Ninth Plate Ambrotype & Archive Of James P. Branch,
Ninth Plate Ambrotype & Archive of James P. Branch, 44th VA Inf. & 20th VA Battn Heavy Artillery
A small family group that includes a wartime ambrotype portrait of Private Peter Branch in uniform wonderfully identified with his name penciled in the case, a sixth plate daguerreotype of his father, Robert Branch, with seven pages of old hand written "family records" containing vital information listing Branch family births, deaths, and marriages going back to at least 1811. The daguerreotype bears the name Robt. H. Branch scratched into the back of the copper plate. Also, Robert Branch's pre-printed Virginia Militia commission dated May 1834 now completely separated in pieces. The block-jawed young man wears a gray wool shell jacket showing thick texture under magnification with a thin row of braid around the collar. The brass buttons are indistinct and gilded.
The Branch family material first surfaced at auction in Brenham, Texas and was broken up into several lots. The sale included a wartime diary written by James Branch (purchased by another party) that later appeared on eBay before being sold again in a Raynor Auction.
James Peter Branch (1842-1906), "2nd son of Robt. H. and Martha A. Branch" was born in Appomattox County and joined Company A., 44th Virginia Infantry as a private in August 1861. The regiment served under Lee at Rich Mountain and marched with "Stonewall" in the Valley early in 1862.
In late March 1862 Company A voted to reorganize as artillery and became the nucleus of the 20th Virginia Heavy Artillery Battalion mustering into Confederate service with four companies at Drewry's Bluff in June 1862. The battalion was stationed in the Department of Richmond as part of the city's permanent garrison and occasionally supplied guard detachments to the notorious Belle Island prison camp. Following the evacuation of Richmond the battalion marched as infantry during the Appomattox Campaign and surrendered 11 men. Pvt. Branch was taken prisoner on April 6, 1865 at Farmville, VA after the Saylor's Creek fight and was confined at Point Lookout until signing his Oath on June 23, 1865.
James Branch and his younger brother William migrated to Texas after the war. The veteran of Appomattox died at Ft. Worth in November 1906.
The ninth plate of Branch is VG.+ with minor spots of wear around the mat opening. Clarity is average. The brass is discolored with tarnish and the cover glass has never been cleaned. Housed in partial composition case with identification penciled behind plate. Sixth plate dag VG. with original paper seals in partial case.