Branch, James A. Collection

A Guide to the James A. Branch Collection, 1864-1867 Ms.2010.054


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Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
specref@vt.edu
URL: http://spec.lib.vt.edu

Julia Viets

Repository
Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech
Identification
Ms.2010.054
Title
James A. Branch Collection1864-1867
Quantity
0.3 Cubic Feet 1 box
Creator
Branch, James A.
Language
The material in the collection is in English.
Abstract
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.

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials. Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: http://bit.ly/scuareproduction. Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: http://bit.ly/scuapublication. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives (specref@vt.edu or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to research.

Alternative Form Available

Transcripts of diaries and letters are available in the collection.

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: [identification of item], [box], [folder], James A. Branch Collection, Ms2010-054, Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va.

Source of Acquisition

The James A. Branch Collection was purchased by Special Collections in 2009.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement, and description of the James A. Branch Collection was commenced and completed in July 2010.


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. http://www.mycivilwar.com/pow/md-point_lookout.htm.

Scope and Contents

Feel dull stupid gloomy. Have so much cold can hardly breathe. Early is reported leaving the valley stupendous achievements are on foot, and I feel anxious for the results. My God grant a happy tune rid of all our troubles. This is perhaps the sadest day of all the year to the Southern heart a most memorable day! One that decided the fate of R and the Confederacy May God grant not for over. How many here made poor by this step necessarily taken by our beloved chief May it prove for the better though we cannot see through the void as yet Just now our eyes were made to witness and our ears to hear negrew troops marching down our street cursing all white persons.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged by material type.

Related Material

Carter J. Glass Collection, 1862-1864, Ms2009-004. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database.

In Prison at Point Lookout, by C.W. Jones (E616.L8 J664 1866z Spec Civil War)

Point Lookout Prison Camp for Confederates, by Edwin W. Beitzell (E616.L8 B45 1972 Spec Civil War)

Smith Family Letters, 1861-1865, 1912-1996 (Bulk 1861-1865), Ms1996-018. Finding aid available on the Virginia Heritage database.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

  • Civil War
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Diaries

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the James A. Branch Collection by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/).

Container List

box-folder 1 folder: 1
Letters
1864, n.d.
box-folder 1 folder: 2
Diaries
1865-1867
box-folder 1 folder: 3
Transcripts