"The Thermopylae of my campaign."
In the spring of 1863, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia began a march that culminated at the Battle of Gettysburg. Lee chose the Shenandoah Valley for his invasion route. Ninety-six hundred Federals under Gen. Robert H. Milroy stood in his way at Winchester.
Lee sent Gen. Richard S. Ewell's 2nd Corps to clear the way. On June 14, 1863, the Confederates attacked the Federals at Winchester. Realizing it was in danger of being surrounded, Milroy's command evacuated the city during the night. Anticipating the move, Ewell directed Gen. Edward Johnson's division to block the Union escape route to Harper's Ferry.
In the pre-dawn darkness, Johnson, with only Gen. George H. Steuart's brigade and two cannon from the 1st Maryland Battery, moving west on the road to your right, struck the Federals. The Confederate infantry took positions along the railroad tracks and Lt. Col. Snowden Andrews placed the two guns in the road at the bridge (right front).
The Federals repeatedly tried to take the bridge and clear the way. The Confederate line was in danger of collapsing when reinforcements arrived. Additional Southern artillery was placed on the high ground (behind you). When the Federals were repulsed for the last time, Lt. C.S. Contee, commander of the two guns at the bridge, told Andrews, "Col., I have a Sgt. and two men, and the enemy is retreating." Thirteen of the sixteen artillerists had been killed or wounded. Lee called the stand at the bridge "the Thermopylae of my campaign."
The 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry also suffered heavy casualties. While they changed position to charge the Confederate artillery on the hill, the Southern gunners found their range and sent exploding shells into the horsemen. Of the 655 men in the unit, 334 became casualties.
Milroy escaped capture, but nearly half his troops were not so lucky. Lee marched across the Potomac River, taking the 23 newly captured cannon and supplies.
The Culp family of Gettysburg was one of the many divided by the Civil War. Wesley Culp, who moved to Virginia prior to the war, cast his lot with the South while his brother William enlisted in the Union army. Both were participants in the clash at Stephenson Depot. William survived the war. Wesley was killed at Gettysburg near a hill named for his ancestors.