Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wheatfield Storm: The Death of Paul Jones Semmes

Brigadier General Paul Jones Semmes

       Among the three Confederate brigadier generals mortally wounded on July 2, 1863 was a Georgian named Paul Jones Semmes. He was the cousin of famous Confederate Admiral and Brigadier General Raphael Semmes. General Semmes had seen action during the Peninsula Campaign, The Seven Days, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. 
       General Semmes was wounded in the fighting at the Bloody Wheatfield on the second day at Gettysburg. He'd carried a tourniquet since the war had begun and never needed until this day. The fighting was so severe that he pulled the tourniquet out of his pocket and was holding it in his hand when he was shot in the thigh. The bullet severed his femoral artery. He immediately applied the tourniquet which saved his life for the moment. 
       Some of his soldiers made a litter out of a captured U.S. flag and carried him off the field to a surgeon. After the surgeon bound up the wound and Semmes was placed in an ambulance and sent back to Virginia. He arrived in Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia) and survived until July 10. There, everything was done that could possibly save his life. 
       Before he died, Semmes said, "I consider it a privilege to die for my country." General Lee said of Semmes, "He died as he had lived, discharging the highest duty of a patriot with devotion that never faltered and courage that never shrank from no danger."
       General Semmes was 48 years old. He is buried in Linwood Cemetery, Columbus, Georgia. 

Me at Semmes grave in Columbus, Georgia

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