top of page
  • Writer's pictureGordon Thorsby

The Zieglers, the Culps and the 87th Pennsylvania

by Gordon Thorsby

Gettysburg National, Evergreen Cemetery in Background

When Emanuel went to the enlist in the army on September 7, 1861, he had considerable company. He was leaving Sarah (called Sallie) and probably four children still living at home on West Middle Street in Gettysburg. Emanuel was the youngest of five, all born on the farm that bordered Emmitsburg Pike near the cemetery on the hill. Brother, David, got the farm after his parents died that included the large grove of woods (Ziegler’s Grove). The thing about Emanuel Ziegler that drew wonder was what was a man of 51 doing joining up? The army would wonder that as well within the next few months.

The boys of Gettysburg traveled to York down the road and that was where the 87th Pennsylvania formed for a three-year term, Company F, all being Adams County enlistees. The group included two families. There was Emanuel Ziegler of course, in the carriage trade. There were other Zieglers that joined Co. F. There was Billy Ziegler, Corporal, who worked for a coachmaker. There was John L. Ziegler, private, who was a blacksmith in town. And Martin (called Marty) Ziegler, private, who resided in York and was placed in Co. A. That wasn’t all. Sallie, Emanuel's wife's maiden name was Culp. One Culp family was near the family farm. In Company F, William E. Culp was First Sergeant, who was in the carriage trade and another, David Culp (more distant relations), private. Emanuel’s sister’s son was also in Co. F, Charles, his last name Armor had just turned 21.

The regiment formed on the 16th, and almost immediately were sent to guard the Northern Central Railroad in the state, scattered across thirty miles of rail line. Though spaced out, they managed to get in their drills. In 1862, they were in the Maryland and West Virginia under Brig. Gen. Robert Milroy mostly dealing with guerillas. In April, the army decided that Emanuel was not physically able to handle 55 pound packs, long marches, bad food, bad water, just plain bad conditions and was discharged by the surgeon as unfit.

It was in November, that the 165th Pennsylvania formed of 9 month with draftees and Emmanuel was taken as a substitute (supposition in lieu of older son Henry)and placed in Co. K.

The first major engagement for Co. F of the 87th came on June, 1863 when the Army of Northern Virginia began its advance toward Pennsylvania and despite orders, Milroy decided to contest the advance though severely outnumbered. After two days of fighting, The 87th was assaulted in Carter’s Woods on June 15 and many of the boys became casualties. The men were out of ammunition, Billy was wounded, and David Culp and Martin were among the 87 captured. .”After marching about five miles we were again attacked by about ten thousand rebels. Much more than we had, but we fought them. After making three successive charges on them we were compelled to fall back. We were fighting at a disadvantage, and had a smaller force then they had. After the retreat was ordered we all

took to the mountains every man for himself.” In its first major battle, the 87th lost almost half its strength.

The regiment disintegrated into small bands of survivors who eventually regrouped in Harper’s Ferry, WV, or Bloody Run (now Everett), PA. Some of the desperate escapees made it all the way back home to Gettysburg or York, where they awaited orders.

On July 28, Emmanuel was discharged from his nine-month duty with the 165th and came home, this time to stay. Martin and Billy, and David, still in the 87th, were paroled from Belle Isle and while awaiting exchange at Camp Parole, MD, Martin and Billy escaped, thus earning the title "deserted" beside their name along with a large group of others. Both returned to the 87th to be with their comrades. David Culp was released from Belle Isle, exchanged and returned to the 87th in October.

In 1864, William E. Culp reached promotion to Sergeant Major and in July, the 87th was called on to participate in the defense of Washington at the Monocacy. On October 13, the 87th’s term was up and many of the Gettysburg had seen enough. Charles Armor mustered out, as did John and Martin. Martin returned to his home in York.

Billy never had the option of discharge . He was captured again this time near Petersburg, Virginia on June 23, 1864, and sent to Andersonville until being moved to Jacksonville, Florida and eventual release on April 28, 1865.

William Esaias Culp re-enlisted, promoted to 1st Lt. and stayed to the end before returning home. Culp’s childhood friend, Jack Skelly lingered from his wounds until he died on July 12, 1863 in Winchester. He is buried in

Evergreen Cemetery. Culp’s brother and Skelly’s friend, John Wesley Culp was in the Confederate Second Corps when he was killed July 2, 1863 in skirmishing near his home. His final place of burial is unknown.

Emanuel could not keep his sons out of the war. Younger son Thomas (called Wallace) lied about his age, enlisted in Co. G of the 101st Pennsylvania as Drummer at 16 and went to New Bern, NC. Fortunately for all, the surrenders began two weeks earlier and Wallace returned home in early August.

William Esaias Culp

Today, Evergreen Cemetery is the place of rest for Emanuel Ziegler, Charles Armor, Billy (William Thomas Radford) Ziegler, William E. Culp and David Culp. Ziegler's Farm is part of the National Park Service and the names of the Culps, the Zieglers, and those they knew in the farms around where many of them grew up have become part of the Battle Story of Gettysburg.


Dyer, Frederick H. A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion (Des Moines, IA: Dyer Pub. Co.), 1908 posted by Scptt Mingus, Jr., 6/15/13.

Desperate Engagement, by Leepson, Marc, Thomas Dunn Books, 2007.

Adams County Historical Society

Ms. Katherine Ziegler (last name withheld for privacy)

Find-a Grave

73 views0 comments


bottom of page