Thank you all for the info.
No records can be found on a Brainard Curl after 1860, so perhaps he died @ Libby or even Andersonville at age 15 and the John Curl mentioned is not my great grandmother's half brother. A mystery.
The cousin in MO who wrote me years ago was very sharp and had an excellent memory and as I've reread his letters, he does mention Brainard Curl (& Libby Prison) twice.
Another possibility: Both John & Brainard died during the Civil War.
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