David Culp   - 87th PA
  •    Brother against Brother 




    Wesley Culp - 2nd Virginia
                                                                                                             David Cup


    About the Author: 

         David A. Culp lives in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, and is the great grandson of the David Culp 
    In this historical glimpse of one family’s odyssey from Europe to Pennsylvania, from war to freedom 
    to civil war and through the Battle of Gettysburg. The author would like to thank Dr. Charles 
    Glatfelter who has been a great source of encouragement. He would also like to thank Robert B. Angstadt 
    who willingly shared his research. 

    The town of Gettysburg was established by James Gettys in 1786, and on May 16 of the following year, Christopher 
    Kolb (Culp) purchased a farm on the east side of the borough. This farm was 239 acres and 15 perches. This property 
    was first owned by William Penn and later was part of the Manor of Maske. It was surveyed in 1766 and named for an 
    estate in England. The manor was about six miles wide and twelve miles long with the southern boundary at the present 
    Mason-Dixon line, the current boundary separating Pennsylvania and Maryland. Thus began the Gettysburg history of 
    the Culp family.[1

         The Kolbs were generally located in the Palatinate, a district in southwest Germany probably near the hamlet of 
    Wolfsheim in Kreis Mainz-Bingen. The Palatinate was ruled by the Holy Roman Empire and was involved in the Thirty 
    Years War. This created havoc in the regional economy, increased taxes, made military service a certainty, and led to 
    economic hard times.[2

         The Adams County Kolbs decided to immigrate to America where freedom and cheap land were available. The journey 
    required about six months, taking a ship from Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. The Kolb family would be leaving in May 
    of 1774. The most convenient method of transportation was to sail down the Rhine River, which was near their home, to 
    Rotterdam. Then arrangements had to be made to obtain passage aboard a ship. In their case they obtained passage 
    aboard the ship Phoenix which sailed to Cowes, Isle of Wight, England, and then to America. This particular ship was 
    “importing foreigners” and arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 20, 1744. The heads of household were 
    listed on the ship’s records and Mattheis (Mathias) Kolb (1) was eleventh on the list.[3

         When Mattheis Kolb arrived in Philadelphia with his family in 1744, Benjamin Franklin was running his print shop on 
    Market Street, publishing among other items, Poor Richard’s Almanac. Franklin was also clerk of the Pennsylvania 
    Assembly, Postmaster of Philadelphia, and writing to urge formation of a university (later the University of 
    Pennsylvania). George Washington was twelve years old, Patrick Henry was eight years old, and Thomas Jefferson was 
    one year old. 

         The reason the Germans came to America through Philadelphia was the “religious liberty” bedrock on which Quaker 
    William Penn founded the colony of Pennsylvania. William Penn traveled extensively in Europe distributing pamphlets, 
    published in English, Dutch, and German, which described his “Holy Experiment.” Earlier immigrants would also send 
    some capable person back to the Fatherland to tell others of this land of opportunity.[4

         The Mathias Kolb family settled in Montgomery and Berks counties. When Mathias died, his son Christopher (2) 
    moved west to Lancaster where he was, during the American Revolution, a member of Capt. James Brown’s militia 
    company in the 7th battalion commanded by Col. John Boyd.[5

         Christopher with his wife Marie Catherine Leise and family moved west to the farm in Gettysburg. As was the case with 
    many immigrants of the period, Christopher “Americanized” his family’s name to Culp. The third-born of Christopher 
    and Marie Catherine, Peter (4), who was married to Elizabeth Reiff (Aunt Polly), purchased the farm when Christopher 

         When Peter purchased the farm, he made arrangements to provide for his father in his “old age.” By the time of the 
    Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, Aunt Polly was living at 206 York Street and nursed some of the wounded in her home. 
    Her husband Peter died in 1841 and the farm was sold to their son Henry (7).[ 6 ] On the second and third days of the 
    battle, the farm and barn were behind Confederate lines and were used as hospitals by Maj. Gens. Edward Johnson’s and 
    Jubal Early’s troops.[7 ] Culp’s Hill (south of the house and barn) was held by the Union troops throughout the battle and 
    played a major role during the fighting. It formed part of the right flank which anchored the “barb” end of the Union 
    “fishhook-shaped” battle line and was the site of some of the fiercest fighting of the battle on July 2 and 3.[8
    Henry, who owned the farm at the time of the battle, was married to Anna Raffensberger whose parents were Peter and 
    Rebecca Raffensberger. Peter and Rebecca owned what was called Raffensberger Hill, now known as East Cemetery 
    Hill. Henry built the present Culp house. The farm was where the Confederate troops formed to attack East Cemetery 
    hill on the evening of July 2. 

