Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cleburne: personality and winter 1864

Cleburne was a quiet man so there is not too much known of him outside of military events. When he lived in Helena before the war Cleburne had been shy especially around women, this can be partly seen by the facts that he joined the lodge and that his best friends were men of the rough and tumble variety. During December 1862 at Murfreesboro he purposely missed the two biggest social events of the season; John Hunt Morgan's wedding and a Christmas Ball. He stayed at his headquarters west of town at Eagleville.

In the winter of 1863-64, while Walker's copy of the proposal had been enroute to Richmond, Cleburne took his first leave of the war, traveling to Mobile with Hardee. Hardee was getting married and asked Cleburne to be his best man. During the ceremony Cleburne became smitten with the maid of honor, Susan Tarleton. He spent much of his leave with her as the wedding party stayed together. The day before he left he asked her to marry him but she did not give him an answer. She did give him permission to write to her and she promised to write to him. It appears that he wrote her nearly every day, though those letters no longer exist. In early March he could not take the suspense any longer and so decided to travel back to Mobile to convince her to marry him. After three years without any leave he was now taking his second in six weeks. His staff was very amused by his behavior. After five days in Mobile he was able to convince her to marry him and then he returned to the army.

On March 22 the army awoke to 5 inches of snow. In his division Polk's brigade attacked Govan's brigade in a snowball fight. Cleburne got caught up in the excitement and lead Polk's brigade. Unfortunately Govan was able to lead a counter attack and capture Cleburne. He was paroled but was soon captured again. Govan's brigade thought some punishment should be metted out to a parole breaker. After some debate about punishment it was decided that Cleburne would get leniency because this was his first offense. That night he issued a whiskey ration to the division and they spent the rest of the night singing.

Winter Camp 64:

In late February Cleburne's division was sent to stop Sherman's Meridian Expedition but after they had only gotten half way there Sherman turned back to Vicksburg. Cleburne then received word from Johnston that the Union had advanced and captured Cleburne's old camp at Tunnel Hill. On February 25 Cleburne's men attacked and regained their camp. It appears that the Federal reconnaissance was not coordinated with Sherman's campaign, just a lucky coincidence that they attacked camps that the Confederates had evacuated to deal with Sherman.

Also in late February the army got another command shakeup. John Bell Hood arrived to replace Hindman, who was commanding Breckinridge's corps. While many of Cleburne's men thought he might get the promotion Johnston had never really considered him. Johnston had originally asked Davis for permission to create a new corps but even that command was not intended for Cleburne, instead Johnston wanted William Whiting.

That winter Cleburne also formed an officer school. He hosted discussion on the art of war with Polk, Lowrey, Govan and Granbury and encouraged them to do the same with their regimental commanders.

No comments: