Robert Brank Vance

Contributed by: Diane Siniard

Name: Robert Brank Vance 
State Served: North Carolina  
Highest Rank: Brig-Gen  
Birth Date: 1828 
Death Date: 1899 
Birth Place: Buncombe County, North Carolina 
Army: Confederacy  
Promotions: Promoted to Full Captain (Buncombe Guards NC Inf)
Promoted to Full Colonel (29th NC Inf)
Promoted to Full Brig-Gen  

Biography: Brigadier-General Robert B. Vance was born in Buncombe county,
N. C., April 28, 1828, and received the old-field school
education of his day. He was elected clerk of the court of
pleas and quarter sessions for his native county in 1848, and
after a term of eight years, declined re election and devoted
himself to mercantile pursuits until the outbreak of war.

He then organized a company, the Buncombe Life Guards, of
which he was elected captain. This company was assigned to
the Twenty-ninth regiment of infantry, and he was unanimously
elected as its first colonel. The command left Camp Vance, in
Buncombe county, October 28, 1861, for Raleigh, and in the
latter part of November was sent to the field in east

There the regiment served mainly in garrison duty on the
railroad until February, 1862, when it was concentrated at
Cumberland gap, in the defense of which it took part until the
evacuation in June. Under the command of General Stevenson,
Colonel Vance and his regiment took part in the assault and
defeat of the enemy at Tazewell in August, after which Colonel
Vance, in command of his own and other regiments, held a
position at Baptist gap until the Federals retreated, when the
army under Kirby Smith advanced into Kentucky as far as
Frankfort, thence returning through Cumberland gap in October,
marching about 500 miles in forty days.

At the battle of Murfreesboro, December 31st, after the death
of the brigade commander Gen. J. E. Rains, who was shot
through the heart as the brigade charged the enemy, Colonel
Vance took command of the brigade, and as Major-General McCown
reported, "bore himself gallantly."

After Bragg had fallen back to Shelbyville, Colonel Vance was
taken with typhoid fever, and while in this condition his
regiment was ordered to Jackson, Miss., and he never afterward
was in command of it. While sick he received his commission
as brigadier- general, issued in June, 1863.

On returning to duty he was assigned to service in western
North Carolina, in which region he was captured January 14,
1864, at Cosby creek, which ended his military career. He
experienced the life of the prison camps at Nashville,
Louisville, Camp Chase and Fort Delaware.

While at the latter place he was appointed to act with General
Beale in buying clothing for Confederate prisoners of war,
which occupied his attention until he was paroled March 14,

Since the return of peace he has had a conspicuous career in
the Congress of the United States, as representative of the
Eighth district, elected first in 1872, and continuously
thereafter up to and including 1882.

He declined renomination in 1884, but took an active part in
the Democratic campaign of that year, and in the following
spring was appointed assistant commissioner of patents by
President Cleveland. He also attained prominence in the
masonic order as grand-master for his State, in the Methodist
church as delegate to general conferences and the ecumenical
conference in London in 1881, and as a lecturer and author.

Source: Confederate Military History, vol. V, p351

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