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  • Writer's pictureBeth Stenstrom

James Branyan

James Branyan

Rank: Private, 42nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Descendant: Diane S

James was born 18 November 1841 in Duncannon, Perry Co, PA, the third son of James Alexander and Edith Harvey Branyan. By 1850, they were living in Penn, Perry County, PA. In 1860, they were living in Petersburg, Perry County PA.

On 4 June 1861, just after the Civil War began, he enlisted in Company B (better known as the Bucktails) 42nd PA Infantry. The regiment was also known as the 42nd Volunteers/1st Rifles and the 13th PA Infantry Reserves Regiment. The regiment was part of McCandless’ 1st Brigade, Crawford’s 3rd Division, Warren’s 5th Army Corps, USA. His regiment was active during the Battle of the Wilderness. On 4 May, the unit crossed the Rapidan and bivouacked near the Lacy House. On 5 May, the unit moved towards Parker’s Store, and attacked the enemy, pushing them back. The fighting continued on 6 May, and the unit bivouacked again that night near the Lacy House. They continued on to Spotsylvania. He mustered out 11 June 1864, since he had signed up for 3 years.

In 1864, he married Naomi Charters. They had one child: John Sherman in 1865, and Naomi died shortly childbirth. In 1867, he married Mattie Wetheral. They had one child, a boy H B, and Mattie died during childbirth. In 1870, he married Lavinia Rachel Gelbaugh. They had two children: Mamie in 1871 and Ella May in 1878. In 1880, they were living in Duncannon, Perry County, PA. Before and after the war, he was a nailor.

When he came home, he was broken down in health, and eventually, he was unable to follow his occupation. On 2 August 1886, he applied for and was granted an invalid pension.

On 11 May 1887, he passed away and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Duncannon, Perry Co, PA.

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