Poor, Poor Jennie Wade (2019 Edition)
Gettysburg Experience Reflections. I have each of students compose a short piece when we return to school after 4 days of intensive study on the battlefield, in the museums, and in the town of Gettysburg. The things that really resonate: learning about the experiences of individual soldiers while following in their footsteps, the consumer culture in town, and civilian life. Enter…Jennie Wade, the only civilian killed at Gettysburg.
My reasoning for taking students to the Jennie Wade House is twofold: first, I want them to get a little taste of what civilian life might have been like for the typical Gettysburg resident in July 1863. Second, I want a local museum-ish experience to compare to the GNMP visitor center - especially in terms of context and meaning within the war on a broader scale.
If you have not been to the Jennie Wade House - I highly recommend the experience. When you are visiting the battlefield, take a hour and set up a tour…and pay careful attention to detail. Listen to what the guides have to say and especially how they humanize a single event. You won’t get a lot of Civil War cause and consequence…but there’s more than enough of that at the visitor center (which you should also visit, for obvious reasons).
My students’ reflections unanimously suggested that the experience made the war more real. We heard stories about real people who had local connections to the war and to each other, and to them that brought the war to life beyond the books and maps and the markers on the battlefield. They could relate to the stories about young people - not so much older than themselves - who had hopes and dreams and plans for the future…all of which abruptly ended when the war came to Gettysburg.
I’ve been on these tours several times…sure they’re a little home spun (one of the main reasons I take my crew) but fun and informative. And let me just give a shout out to our tour guides, who kept 25 high school students riveted and asking questions about a tragic event and a grim set of circumstances …not an easy task!
You can set up a tour HERE