         Peter Culp, Jr. (6), the first-born of Peter and Rebecca, was, according to oral history, the Gettysburg citizen who 
    guided Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds to locate Brig. Gen. John Buford on July 1 as Reynolds arrived with the First Corps 
    to first support and then relieve the dismounted cavalry fighting the Confederates west of town. Peter showed Reynolds 
    how to get to the Seminary building where Buford was known to be located. 

         Christian (3) was the fourth-born of Christopher and Marie Catherine. Christian married Barbara Rummel who was 
    raised at the Rummel farm at East Cavalry Field about three miles east of Gettysburg. It was at the Rummel farm that 
    the Union cavalry stopped Jeb Stuart’s Confederate cavalry from gaining the Hanover Road and attacking Union wagon 
    trains during the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge. Christian and Barbara lived at 151 York Street in a house purchased 
    from James and Mary Gettys in 1795. Christian was a wheelwright and also a member of the local fire company. His 
    leather brigade fire bucket is on display at the Adams County Historical Society. 

         Following the East Cavalry Field, the Confederates brought a wounded Michigan soldier named Smith to the Rinehart 
    house. Rebecca Rinehart and her daughter Sarah King nursed and stabilized him and then took him to Isaac Miller’s farm 
    where there were other wounded. After recovering further he went to Aunt Polly Culp’s house. She cared for him until 
    he was well enough to go home. 

         Henry (11), the third-born of Christian and Barbara, was my great, great grandfather. He was a blacksmith. Henry 
    married Sophia Frederica Kendlehart. The family lived on South Washington Street. They watched the Eleventh Corps 
    of the Army of the Potomac march up from the south to join the Battle of Gettysburg. 

         Many male citizens of Gettysburg aged from their late teens up to their upper thirties were soldiers in the Civil War. 
    Men of the Culp family who fought in the Civil War were the fifth generation of Culps to live in America and the fourth 
    generation in Gettysburg. 

        My great grandfather David (21) was thirty-one years old in 1861. He was married to Charlotte Catherine Weaver and 
    they had three children and lived on the south side of the second block of York Street near the St. James Lutheran 
    Church. David was a plasterer. 

         Charlotte Catherine Weaver Culp was the niece of Samuel Weaver. Samuel was the first full-time photographer in 
    Gettysburg and his photo gallery was on the second floor of his home on West Middle Street. After the Battle of 
    Gettysburg Samuel was appointed by Pennsylvania governor Andrew Curtain to oversee the exhumation of Union 
    soldiers for proper burial in the Gettysburg National Cemetery. They exhumed more than 3,500 bodies. His son Peter 
    and nephew Hanson continued the photography business and his son Dr. Rufus Benjamin continued the exhuming of 
    Confederate soldiers to be sent home for burial. Rufus’s crew exhumed and shipped more than 3,200 Confederate 
    remains. Samuel was active in community affairs and was a member of the “Order of the Red Men” which assisted 
    widows and children of the deceased.[9

         David Culp joined Company F of the 87th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry on September 23, 1861. Company F was 
    recruited in Gettysburg and the roster included many sons of Gettysburg families. David served for three years and 
    fought in many of the campaigns and battles in which the Army of the Potomac and Eighth Corps was engaged against 
    Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.[10

         Daniel (13) and Mary Paxton Culp lived on the west side of the second block of Baltimore Street. Daniel was a 
    chairmaker and cabinetmaker and he worked his wood shop with his nephew Jeremiah (18). A coffin was built at the 
    wood shop for Confederate Brig. Gen. William Barksdale, but it was left unfinished and unused when the Confederates 
    retreated. The coffin was finished by Charles Comfort and was used to bury Jennie Wade. The wood for the coffin came 
    from Garlach’s wood shop but could not be built there because of the presence of Union sharpshooters so the 
    Confederates took the wood further behind their lines to Daniel and Jeremiah’s shop.[11 ] Daniel and Mary’s 
    seventeen-year old son James (28) was killed after the battle. While salvaging lead out of unexploded artillery shells, 
    one exploded in his hands. 

         Easias Jesse (12) and Margaret Ann Sutherland Culp were the parents of William (24), Wesley (25), Barbara Anne (26), and Julia (27). Easias was a tailor. Easias Jesse died June 7, 1861, and was buried in Gettysburg’s Evergreen Cemetery. His tombstone was damaged during the bombardment of the Union troops on Cemetery Hill prior to the July 3 
    Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge. To this day it remains in the damaged condition and has a brass plate attached which 
    describes the event. 

