Major General Patrick
Corps Commander in the Army of Tennessee
Patrick Ronayne Cleburne was one of two foreign born soldiers that became a major general in the Confederate Army. He was born in County Cork, Ireland on March 17, 1828. He attended Trinity College in England and left after failing the language requirement for a druggist's degree. Patrick Cleburne then joined the British 41st Regiment of Foot. The unit was assigned to maintain order in Ireland during a potato famine. After a few years, he bought his release from the army and immigrated to America. Patrick Cleburne became a partner in a druggist business in Helena, Arkansas. Later he studied law, passed the bar examination, and practiced law as a property attorney.
Patrick Cleburne enlisted as a private in the Arkansas State Troops at the beginning of the Civil War. His military training, discipline, and personality gained him rapid promotions. He was a brigadier general by the time of the Battle of Shiloh. During the Kentucky Campaign, he led a division in the Battles of Richmond and Perrysville. He received a painful wound at the Battle of Richmond, but he continued to lead his division. General Cleburne's division pushed back the Union's right flank in the Battle of Stones River. His unit led a successful advance on the first day of the Battle of Chickamauga. During the Battle of Chattanooga, they brilliantly defended Tunnel Hill against Union General Sherman's attacks. During the retreat from Missionary Ridge, they saved General Bragg's artillery and wagon train at Ringgold Gap. During the Atlanta Campaign, his men defeated Union General Howard's Corps at Pickett's Mill.
General Cleburne and other officers proposed offering Negro slaves their freedom for fighting in the Confederate Army. Although man power was badly needed, the proposal was rejected. A negative attitude toward General Cleburne was generated by the proposal. It may have been the predominant reason for President Jefferson Davis' choice of General John Bell Hood rather than General Cleburne to replace General Joseph Johnston as commander of the defense of Atlanta. General Cleburne's final leadership position was as a corps commander at the ill-fated Battle of Franklin. General Cleburne was killed on November 30, 1864. He was leading a frontal charge across open ground against Union entrenchments that had been ordered by General Hood. The charge was larger than Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, and it was also a disaster.
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