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Lawrence O'Bryan Branch

Lawrence O'Bryan Branch

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Lawrence O'Bryan Branch (November 28, 1820 – September 17, 1862) was a North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 representative in the U.S. Congress and a Confederate brigadier general in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, killed at the Battle of Antietam
Battle of Antietam
The Battle of Antietam , fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Northern soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000...

.

Early life and career


Branch was born in Enfield
Enfield, North Carolina
Enfield is a town in Halifax County, North Carolina founded in 1740 and it is a predominantly African American town. The population was 2,347 at the 2000 census.Enfield is part of the Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina Micropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

, Halifax County, North Carolina
Halifax County, North Carolina
-Demographics:-Demographics:-Demographics:-Demographics:-Demographics:-Demographics:-Demographics:-Demographics:-Demographics:[[Image:HalifaxCountyCotton.wmg.jpg|left|thumb|A cotton field blooms in Halifax County....

 to Major
Major (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, major is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel...

 Joseph Branch and Susan Simpson O'Bryan Branch. His family moved to Williamson County, Tennessee
Williamson County, Tennessee
Williamson County is a county in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of 2010 US Census, the population was 183,182. The County's seat is Franklin, and it is part of the Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area. The county is named after Hugh Williamson, a...

 but his mother died when he was five and his father died in 1827. His uncle, Secretary of the Navy
United States Secretary of the Navy
The Secretary of the Navy of the United States of America is the head of the Department of the Navy, a component organization of the Department of Defense...

 John Branch
John Branch
John Branch, Jr. served as U.S. Senator, Secretary of the Navy, the 19th Governor of the state of North Carolina, and was the sixth and last territorial governor of Florida....

 (then serving as Governor of North Carolina) assumed his guardianship and took him back to North Carolina. Branch moved to Washington City
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 with his uncle when the latter took the position as Secretary of the Navy and he was tutored by Salmon P. Chase
Salmon P. Chase
Salmon Portland Chase was an American politician and jurist who served as U.S. Senator from Ohio and the 23rd Governor of Ohio; as U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln; and as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.Chase was one of the most prominent members...

. He pursued a preparatory course under a private teacher in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, before going on to train at North Carolina's Bingham Military Academy. He also attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States...

 for a short time and, in 1838, graduated first in his class from Princeton College before going to study law in Nashville
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, where he also owned and edited a newspaper.

In 1840, Branch moved to Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee is the capital of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Leon County, and is the 128th largest city in the United States. Tallahassee became the capital of Florida, then the Florida Territory, in 1824. In 2010, the population recorded by...

 and was admitted to the bar to practice law by a special act of the legislature. Just one year later, he went to fight in the Seminole Wars. In 1844, he married Nancy Haywood Blount and they had four children. In 1852, he moved to Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh is the capital and the second largest city in the state of North Carolina as well as the seat of Wake County. Raleigh is known as the "City of Oaks" for its many oak trees. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city's 2010 population was 403,892, over an area of , making Raleigh...

, where he continued to practice law and became president of the Raleigh & Gaston Railroad Co. He also served as an elector on the Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of the United States and is the only President from New Hampshire. Pierce was a Democrat and a "doughface" who served in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. Pierce took part in the Mexican-American War and became a brigadier general in the Army...

 ticket in 1852
United States presidential election, 1852
The United States presidential election of 1852 bore important similarities to the election of 1844. Once again, the incumbent president was a Whig who had succeeded to the presidency upon the death of his war-hero predecessor. In this case, it was Millard Fillmore who followed General Zachary Taylor...

. Branch was elected as a Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 to the 34th, 35th, and 36th Congresses (March 4, 1855, to March 3, 1861) but was not a candidate for renomination in 1860. On December 2, 1860, he was appointed, (but declined), the position of Secretary of the Treasury by President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 James Buchanan
James Buchanan
James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

.

Civil War


Branch entered the Confederate Army, in May 1861, as a private in the Raleigh Rifles. Later that month he accepted the office of State quartermaster general
Quartermaster general
A Quartermaster general is the staff officer in charge of supplies for a whole army.- The United Kingdom :In the United Kingdom, the Quartermaster-General to the Forces is one of the most senior generals in the British Army...

