Wesley Culp was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1839. A relative of his, Henry Culp, owned the land around Culp's Hill, just south of town. An apprentice carriage maker, Wesley Culp followed his employer forty-two miles south to Shepherdstown, Virginia, in 1858, and there joined the local militia, the Hamtramck Guards. After the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861–1865), he followed his fellow guardsmen, and not his family, by joining the Confederate army. Culp died near, if not on, Culp's Hill, during the Battle of Gettysburg, on July 2, 1863.