Paul Jones Semmes was born June 4th 1815 at Montford’s Plantation in Wilkes County, Georgia. He attended the University of Virginia, becoming a banker and the owner of a plantation in Columbus, Georgia. Semmes was a Captain in the Columbus Guards and in 1855 he wrote a guide to Infantry Tactics. Georgia Governor Joseph E Brown made Semmes the Quartermaster General of the state in 1860, allowing him to make all the states military purchases.
After the Civil War started Semmes became a Colonel in the 2nd Georgia Infantry. He was promoted on March 11th 1862 to Brigadier General. He saw action in the Peninsula Campaign and at Crampton’s Gap during the Battle of South Mountain. At the Battle of Antietam Semmes’ Brigade was a part of Confederate General Lafayette McLaws’ counterattack on the Union Second Corps. His brigade was also active at Chancellorsville.
During the Battle of Gettysburg Semmes led his men in a charge into the Wheatfield, where on July 2nd 1863 he was wounded in the thigh. He was taken by ambulance to Martinsburg, West Virginia where he died July 10th 1863. Semmes is buried in the Linwood Cemetery in Columbus, Georgia.