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Branch, James A.


Biographical Note

James A. Branch was a confederate soldier, a prisoner of war, and a shop clerk. He was mustered into service on June 5, 1862, and fought for the Confederate States Army until his unit was unknowingly surrendered to the Union Army on April 6, 1865. Until his parole on June 24 of that year, Branch was a prisoner of war at Point Lookout Camp, Maryland. Following the war, he ran a struggling shop with another man named Ned.

Branch was very close with his family. He often thought of his parents and visited his cousins during his breaks. Subsequently, Branch became inconsolable after the death of siblings Elizabeth (died on Oct 29, 1865) and Percy. In his free time, Branch enjoyed reading and taking nature walks. Throughout the war, Branch struggled with religious doubts and feelings of spiritual inadequacy; after the war, he physically struggled with sickness, most likely Consumption (Tuberculosis).

Point Lookout Camp, where Branch was held as a prisoner of war between April and June of 1865, was located on the tip of St. Mary's County, MD, where the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay. Officially called Camp Hoffman, it was established on August 1, 1863, by Brig. Gen. Daniel H. Rucker. Initially, it was designed to hold 10,000 prisoners. Isolated, easily protected, and located next to a large hospital, Point Lookout Camp became the largest Union prison; it sometimes held up to 20,000 prisoners at a time and around 50,000 prisoners in total passed through its gates during the war's entirety. Prison conditions were poor: men were placed in outdoor pens lined with sand that contained only tents to protect them from the elements. Disease, water pollution, scant rations, extreme temperatures, and poor drainage were additional difficulties prisoners faced.

"Point Lookout Prisoner of War Camp." The American Civil War. Genealogy Inc, 26 July 2010. Web. 26 July 2010.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

James A. Branch Collection

Identifier: Ms-2010-054

The collection contains two diaries and letters pertaining to James A Branch between the years of 1864 and 1867. They detail his life as a Confederate soldier, a prisoner of war at Point Lookout Camp, and a shop clerk, during and after the American Civil War.

Dates: 1864 - 1867