, but resigned it for service in the field, and in September he was elected colonel (United States)
Colonel (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, colonel is a senior field grade military officer rank just above the rank of lieutenant colonel and just below the rank of brigadier general...

 of the 33rd North Carolina. He was appointed brigadier general in January 1862. After the Battle of New Bern
Battle of New Bern
The Battle of New Bern was fought on 14 March 1862, near the city of New Bern, North Carolina, as part of the Burnside Expedition of the American Civil War. The US Army's Coast Division, led by Brigadier General Ambrose E...

 his brigade was attached to A.P. Hill's Division, Stonewall Jackson
Stonewall Jackson
ຄຽשת״ׇׂׂׂׂ֣|birth_place= Clarksburg, Virginia |death_place=Guinea Station, Virginia|placeofburial=Stonewall Jackson Memorial CemeteryLexington, Virginia|placeofburial_label= Place of burial|image=...

's Corps. He was the senior brigadier general in Hill's division. Branch's brigade fought at the Battle of Hanover Courthouse
Battle of Hanover Courthouse
The Battle of Hanover Court House, also known as the Battle of Slash Church, took place on May 27, 1862, in Hanover County, Virginia, as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War....

, the Seven Days Battles
Seven Days Battles
The Seven Days Battles was a series of six major battles over the seven days from June 25 to July 1, 1862, near Richmond, Virginia during the American Civil War. Confederate General Robert E. Lee drove the invading Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, away from...

, Cedar Mountain
Battle of Cedar Mountain
The Battle of Cedar Mountain, also known as Slaughter's Mountain or Cedar Run, took place on August 9, 1862, in Culpeper County, Virginia, as part of the American Civil War. Union forces under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks attacked Confederate forces under Maj. Gen. Thomas J...

, Second Manassas, the Chantilly
Battle of Chantilly
The Battle of Chantilly took place on September 1, 1862, in Fairfax County, Virginia, as the concluding battle of the Northern Virginia Campaign of the American Civil War. Thomas J...

, and Harper's Ferry

Antietam


On September 17, 1862, he led his troops on a rapid march from Harpers Ferry to Sharpsburg, Maryland
Sharpsburg, Maryland
Sharpsburg is a town in Washington County, Maryland, United States, approximately south of Hagerstown. The population was 691 at the 2000 census....

 where the Battle of Antietam
Battle of Antietam
The Battle of Antietam , fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Northern soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000...

 was raging. Branch arrived on the field around 2:30 PM, in time to help stop the Union advance, thus saving General Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

's right flank from a crushing defeat. Soon after this victory, Branch stood talking with fellow brigadier generals Maxcy Gregg
Maxcy Gregg
Maxcy Gregg was a lawyer, soldier in the United States Army during the Mexican-American War, and a Confederate brigadier general during the American Civil War who was killed at the Battle of Fredericksburg....

, Dorsey Pender
William Dorsey Pender
William Dorsey Pender was one of the youngest, and most promising, generals fighting for the Confederacy in the American Civil War. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg.-Early life:...

, James J. Archer
James J. Archer
James Jay Archer was a lawyer and an officer in the United States Army during the Mexican-American War, and he later served as a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War....

, along with Hill and General Lee when a Federal sharpshooter, seeing the group, fired a shot that hit him in the right cheek and exited behind his left ear, killing him instantly. He fell dead into the arms of a staff officer.

Dates of Rank

  • Private, May 1, 1861
  • Colonel, September 1, 1861
  • Brigadier General, January 16, 1862

Memorials


Branch had won the respect of his fellow officers and after his death Hill said of him, "He was my senior brigadier and one to whom I could have entrusted the command of the division with all confidence. No country has a better son or nobler champion, no principle a bolder defender than the noble and gallant soldier, General Lawrence O'Bryan Branch."

A memorial cannon now stands at the location where Branch was killed. Five other memorial cannons are placed throughout the battlefield marking the locations other commanders lost their lives. Branch is buried at the Old City Cemetery
City Cemetery (Raleigh, North Carolina)
The City Cemetery of Raleigh, also known as Old City Cemetery, was authorized in 1798 by the North Carolina General Assembly as Raleigh's first burying ground. It was laid out on of land just outside the original 1792 eastern boundary of Raleigh and bounded by East Street on the west, East...

, Raleigh, North Carolina.

External links