Pvt. Wesley Culp
Pvt. Wesley Culp of the Confederated Soldier, 2nd Virginia Infantry
Hometown: Gettysburg, PA
Category: Confederated Soldier, 2nd Virginia Infantry
Before Gettysburg: Wesley Culp was a native of Gettysburg and lived there until he was a teenager. He learned to hunt in the woods on Culp’s Hill, which was owned by his uncle, Henry Culp. As a teen, Wesley took a job with a harness maker in Gettysburg, making leather trappings for horses and wagons. In 1858, the owner of the harness company moved his business to Princess Street in Shepherdstown, (West) Virginia, and Wesley moved there to continue working. Although Wesley made new friends in Shepherdstown, he still kept in contact with friends and family in Gettysburg.
In 1861, when the war broke out, Wesley chose to join the Confederate Army and fight alongside his new friends and neighbors as a member of Company B, 2nd Virginia Infantry Regiment. The 2nd Virginia, part of the famous “Stonewall Brigade” led by General “Stonewall” Jackson, saw its first combat during the First Battle of Manassas. Wesley survived the battle and went on to participate in the Valley Campaign of 1862, the Peninsula Campaign, the Second Battle of Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Second Battle of Winchester and Gettysburg.
Wesley’s brother William, who had remained in Pennsylvania, enlisted with the Union Army and was a member of the 87th Pennsylvania Infantry. William and Wesley Culp’s Regiments faced each other in combat at the Second Battle of Winchester. Fortunately, neither brother was wounded in the action. Wesley Culp came across a friend from Gettysburg on June 15, a Private Jack Skelly, who had been badly wounded and was in a Confederate hospital. Skelly gave Wesley a note to give to his fiance, Virginia “Jennie” Wade, who was back at home in Gettysburg. But Wesley was unable to deliver the note, as he was shot and killed a short time later.
July 1, 1863:
July 2, 1863: The Confederate Army attacked Culp’s Hill, the “point” of the Union’s fishhook-shaped line. The 2nd Virginia Infantry was a part of this attack and it can be assumed that Wesley Culp was engaged there.
July 3, 1863: Sometime during the fighting on July 3, Wesley Culp was struck and killed on or near his uncle’s farm and the hill of his namesake. Members of the 2nd Virginia Infantry Regiment buried Culp, the only casualty of Company B, and supposedly marked his grave. The only remains of Private Culp to be uncovered later, however, was a rifle stock with his name carved into it.
After Gettysburg: In a sad twist of fate, Jennie Wade was the only civilian killed during the Battle of Gettysburg. An errant round struck her down and she died not knowing the fate of her fiance, Jack Skelly.
William Culp, Wesley’s brother, survived the war and left his service to the Union as an officer. The story goes that he considered his brother a traitor for fighting against Pennsylvania and never spoke of him again.