A Civil War Biography

Paul Jones Semmes

Semmes was born 4 June 1815 at Mountford's Plantation in Wilkes County, Georgia. He attended the University of Virginia then returned to Georgia after graduation to become a banker and a planter near Columbus. In 1846 he became active in the state militia, serving as captain of the Columbus Guards until 1861.

Once the war began Semmes helped form the 2nd Georgia Infantry regiment and was elected colonel. In the spring of 1862, after the 2nd arrived in Virginia, Semmes was promoted to brigadier general, to rank from 11 March 1862. He commanded a brigade in John Bankhead Magruder's division during the defense of Yorktown and Williamsburg and at the battle of Seven Pines. Semmes' brigade was then attached to Lafayette McLaw's division of James Longstreet's corps and fought during the Seven Days battles at Savage Station and Malvern Hill. Semmes saw action in command of his brigade at Crampton's Gap and Sharpsburg, defending Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg and at Salem Church during the Chancellorsville campaign. During the second day at Gettysburg, 2 July 1863, Semmes was mortally wounded during Longstreet's attack against the Round Tops on the Union left. Semmes was taken by ambulance across the Potomac River to Martinsburg, by then West Virginia, where he died on 10 July 1863.

Paul Jones Semmes was a cousin of Raphael Semmes the Confederate naval hero.

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