George A. Branard
Color Bearer, 1st Texas Infantry
Co. L, Hood’s Texas Brigade
"His was the proverbial timidity of the lamb, and the boldness of a lion."
Furnished by Patricia (Branard) and Sal Gambino with the caption restored by Warren Lane, This Old Printing Press, 1-800-317-0466
George A. Branard was born on Galveston Island on January 5, 1843, and at an early age showed a desire to learn the mechanic’s trade. He was employed by M.L. Perry and later by the firm of Close and Cushman. Early in the war, on August 1, 1861, he enlisted as a private in the Lone Star Rifles, and was soon made a non-commissioned officer, being promoted to rank of Corporal. The company was assigned to the First Texas Regiment, Co. L, under Captain A. C. McKeen, and Col. Louis T. Wigfall. The regiment became a part of the famous Texas Brigade under General Hood, in Longstreet’s Corps. Soon after reaching Virginia, Branard was assigned to the color guard corps of the regiment. Thomas Nettles of Livingston, Texas was the Color Sergeant. Being impatient at the long delay in the opening of the first battle, he went down into the rifle pit to get his shooting chance. During this engagement at Eltham’s Landing Nettles received a bullet in the shoulder and unable to carry the flag, transferred it temporarily to Branard. In the engagement the following day, Branard got too far out in front of the regiment and someone called out to him to fall back. Although cut on the head by a passing bullet, Branard shouted he’d be “Dammed if he’d fall back,” and remained with the colors until the fight was over. Colonel A.T. Rainey, hearing the remark, and admiring both it’s courage and spirit, ordered the regiment forward to form under the colors. Rainey then and there promoted Branard from Corporal to Sergeant.
This first flag that graced the ranks of the First Texas Regiment was the handy work of Mrs. Louis T. Wigfall. It was brave borne by it's color bearer, George Branard, at Eltham's Landing, Seven Pines, Freeman's Ford, Thorough Fare Gap, Second Manassas, and Boonsborough Gap.
During the journey to Sharpsburg, Branard was bare-footed. His feet bleeding and sore, Branard was ordered to the hospital by Major Dale, and the Lone Star Flag was committed to the care of another. In that ever-to-be remembered corn field, being overwhelmed by numbers, the First Texas, to their sorrow, lost their flag. When the “fallen banner” was discovered by the enemy, eight dead and six wounded Texans were found around and over it. W.D. Prichard, the color bearer, lay at the feet of the foe, bleeding and suffering the agony of death, wept bitter tears, not for his wounds, but because the “flag by angel hands to valor given,” all stained with blood of brave men, was trailing in the dust, a trophy to the foe.
Just prior to the Battle of Gettysburg, and in a very romantic gesture, a second silk flag made from Mrs. Louis T. Wigfall’s Wedding dress was presented to the First Texas Regiment. The flag was creped in mourning for the heroic dead who fell at Sharpsburg.
On July 2nd, 1863, the Brigade was about to enter into what was described as the wildest, fiercest struggle of the war. But by the time the First Texas fought at Gettysburg, romantic gestures had given way to the hard, bitter reality of war, and individual State Flags were forbidden to be unfurled. All regimental units were commanded to display one uniform flag, namely the Army of Virginia Battle Flag.
A little before the commencement of the battle of Devil’s Den, on July 3rd, 1863, General Hood, the idol of the Texans, rode in front of the First Texas Regiment. After a short speech, he arose majestically in his stirrups, and in a loud stentorian voice shouted, “Fix bayonets my brave Texans; forward and take those heights." Colonel P.A. Work, commanding the First Texas, pointed to "Little Round Top" in the distance, and said "Follow the Lone Star Flag to the top of the mountain." A Union battery found their range and landed a shot in their midst killing and wounding several comrades. Branard, the youthful color bearer, pulled the case off of the Lone Star Flag, and regardless of regulations, vowed that he would wave it over the gun that fired the shot, or die trying. Braving death's danger through showers of shell, canister and grape, that Texas Flag, the Lone Star Banner, in the hands of George Branard, without waver or halt, steadily advanced to the mountain top supported by the Texans, who encircled among the nations of the earth a halo of immortal fame - the name of Texas.
