Goode Bryan was born on August 31, 1811 in Hancock County, Georgia. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating 25th out of 36 in theClass of 1834. After graduation he was assigned as a brevet second lieutenant to the 5th United States Infantry, but resigned his commission after less than a year.
Bryan returned to Georgia, where he became a planter. He moved to Tallapoosa County, Georgia, where he studied law and served for a time in the state assemby. When the war with Mexico broke out Bryan joined the 1st Alabama Volunteer Infantry, becoming its major.
After the war Bryan returned to his legal career before moving to Georgia. He married Anna Twiggs, and in 1859 the couple had a daughter, Sarah.
Goode was a delegate to Georgia's secession convention in 1861. After Georgia left the United States he was elected captain in the 16th Georgia Infantry before quickly being chosen as lieutenant colonel. He was promoted to colonel on February 15, 1862.
Bryan led his regiment in McLaws' Division in the battles of the Peninsula Campaign, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. At Gettysburg Paul Semmes, the commander of another Georgia brigade in Bryan's division, was mortally wounded on the Rose Farm. Bryan's 16th Georgia was transferred from Wofford's brigade so that Bryan could take over for Semmes as senior colonel.
Bryan was promoted to brigadier general and made permanent commander of the brigade on August 29, 1863. He went west with Longstreet in the fall of 1863, fighting at Chickamauga and in the Knoxville campaign.
In the spring of 1864 Bryan and the rest of Longstreet's First Corps returned to Lee's army in time for the Overland Campaign. Bryan fought at the Wilderness, where his brigade's stubborn defence until out of ammunition helped save Lee's line, and at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor. He left the army due to illness at the beginning of June and resigned on September 20, his health shattered by the continuous fighting of the summer.
Bryan returned to Georgia but never fully recovered his health. He was one of the founders of the Confederate Survivors Association.
Goode Bryan died in Augusta on August 16, 1885, and is buried in Magnolia Cemetery there.