One hundred and fifty one years ago this week, two opposing American armies met and fought in a little known corner of Pennsylvania known as Gettysburg. Nearly 165,000 troops took part in the three-day clash; when it was over, more than 45,000 of them would be casualties. To mark the anniversary of the battle, we thought we’d re-publish one of its more tragic and ironic stories.
Wesley Culp was born and raised in a small town in rural Pennsylvania. A worker for a harness maker, the teenaged Culp moved to Virginia in the years before the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War when his employer relocated the business.
In 1861, Culp joined the Confederate army out of sense of loyalty to his new-found community. As a member of Stonewall Jackson’s 2nd Virginia Infantry Regiment, Culp saw action at Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, among other battles. In June, 1863, Culp took part in the invasion of the north and marched into his native state of Pennsylvania.
It must have been a bitter-sweet homecoming when the Union and Confederate armies met at Gettysburg – the little-known village was actually Culp’s hometown.
On the second day of the battle, the 2nd Virginia fought on a piece of ground that was particularly well known to the 24 year old private: Culp’s Hill. The land belonged to his family and his own uncle had a farm there. As a child, Wesley learned to hunt on that same piece of property. Culp’s unit remained on that part of the line until the end of the battle. Sometime during the fighting on the battle’s third and final day, Culp was hit by a musket ball while in action very near to, perhaps even on, his uncle’s farm. Sadly, he was his company’s only casualty in that day’s action. Fittingly, his comrades reportedly lay him to rest near the farm.
Wesley’s own brother remained in the north and fought for the Union and was eventually commissioned as an officer. On only one occasion did both Culps fight in the same battle – The Second Battle of Winchester. He supposedly never forgave his brother for enlisting to fight for the Confederacy. He considered it treason. 
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(ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED MAY 15, 2012)