Branson / Cook Genealogy



Usage Policy
Main Page

This site maintained by Sandra Branson Young

All Rights Reserved


Elisha Smallwood in the Civil War

List of Some Bransons who served in the Civil War
Article:  Cousin Against Cousin in the Civil War
Read about Branson Cousins who fought against each other

By reconstructing census information, another branch of the Branson family has been identified. Although it has not been proven, it is believed that Eli Branson (son of Levi Branson Sr.) had another son named Thomas M. P. Branson. Thomas M. P. Branson was located in 1840, 1850 and 1880 census records. His two sons, Eli and William, served in the 26th North Carolina Infantry. They participated in the Battle of Gettysburg on the Confederate side. Eli was wounded and taken prisoner. After he was paroled, he went AWOL in 1864. His brother William deserted in the same year. They fought against their fourth cousin, Isaac Branson who served in the 19th Infantry and participated in the same Battle of Gettysburg. A descendant of the Branson family has submitted an article about several Branson cousins who fought against one another - read about their war experiences and their lives.

Two of William and Eli Branson's first cousins (both of them named Eli Branson) also served in the Civil War.  For more information about them, click here.

Last Battle of the American Civil War
May 12-13, 1865


Palmito Ranch - Palmito Hill Texas

Since March 1865, a gentleman's agreement precluded fighting between Union and Confederate forces on the Rio Grande. In spite of this agreement, Col. Theodore H. Barrett, commanding forces at Brazos Santiago, Texas, dispatched an expedition, composed of 250 men of the 62nd U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment and 50 men of the 2nd Texas Cavalry Regiment under the command of Lt. Col. David Branson, to the mainland, on May 11, 1865, to attack reported Rebel outposts and camps. Prohibited by foul weather from crossing to Point Isabel as instructed, the expedition crossed to Boca Chica much later. At 2:00 am, on May 12, the expeditionary force surrounded the Rebel outpost at White's Ranch, but found no one there. Exhausted, having been up most of the night, Branson secreted his command in a thicket and among weeds on the banks of the Rio Grande and allowed his men to sleep. Around 8:30 am, people on the Mexican side of the river informed the Rebels of the Federals' whereabouts. Branson promptly led his men off to attack a Confederate camp at Palmito Ranch. After much skirmishing along the way, the Federals attacked the camp and scattered the Confederates. Branson and his men remained at the site to feed themselves and their horses but, at 3:00 pm, a sizable Confederate force appeared, influencing the Federals to retire to White's Ranch. He sent word of his predicament to Barrett, who reinforced Branson at daybreak, on the 13th, with 200 men of the 34th Indiana Volunteer Infantry. The augmented force, now commanded by Barrett, started out towards Palmito Ranch, skirmishing most of the way. At Palmito Ranch, they destroyed the rest of the supplies not torched the day before and continued on. A few miles forward, they became involved in a sharp firefight. After the fighting stopped, Barrett led his force back to a bluff at Tulosa on the river where the men could prepare dinner and camp for the night. At 4:00 pm, a large Confederate cavalry force, commanded by Col. John S. "Rip" Ford, approached, and the Federals formed a battle line. The Rebels hammered the Union line with artillery. To preclude an enemy flanking movement, Barrett ordered a retreat. The retreat was orderly and skirmishers held the Rebels at a respectable distance. Returning to Boca Chica at 8:00 pm, the men embarked at 4:00 am, on the 14th. This was the last battle in the Civil War. Native, African, and Hispanic Americans were all involved in the fighting. Many combatants reported that firing came from the Mexican shore and that some Imperial Mexican forces crossed the Rio Grande but did not take part in the battle. These reports are unproven.

Result(s): Confederate victory

Location: Cameron County

Campaign: Expedition from Brazos Santiago (1865)

Date(s): May 12-13, 1865

Principal Commanders: Col. Theodore H. Barrett [US]; Col. John S. "Rip" Ford [CS]

Forces Engaged: Detachments from the 62nd U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment, 2nd Texas Cavalry Regiment, and 34th Indiana Volunteer Infantry [US]; Detachments from Gidding's Regiment, Anderson's Battalion of Cavalry, and numerous other Confederate units and southern sympathizers [CS]

Estimated Casualties: Total unknown (US 118; CS unknown)



When the march for freedom began, escaped slaves Sgt. Jacob Anderson alias Anderson Davis and Henry Parker, * along with 186,000 ex-slaves and black freedmen, responded by joining the Union Army. Thirty-seven thousand of these men of courage made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives for their cause. Those that survived the horrors of the Civil War had had much to dream about, but little ability and resources to make their dreams come true. It was recognized then, as it is today, that education is a key to sound moral values, personal growth and economic progress. So it was that the men of the 62nd and 65th Regiments U. S. Colored Infantry accepted these truths and implemented their plan to make at least one of their dreams come true, the co-founding of Lincoln Institute.

