16th Tennessee Volunteer
Calvin Brixey and his wife Martha Elizabeth Swann
The Regiments black sheep
Private Calvin Brixey, CSA
Captain Calvin Brixey USA
1st Alabama and Tennessee Vidette Cavalry
(His first name is
sometimes listed as John and Calvin as a middle name.
Some texts show the middle initial as "L" and some can also be found with “S”.)
Born 11 November 1838 in Coffee County, TN.
He married his wife Martha Elizabeth Swann on 4 March 1858. She was born 14 September1833 and died 10 April 1895. They had two children: unknown and Deborah Belzora Lea Brixey. His wife and their 3 year old infant are buried in the Bascom Cemetery in Warren County.
Brixey enlisted in the Regiment on the 29 July 1861 and by May 1862 he had deserted, or is absent without leave, and by 18 July 1863 he is listed as ‘deserted from Cornith, now bushwacking in Middle Tennessee’.
One of the units recruited from local Unionists in the Coffee and surrounding counties was the 1st Alabama and Tennessee Vidette Cavalry. Brixey joined D Company of this unit, most likely on the 9 August 1863, as a 2nd Lieutenant. He went on to become a Captain on the 9 December 1863.
He went on to became a notorious Union guerilla in the area with persons in those counties who were Union sympathizers were referred to as ‘Brixyites’ . Within six months of being organized Brixey and his Company had murdered 48 citizens of the area on grounds that they were bushwhackers, spies, or southern sympathizers.
One of these was Anderson Goodman of Grundy County, a man 53 years old and a discharged Confederate soldier. His crime was to yell at some of Brixey men who had harassed him. (Another source says that he surprised them as they were trying to steal his horses from his barn.) They immediately reported him to Brixey who sent a squad to kill him. Another was Joseph Lockheart, originally a member of the 16th TN, H Company, who, sometime in September 1863, was scouting with a cavalry detachment was captured by Brixey but he managed to escape.
These crimes caused the local citizens to petition General Lovell Rousseau in Nashville over these murders. His tactics of murder and plunder were so rampant that on 4 June 1864 Rousseau had Brixey arrested and held for trial at Nashville.
While in prison he wrote that he was afraid of being turned over to the civilian authorities ‘if that was done I will not live two days’. Although charged with ‘many cases of murder, robbery, etc.’ he was released from prison by the Federal Authorities on 28 June1864. (Most likely due to the intimidation of witnesses.)
He was released as no witnesses had appeared against him
the reason was simple Brixey's men had threatened to kill anyone who stepped
forward, and the provost at Tullahoma had refused to grant passes to any
potential witness to travel to Nashville.
Returning to his men Brixey quickly resumed his murderous
rampage, killing another 18 people, both men and women.
In the September of 1864 Brixey went to a school at Hawkerville, Franklin County, TN, for the express purpose of killing a 15 year old schoolboy, Jesse M. Abernathy, Brixey had accused of stealing some brandy. Capturing Abernathy the group were riding toward a wood to kill the boy when a regiment of Confederate cavalry from General Joseph Wheelers command intercepted them. Abernathy was released and Brixey captured, two others were with him but managed to escape, James Canaster and Martin Phips.
He was tied on a mule and brought to his mother's house in Manchester for the family to see him one last time. Afterwards he was taken to Beech Grove in Coffee County given a drum-head court marshal and ‘on or about the 3 September 1864’ he was ‘tied upon a horse...and there they hung him by the neck until he was dead ‘. The Locals were forbidden from cutting him down and he was left him hanging there ‘until about the 4 September 1864’.
Calvin L. Brixey,
Officer's Certificate of Death
Altamont, March 30th 1872
I, William H. Hampton, 1st Lieutenant of Company M, of the 10th Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers Cavalry, certify on honor that Captain Calvin L. Brixey was a Captain in the 1st Independent Cavalry, and his widow is, as I am informed, an applicant for an army Pension; that by communication with most any Loyal Citizen near Dechard and the Department can get other information, corroborating with. And I further certify, that the said Calvin L. Brixey, was captured by the Rebel General Wheeler's command in Franklin County, Tennessee, 1864, while raising volunteers to go West. James Canaster and Martin Phips, two of Brixey's enlisted men was with him and escaped. Martian Phips now lives in Grundy County, Tennessee, and James Canatser lives some where in Kentucky. The Rebels taken Captain Brixey tied upon a horse near Murfreesborough and there they hung him by the neck until he was dead and then left him hanging by the neck forbidding the Citizens taking him down. He was hung on or about the 3rd of September, 1864 and remained there until about the 4th of September, 1864. I know that I'm not mistaken in the identity of Brixey. I was well acquainted with him.
William H. Hampton
Late 1st Lieutenant Commanding Co M, 10 Tennessee Volunteer Cavalry