Paul Brodie was born on February 28, 1839, in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland to Paul Brodie and Jane Wright Brodie. The family immigrated to New York, and in the 1860 Census, Paul is found living with his mother and four siblings. His mother lists her occupation as a washerwoman. Paul's occupation is stonecutter. On May 13, 1861, Paul enlisted with the New York 79th Infantry, Company F. The 79th was comprised primarily of Scottish immigrants and were referred to as the Cameron Highlanders. The 79th received permission from New York to wear traditional Scottish-style uniforms which consisted of Tartan trousers, Glengarry bonnets, and kilts for military parades. After President Lincoln's call to raise volunteer regiments, the 79th began recruitment efforts. They were not initially able to raise the required 1,000 men, but by the time President Lincoln's second call came, the unit was ready for service. They mustered in the Union Army on May 29, 1861.
The 79th paraded down Broadway in New York City on June 2, 1861. After fighting in the First Battle of Bull Run the regiment retreated to Washington. The Highlanders traveled to Port Royal, South Carolina, and occupied Fort Beauregard, which they renamed Fort Seward. By early December 1861, the Highlanders occupied Beaufort.
Paul was apparently a valiant soldier and received a number of promotions. On March 1, 1862, he was promoted to 2nd Lt. On March 3, 1864, he mustered out of the 79th and transferred to the Signal Corps where he was promoted on January 18, 1864, to 1st Lt. On March 13, 1865, Andrew Johnson signed a certificate promoting Paul to Major by Brevet (a copy of which is found in the gallery).
Paul Brodie spent time in Beaufort and at some point was injured. He recovered in a Union hospital where he signed his name on a plaster wall. The newspaper The New South reported on August 8, 1863, that Brodie was among several injured officers. The report said:
"Lieut. Paul Brodie was on the_ "Pawnee"_ when the rebels attacked her so furiously with a field battery at only 350 yards distance. He was wounded in the shoulder but continued the performance of his duty and in connection with Lieut. Cross, who was with the land forces, was of great assistance to Capt. Balch and Gen. Terry, in effecting the final of the enemy."
Paul was honorably mustered out of the service on September 11, 1865, at the age of 26, however, he continued to serve in the Signal Corps and the Department of the South in Beaufort. In 1868, Paul was rewarded for gallant and meritorious service during the war and named "Major of Volunteers."
After the war, Paul continued to live in Beaufort, working as a draughtsman and architect. Through 1873, he placed regular ads in the Beaufort paper advertising his services. According to numerous newspaper clippings, Paul also continued to work for the government. An 1882 article in the Charlotte Observer showed Paul working for the Interior Department in South Carolina. Another 1886 article published in a Washington, D. C. paper called the Evening Star said that Paul Brodie, of South Carolina (draughtsman), received a promotion from the Office of Indian Affairs and a raise from $1,400 to $1,600.
Sometime after 1886, Paul left Beaufort, and in 1888, he married Wilhelmenna "Emma" Esher (sometimes written Escher) in Philadelphia. Paul and Emma were living in Washington, D.C. on June 6, 1889, when Emma gave birth to their son Ralph Brodie. In a challenge to Paul's pension benefits after his death, one newspaper clipping (attached in gallery) says Paul actually married three times, and that his first wife died, and his second wife claims they were not legally divorced.
Paul stayed active in government affairs and was very involved in the G.A.R. He died on July 18, 1898, at the Garfield Hospital in Washington, D.C., and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. An article printed on August 20, 1898, in the Washington Times said:
"Ralph Brodie Gets the Money. Justice Bradley yesterday signed the order turning over the sum of $250 deposited in the Orphans' Court by the Pension Bureau Beneficial Association, last week to Ralph Brodie, the beneficiary of Paul Brodie, recently deceased. Paul Brodie was Insured In the Pension Bureau Beneficial Association and in his will named his son Ralph as his beneficiary, but as the deceased had a wife living from whom he was never divorced the association would not assume the responsibility of awarding the benefit."