Brigadier General Gabriel Rene Paul: Left for dead at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863.

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
When one thinks of generals at the Battle of Gettysburg BG Gabriel Rene Paul is one name that is not often heard. As commander of Paul's Brigade, Robinson's Division. 1st Corps, Army of the Potomac. His brigade was sent to the far side of 1st Corps line to replace Baxter's Brigade on Oak Hill. When Paul's Brigade was attacked rom three directions by elements of four Confederate brigades, General Paul was shot in the right temple with the bullet passing through his head and exiting out through the left eye socket. Paul was left for dead. However, Union poisoners acting as stretcher bearers found him alive. He was blinded in both eyed by the wound. This cut short Pauls' military career.

So was it possible that BG Paul could have reached higher rank? He had graduated from West Point in 1834 and during his 29 year military career he had served well in the Seminole War and in the Mexican-American War so he seemed to have all the right tickets punched for promotion to higher command. Still only a brigade commander in July of 1863, perhaps he would never had became a division or Corps commander.


1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Nov 27, 2018
Chattanooga, Tennessee
From what I remember about General Grant talking with Halleck about promotions in late 1863, there were only 3 or 4 available for Major General. Sherman and Sheridan both claimed a spot for promotion during those months. I can't see Paul as having enough pull for recognition to boost him higher. If Divisional command became available??


Jun 27, 2017
Southeast Missouri
I think Paul may have had a chance for a higher command, I think he was capable of Corps Command, but due to his Gettysburg wound, he never had the chance. His career seemed to be on the rise at the time of his wounding. He had shown his aptitude for command at various places, including in the Southwest and against the Seminoles, and in the Mexican War. He was wounded at Cerro Gordo, and he was breveted Major for the storming of Chapultepec, for which he also received a presentation sword from the city of St. Louis. During the Civil War Paul served in New Mexico and Virginia, at Peralta, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.

Paul was born in from St. Louis, Mo. on March 22, 1813, where he was a part of an old St. Louis family, and the grandson of Auguste Chouteau. His father had been an officer under Napoleon. After his wounding at Gettysburg, General Paul was on sick leave until Feb. 16, 1865. Paul served as deputy governor of the Soldiers Home near Washington until June 13, 1865. He was then placed in charge of the military asylum at Harrodsburg, Ky., until Dec. 20, 1866. Paul was retired from active service on 16 February, 1865, on account of his blindness. He was brevetted on Feb. 23, to the rank of Brigadier General, United States Army, for gallant conduct at the Battle of Gettysburg. In Dec. 1866, Congress also granted him the pay and allowances attached to the full rank of brigadier-general.

His son Auguste Chouteau Paul also served in the Civil War. Paul was a cadet at the Kentucky Military Institute at the beginning of the war. He became an officer through his own efforts, rising to the rank of Lt. Colonel. After the war he accepted the rank of 2nd lt. in the 3rd U.S. Cavalry.
Last edited:
Jul 6, 2020
Hoboken living, CNY raised
If Paul had not been wounded at Gettysburg and nothing else changed, he likely would have ended up a Division commander in 1864 by virtue of rank.

What was Paul's Brigade at Gettysburg continued to serve under John Robinson at the start of the Overland Campaign. Looking at the Generals who commanded V Corps Divisions in 1864, their seniority as Brigadier General was:

Henry Lockwood - 8/8/1861 (Sacked after 3 days in Division command during Cold Harbor)
James Wadsworth - 8/9/1861 (MW, May 6, 1864)
Samuel Crawford - 4/25/1862
John Robinson - 4/28/1862 (Wounded, May 8, 1864 and never returned to field command)
Charles Griffin - 6/9/1862
Gabriel Paul - 9/11/1862
Romeyn B. Ayres - 11/29/1862
Lysander Cutler - 11/29/1862 (Wounded August 21, 1864 and never returned to field command)

Of the Brigadier Generals in the V Corps who commanded Brigades at the Wilderness, Paul outranked them all (Bartlett, Baxter, Rice).

Based on rank alone, it seems that Paul would have been given an opportunity to command a Division either at the Wilderness or Spotsylvania. Any further promotion, though, seems unlikely. There were a lot of talented V Corps guys who were never promoted, despite consistently good performances over the last year of the war (J. William Hofmann, Richard Coulter, etc.)
Jul 6, 2020
Hoboken living, CNY raised
I do not know how politically connected Paul was but in his many years of service he much have worked with many army officers.
He appeared to have connections out West (apparently was briefly the Colonel of a New Mexico territory volunteer regiment), but that was unlikely to yield him anything. That said, it also appears that rank became much harder to come by after the huge number of promotions on 11/29/62.

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