The story of Wesley Culp.

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Yankee Brooke

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wculp.jpg


A family trajedy is one of the saddest stories of the Battle of Gettysburg. Wesley Culp was a native of Gettysburg. As a boy, he played in the streets of Gettysburg and hunted in the woods of Culp's Hill which belonged to his uncle, Henry Culp. When Wesley became a teenager, he went to work in a Gettysburg harness company where they made leather harnesses for carriages and wagons. Wesley Culp became a good harness maker and enjoyed his job. In 1858, the owner of the company moved his business to Shepherdstown, Virginia and Wesley decided to move with his employer. He settled into his new home at Shepherdstown and made many new friends, but he did not lose contact with his friends in Gettysburg.

When the war broke out in 1861, Wesley enlisted with his friends in the 2nd Virginia Infantry Regiment. This regiment was part of the famous "Stonewall Brigade" that was led by General "Stonewall" Jackson at Bull Run. Meanwhile in Gettysburg, his brother William Culp enlisted in the 87th Pennsylvania Infantry. Fate had it that Wesley and William both survived many battles and close scrapes until the Battle of Gettysburg.


wculp-01.jpg

The Battle of Culp's Hill by Edwin Forbes
(Battles & Leaders)
The hill owned by Henry Culp was considered by many to be the key position on the Union Army's right flank during the battle- it was the "point" of the fishook-shaped Union line. On July 2nd, the 2nd Virginia Infantry was sent to Culp's Hill to participate in the fighting. Sometime during the battle, Wesley Culp was shot and killed near his uncle's hill where he had explored, played and hunted as a child. His body was buried somewhere on the hill by his fellow soldiers. The only remains of him ever found was a rifle stock with his named carved in it. His body was never recovered. In an interesting twist of fate, Wesley was carrying a message for Jennie Wade, a young Gettysburg girl. It was from another Confederate soldier who knew her before the war. Sadly, the note was never delivered and Jennie Wade was killed during the battle.


Wesley's brother William Culp survived the war and left the service as an officer. Legend has it that William considered his dead brother a traitor for serving against his native state, and never recognized nor spoke of him again. The Culp
family was truly one divided by the war.




I'm sure there's been threads posted on this already, it's a well known story, but I came across it again and thought that I'd post. Imagine the first time in years you return home, because a giant battle just happened to break out there, of all places, despite how far from the center of action it was located. Return to your family's farm, your childhood home, only to die on, and be buried on, the very hill and woods you played in and hunted as a child/teenager...in an unmarked grave. Very tragic and sad.
 

Yankee Brooke

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Wesley Culp was one of only 3 men the 2nd Va lost killed during the Battle of Gettysburg, also. I believe his rifle stock was found within sight of the family home.
The above mentions the rifle stock being the only thing recovered, as he was buried in an unmarked grave, location not known. I suppose his family wasn't too keen to locate it, it seems. I did know that the 2nd was not very heavily engaged, as I believe they were a reserve for this assault, wasn't aware their casualties were that lite however. That certainly adds another dimension to this story.
 
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Yankee Brooke

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Travel up and down the Shenandoah/Cumberland Valley was rather common. Several Gettysburg men had travelled to the Shepherdstown area as carriage makers prior to the war and returned in grey uniforms in July 1863.

Ryan
That I did not know. I studied the Stonewall Brigade a bit, and knew there were some transplanted Pennsylvanians among the ranks, wasn't aware so many from Gettysburg were there.
 

