Gabriel Rene Paul

Gabriel Rene Paul, grandson of a Napoleonic officer who is said to have built the first house in St. Louis, was born in that city on March 22, 1813. He was graduated from the Military Academy in the class of 1834. Most of his duty, preceding the Mexican War, was in the Southwest and against the Seminoles in Florida. During the war with Mexico he won the brevet of major for gallant service at the storming of Chapultepec, a feat for which he was later presented with a sword by the citizens of St. Louis. Next he was stationed on the Indian frontier and was regularly promoted major of the 8th Infantry on April 22, 1861, while stationed at Albuquerque as acting inspector general of the Department of New Mexico. In December he was appointed colonel of the 4th New Mexico Infantry, a battalion which was later merged into the 1st New Mexico Cavalry. The following spring, while Paul was in command of Fort Union and the District of Southern New Mexico, he backed up the field commanders who repelled the invasion led by Henry Sibley in his abortive attempt to win the territory for the Confederacy. In April he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, 8th Infantry, and on September 5, brigadier general of volunteers, an appointment which expired the following March for lack of confirmation by the Senate. He was reappointed April 18, 1863, and duly confirmed. Paul commanded a brigade of four New York regiments in Doubleday's division of the I Corps at Fredericksburg and five New Jersey regiments of the same corps at Chancellorsville. On the first day of the crucial battle of Gettysburg, when the I Corps was all but destroyed and its commander killed, Paul, who was commanding a brigade of John C. Robinson's division, was severely wounded by a rifle ball which entered his right temple and passed out through his left eye. He was totally blinded and his senses of smell and hearing were greatly impaired. For his gallantry in attempting to rally a fragment of his command on this occasion, the 29th New Jersey presented him, blind and disabled though he was, with a "magnificent jeweled sword." After a partial recovery he attempted to discharge some nominal administrative duties, but was placed on the retired list as a brigadier general, U. S. Army, as of February 16, 1865. General Paul lived twenty more years; he died in Washington, May 5, 1886, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.