Bryan, James Wesley

Captain, Co. I.


IMAGE of 28th Thomas' Crossed Sabres Heading

IMAGE of 28th Thomas' Battle Flag

Battle Flag
of the
28th Thomas' Regiment Louisiana Infantry

...Flag design is based on a small torn section of a regimental battle flag which is on display in the Confederate Museum, New Orleans, Louisiana. 19 May 1865, the regiment was disbanded at Mansfield, LA. Usually when a regiment was disbanded the flag was torn into ten pieces and a piece given to each of the ten company commanders. (Placement of Battle Inscriptions is specualtive and based on similar Confederate battle flags of the same period.)

IMAGE of James W. Bryan

James Wesley Bryan
circa 1890

Bryan, James Wesley

Capt., Co. I.


~ Military Record ~

Bryan, James Wesley, Capt., Co. I., 28th La. Inf. (Thomas')

Bryan, James Wesley, Capt. Co. I. 28th La. Infty. (Thomas'). En. April 15th, 1862. New Orleans, La. Present on Rolls to Sept., 1862. Rolls from Oct., 1862, to Feb., 1863, Present. Acting Major. Federal Rolls of Prisoners of War. Captured and paroled at Vicksburg. Miss., July 4th, 1863. On Official Rolls of Paroled Officers Bryan. J. W., Capt. 28th La. Vols. Co. I., Paroled at Houston, Tex., June 27th, 1865.

~ Biography No. 1 ~

First Mayor of Lake Charles

By Michael Dan Jones

The first mayor of Lake Charles, Captain James Wesley Bryan, was born in Calcasieu Parish on December 28, 1834. His parents were pioneer settlers John Bryan and Nancy A. Lyons.

The family moved in 1839 to the neighboring Republic of Texas, but returned to Louisiana after John Bryan died in 1844. Bryan's widow later married Jacob E. Harmon.

Although educational facilities in Calcasieu Parish were very limited at that time, the young James Bryan expanded his horizons as much as he could, largely educating himself.

He acquired a life-long love of education and became a teacher himself, teaching in the first school house in Lake Charles.

At the outbreak of the War Between the States in 1861, Bryan's natural leadership ability came forth and he helped organize four companies of infantry for the defense of the South.

He became commander of Company I (Calcasieu Tigers), 28th Louisiana Infantry. The future mayor saw extensive combat, fighting at the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, Miss. in December, 1862 and throughout the Siege of Vicksburg, Miss. in 1863.

At one point in the siege he served as commander of the regiment with the temporary rank of major, in the absence of the other regimental officers.

Although he survived the war, his older brother, Lt. Pryor L. Bryan, died in Virginia on May 28, 1862, while serving in the Fifth Texas Infantry.

After the war, James Bryan picked up the pieces of his life, resuming his teaching duties in a private school he established, and opening a general store on North Court Street.

Bryan married Delia K. Singleton on September 9, 1869. The couple had three boys and five girls. One of his sons, James W. Bryan Jr., became a U.S. Congressman in the state of Washington.

He was elected mayor of Lake Charles in 1868 and served until 1870.

Following his service as mayor, Bryan was elected to the position of state representative in the Louisiana Legislature. He also served the community as a member of the City Council (Board of Aldermen), president of the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury, member of the Lake Charles School Board, and was one of the first Lake Charles policemen.

He was editor and publisher of the Lake Charles Echo from 1871-1890.

Bryan was a Mason, a charter member of United Confederate Veterans, and an active member of First Baptist Church of Lake Charles.

Captain James W. Bryan died on June 17, 1897, at the age of 62. He was mourned by the entire community of Southwest Louisiana.

A few interesting and colorful notations
regarding Captain James W. Bryan

Captain Bryan had a duel with the captain of another volunteer company in Opelousas on the way to New Orleans to be mustered in. The other captain (un- named) was killed in the duel. This story was related by a member of Bryan's company and published in the local newspaper many years later.

His (Captain Bryan) descendants also tell me (Michael Jones) that Captain Bryan was red-headed and blue eyed.

It is also interesting to note that Captain Bryan enlisted a "free man of color" who served in his unit, a Pvt. Auguste. Later Auguste applied for and received a Confederate Pension from the State of Louisiana, in which it is mentioned that he was wounded in action at Vicksburg. It is one of the best documented instances of a free black man being enlisted in the Confederate Army and fighting as a combat soldier. This information comes from a scholarly article by Arthur W. Bergeron, Jr. in the Civil War Journal a number of years ago.

