Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne

Born March 17, 1828 at Bridgepark Cottage on River Bride, County Cork, Ireland
Killed November 30, 1864 at Franklin TN
Buried Helena AR


Pre-War Profession Served in 41st Regiment, British Army, emigrated to US, pharmacist, lawyer.

War Service 1861 Capt. in 15th Arkansas, 1861 Col., March 1862 Brig. Gen., commanded 2nd Bde/Hardee’s Corps at Shiloh, commanded two brigades at Richmond KY (w), December 1862 Maj. Gen., commanded 2nd Divn/Hardee’s Corps at Murfreesboro, commanded 2nd Divn/Hill’s Corps at Chickamauga, Tunnel Hill at Chattanooga (where he stopped Sherman), commanded 2nd Divn/Hardee’s Corps in Atlanta campaign, Franklin (k).

Notes A great combat general whose career was damaged by his proposal to muster slaves as combat soldiers.

The most popular Confederate division commander was the "Stonewall of the West"-Patrick R. Cleburne. Appropriately, the native of County Cork was born on St. Patrick's Day and became the only product of the Emerald Isle to become a Confederate major general. Failing the language requirements for a druggist's degree, he served with the British 4lst Regiment of Foot as an officer for a number of years before purchasing his way out.

Emigrating to America, he became a druggist and then a highly successful property attorney. He joined the Confederacy, and his military assignments included: captain, Company F, lst Arkansas State Troops (early 1861); colonel, lst Arkansas State Troops (early 1861); colonel, 15th Arkansas (designation change July 23, 1861); commanding 2nd Brigade, lst (Hardee's) Division, Army of Central Kentucky, Department #2 (fall 1861 - March 29, 1862); commanding 2nd Brigade, Hardee's Division, Army of the Mississippi July 2 - August 15, 1862); commanding 2nd Brigade, Buckner's Division, Left Wing, Army of the Mississippi (August 15-30, October - October 8, and October - November 20, 1862); commanding 2nd Brigade, Buckner's Division, Hardee's-Breckinridge's Corps, Army of Tennessee (November 20 - December 1862); major general, CSA (December 20, 1862 to rank from the 13th); commanding the division (December 1862 - November 30, 1863); commanding division, Hardee's (Polk's old)- Cheatham's Corps, Army of Tennessee (November 30, 1863 - January 1864, January-August 3 1, and September 2 - November 30, 1864); and commanding the corps (August 31 - September 2, 1864).

At the head of the Yell Rifles, he served in Arkansas before being named as commander of the state unit. Transferred with William J. Hardee to central Kentucky, he was promoted to brigadier general and fought at Shiloh and during the siege of Corinth. Taking part in the Kentucky Campaign, he was wounded at both Richmond and Perryville. Promoted to major general, he commanded a division at Murfreesboro, during the Tullahoma Campaign, and at Chickamauga. A favorite of Jefferson Davis, he is credited with covering the retreat from Chattanooga after his splendid defense of Tunnel Hill.

That winter he proposed that in order to reinforce the Confederate armies slavery would have to be abolished in a "reasonable time" and blacks be recruited for military service on the promise of their freedom. The proposal was rejected by the Richmond authorities and would not be passed by the Confederate Congress until a couple of months after Cleburne's death. Cleburne went on to command his division, and briefly the corps, through the Atlanta Campaign and then with Hood into middle Tennessee.

At the battle of Franklin on November 20, 1864 he became the senior of six Confederate generals to die in this fight, which did little more than commit mass suicide against the Union works. His death was a calamity to the Confederate cause perhaps only exceeded by the death of Stonewall Jackson. First buried near Franklin, Cleburne's remains were later removed to Helena, Arkansas.(Purdue, Howell and Elizabeth, Pat Cleburne, Confederate General)

Source: "Who Was Who In The Civil War" by Stewart Sifakis

Major-General Patrick R. Cleburne, one of the most brilliant soldiers of the Confederate States, was a native of Ireland. When twenty-two years of age he joined the British army as a private, and there took his first lessons in drill and discipline. For good conduct he was promoted to the rank of corporal. After remaining three years in the British army he procured his discharge and came to America. He settled in Arkansas, became a hard student, was admitted to the bar, and the year 1861 found him practicing law in Helena, enjoying in his profession and in society the honorable position which his toil and native worth had gained for him. He was among the first to answer the call to arms. He raised a company and with it joined the First, afterward known as the Fifteenth Arkansas regiment, of which he was almost unanimously elected colonel. His first campaign was with General Hardee in Missouri. At its close he went with Hardee to Bowling Green, Ky. He had during this short military service so impressed his superiors that he was assigned to command of a brigade, and on March 4, 1862, was commissioned brigadier-general. At the battle of Shiloh he proved that his abilities had not been overestimated, and during the reorganization of the army at Tupelo he brought his brigade to a very high state of discipline and efficiency. He had that valuable combination of qualifications for command which enabled him to enforce discipline and at the same time secure the esteem and confidence of his troops. At Richmond, Ky., he commanded a division whose impetuous charge had much to do with winning the magnificent victory over "Bull" Nelson's army. Though painfully wounded in this battle, a few weeks later he led his men in the fierce conflict at Perryville, with his usual success. On December 13, 1862, he was commissioned major-general. He was in the memorable attack upon the right of the Federal army at Murfreesboro, which drove the Union lines until the mass in front became at last too thick for further penetration. Again at Chickamauga Cleburne made a charge, in which his men by desperate valor won and held a position that had been assailed time and again without success. At Missionary Ridge, in command at the tunnel, he defeated Sherman, capturing flags and hundreds of prisoners, and when involved in the general defeat, he made a heroic fight at Ringgold gap and saved Bragg's artillery and wagon train. In recognition of this gallant exploit, the Confederate Congress passed the following joint resolution: "Resolved, that the thanks of Congress are due, and are hereby tendered to Maj.-Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne, and the officers and men under his command, for the victory obtained by them over superior forces of the enemy at Ringgold gap in the State of Georgia on the 27th day of November, 1863, by which the advance of the enemy was impeded, our wagon trains and most of our artillery saved, and a large number of the enemy killed and wounded." One of the most brilliant episodes of the Atlanta campaign of 1864 was Cleburne's victory at Pickett's mill over Howard's corps of Sherman's army. In the awful carnage at Franklin, November 30, 1864, Cleburne, the "Stonewall Jackson of the West," gave his last battle order. Within twenty paces of the Union line, pierced by three wounds, he fell, and on the battlefield expired. His death was a disheartening blow to the army of Tennessee, and was mourned throughout the whole South.

Source: Confederate Military History

Further reading:

Maguire, John Francis The Irish in America New York, D.& J. Sadlier 1884

Nash, Charles Edward Biographical sketches of Gen. Pat Cleburne and Gen. T. C. Hindman, together with humorous anecdotes and reminiscences of the late Civil War Dayton OH, Press of Morningside Bookshop 1977.

Purdue, Howell Pat Cleburne, Confederate general : a biography Tuscaloosa AL, Portals Press 1977

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