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Culp's Hill


Day 1 Map

The Culp House(Click to Enlarge)

The Culp's Hill Tower (Click to Enlarge)


The Culp's Hill Road / North of the Hill (Click to Enlarge

During the second day of the battle on July 2,1863.

At 16:00, Ewell opened fire with artillery from batteries near the Seminary and atop Benner's Hill. These were soon silenced by the overwhelming Union artillery presence on Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill. Culp's Hill, which was visible behind was the Union's right flank. On July 2 & 3 the Confederate Army attacked the hill but was repulsed both times. Wesley Culp, whose family owned the house, moved south and fought for the confederacy on the same land he grew up playing on. He was killed attacking that land.

Private Wesley Culp, C.S.A.

By the summer of 1863, five generations of Culps had lived in Gettysburg. From the outset of the war, the Culps were involved. Henry's brother, Peter, Jr. directed Union First Corps Gen. John Reynolds to the Lutheran Theological Seminary where Union Cavalry Commander John Buford desparately awaited infantry support. Behind Confederate lines thoughout the fighting of July 2-3, the Culp farm became a natural gathering place for the Confederate stretcher-bearers and thus a temporary hospital. While leading an attack up Cemetery Hill, Issac Avery was shot from his horse. The mortally wounded colonel was taken to the Culp farm where he scribbled a note to his father letting him know that he died with his face to the enemy. The Henry Culp farm buildings stand today looking much as they did through the eyes of the soldiers in 1863. Family legend has it that the body of Wesley Culp was retrieved by his sisters following his death on Culp's Hill and buried him in the farmhouse basement.

Culp was born in 1839(?) in Gettysburg, PA. He moved to Shepherdstown (West) Virginia during the 1850s and worked in a carriage shop on Princess Street. When the war began Wesley decided to cast his lot with the Confederacy, enlisting in Company B, 2nd Virginia Infantry. The 2nd became part of the famed Stonewall Brigade and participated in the Battle of 1st Manassas, the Valley Campaign of 1862, the Peninsula Campaign, 2nd Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, 2nd Winchester, and Gettysburg. During the fighting at the Battle of 2nd Winchester in June 1863, Culp and the 2nd Virginia fought against the 87th Pennsylvania Infantry, which had among its members Wesley's brother. Private Wesley Culp was killed a few weeks later in his hometown of Gettysburg on Culp's Hill, named after one of his relatives. Culp was Company B's only fatality during this horrific battle.

MG Henry W. Slocum's XII Corps was positioned on Culp's Hill and had spent considerable time erecting breastworks there. During the fighting on Cemetery Hill, Meade ordered most of the XII Corps except BG George S. Greene's Brigade from Culp's Hill to reinforce the position. (Actually, most of XII Corps never arrived to the fighting). The attack began at 20:00 as Johnson's Division attacked from the east.


View of Gettysburg Battlefield From Culps Hill 1997

Greene's Brigade stretched from Culp's Hill and then southward to the lower portion of the hill. The Union brigade faced eastward against Johnson's 3 Brigades who had forded Rock Creek and began ascended the hill. BG George Steuart's Brigade comprised the left flank of the attack and occupied the unoccupied breastworks on the lower hill. Darkness fell and Steuart's men fumbled their way toward Greene's right flank. Greene was in a very precarious position until reinforcements were rushed from I Corps which had been positioned on the western slope of the hill and XI Corps units from Cemetery Ridge.


War torn Culps Hill right after the Battle 1863

Throughout the darkness, Johnson's Division was unable to determine the force they were opposing. Unknown to Johnson, Greene's Brigade was the only unit on the Union's right.

 

By days end, both flanks of the Union army had been attacked and both had held (Little Round Top to the South and Culp's Hill to the North) despite losing ground. In a council of war, General Meade, anticipating an assualt on the center of His line (July 4th Pickett's Charge)determined that his army would stay at Gettysburg and fight.


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