He was only 18-months-old when his mother died and a young 15 when his father passed away. He tried to follow in his father’s footsteps, Joseph Cleburne, in the field of medicine, but failed his entrance exam to Trinity College of Medicine in 1848. He immigrated to America three years later with two brothers and a sister and made his home in Helena, Ark.
In 1860, Cleburne became a naturalized citizen and lawyer and was popular with the residents.
He sided with the Confederacy at the outbreak of the War Between the States and progressed from the rank of private in the local militia to major general.
Cleburne, like many Southerners, did not support the institution of slavery, but chose to serve his adopted country out of love for the Southern folks and their quest for independence. In 1864, he advocated the emancipation of black men to serve in the Confederate Armed Forces. In early 1865, his dream became reality, but it was then too late — the war was lost.
Cleburne participated in the Battles of Shiloh, Richmond, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Ringgold Gap and Franklin. He was killed at the Battle of Franklin, Tenn., on Nov. 30, 1864.
Due to his brilliant strategy on the battlefield, Cleburne earned the nickname “Stonewall Jackson of the West.”
Cleburne said before his death at the Battle of Franklin: "If this cause, that is dear to my heart, is doomed to fail, I pray heaven may let me fall with it, my face is toward the enemy and my arm battling for that which I know is right.”
He was engaged to Susan Tarleton of Mobile, Ala.
Gen. Cleburne is buried in Maple Hill Cemetery in Helena, Ark.
“A Meteor Shining Brightly: Essays on Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne” is a good source of information about Cleburne.
The War Between the States Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) runs 2011 through 2015. The Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans joins the nation in remembering this historic time in our nation’s history. See more information at: http://www.150wbts.org/
Calvin E. Johnson, Jr., is an American historical writer, speaker, author of the book “When America Stood for God, Family and Country” and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. He lives in Kennesaw, Ga.