Gettysburg--Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill

By Harry W. Pfanz; Gary W. Gallagher | Go to book overview
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John Wesley Culp returned to his native Gettysburg on 1 July 1863, not with other Gettysburg men in Company K of the 1st Pennsylvania Reserves but as a private in Company B, 2d Virginia Infantry! Wesley was the son of Jesse Culp and the great-grandson of Christobel Kolb, who had owned the Culp farm and Culp's Hill. Now Wesley's cousin, Henry Culp, owned the farm, but Wesley would probably have felt at home there if only because Gettysburg's swimming hole was nearby at Rock Creek.

Wesley and his brother William had worked for a Gettysburg carriage maker who had moved his business to Shepherdstown, Virginia. Wesley had gone with his job, but William remained behind. After living in Shepherdstown awhile, Wesley joined the local militia company, probably for social reasons as much as any other, but when war came, he had to make a choice. For his own reasons, the twenty-two-year-old carriage maker abandoned his allegiance to his native Pennsylvania and, with his Shepherdstown militia comrades, entered Virginia's service at Harpers Ferry as a member of Company B, 2d Virginia Infantry, commanded by Henry Kyd Douglas. There the diminutive Pennsylvanian (he was about five feet tall) with a cut-down musket must have created some comment.

Probably Wesley spent 2 July on Brinkerhoff's Ridge with his regiment. Sometime after his arrival and before the morning of 3 July, he managed to visit his sister Julia and some other relatives. Local lore holds that at this time he told of having seen another Gettysburg man, Cpl. Johnston H. Skelly of the 87th Pennsylvania Regiment, at Winchester a couple of weeks before. Skelly had been mortally wounded in the battle there


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