JULIUS E. BRYANT enlisted in the Civil War at Princeton, IL, on September 18, 1861, as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was commissioned several times in the IL 33rd, US CT 51st and the US CT 46th. He was known as a voice for Black Soldiers.
In the early fall of 1861 near Pilot Knob, Missouri, Rebel recruiters under Maj. Gen. Sterling Price maintained a rendezvous for new enlistees at Higginbotham Plantation. The Confederates had no idea that Yankees camped nearby had already discovered their secret outpost. They were also unaware that two Federal spies lurked in their midst monitoring every move. Bryant was one of them. He and his companion strolled into Confederate recruiting headquarters, where their cordial enemies entertained them nobly. The spies conveyed their information to their command. That night Federal troops captured the plantation and presented arms to 20 slaves who escorted their former masters to Bryant’s 33rd Illinois camp. This was supposedly the first instance when slaves were liberated and armed. Bryant would wait until November 1862 to get permission to use black men militarily.
Bryant was a nephew of abolitionist William Cullen Bryant. He served under Ulysses S. Grant in the Vicksburg Campaign, led raw black troops in their own defense of Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana.
Bryant’s grandfather, Dr. Peter Bryant of Massachusetts, was a senator and a surgeon who had impressed his sons with a “universal brotherhood.” At his home, servants ate at the same table and were treated as equals, regardless of their color. Peter Bryant’s sons started an intense underground railroad system. Julian’s uncle John Howard was one of the leaders, frequently hiding as many as 15 runaway slaves in his home. His other uncle, Cyrus, used his barn as a station.
Offering an 8 x 9 ¾ Provision Return, September 1st to October 5th, 1864, signed by Bryant, listing the number of men, women and various provisions.
Bryant drowned shortly after the war in the Gulf of Mexico.
Folds and toning, but overall excellent.
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