(1835 - 1862)
Home State: Louisiana
Command Billet: Commanding Regiment
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 8th Florida Infantry
"He attended France's Marine Academy and then moved to America where he established himself in New Orleans. It was here that he quickly became known as a serious military arts student, a social dandy, and a hothead. He also earned a reputation as a duelist, notably in March of 1859, with an opera critic named Emile Bozonier. In that affair, Bozonier claimed that Coppens had hissed at his favorite soprano singer, to which Coppens dared Bozonier to slap him and issue the challenge of a duel. Bozonier slapped Coppens, knocking him to the ground. The affair was settled with blades on New Orleans" famous dueling ground. Coppens left the contest victorious with a deep facial gash, Bozonier left alive, but with several serious injuries. "
"This affair placed Coppens in a position of opportunity, for his reputation for bravery was well established just as hostilities were about to begin. Jefferson Davis himself gave Gaston Coppens his commission as a Lieutenant Colonel, as well as permission to form the Zouave battalion. As a disciplinarian and organizer, Coppens would fail miserably, but on the battlefield leading his men, he excelled. Coppens used his position and influence to grant some of his family members positions within his unit. His younger brother, Marie Alfred, commanded Company F, and eventually would take over the battalion. Leon, another brother, was a sergeant, and his father, Baron August De Coppens served as quartermaster for much of the war. "
On the Campaign
"With General McClellan closing on his scattered Corps faster than expected, Lee summoned his army together at Sharpsburg, Maryland. The Louisianians arrived on the afternoon of September 16th. The Zouaves were now under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Marie Alfred Coppens, Lt. Colonel Gaston Coppens had been placed in command of the 8th Florida Regiment ... As the lists of the casualties from the bloodiest day in American history were compiled, the name of Lieutenant Colonel Gaston Coppens was numbered with the dead."
References & notes
04/07/1835; La Trinite, Martinique, FRANCE
09/17/1862; Sharpsburg, MD