Patrick Ronayne Cleburne

Cleburne, one of only two foreign-born officers to attain the rank of major general in the Confederate service, was born March 17, 1828 in Bridgepark Cottage on the River Bride, ten miles west of Cork, Ireland. After a three-year enlistment in Her Majesty’s 41st Regiment of Foot, he purchased his discharge and immigrated to the United States in 1849, landing at New Orleans.

Educated as an apothecary, he first worked in Cincinnati but soon took up where he became a partner in a drugstore, and then studied law. By the outbreak of the Civil War he had become successful in the legal profession, and had accumulated considerable property. He was elected colonel of the 15th Arkansas in 1861, and was promoted brigadier general to rank from March 4, 1862. The month following he led a brigade at Shiloh and later commanded a brigade at Perryville and a division at Richmond.

His promotion to major general dated December 13, 1862. Cleburne rapidly established a reputation as a superb combat officer on every battlefield of the western army. He further distinguished himself at Murfreesboro, and received a vote of thanks from the Confederate Congress for saving the trains of the Army of Tennessee after the Chattanooga campaign.  A savage fighter of the Bedford Forrest stamp, his death at the battle of Franklin, on November 30, 1864, in the forefront of his division, was a calamity to the Confederate cause perhaps only exceeded by the demise of Stonewall Jackson.

General Cleburne was the first to suggest (in a circular letter) the arming of the slaves and their muster into military service, a plan belatedly put fourth by the Confederate government at the end of the war. First buried near Franklin, Cleburne’s remains were later removed to Helena, Arkansas.