         William Culp (son of Easias and Margaret) was married to Salome Sheads. He joined Company F of the 87th 
    Pennsylvania September 23, 1861, at the same time as his first cousin David. Many others in Company F were his 
    relatives by marriage. Salome (Sally) Myers’ mother was Hannah Margaret Sheads and William’s wife Salome was Sally 
    Myers’ aunt thus William was Sally’s uncle. Barbara Anne Culp (William’s sister) married Jefferson Myers (Sally’s 
    brother). Julia Culp Welliver (William’s sister) nursed soldiers in the Adams County Courthouse.[12
    Jacob Culp (8) and his family lived at and attended the Adams County Almshouse Farm. The Almshouse Farm was the 
    facility where the poor were sheltered. The buildings on the farm were used as hospitals. 

         Henry and Sophia Culp and family, son John Henry (20) and his family and Andrew Culp (16) and his family lived on the 
    third block South Washington Street. At midday July 1, as the Union Eleventh Corps hurried along Washington Street 
    members of these Culp families dispensed water to the thirsty soldiers. Just up the street at the corner of Washington 
    and High Streets, a group of girls gathered and sang the old war song “Our Union Forever.” The group was identified as 
    Tillie Pierce, Sally and Jenny Myers, Alice Powers, Florence (23) and Sophia (22) Culp (David’s sisters), Mary Culp 
    (29), Dora Fleming, Anna Garlach, Sally McClellan, Belle McElroy, Ann Jane Powers, Amanda Reinecher, Carry 
    Young, Irene Weisich, Mary Kendlehart, and the Zeigler girls.[ 13

         John Henry Culp and his Uncle Andrew were blacksmiths and worked together in Andrew’s shop. On July 1 John was 
    ordered to shoe horses for the Union cavalry. On the second day he was so exhausted he did not open the shop, and 
    whichever army was in control of the town the next couple of days stole all the tools and materials. The shop was 
    partially burned. John’s house was looted for food and blankets. John and other citizens of Gettysburg were called upon 
    to bury the dead and John’s wife Dolly (Dorothea Schneider) drove a horse drawn ambulance to remove the wounded to 
    field hospitals. John, Henry, Dolly, and family spent most of the time in a neighbor’s cellar (probably in his Uncle 
    Andrew’s house). Needing blankets, Dolly crossed South Washington Street to her home. As she was crossing she was 
    shot at and the bullet grazed her head above the ear and took out a lock of hair, which never grew back.[14

         Michael Murray Miller was a member of Company K, 1st Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry. Company K was the only local 
    company to fight in the battle of Gettysburg. He joined Company K on June 28, 1861 and by March 7, 1863, he rose to 
    the rank of fourth sergeant. Michael was the son of Andrew Bushman Miller and Catherine Culp (14). Michael was 
    married to Lile Zeigler his first cousin. Michael and Lile’s mothers were daughters of Mathias (5) Culp and Anna Maria 
    Miller. Another daughter, Susan (17), was married to Adam Maurey. Adam and Susan’s son William Maurey was a 
    member of Company C., 49th Tennessee, then a unit in the Confederate army that Gen. Joseph E. Johnston had 
    assembled to seek to relieve Vicksburg.[15

         Jeremiah Culp operated a carpenter shop at 141 York Street. Jeremiah was the son of John (9) and Elizabeth Harbaugh. 
    Jeremiah was married to Rebecca Howell. His carpenter shop was used as an operating room (the carpenter’s bench 
    made a good operating table) during and after the battle and had a pile of arms and legs outside under the window. 
    Jeremiah’s sister Barbara (19) was married to William C. Stallsmith. They lived on the south side of the first block of 
    York Street. 

         Probably the most instructive events to show the effects of the Civil War on the Culp family involves the four children 
    of Easias Jesse and Margaret Ann Culp and their first cousin, my great-grandfather David Culp. The four children were 
    William, Wesley, Barbara Anne, and Julia. David and William joined Company F, 87th Pennsylvania. Wesley, who had 
    been working in Shepardstown, Virginia, (now West Virginia), for C. William Hoffman, a Gettysburg carriage-maker, 
    joined Company B, 2nd Virginia Infantry. (The carriage maker previously did business in Gettysburg.) The 2nd Virginia 
    was a unit in the famed Stonewall Brigade.[16

