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Joseph Pope Balch

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Title: Joseph Pope Balch  
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Subject: Rhode Island Army National Guard
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Joseph Pope Balch

Joseph Pope Balch
1861 photograph of Joseph Pope Balch
Born (1822-08-09)August 9, 1822
Providence, Rhode Island
Died December 2, 1872(1872-12-02) (aged 50)
Providence, Rhode Island
Years of service 1861-1865
Rank Brevet Brigadier General
Other work Merchant

Joseph Pope Balch (August 9, 1822 – December 2, 1872) was an American businessman from Rhode Island who served as an officer in the Union Army during the early months of the American Civil War.

Early life and background

Balch was an educated man, but decided upon a career in business instead of attending college, first working in his father's drug store at the age of 14 as a clerk, and eventually becoming a partner.

In 1841 he joined a militia unit known as the Providence Marine Corps of Artillery, by 1857 Balch had risen to command of Rhode Island's Second Militia brigade.

Civil war

At the outbreak of the war, he was appointed to the rank of major in the First Rhode Island Detached Militia in April 1861. Balch succeeded to command of the regiment when its previous commander, Colonel Ambrose Burnside was promoted to brigadier general and given command of a brigade. Balch commanded the 1st Rhode Island at the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861.

When the regiment was disbanded in August 1861, Balch returned to the Rhode Island Militia and commanded the Second Militia Brigade until the close of the war.

At the end of the war, Balch was recognized for "coolness, steadiness, and courage under fire" when he was promoted by brevet (an honorary promotion) to Brigadier General of Volunteers.

Postbellum career

Balch (seated) and officers of the 1st Rhode Island at Camp Sprague, Rhode Island, 1861.

After the war, Balch was a prominent member of Rhode Island society, and had six daughters and a son. He held membership in civic organizations including the Rhode Island Society for the Encouragement of Domestic Industry, and the Providence Franklin society. He died suddenly in his home from an internal hemorrhage in 1872.

See also



  • Balch, Galusha Burchard. Genealogy of the Balch Families in America. Salem, Massachusetts: E. Putnam. 1897.

External links

  • Adjutant General's Report of the Rhode Island Militia, 1862
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