William H Paul MOH

b. 03/10/1844 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. d. 23/02/1911 Havre de Grace, Maryland.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 17/09/1862 Antietam, Maryland.

William H Paul MOH

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 3, 1844, William H. Paul was a son of Pennsylvania natives George W. Paul (1813–1892) and Barbara A. Paul (1817–1884). During the 1850s, William Paul resided in Philadelphia’s Spring Garden neighborhood (5th Ward) with his parents and sisters: Frances, Virginia, Mary, Emma, and Ida, who were born, respectively, circa 1834, 1836, 1838, 1847, and 1854. His father supported their family on a carpenter’s wages. Sometime before or during early 1860, William Paul and his family relocated to Hammonton, New Jersey, where his father had obtained work as a carpenter. The federal census taker who arrived at their doorstep in mid-July of that year noted that their household included parents George W. and B. A. Paul, and children: William, Emma and Ida

Two years later, on January 22, 1862, William H. Paul enrolled for Civil War military service in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

At the end of March, following basic training, he was transported with his regiment by rail to Baltimore, Maryland, quartered at the Patterson Park Barracks, and equipped with an altered smooth-bore musket before being moved again, by way of Washington, D.C., to Aquia Creek Landing, and assigned with his regiment to the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division of the U.S. Army’s 1st Corps under the command of General Irvin McDowell. Marched to various sites in support of Union Army operations for the next several months, Paul and his fellow 90th Pennsylvanians saw their first major action in the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia (August 9, 1862) during the opening of the Northern Virginia Campaign. Ordered to destroy a railroad bridge at Mitchell’s Station on August 15, they next guarded the Union Army’s rear as it retreated across the Rappahannock River, and then rendered support to Union artillery batteries during the First Battle of Rappahannock Station (August 22–August 25) before moving on to operations associated with the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap (August 28). After fighting in the Second Battle of Bull Run (August 28–30) and Battle of Chantilly (September 1), they were reassigned to the Maryland Campaign under Major General Joseph Hooker, and then fought again in the Battle of South Mountain (September 14).

Three days later, while fighting with his regiment in the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862, William Paul performed the act of valour which later resulted in his being awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor. When the 90th Pennsylvania’s color-bearer and two other members of his regiment’s color guard unit were killed in action “under a most withering and concentrated fire,” according to his award citation, he retrieved the regiment’s colors and continued to carry and protect that flag for the remainder of the intense fighting which raged that day.

Sometime after being wounded in action at Antietam, Paul was promoted to the rank of sergeant. After his regiment was reassigned to the Union Army’s 1st Corps in 1862, he and his regiment then fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11–15, 1862). Ordered to fatigue duty in the New Year, they then participated in the Mud March led by Major-General Ambrose Burnside (January 1863) and the intense fighting of the Chancellorsville Campaign (April 30–May 6) before heading for Pennsylvania. Assigned to the Gettysburg Campaign, they then fought in the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3), and pursued the Confederate Army as it retreated into Maryland and Virginia. Reassigned to picket duties along the Rappahannock River that fall, the regiment skirmished periodically with Confederate troops while also participating in the destruction of enemy-controlled segments of the Manassas and Alexandria Railroad and repair of Union-controlled lines before being ordered to participate in the Mine Run Campaign in December.

Reassigned to the 3rd Division of the 5th Corps, the division under General Samuel W. Crawford, Paul’s regiment became one of those which fought in the Battle of Cold Harbor (June 1–12) and several other engagements during the Siege of Petersburg (June 9, 1864 – March 25, 1865). Still convalescing from battle wounds sustained in the Wilderness when his regiment was transferred to Company E of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry (as part of a reorganization ordered by the U.S. War Department which merged the 90th Pennsylvania into the 11th Pennsylvania), Paul was honorably discharged from the army at the Union’s South Street Hospital in Philadelphia on February 11, 1865.

Following his honorable discharge from the military, William Paul returned north, and resumed life at home with his parents and younger sister, Ida. In 1870, they resided in Havre de Grace, Maryland, where family patriarch George was employed as a carpenter. During this decade, William began raising chickens and became active in farming.

Residing alone with his parents in Harford County and still employed as a farmer while his father worked as a carpenter during the opening months of 1880, Paul then married Annie Mitchell (1851–1938) in Harford County on June 5 of that same year. Daughters Mary B. and Barbara E. Mitchell were born, respectively, in April 1881 and October 1883. 



Under a most withering and concentrated fire, voluntarily picked up the colors of his regiment, when the bearer and two of the color guard had been killed, and bore them aloft throughout the entire battle.



PLOT 215.