Lawrence O’Bryan Branch Bio-Sketch
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Name: Lawrence O’Bryan Branch
Rank: Brigadier General
Birth Date: November 20, 1820
Birth Place: Enfield, NC
Death Date: September 17, 1862
Death Place: Sharpsburg, Maryland
Lawrence O’Bryan Branch was born on November 20, 1820 in Enfield, NC, to parents Major Joseph Branch and Susan Simpson O’Bryan Branch. He moved at a young age with his family to Tennessee. His mother died in 1825 followed by his father two years later, leaving Lawrence an orphan. He took up residence with his Uncle John Branch who moved him back to North Carolina. His uncle was the sitting Governor of the State of North Carolina when he took in his nephew. John Branch became Secretary of the Navy under Andrew Jackson. This led to Lawrence meeting and receiving instruction from Salmon P. Chase. He attended Bingham Military Academy in North Carolina before enrolling in the University of North Carolina. He briefly attended the University before attending Princeton. Upon graduating from Princeton, Lawrence O’Bryan Branch went to Nashville, TN, studied law, and ran the local newspaper.
In 1840, Lawrence went to Tallahassee, FL and practiced law. The following year he went to the defense of Florida and fought in the Seminole Wars. He met and wed Nancy Blount in 1844. They moved back to Raleigh, NC in 1852 where he practiced law and became president of the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad. Lawrence O’B. Branch was elected to the U. S. Congress and served there from 1855 until March of 1861.
With the upcoming conflict and the secession of North Carolina, Lawrence enlisted in the Raleigh Rifles on May 1, 1861. In late May of 1861 he was appointed to the job of State Quartermaster General. He resigned it in August of 1861 and was elected to Colonel of the 33rd N. C. Infantry Regiment on September 1, 1861. January of 1862 saw Lawrence O’Bryan Branch become a brigadier general. His brigade was assigned to A. P. Hill’s Division after the Battle of New Bern. He became the Senior Brigadier General in A. P. Hill’s Division. Both Hill’s Division and Branch’s Brigade saw action in the Battle of Hanover Courthouse, the Seven Days Campaign, Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, and Harper’s Ferry.
Branch’s Brigade went from Harper’s Ferry to Sharpsburg on September 17, 1862 to assist the Army of Northern Virginia in the hotly contested Battle of Sharpsburg. Branch arrived with his brigade around 2:30 that afternoon. This sprint by A. P. Hill’s Division saved the right flank of the Army of Northern Virginia from being overrun. Not long after repelling the victory, a Federal sharpshooter spotted A. P. Hill, Branch, and several other brigadier generals in a council of war. The sharpshooter took aim and killed Branch with a shot to the head. Lawrence O’Bryan Branch was one of six Generals killed at the Battle of Sharpsburg. A Memorial cannon marks the spot where he was killed. His body is buried in the Old City Cemetery in Raleigh, NC. He and his wife, Nancy Blount, had four children.