There was fierce rivalry among color bearers as to which regiment could advance their flags nearest to the enemy's lines. Several color bearers, Branard among them, had carried their flags far ahead of their respective regiments while shot and shell whistled and shrieked about them. Branard again advanced, stopping at a rock about 50 yards in the lead of his nearest competitor. Not to be outdone, the Georgian again moved forward, approaching Branard, whose colors were waving proudly. But the intrepid Texan was not willing to divide honors, not even with Georgia. Amid a rain of bullets he again moved forward to the summit of Little Round Top. After one third of the Texans had been killed or wounded, the enemy driven and their batteries captured, George Branard, the brave and daring color bearer of the First Texas Regiment, hoisted on the topmost summit the streaming banner of the victorious Texans. There were shouts from the regiment left behind of him to turn back. On he went waving defiance, almost under the ramparts of his adversaries. The order went down Federal lines: "Don't shoot that man; he is too brave to kill." The rattle of musketry momentarily ceased.
Just then a shell fired at an angle exploding at the feet of the color bearer from Texas. A fragment severed the staff of the colors. Another fragment struck Branard in the forehead, cutting a gash which marked him for life and destroyed the sight of his left eye, and caused a loss of hearing in his left ear. Blinded by blood, with his brain whirling form the force of the concussion, Branard still clutched his flagstaff and attempted to go further forward. The shattered remnant of his flagstaff was clutched in his hand when, unconscious, his comrades thinking he was dead, bore him from the field of battle.
Men who witnessed the incident of Branard's bravery declared that "no event of the war surpassed the incident." Another said, "He held his post of honor, until he fell almost dead from a shell wound to the head. Branard's nature was so modest that he thought nothing of the act and he refrained from alluding to it. He was always inconspicuous in camp and disliked ostentation. His was the proverbial timidity of the lamb, and the boldness of the lion."
As he lay by his flag his color guard, James Willis Watts, James Williams, Elias Newsome and David Bronaugh were by his side to preserve the unblemished honor of the sacred colors and hoist them afresh, high up in the firmament above the mountain top, that friend and foe from a distance could see the Lone Star standard of our Texans, shining with the effulgence of heavenly glory. After only one day in a field hospital, Branard, the brave young Texan rejoined his regiment.
General Lee's Army regrouped to Tennessee where Hood's Texas Brigade, with their color bearer George Branard, engaged the Federals at the battle for Chickamauga on September 19, 1863. And finally on to the Battle of Knoxville in November of 1863 where George Branard was wounded once again, causing him to lose the use of his left arm. While convalescing from his wounds, he was informed he had become ineligible to be on the promotion list for Ensign. Because Branard became disabled from the effects of his wounds, and upon recovery, he was reassigned as Sergeant in charge of the ambulance corps. He remained in that position until the war came to an end. Although furloughed, he did not return home, and was on duty at Zollicoffer, Tenn., serving as hospital aid. His wounds would not permit him to resume his former duty. He was put in charge of Brigade ambulances at the Battle of the Wilderness. As ambulance Sergeant he was surrounded by Federal soldiers in the fight on New Market Road before Richmond, but fought his way out, saving his ambulances and the wounded in them.
On February 21, 1865, as a member of the invalid Corps, he was detailed for duty in the Trans-Mississippi department, and ordered to report to Marshall, Texas. His journey was a long and tedious one, as it was necessary to walk two-thirds of the way. Before he reached Texas, the war came to an end.
George A. Branard, Citizen
On April 4, 1866, my Great Grandfather married Miss Julia House, and had ten children. This photograph was taken just before the turn of the century. Patricia Branard Gambino
Hood's Texas Brigade Association was organized in 1872 and George Branard did not miss one gathering of Hoods' survivors. In 1895 he was elected Secretary of the association and in 1904 the office of Secretary and Treasurer were combined, and Branard was unanimously elected to fill the place as long as he may live. Branard always said the reason he was made Treasurer was because the boys had so much confidence in him, and also that there is never any money in the Treasury. Branard held this position until his passing on August 7, 1909. He was eulogized by his comrades as "One of a kind," disliking ostentation and would rise only when the voice of duty whispered to him. It was said, "When the grave closes over him it will hide a shell scar which marked his courage at the time and thereafter till the day of his death paid tribute to his valor."
The domestic life of this "Old Warrior" was as calm and happy as his public career was honorable and eventful. On April 4, 1866, he was married to Miss Julia House, and is survived by nine children of the union, four of whom were gathered at his bedside when his stiffened lips murmured "Here" in answer to the last roll call.
"To shed ones blood in defense of Home of country is man's first privilege"
Written by Sal Gambino, dedicated to his wife Patty Branard Gambino.
Hood's Texas Brigade Monument Dedication
Thirty-ninth Annual Reunion State, Confederate Association History
A Hood's Texas Brigade History and Confederate Scrapbook
Confederate Military History, State Archives