Biography of General Lawrence O'Bryan Branch

Lawrence O'Bryan Branch was born on November 28, 1820 in Enfield, North Carolina. Branch was a veteran of the Seminole Indian Wars.


A graduate of Princeton (class of 1838), he edited a newspaper, was admitted to the Florida bar (though underage), became interested in politics, and served as a Congressman from North Carolina from 1855-1861. Branch turned down offers from President James Buchanan to become the Postmaster General or the Secretary of Treasury.

At the beginning of the War, O'Bryan Branch was appointed quartermaster and paymaster general of North Carolina. He resigned these positions to become the colonel of the 33d Infantry. Branch fought in all of the Light Division's battles, including Cedar Mountain where he was ill but the excitement of battle braced him.

While conferring with A.P. Hill, James Archer, and Maxcy Gregg at the battle of Sharpsburg, a bullet from a Federal sharpshooter struck Branch in the head. He died instantly and is buried in the Old City Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina. A cannon marks the spot where he was killed at Sharpsburg, just as it does for the other generals killed at the bloodiest single day battle in American history.

A fact worthy of record about Branch is that in the antebellum period he served as a tutor to Salmon P. Chase -- Lincoln's Secretary of Treasury and a future chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.


Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,

June 3, 1862.

Brigadier General L.O'B. Branch Commanding, &c.:

General, -- The report of your recent engagement with the enemy at "Slash Church" has been forwarded by Major General Hill. I take great pleasure in expressing my approval of the manner in which you have discharged the duties of the position in which you were placed, and of the gallant manner in which your troops opposed a very superior force of the enemy. I beg you will signify to the troops of your command, which were engaged on that occasion, my hearty approval of their conduct, and hope that on future occasions they will evince a like heroism and patriotic devotion.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

R.E. Lee, General Through Major General A.P. Hill.

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