ScottMac

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Get and read the book "Gettysburg Rebels" by Tom McMillan who goes into great detail on this story. The "harness makers" were the C. W. Hoffman family who actually ran a carriage factory and ancillary businesses in Gettysburg. The Hoffman's sold out and went to Shepherdstown VA before the war and Culp went with them to work in the relocated carriage factory. C. W. Hoffman sons; Robert Hoffman (also in the 2nd VA Infantry), Frank Hoffman (Fauquier Artillery), Wesley Hoffman (7th VA Cavalry), were Gettysburg Rebels as was Henry Wentz whose fathers house was in the corner of the Sherfy's Peach Orchard. As it happened, the Battery to which Wentz was assigned (Taylor's Battery) was positioned directly opposite the Wentz house and so it was Henry as First Sergeant who helpd direct fire toward his boyhood home.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Yes it's well known story but IMO there can't be too many threads on it, thanks for posting. It just brings home how chilling was this war, how personal were the losses, how finite a resource is each life lost.

Someone did a thread on other men who ' came home ' to Gettysburg wearing gray, or it came up in a discussion about a Gettysburg family.
 

7thWisconsin

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The above mentions the rifle stock being the only thing recovered, as he was buried in an unmarked grave, location not known. I suppose his family wasn't too keen to locate it, it seems. I did know that the 2nd was not very heavily engaged, as I believe they were a reserve for this assault, wasn't aware their casualties were that lite however. That certainly adds another dimension to this story.
I believe that's correct. His musket butt reads simply "W. Culp." Inspired me to carve my first initial and name on one of my muskets. Always got the right one when breaking a stack.
 
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Tom Elmore

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In the 2nd Virginia, Culp was killed, while two others (George W. Merakle and Joseph M. McCarty) were missing and presumed killed, while another (William H. H. Hawn) was declared missing and never turned up again. Most of the regiment (excepting Companies I and K) was eventually deployed as skirmishers on the Confederate far left flank, east of Rock Creek. They were posted in the vicinity of Zephaniah Tawney's stone house, and extended southward to confront Neill's Union brigade.

Culp was supposedly buried by a comrade, but details are lacking to confirm it. There was, however, one dead Confederate, most likely from the 2nd Virginia, who was left unburied in the woods east of the creek. The body was found on July 7 by Zephaniah Tawney, who sought the help of his neighbor Christian Benner, along with his teenage son Oliver, to help bury it:
 
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kholland

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Wesley was carrying a message for Jennie Wade, a young Gettysburg girl. It was from another Confederate soldier who knew her before the war. Sadly, the note was never delivered and Jennie Wade was killed during the battle.
To add to that tragedy for the Culp and Wade families this is what was involved with that message Wesley was delivering. It was from Jack Skelly, Wesley's friend from Gettysburg serving in the Union army. Another childhood friend was to die.

It was after the capture of the Union garrison at Winchester that Wesley’s life would change in a way that would put him in the history books following the famous battle of Gettysburg. Lying in a hospital bed, dying from his wounds was Wesley’s boyhood friend from Gettysburg, Jack Skelly. Skelly requested of Wesley that he deliver a note to his fiance back in Gettysburg. Skelly’s fiance was a young lady that Wesley also knew from Gettysburg, none other than Jennie Wade, the only civilian casualty in the three-day battle that took place in early July of 1863. Wesley took the note from his dying friend and vowed to see the task through.

 
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ScottMac

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The 2nd Va is on the other side of Rock Creek. How did Wesley come to be on Culps Hill? Perhaps did he go in with another regiment hoping to pay the old home a visit?
He wasn't on Culps Hill.
It’s a good book but the author has a little more Northern leanings than Southern. Just a word of warning for those Unreconstructed readers.
Totally agree.[/QUOTE]
 
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joncassel

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All,

My grandmother was a Kulp in Montgomery County, PA. I have a Kulp cousin in Stewartstown, York County, PA. I was born in York County. The Kulps and Culps are related - would be interesting to see if we might be related...
 

Stone in the wall

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Would be interesting indeed, And welcome to CWT from "inside of Mosby's Confederacy"
All,

My grandmother was a Kulp in Montgomery County, PA. I have a Kulp cousin in Stewartstown, York County, PA. I was born in York County. The Kulps and Culps are related - would be interesting to see if we might be related...
 
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