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.
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.
The Battle of Culp's Hill by Edwin Forbes
(Battles & Leaders)
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.