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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1834

Vol. I

(Born Mo.)

Gabriel R. Paul

(Ap'd Mo.)


Gabriel Rene Paul: Born Mar. 22, 1813, St. Louis, MO.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1829, to July 1, 1834, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., 7th Infantry, July 1, 1834.

Served: on frontier duty at Red Fork, I. T., 1834, — Ft. Gibson, I. T.,

(Second Lieut., 7th Infantry, Dec. 4, 1834)

1834‑35, 1835‑36, — Camp Nacogdoches, I. T., 1836, — and Ft. Gibson,

(First Lieut., 7th Infantry, Oct. 26, 1836)

I. T., 1836‑39; in the Florida War, 1839; on Recruiting service, 1839‑42; in the Florida War, serving against the Seminole Indians, a Camp of whom he surprised near Tampa Bay, 1842; in garrison at Ft. Brooke, Fla., 1842‑43, — New Orleans Barracks, La., 1843, — Baton Rouge, La., 1843, — New Orleans Barracks, La., 1843‑44, — Pass Christian, Mis., 1844, — New Orleans Barracks, La., 1844‑45, — Pass Christian, Mis., 1845, — and New Orleans Barracks, La., 1845‑46; in the War with Mexico, 1846‑48, being engaged in the Defense of Ft. Brown, May 3‑9,

(Captain, 7th Infantry, Apr. 19, 1846)

1846, — Battle of Monterey, Sep. 21‑23, 1846, — Siege of Vera Cruz, Mar. 9‑29, 1847, — Battle of Cerro Gordo, Apr. 17‑18, 1847, where he was wounded, — Battle of Contreras, Aug. 19‑20, 1847, — Battle of Churubusco, Aug. 20, 1847, — Battle of Molino del Rey, Sep. 8, 1847, —

(Bvt. Major, Sep. 13, 1847,
for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battle of Chapultepec, Mex.)

and Storming of Chapultepec, Sep. 13, 1847;​1 on Recruiting service, 1848‑50; in garrison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., 1850, — and Jefferson Barracks, Mo., 1850‑51; on frontier duty at Corpus Christi, Tex., 1851, 1851‑52, — Expedition on the Rio Grande, Tex., 1852, in which he captured Caravajal and his gang of desperadoes, Apr. 1, 1852, — Ringgold Barracks, Tex., 1852‑53, — Ft. Belknap, Tex., 1854‑56, 1856‑58; in garrison at Jefferson Barracks, Mo., 1858; and on frontier duty on Utah Expedition, 1858‑59, 1859‑60, being engaged in the Surprise and Capture of a camp of hostile Indians on Spanish Fork, Utah, Oct. 2, 1858, —

(Major, 8th Infantry, Apr. 22, 1861)

March to New Mexico, 1860, — Albuquerque, N. M., 1860‑61, — and Ft. Fillmore, N. M., 1861.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: in Operations

(Colonel, 4th New Mexico Volunteers, Dec. 9, 1861)

in New Mexico, 1861‑62, being engaged as Acting Inspector-General of the Department of New Mexico, July 13 to Dec. 13, 1861, — in command of Ft. Union, Dec. 13, 1861, to Mar., 1862, and of Southern Military District of New Mexico, Mar. to Sep., 1862, — and in the Skirmish

(Lieut.‑Colonel, 8th Infantry, Apr. 25, 1862)

(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Sep. 5, 1862, to Mar. 22, 1863)

at Peralta, N. M., Apr. 15, 1862; in the Rappahannock Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Dec., 1862-May, 1863, being engaged in the Battle of

(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, Apr. 18, 1863)

Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862, — and Battle of Chancellorsville, May 2‑4, 1863; and in the Pennsylvania Campaign (Army of the Potomac), June‑July, 1863, where he was severely wounded by a rifle-ball, depriving him of the sight of both eyes;​2 on leave of absence, disabled by wound, July 1, 1863, to  p576 Feb. 16, 1865; as Deputy Governor of the "Soldiers' Home," near Washington, D. C., Feb. 16, to June 13, 1865; in charge of the Military Asylum

(Retired from Active Service, as Brig.‑General, Feb. 16, 1865,
for Disability resulting from Wounds received in the Line of Duty)

(Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, Feb. 23, 1865,
for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pa.)

at Harrodsburg, Ky., June 13, 1865, to Dec. 20, 1866.

Mustered out of Volunteer Service, Sep. 1, 1866.

Died, May 5, 1886, at Washington, D. C.: Aged 75.

Buried, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.​a

Biographical Sketch.

Brigadier-General Gabriel R. Paul was born, Mar. 22, 1813, at St. Louis, Mo. He was of French descent, both his grandfather and father having held commissions under Napoleon I. The former ancestor built the first house erected in St. Louis.​b

After Paul's graduation at the military academy, July 1, 1834, he performed the usual duties of an Infantry officer, and in 1842 took part in the War against the Seminole Indians, a camp of whom he surprised near Tampa Bay, Fla.

