SUBMITTED BY: JC Knowles
Lawrence O’Bryan Branch was born at Enfield, North Carolina on November 28, 1820. When he was five years old, his mother died. After her death, he and his father moved to Tennessee where his father then died in 1827. Following his father’s death, young Branch returned to his native North Carolina and was raised by his uncle John Branch, who at the time was serving as Governor of the state. John Branch also distinguished himself as Secretary of the Navy in 1829.
Lawrence Branch spent a year or so attending the Bingham Military Academy at Hillsborough. Following the Academy, he attended Princeton. He graduated first in his class in 1838. In 1844, he married Nancy Haywood Blount, the daughter of General William Augustus Blount of Washington, N.C., and soon afterward they made their home in Raleigh, North Carolina.
With the start of the Civil War, Branch joined the army in the spring of 1861 as a private in the Raleigh Rifles. Later, he accepted the office of the State Quartermaster General. His was promoted quickly, for in 1861 he was appointed Brigadier General in the provisional army of the Confederate States, his command including the Seventh, Eighteenth, Twenty-eighth, Thirty-third, and Thirty-seventh Regiments (North Carolina).
Branch saw action in the Battle of New Bern, Peninsula Campaign, West Virginia Campaign, Maryland Campaign, and in the Battle of Antietam. At Antietam, on September 17, 1862, Branch led his troops on a swift march from Harper’s Ferry to Sharpsburg, Maryland, where the battle of Antietam was fought. Following the battle, a Yankee sharpshooter fired a shot that killed Branch instantly. Branch, a man who truly made a difference, is buried in the old Raleigh City Cemetery.