Civil War Letters from Columbus and Bennett Bryan, my Great Uncles

These are letters from and between two brothers from Washington County, Missouri, who were serving in the Union Army in Arkansas during the Civil War. They also happen to be my great uncles – brothers to my 3rd great grandfather, Andrew Bryan. They were all originally Virginians, born in Point Pleasant, Mason County, Virginia (now West Virginia).

They moved to Missouri around 1840, selling the 250 acre farm 2 miles up the Kanawha River from Point Pleasant, and created a family compound on Clear Creek in Missouri. When the Civil War hit, all the kids in the family were about the right age to get dragged into it.

Letters between two of the brothers, Bennett, and Columbus, survived, and are in the possession of the Missouri Historical Society. They were kind enough to provide me copies of scans of the letters. I have seen them referenced in numerous books documented Civil War life. While they discuss nothing really exciting, they give a good feel for camp life during the War.

Unfortunately, Columbus never made it home. Bennett honored his brother with a statue in the family cemetery, which is now gone I believe. And I found this old photograph of Bennett, in his white suit, posing for a newspaper photos.

My 2nd great grandfather, who was Bennett and Columbus’ nephew, became a blacksmith and moved to Montana to work on the railroad being installed there. He likely was responsible, or partially responsible, for naming the place Belgrade, Montana, after their hometown in Missouri.

They settled on Clear Creek, a tributary of the Big River, not far from a small town called Belfast, Missouri – which was actually originally called “Bryanville.” Most of them are still buried there on the family farm’s cemetery, which is still there.

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