The phrase “Missouri War Axe” really has two different meanings. From my understanding, it was contemporary collectors who termed the “MWA” phrase, referring to what are generally 19th century large flared axe shaped tomahawks, sometimes without shaped cutouts. However, the term was derived, at least in part, from the Lewis and Clark journal descriptions of the “war axes” or “battle axes” they observed in the possession of the western Indians during their famous journey. They ended up setting up a blacksmithing business to cater to this “war axe” trade, both manufacturing new ones, as well as repairing existing examples.
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).