georgia McClellan’s house with bullets. The barrage of bullets made movement within the house risky. Despite the risks, Jennie Wade continued to answer the knocks on the door and windows from Union soliders requesting food and water. To compound the fear and stress for Jennie and her family during the afternoon a ten-pound Perrot shell hit the house. The impact rocked the house with the shell ripping through the roof and punching a hole in the second floor common wall. For Jennie the fear caused by the impact proved so great that she fainted from fear. Jennie’s shelter was not the only house hit by an errant shell. While in her neighbor’s cellar, Sarah Broadhead’s house was struck by a shell, as she latter recorded in her diary, “Whilst there a shell struck the house, but mercifully did not burst, but remained embedded in the wall, one half protruding.”
The second day of the battle ended with the same feeling of uncertainty for Jennie and her family as the day had begun. Throughout the town other residents recorded their fears. “To us, however, who were at the time within the Rebel lines, the result seemed doubtful; and gloomy forebodings filled our minds as we laid ourselves down to catch, if possible, a little sleep,” Michael Jacobs recorded.
July 3, 1863, dawned hot and humid and the day started early for Jennie Wade and her family. Arising at 4:00 a.m., Jennie and Harry slipped out of the safety of the house to gather water and fire wood. This movement within the house caused Union soldiers to again come to the house asking for food. Jennie informed the hungry men that she was preparing dough for biscuit’s and to come back later. In the midst of the chaos of battle, Jennie was thinking of others. Turing to her mother, Jennie declared, “If there is anyone in this house that is to be killed today, I hope it is me, as George has that little baby.”
Indeed, it seemed as if time had run out for one of the residents of the house. Since the birth of her baby, Georgia McClellan had been confined in her bed which had been placed in the downstairs parlor. Shortly after Jennie’s comment, a bullet ripped through the parlor window, hitting the fireplace mantel and coming to rest on the pillow next to Georgia and her baby. This incident must have unnerved the inhabitants of the house. But, there were hungry men to be fed and Jennie resumed her work in the indoor kitchen. As a measure of safety, the parlor door had been propped open to shelter Jennie and Mary Wade while they worked in the kitchen. Sadly, these measures would prove futile. While kneading the biscuit dough at around 8:30 a.m. a bullet ripped through the kitchen and parlor doors striking Jennie in the back. The bullet went through her heart coming to rest at the front of her corset. Jennie fell to the floor dead. Mary, who had her back turned to her daughter, heard the bullet hit and turned to see her fall to the floor. After a brief examination of her daughter’s body confirmed that her worst fears, she entered the parlor and said, “Georgia, your sister is dead.”
History will never know who pulled the trigger, though it is likely that the shot came from a Confederate sharpshooter stationed in the Rupp Tannery. It is likely that the Union soliders who had gathered around the McClellan residence waiting for their biscuits attracted the sharpshooter to open fire.
Upon realizing what had befallen her sister, Georgia McClellan let out a blood curdling scream which brought a number of Union soliders into the house. Seeing the body of such a young woman must have been a sobering moment for these battle hardened soldiers. Realizing that they had to get the family out of the house, the Union soldiers used the hole in the second floor common wall to evacuate the family through the residence of the connecting house. Mary Wade agreed to the plan as long as they brought Jennie with them. Jennie was then careful wrapped up in a quilt that Georgia had sewn when she was five years old and brought with her family. Safely situated in the cellar on the other side of the McClellan residence, Jennie was laid out on boards that were designed to house milk jugs.
In such a manner Jennie Wade’s family remained sheltered from the remainder of the battle. For Mary Wade and Georgia McClellan it must have seemed as if the hell that they had entered would never end. While in the cellar the family was protected from the conclusion of the battle. “The ground trembled, on which our house stood, and the awful continuous roar of the cannon was far worse than the heaviest thunder from heaven’s artillery,” Fannie Buehler would later recall.
Finally, the sounds of battle faded away and after 14 hours confined in the cellar the remainder of Jennie Wade’s family were free to emerge into the daylight. Once outside, the family hurriedly placed Jennie in a simple casket and buried her in Georgia’s backyard. The dead littered the earth and in the humid weather the dead had to be buried as quickly as possible. Jennie would remain in her sister’s backyard until more suitable arrangements could be made.
Following the battle of Gettysburg, the Northern press sized on the story of Jennie Wade as an example of female heroism. In February 1864, John Y. Foster writing for Harper’s New Monthly wrote about Jennie’s sacrifice declaring, “Was not that genuine heroism?” Soon the Northern press was churning out poems and songs dedicated to “The Heroine of Gettysburg.” All this attention focused towards Jennie Wade sparked resentment within the community of Gettysburg. One such individual was John Burns the man who rose to fame for joining the fight on the first day’s battle. Infuriated after having to share the spotlight, John Burns lashed back at Jennie’s memory declaring, “The less said about her the better…I called her a she-rebel.” These accusations of disloyalty would tarnish Jennie’s memory for decades.

Shrouded in the mists of rumor the real story of Jennie Wade is one of courage and sacrifice. It is the story of a simple woman who rose above and beyond what was expected of her and who ultimately sacrificed her life while caring for others. She was more than just the basis for ghostly legends—she was a real person with hopes and dreams that was snuffed out due to an act of war.

Primary Sources:
Alleman, Tillie Pierce. At Gettysburg, or What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle. New York: W. Lake Borland, 1889).

Broadhead, Sarah M. The Diary of a Lady of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from June 15 to July 15, 1863. Hershey, PA: Gary T. Hawbaker, 2002.

Buehler, Fannie J. Recollections of the Rebel Invasion and One Woman’s Experience during the Battle of Gettysburg. Gettysburg, PA: Star and Sentinel Press, 1896, 1900.

Eastman, Mary Henderson. Jenny Wade of Gettysburg. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1864.

Foster, John Y. “Four Days at Gettysburg.” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine (February, 1864): 381-388.

“The Heroine of Gettysburg.” Daily Illinois State Journal, April 2, 1864.

Jacobs, Michael. Notes on the Rebel Invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania, and the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1st, 2d, and 3d, 1863. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1864.

Skelly, Daniel Alexander. A Boy’s Experiences during the Battles of Gettysburg. Gettysburg, PA: Daniel Alexander Skelly, 1932.

Secondary Sources:
Bagans, Zak and Kelly Crigger. Dark World: Into the Shadows with the Lead Investigator of the Ghost Adventures Crew. Las Vegas: Victory Belt Publishing, 2010.

Booker, Bill. Jennie Wade Remembered. Gettysburg, PA: Kenneth Rohrbaugh, 2005.

Bryant, James K. The Battle of Fredericksburg: We Cannot Escape History. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2010.

Creighton, Margaret S. The Colors of Courage: Gettysburg’s Forgotten History: Immigrants, Women, and African Americans in the Civil War’s Defining Battle. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

Coco, Gregory A. A Strange and Blighted Land: Gettysburg: The Aftermath of a Battle. Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 1995.

Johnston, J.W. The True Story of “Jennie” Wade, a Gettysburg Maid. Rochester, NY: J.W. Johnston, 1917.

Small, Cindy L. The Jennie Wade Story: A True and Complete Account of the Only Civilian Killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 1991.

Smith, Timothy H. John Burns: “The Hero of Gettysburg.” Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications, 2000.

Download 122.65 Kb.

Share with your friends:
  1   2

The database is protected by copyright © 2024
send message

    Main page