In the War with Mexico, 1846‑47, Paul was engaged in the Defense of Ft. Brown, Battle of Monterey, Siege of Vera Cruz, and the Battles of Cerro Gordo (where wounded), Contreras, Churubusco, Molino del Rey, and Chapultepec, for which last he was brevetted Major, and, for his gallant and meritorious services in the War, received from the citizens of St. Louis a sword of honor. Upon the termination of hostilities, he was again on frontier duty, in the course of which he was engaged on several expeditions, — in 1852 capturing on the Rio Grande the noted Caravajal and his band of desperadoes, and, in 1858, surprising and capturing a hostile camp of Indians on Spanish Fork in Utah.

The outbreak of the Rebellion found Paul serving in New Mexico, where he was made the Colonel of the 4th Regiment of territorial troops, placed in command of the Southern Military District, and was engaged in the Skirmish of Peralta. Sep. 5, 1862, being appointed Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, he was transferred to the Army of the Potomac, with which he served in the Rappahannock and Pennsylvania Campaigns, and was engaged in the Battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. In the last battle, while commanding a brigade, he was desperately wounded by a bullet entering his right temple and passing out of his left eye, producing total blindness and impairing his senses of hearing and smelling. For his gallantry on this occasion he was brevetted Brigadier-General, U. S. Army, and presented by the 29th New Jersey Volunteers with a magnificent jeweled sword. After partially recovering his strength, he was the Deputy-Governor of the Soldiers' Home, near Washington, D. C., for a few months, then, for a year and a half, was placed in charge of the Military Asylum at Harrodsburg, Ky., and, by act of Congress, was retired from active service with the rank and pay of a Brigadier-General, to date from Feb. 16, 1865.

After nearly a quarter of a century of patient suffering, Paul died, May 5, 1886, at Washington, D. C., and was buried in the National Cemetery at Arlington, among the honored dead of the great Civil War. A monument was erected over his grave, Dec. 10, 1886, by his comrades  p577 of the Grand Army of the Republic, and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies.

General Paul, though small in stature, was great in heart and mighty in valor, as particularly shown when leading the storming party and capturing the enemy's flag on the walls of Chapultepec. His modest was equaled only by his courage, and his aspirations were only of duty to his country. He was a soldier whose gentle mien engaged at once both confidence and love, and whose fearlessness in the presence of the greatest peril gave to his face the glow of true heroism. Through all the years of his terrible affliction, he made no complaints, but only praised God that his life had been spared amid the carnage of the battlefield. Unselfishly he thought more of the happiness of his family than of himself; they had been eyes and everything to him during the weary days of his long isolation from the outer world.

The Author's Notes:

1 Presented, 1848, by the citizens of St. Louis, Mo., with a sword, for his services in Mexico.

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2 Presented, Nov., 1863, by the 29th New Jersey Volunteers, with a magnificent jeweled sword for his gallant services.

Thayer's Notes:

a The Arlington National Cemetery page linked here is of that site's usual high caliber, with interesting biographical information.

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b Gen. Paul was the son of René Paul and Marie Thérèse Eulalie Chouteau, the daughter of (René) Auguste Chouteau. Despite the temptation to agree with the author of the Arlington Cemetery page — see my previous note — Cullum doesn't say that his grandfather served in Napoleon's army then built the house later; and a careful read of "The Chouteaus and their Commercial Enterprises" (Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 11, No. 2) along with various entries once online in the Earl Fischer Database of St. Louisans (but now vanished offline) can set things straight. The prominent Chouteau family included several men by the first name of Auguste, among whom one of the first West Pointers, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Auguste Pierre Chouteau, but also René Auguste Chouteau: the latter was a member of the expedition that in February 1764 founded what would become St. Louis, and is very likely to have built or helped to build that first house for his father-in‑law Pierre Laclède Liguest, head of the expedition. The Laclède House was demolished long ago: good information was provided by an interesting illustrated page at the National Park Service, which, however, appears to have vanished; and some more details on Laclède and the Chouteau family, especially in connection with the history of Galena, are provided in J. Ill. S. H. S. 24:671 f. and note.

As for the commissions: Napoleon, as First Consul of France, was the ruler of the Louisiana Territory, including of course St. Louis, for two and a half years between October 1, 1800 when the Treaty of San Ildefonso transferred it from Spain to France, and the Louisiana Purchase on April 30, 1803 that transferred it to the United States. If Auguste Chouteau held any kind of official French commission during that time — which seems very likely to me — Cullum's statement concerning him is accurate. Similarly, Gen. Paul's father, born in 1783, would have been in his late teens during that time and may well have held a commission in the frontier territory.

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