~ Thank You ~

We at the 28th Thomas' Louisiana Infantry Regiment (Volunteers) are proud to send out this very special and grateful "THANK YOU" which is extended for the abovementioned biography No. 1, and terrific photograph of Captain James W. Bryan supplied by Capt. Michael Dan Jones, of the Calcasieu Greys, Camp 1390, Sons of Confederate Veterans Newsletter Online, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Should you wish to contact Captain Jones and share information with regards to Captain James W. Bryan and/or other decendants of the 28th Thomas' Regiment Louisiana Infantry (Volunteers), Captain Michael D. Jones' e-mail address is listed below.

Michael D. Jones

...or should you wish to visit
SCV Camp 1390 Newsletter Online
you can do so by clicking on the link listed below...

SCV Camp 1390 Newsletter Online

~ Biography No. 2 ~

CAPT. J. W. BRYAN, LAKE CHARLES.&emdash;Capt. J. W. Bryan is descended from good old Irish ancestry, but the family has been so long in this country, and become so thoroughly Americanized, that few of the Irish traits now appear upon the surface. One characteristic that remains, however, is that of sterling honesty. His great-grandfather (O'Brien) emigrated to America when a boy and settled in Virginia; married and raised a family there. Luke Bryan, one of his sons, and the grandfather of the subject of our sketch came to Louisiana early in life and married Miss Rebecca W. Berwick, in 1802; from her family Berwick's Bay derives its name. One of the sons born to them was John Bryan, the father of Capt. Bryan, who was reared and educated there. In early manhood he married Miss Nancy A. Lyons. and, about 1832, settled in Calcasieu parish. In 1839 he removed to Texas, and resided there until his death, in1844, when the family returned to Calcasieu parish. Here Mrs. Bryan was married a second time, to Mr. Jacob E. Harmon, by whom she had three children.

Capt. Bryan, whose name stands at the head of this sketch, was born in this parish, December 28, 1834. His early educational facilities were limited, and he belongs to that very numerous class of prominent men who owe their education to their own aspirations and unaided exertions to rise above the station in which they were born to one of greater exertions and more extensive and higher uselulness. Up to the time of his mother's death, young Bryan spent his time farming and attending the country schools, when here were any to attend, which in his early days were few and far between. Not content with an occupation in which his chances for development and usefulness were so restricted, he determined to obtain a mental discipline which would fit him for literary pursuits.

In this good republican country of ours, where organic laws denounce hereditary patents to nobility, most men indulge the vanity of pride at achievements so marked and great as those which lead and direct a Clay or a Lincoln from the humblest walks of life to the highest position in the councils of the nation. The great ambition of young Bryan was to fit himself for literary work. To this end he attended school and pursued a literary course, teaching and studying alternately, until he attained the age of twenty-five years. His course had not yet been completed when the civil war came on and caused such confusion and derangement in all the affairs of life. Laying aside all selfish claims and personal desires, that he might serve his country unfettered, he quit school and in 1861 organized the militia of Calcasieu parish, for the purpose of home protection. Early in 1862, being called on for four companies, he organized the four volunteer companies, and within twenty days from the time of receiving the requisition, he was on the march to Opelousas with these companies to report for duty, from whence the command p:oceeded to New Orleans, and thence to Camp Moore, and it was there that the Twenty-eighth Louisiana Infantry, under Col. Allen Thomas, which distinguished itself in the battle of Chickasaw, and the memorable siege of Vicksburg, which began on the 21st of May and was raised on the 4th of July, was organized. During the siege Capt. Bryan, being the ranking officer of his regiment, commanded it, Col. Thomas having been promoted to brigadier general.

Capt. Bryan sheathed his sword when the cause was lost, returned home and cast about him for "ways and means" to repair the ravages of the war. He resumed teaching, which he continued for about four years, the last three in the town of Lake Charles, studying and improving his mind in the meantime. In 1869 he opened a mercantile business in the town, which he followed up to 1884. In 1871 he became editor and proprietor of the Lake Charles Echo, which he conducted with great ability until the 14th of March, 1890, when he sold the paper and retired from its editorship. Under his management the Echo became one of the ablest and most popular country weeklies in Louisiana and contributed greatly to the building up and development of Lake Charles and Calcasieu parish. For some time Capt. Bryan has been engaged in the real estate business. He has always taken an active interest in the local affairs of the town and parish, and he is especially noted for the interest he has manifested in school work. To him, perhaps, more than any one man is due the credit of the efficient school system of Lake Charles. At different times Capt. Bryan has served as mayor and councilman of the town, and several times has represented his parish in the board of police jurors, as well as General Assembly of the State.

Capt. Bryan was married to Miss Delia K. Singleton, September 9, 1869. They have three promising sons and five bright and lovely daughters. The eldest of the latter is the wife of J. C. F. Kyger, President of the Commercial College, of the Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

Southwest Louisiana Biographical and Historical
by William Henry Perrin
Published in 1891
by L. Graham & Sons, Printers,
99, 101, 103 Gravier St.
New Orleans, Louisiana
pp. 138-140


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