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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

1 Civilian Casualty

~Friday, October 29, 2021~

Day 502

Pouring rain, and I mean ALL day. I think it’s the first of our travels where the rain was that constant. I felt sorry for our neighbors who were tent camping with their growing number of friends also arriving today. They looked like they were struggling putting up tarps and things, so Jeff, being the nice guy that he is, offered our ladder to borrow. There are quite a large number of people arriving again today, especially with it being a Friday.

It was the kind of day where you either opt to stay in, or tour museums and bookstores, you know, the inside stuff. Since we have a very limited time here, we couldn’t afford to stay in. So tourists we were. We drove to the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center again, but this time, to hit the bookstore/gift shop. The bookstore is just as amazing as the museum itself. The plethora of Civil War books, in addition to novels about other conflicts, made it difficult in choosing just which book(s) to purchase. If our grandkids were a little bit older, the gift shop would have been the perfect place to pick up a few stocking stuffers. They’re just a bit too young to understand the significance of what those war-time trinkets are. But we didn’t have trouble picking out gifts for us… book on the Cyclorama and another on the history of Gettysburg (see our website for these and other selections we’ve picked up along the way on our travels,”). We also purchased an auto tour guide book with C.D.’s, app and book for our battlefield tour tomorrow.

Our camp host had suggested we also make a stop at the Jennie Wade House. Remember, this is one of the buildings she thought was haunted. Since the house is of the original construction, we nearly missed it as it is mixed in with more modern architecture. We were able to see the home at our leisure, with no other tourists in sight. The home is very small, so it’s a good thing. The first room we entered was the very room where 20-year-old Mary Virginia Wade was killed by a stray bullet and became the only civilian to die in the 3-day battle at Gettysburg that claimed 51,000 lives. Inside, we could see the original front door where the bullet holes

remain (over 150 bullets had hit the house), and the original dough tray which Jennie was bent over,

kneading bread for the soldiers the morning she was shot. She was killed instantly. The family, horrified, were soon assisted by Union soldiers to bring her body down to the cellar where it would remain until the battle was over. Just days before, Jennie and her mother fled their home in anticipation of the battle, to be with Jennie’s sister who had recently given birth just as the confederates were arriving at Gettysburg. The home was brick, so Jennie and her mother thought they’d also be safer there. It’s actually amazing that the battle resulted in only 1 civilian casualty with all of the cannonballs, bullets, and shrapnel flying everywhere, swept up in the conflict. Some fled, some stayed behind in their homes or huddled down in their basements. Tragically, her good deed put her in harm's way. Today, Jennie is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery alongside her fiancee who fought for the Union army, and died in captivity. A monument marks her resting place, with a perpetual American flag next to it that flies day and night. The only other woman to claim that honor is Betsy Ross. And as far as the house being haunted...well, a strange thing did happen. While I was attempting to take a photo of the antique wash basin, my camera lens went from clear to blurry. Now that’s never happened before, but I would like to think it was due to me aiming into the mirror that caused the camera to blur. Let’s just blame it on that, shall we?

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