         The 87th was employed in guarding the right-of-way of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in western Virginia and 
    Maryland from the fall of 1861 to the spring of 1863, as part of the Second Division, Eighth Corps. The Gettysburg 
    campaign began when Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia got underway to carry the war into Pennsylvania, 
    capture Harrisburg, and threaten Baltimore and Washington. The objective was to divert Union forces that had closed in 
    on Vicksburg by compelling the Lincoln administration to redeploy troops slated to reinforce Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. 
    Grant to forces charged with defending Washington and Baltimore and going out to engage and defeat Lee’s invading 
    hosts. The Army of Northern Virginia marched down the Shenandoah Valley and Lt. Gen.Richard S. Ewell’s Second 
    Corps closed on Winchester, Virginia. Ewell’s force included the 2nd Virginia and the Union division at Winchester 
    commanded by Maj. Gen. Robert Milroy included the 87th Pennsylvania. Winchester was important because of its 
    strategic location in the Shenandoah Valley, the eastern “breadbasket” of the Confederacy, and a principal route of 
    communication. It was a crossroads town such as Gettysburg. This precipitated the Second Battle of Winchester (also 
    called the Battle of Carter’s Woods) where three Culps fought and was another example of “brother-against-brother.” 
    Winchester was indefensible and changed hands seventy-two times over the course of the Civil War and was the site of 
    three major battles.[17]

         Union forces were badly beaten in the battle. David Culp was taken prisoner, his cousin William escaped north and 
    walked home to Gettysburg with others of his regiment. Sally Myers, who lived on West High Street in Gettysburg, 
    wrote in her diary: 

         Some of our boys from the 87th just got home. They were in a battle in Winchester, Virginia last 
    Sunday. Uncle William Culp and Cousin David Myers are among them. The boys retreated, their 
    Ammunition gave out and they made for home. Poor fellows, they have been on the road since 
    Monday evening.[18

         Sally Broadhead who lived on the third block of Chambersburg Street wrote: 

    They say the 87th Pennsylvania got a terrible beating at Winchester a few days ago. 
    Some were saying a Captain, two Lieutenants and a lot of other men were killed or 
    captured. At 10 o’clock this morning it was rumored that some of the men were coming 
    in on the Chambersburg Pike, and not long after about a dozen of those who lived 
    in town came in and their report relieved some and agonized others.[ 19

         Meanwhile, back in Winchester, Wesley Culp, who was in the victorious force, discovered that the 87th was in the 
    battle so he went to see the prisoners. Among the prisoners were his first cousin David Culp and his old schoolmate 
    Jack Skelly. Jack was wounded and while Wesley talked to him, Jack asked Wesley to take a message for his girlfriend, 
    Jennie Wade, in case Wesley should get back to Gettysburg.[ 20
    David Culp and the other prisoners, who were ambulatory, were marched to Richmond, Virginia and lodged in Libby 
    Prison. Libby Prison was surpassed only by Andersonville for suffering and starvation. On July 14, 1863, David was 
    included in a prisoner exchange at City Point, Virginia and sent to Camp Parole near Annapolis, Maryland. He was 
    captured in mid-June, marched as a prisoner for nine days to Richmond, thrown into Belle Isle and, half starved on corn 
    meal and ill-treated, contracted a cold, chills and rheumatism.[ 21

         The Army of Northern Virginia invaded Pennsylvania and on July 1, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg commenced. 
    Wesley Culp made it to Gettysburg with Jack Skelly’s message. The Stonewall Brigade was positioned around Benner’s 
    Hill-Brinkerhoff’s Ridge near Culp’s Hill which was part of Wesley’s Uncle Henry’s farm, where he had played and 
    worked in happier days. Sometime after his arrival and before the morning of July 3, Wesley obtained permission to go 
    into town to see his sisters Anna and Julia. His sister Julia was well known within the ranks of Company B because she 
    had gone to visit Wesley in Shepardstown many times. He visited with his sisters but could not see Jennie Wade 
    because she had left her home on Breckenridge Street and had gone to stay with her sister Georgia Wade McClellan 
    whose home was on Baltimore Street. Georgia’s house was between the Union and Confederate lines and was in the 
    crossfire. Georgia had a baby the week before and Jennie went to help around the household. So Wesley did not get to 
    deliver the message from Jack Skelly.[22

         The next morning Wesley was killed and on the mourning of July 3, while Jennie was mixing dough to bake bread, she 
    was shot in the back in the crossfire. She had a picture of Jack Skelly in her apron pocket. Jack Skelly died of his 
    wounds on July 12, 1863. So the message was never delivered-at least in this life.[23
    Wesley’s commanding officer sent his orderly to Anne and Julia to notify them that Wes had been killed and where to 
    find him under a very distinctive tree. Some say he was never found but Wesley’s gun-stock, with his name carved on it, 
    was located. But there are those who recall that he was secretly buried in Evergreen Cemetery and others claim he was 
    buried in the cellar of the Culp Farm House.[24

