1861: Pleasant H. Bryan to Nancy Bryan

This rare Confederate letter was written by Pleasant H. Bryan (1823-1895) of Co. I., 7th Georgia. Pleasant was the son of Royal David Bryan (1781-1848) and Kittie Burroughs (1789-1835). He was married in October 1844 to Nancy A. Duncan (1824-1885) and their residence in 1860 was near Marietta — a farm in Cobb County, Georgia. The couple had several children, many of whom are mentioned by name in this letter: Frank (b. 1847), Frances (b. 1848), Sarah Emeline (b. 1850), Robert or “Bob” (b. 1852), T. Gus (b. 1854), Thomas or “Tom” (b. 1856), Georgianna (b. 1860), and William (b. 1863).

The 7th Georgia was in the thick of the fighting for Rickett's battery. (Bradley M. Gottfried, "The Maps of First Bull Run")
The 7th Georgia was in the thick of the fighting for Rickett’s battery. (Bradley M. Gottfried, “The Maps of First Bull Run”)

P. H. Bryan wrote this letter before he was mustered into the 7th Georgia in Atlanta in late May 1861. From this letter we learn that he believed the men from Cobb County would be designated Company C, but they were designated Company I instead. The 7th Georgia were transported by train to Harper’s Ferry and ordered to hold that strategic location. They evacuated Harper’s Ferry on 15 June 1861 and proceeded to Winchester where they were brigaded and placed under the command Col. Francis S. Bartow. They remained in and about Winchester until ordered to join Beauregard’s army at Manassas Junction, Virginia. They arrived at Manassas at 10 A.M. on 20 July 1861, in time to participate in the Battle of Bull Run. Colonel Francis S. Bartow was killed while leading the 7th Georgia against Captain James B. Ricketts’ battery on 21 July. During the battle, the 7th Georgia suffered 153 casualties out of 580 men present. [See: The Battlefield Today]

By 1864, Pleasant was no longer in the Confederate service. He was working at the cotton mills that produced grey cloth for Confederate uniforms in Roswell, Cobb County, Georgia. Later, after the war, the Bryan’s moved to Perry, Vanderburgh County, Indiana.


Camp Pembroke [near Savannah, Georgia]
April 29th [1861]

Dear wife,

I just now received your kind letter which give me great satisfaction to hear from you all. I was sorry to hear you was sick but I want to hear it when you are.

I have nothing strange to write. My company is pretty all gone down to Isle of Hope Island. They have gone 2 miles from here & I will go tomorrow or next day I think. Me & J. J. Swords is together yet & will stay together as long as we can. He is in Co. A & me in Co. C but the captain says we shall go together if we leave the coast. There is talk of us going to Virginia or Dalton [Georgia] but I think we will stay down here somewhere till the war ends. But if we go to Dalton, I want you to meet me at Marietta. I will write if I can get the chance. There was one battalion left from right here this morning.

I wish you could see the things they give us all. I got a frying pan & a pan as big as you ever saw & a half a bucket with a lid & a brass handle & a stool that is worth $5.00 and a halter worth $10 & one fine calico comfort. I am fixed now if we don’t leave here.

Nancy, me & J. J. Swords a going to send a box next week & I will send it to Atlanta. You will have to give your receipt for it. You can get Ben Smith to fetch it for you or Bud Wallace at the wool mill. You can get Frank to write your receipt. I will write when I start it. I will send my old clothes & some of the rest & I will send Bob my buckets to carry to school. I want him & Tom to learn to write by the time I come home & I will send them some buttons I got today. Tell Gus to be a good boy & he shall go to school when I come home — if I ever do. Tell Francis & Emaline that I will send them something if I can get to go to town before I start the box but I hain’t been there in 2 months nor I don’t want to go no where but home.

I have just done my job of house building. I will be ready for drill a Sunday. We drill harder of Sundays than any day.

You wrote you wanted to see my whiskers. I have trim[med] them. I have just got them on my lip & chin. Them on my lip is just as long as your finger & the rest is like they was when I left. I am getting grow fast. I had my hair cut. You ought to see’d me smell of that hair that you sent. That is the first woman’s hair I have felt in pretty near 4 months. I wish I had the head as close as I have this hair. It is in my hand.

I want you to write every week. I wrote Tom a letter this week. There is no chance for a man to get a furlough now — only for a doctor to write that his folks is bad off. You know that you won’t never get that wrote to me for fear of my coming home one time. I recon I will stay in camps till the war ends or die.

So I will close for this time by sending my best love to all enquiring friends & yourself — especially the children.

I remain your husband till death. — P. H. Bryan

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