Anderson escaped from the last of three slave masters. On November 28, 1863 he enlisted in the Union Army. Upon his discharge, he was a Sergeant and had been a member of the Honor Guard. As one of the first to join the service in his area, Anderson was assigned to the 1st Missouri Regiment of Colored Infantry at Benton Barracks, Missouri. On December 18, 1863 the 62nd Missouri Regiment of Colored Infantry was organized at the same location. Later, the two units were joined to form the 62nd and the 65th United States Colored Infantry. The men of these regiments were uneducated ex-slaves, with the exception of Franklin Lewis, a freeman. Laws at the time forbade slaves from being educated. In 1847, the Missouri State Legislature passed one of these laws, which made it a crime for a person to teach any Negro how to read and write.

Many of the soldiers in the 62nd and 65th died not only in battle, but from horrific conditions at the Benton Barracks. In October 1864, less than a year after the first recruits entered Benton Barracks, a medical board convened. Its findings showed that more than a third of those enlisted had died from various undiagnosed diseases. Others expired due to poor sanitary conditions, lack of proper food and the means to prepare it. One hundred soldiers, thinly clad, with no shoes and hats died during their first two months of duty at Benton Barracks, beginning December 1863. Two hundred other soldiers were recommended for immediate medical discharge. Black regiments were most often bivouacked near swampy or poorly drained areas of the camps. The condition and treatment of these troops was a direct result of racism and discrimination which was prevalent throughout the army. General Daniel Ullmann was assigned to correct these conditions, which did inprove things to a more humane level.

Even after black soldiers had proven themselves in battle, officers physically abused them, while others routinely assigned them to fatigue duty, performing the most undesirable duties imaginable.

Though the army intended for the black soldier to gain some amount of educational training under the direction of the Company chaplains, Commanders weren't prone to build school houses when men were apt to be moved unexpectedly for battle. Not until the latter part of the war did regiments significantly begin to build school houses, which were segregated when feasible.

The men of the 62nd and the 65th were committed to their educational goals, but some apparently were not always on task and doing their homework. Some commanders, to say the least, were somewhat fanatical about correcting this situation. As it is sometimes said, "There's the right way of doing things and there's the army's way of doing things".

Education and Ethics: The Military Way

Order By the Commander of a Missouri Black Regiment
Morganzia, La. July 3rd 1864.

General Order No. 31

All non-Commissioned officers of this command who shall fail to learn to read by or before the 1st day of January 1865 will be reduced to the ranks and their places filled by persons who can read. In the position of Sergeants preference will be given to men who can both read & write and are otherwise good soldiers. All soldiers of this command who have by any means learned to read or write, will aid and assist to the extent of their ability their fellow soldiers to learn these invaluable arts, without which no man is properly fitted to perform the duties of a free citizen.

By order of Lt. Col. David Branson Comm'd'g Regt.


General Order No. 31, HD. Qrs. 62d Cold. Infty.., 3rd July 1864, Orders, 62nd USCI, Regimental Books &Papers USCT, RG 94 {G-235}. Six months later, Branson reduced five noncommissioned officers to the ranks for failing to comply with the order. (General Orders No. 3, Hd. Qrs. 62nd U. S. Colored Infantry, 12 Jan. 1865, Orders, 62nd USCI, Regimental Books & Papers USCT, RG-94 {G-253})


Brazos Santiago, Texas. October 29th 1864

General Orders No. 35

Hereafter when any soldier of this command is found to be, or to have been, playing cards, he will be placed, standing, in some prominent position in the camp with book in hand, and required then and there to learn a considerable lesson in reading and spelling: and if unwilling to learn, he will be compelled by hunger to do so. When men are found gambling in any way, the money at stake will be seized and turned into the Regt. Hospital fund. No freed slave who cannot read well has a right to waste the time and opportunity here given him to fit himself for the position of a free citizen. This order will be read twice to this command, and copied in each order book.

By order of Lieut. Col. David Branson. Comdg. Regt.

NOTE: According to a book written by Prof. R. B. Foster entitled "Historical Sketch of Lincoln Institute", the speech made to dedicate the new building, July 4, 1871, was given by Col. David Branson. Therefore, I assume that he was involved in the conception and formation of the Lincoln Institute, even if only by encouraging the Black soliders in their endeavors to improve their education.

This site maintained by Sandra Branson Young