         David Culp was still at Camp Parole. On July 1-3 David knew nothing of his family and they knew nothing of him. He 
    was in the prisoner exchange July 14 and on July 28 he went home where he stayed during August and September. The 
    stench from rotting flesh (men, body parts, and horses) still hung over the town, and destruction was everywhere. 
    Homes, churches, schools, barns, and warehouses were filled with the wounded, and the townspeople were helping to 
    care for them. It is likely that he was involved with assisting the wounded and with clean up of the town. A daughter, 
    Gertrude Onkley Culp was born May 11, 1864, so it may be assumed that that he was enjoying home life. David 
    reported back to his regiment October 7, 1863. He was present for duty for the Overland Campaign that included the 
    battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Petersburg, and with Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan in the Shenandoah 
    Valley against Lt. Gen. Jubal Early’s forces.[25

         On September 23, 1864, the regiment’s term expired and it was ordered to York, Pennsylvania, where on October 13, 
    1864, the officers and men were mustered out of service.[26

         The Culps left Europe to escape constant warfare. In five generations, in America, they lived through the Revolution 
    which freed us from Great Britain and then were involved in the Battle of Gettysburg which has been called the greatest 
    battle fought in America. Freedom does not come cheap. 

    David Culp’s obituary reads: 

    David Culp, plasterer, died on Friday last, at the residence of his sister Mrs. J. J. Tawney. Mr. Culp 
    Had been in bad health for more than a year, and had spent a portion of the last year at the Soldier’s 
    Home, Erie, Pa. He served throughout the war as a member of Co. F, 87th Pa. Reg., and had a most 
    excellent army record. He was buried on Sunday afternoon with the honors of war. Corporal Skelly 
    Post and the Sons of Veterans, accompanied by the GAR Band attending the funeral John Sheads, 
    Charles Armor, George Holtzworth and Peny J. Tawney, all members of his company acted as 

    [ 1] Robert L. Bloom, A History of Adams County, Pennsylvania, 1700-1900 (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Adams County Historical Society, 1992); Kathleen Georg Harrison, Gettysburg 
    National Military Park. 
    [ 2] German Genealogical Society of America, Los Angelas, California; Hajo Holborn, A History of Modern Germany, 1648-1840 (Princeton University Press, 1964). 
    [ 3] German Genealogical Society of America 
    [ 4] A. Monroe Aurand, Jr., Early Life of the Pennsylvania Germans (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Aurand Press). 
    [ 5] The Historical Society of Berks County, Reading, Pennsylvania. 
    [ 6] The Adams County Historical Society, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 
    [ 7] Gregory A. Coco, A Strange and Blighted Land: Gettysburg, The Aftermath of a Battle (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Thomas Publications, 1995). 
    [ 8] David A. Culp, “Some Culp Family Members in the Civil War,” Adams County History, vol. 4, 1998. 
    [ 9] William A. Frassanito, Early Photography at Gettysburg (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Thomas Publications, 1995). 
    [ 10] Culp, “Some Culp Family Members in the Civil War”; George R. Prowell, History of the 87th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry (York, Pennsylvania: Press of the York Daily, 1901). 
    [ 11] Jim Stade and John Alexander, Firestorm at Gettysburg (Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 1998). 
    [ 12] Ibid. 
    [ 13] Sarah Sites Rodgers, The Ties of the Past (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Thomas Publications, 1996). 
    [ 14] Theodore Earl Culp, Jr., Culp Family Papers. 
    [ 15] Frassanito, Early Photography at Gettysburg. 
    [ 16] Culp; “Some Culp Family Members in the Civil War.” 
    [ 17] Ibid.; Prowell, History of the 87th Pennsylvania. 
    [ 18] Culp, “Some Culp Family Members at Gettysburg.” 
    [ 19] Ibid. 
    [ 20] Ibid. 
    [ 21] Ibid.; National Archives and Record Administration. 
    [ 22] Culp, “Some Culp Family Members at Gettysburg.” 
    [ 23] Ibid. 
    [ 24] Ibid. 
    [ 25] Ibid.; Prowel, History of the 87th Pennsylvania. 
    [ 26] Prowel, History of the 87th Pennsylvania. 
    [ 27] Star and Sentinel, February 4, 1890.