ACP 14


Major-general patrick ronayne cleburne (see main description for short history)

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Patrick royanne cleburne was born on st patricks day 1828, in ovens, county cork, ireland, the second son of dr. Joseph cleburne, a solid, middle-class protestant, physician of anglo-irish ancestry. Patrick’s mother died when he was 18 months old, and he was an orphan at 15. He followed his father into the study of medicine, but failed his entrance exam to trinity college of medicine, dublin in 1846. In response to this failure, he enlisted in the british army and served in the 41st regiment of foot subsequently rising to the rank of corporal. Three years later, cleburne bought his discharge and, was credited as a good soldier. He subsequently emigrated to the united states with two brothers and a sister. After spending a short time in ohio, he settled in helena, arkansas, where he obtained employment as a pharmacist and was readily accepted into the town’s social order. During this time, cleburne became close friends with thomas c. Hindman, who would later parallel his course as a confederate major general. The two men also formed a business partnership with william weatherly to buy a newspaper, the democratic star, in december 1855. In 1856, cleburne and hindman were both wounded by gunshots during a street fight in helena with members of the know-nothing party following a debate. Cleburne was shot in the back, turned around and shot one of his attackers, killing him. The attackers hid until cleburne collapsed on the streets and then left. After the men recovered, they appeared before a grand jury to respond to any charges brought against them. They were exonerated and, afterwards, went to hindman’s parents’ house in mississippi. By 1860, he was a naturalized citizen, a practicing lawyer, and very popular with the local. The issue of secession had reached a crisis; cleburne sided with the southern states. His choice was not due to any love of slavery, which he claimed not to care about, but out of affection for the southern people who had adopted him as one of their own. As the crisis mounted, cleburne joined the local militia company (the yell rifles) as a private soldier. He was soon elected captain. He led the company in the seizure of the u.S. Arsenal in little rock in january 1861. When arkansas left the union, the yell rifles became part of the 1st arkansas infantry, later designated the 15th arkansas,of which he was elected colonel. He was promoted to brigadier general on march 4th 1862. Cleburne served at the battle of shiloh, the battle of richmond (kentucky), where he was wounded in the face, and the battle of perryville. After receiving his facial wound he would adopt a short or goatee beard. After the army of tennessee retreated to its namesake state in late 1862, cleburne was promoted to division command and served at the battle of stones river, where his division advanced three miles as it routed the union right wing and drove it back to the nashville pike and its final line of defense. He was promoted to major general on december 13th 1862. During the campaigns of 1863 in tennessee, cleburne and his soldiers fought at the battle of chickamauga, including a rare night assault and a fierce rear guard action that probably saved the army of tennessee from utter destruction by holding off a much larger union force under the command of major general sherman, on the northern end of missionary ridge. After the battle of missionary ridge in chattanooga, and at the battle of ringgold gap in northern georgia, in which cleburne’s men again protected the army of the tennessee as it retreated to tunnel hill, georgia. Cleburne and his troops received an official thanks from the confederate congress for their actions during this campaign. Cleburne’s strategic use of terrain, his ability to hold ground where others failed, and his talent in foiling the movements of the enemy earned him fame, and gained him the nickname “stonewall of the west.” federal troops were quoted as dreading to see the blue flag of cleburne’s division across the battlefield. By late 1863, it had become obvious to cleburne that the confederacy was losing the war because of the growing limitations of its manpower and resources. In 1864, he dramatically called together the leadership of the army of tennessee and put forth the proposal to emancipate slaves and enlist them in the confederate army to secure southern independence. This proposal was met with polite silence at the meeting, and while word of it leaked out, it went unremarked, much less officially recognized. Prior to the campaigning season of 1864, cleburne became engaged to susan tarleton of mobile, alabama. Their marriage was never to be, as cleburne was killed during an ill-conceived assault (which he opposed) on union fortifications at the battle of franklin, just south of nashville, tennessee, on november 30, 1864. He was last seen advancing on foot toward the union line with his sword raised, after his horse (red pepper) was shot out from under him. Accounts later said that he was found just inside the federal line and his body carried back to an aid station along the columbia turnpike. Confederate war records indicate he died of a shot to the abdomen, or possibly a bullet that went through his heart. When confederates found his body, his boots were gone, as was his sword, watch, and anything else of value. Although; later testimony from a captain from his division who being shoeless was seen by clelburne who gave the officer his own boots. Cleburne’s remains were laid to rest at st. John’s church near mount pleasant, tennessee, where they remained for six years. In 1870, he was disinterred and returned to his adopted hometown of helena, arkansas, with much fanfare, and buried in maple hill cemetery, overlooking the mississippi river. William j. Hardee, cleburne’s former corps commander, had this to say when he learned of his loss: “where this division defended, no odds broke its line; where it attacked, no numbers resisted its onslaught, save only once; and there is the grave of cleburne.”