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John Calvin Brown
Personal Information
Born: January 6, 1827(1827-01-06)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: August 17, 1889 (aged 62)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Confederate States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: Confederate States Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Major General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: American Civil War
- Battle of Perryville
- Battle of Chickamauga
- Battle of Missionary Ridge
- Atlanta Campaign
- Battle of Franklin
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

John Calvin Brown (January 6, 1827 – August 17, 1889) was a Confederate general during the American Civil War and the Governor of Tennessee from 1871 to 1875, the first Democrat to be elected to that position following the war.

Early life[]

Born in Giles County, Tennessee, Brown was the younger brother of Governor Neill S. Brown. He graduated from Jackson College in Columbia, Tennessee, in 1846. He studied law with his brother and was admitted to the bar as a young man, opening a law practice in 1848. He maintained a successful career as a lawyer until the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1860, he served as a presidential elector for the Whig Party, supporting fellow Tennessean John Bell.

Civil War[]

Brown was personally opposed to secession, but acquiesced in the decision of his state, fighting in the war on the side of the Confederacy. He enlisted in early 1861 as a private in the Confederate infantry but soon ended up as Colonel of the 3rd Tennessee Infantry in May of that year. He was later placed in charge of a brigade consisting of three Tennessee regiments.

Following the surrender of Fort Donelson, he was a prisoner of war for six months before being exchanged in August 1862. Soon afterwards, he was promoted to brigadier general by the Confederate War Department and assigned command of a new and larger brigade composed of troops from Florida and Mississippi. He was a part of the army of Braxton Bragg that campaigned in Kentucky and Tennessee in late 1862 through 1863. Brown was wounded in the battles of Perryville and Chickamauga while leading his brigade. His men were a part of the defensive line on Missionary Ridge.

In 1864, Brown fought in the Atlanta Campaign, at various times temporarily commanding a division. In August, he was promoted to major general and formally assigned command of a division in Cheatham's Corps. He was again wounded at Franklin, where six of his fellow generals were killed. He was incapacitated for several months and did not rejoin the army until the end of the Carolinas Campaign in April 1865. He surrendered with Joseph E. Johnston's forces at Bennett Place and was paroled a month later.

Dates of Rank[]

  • Private: May 1, 1861
  • Colonel: May 16, 1861
  • Brigadier General: August 30, 1862
  • Major General: August 4, 1864


Brown returned to Pulaski, and resumed his law practice following the war. His civil rights were restored shortly after the war, and he was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly in 1869. He was also elected a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1870 and was elected its president by his peers. This body wrote a document approved by the voters of Tennessee later that year, which stood unamended until 1953, a record for such a document, and still serves as the state's instrument of government today.

Brown was elected governor in 1870 over his Republican competitor, William H. Wisener of Shelbyville, and was re-elected in 1872 over A. A. Freeman of Haywood County. He was forced to deal with a state government that was deeply indebted, even after all debts incurred in support of the Confederacy were abrogated by the new state constitution and amendment to the United States Constitution. He was able to reduce the state's indebtedness in his two terms, and also helped get the first truly effective public school legislation, which called for the establishment of county and city school superintendents, and the creation of the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Brown also advocated a board of directors to govern local school districts, and the organization of separate schools for African-American and white children. To support these schools, Governor Brown called for the Legislature to institute a small state tax and the power for cities and counties to raise additional taxes.

In 1875, along with several other former Confederate generals, he competed for an open United States Senate seat, but lost in the balloting in the state legislature to former President Andrew Johnson. Brown maintained a lesser public profile after his defeat, serving as president of the Texas and Pacific Railway Company and, shortly before his death, the Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railway Company.

Brown died in 1889 at Red Boiling Springs. He is interred in Maplewood Cemetery, Pulaski with his (second) wife, Bettie (Childress).

See also[]


  • Wooldridge, John (ed.) (1890). History of Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville: Publishing House of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. LCCN 76027605. 
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959, ISBN 0-8071-0823-5.

External links[]

Template:Governors of Tennessee

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