Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cleburne: Franklin

September 1864 was a rough month for Cleburne, professionally and personally. Hood blamed Hardee, and by association Cleburne, for the fall of Atlanta. Govan's loss was hard on Cleburne as those were Arkansas boys he had been with since the beginning of the war. Captain Buck of his staff had been wounded at Jonesboro and was now at a hospital. Chief of staff Major Benham resigned in despair and left for Mexico. His fiancé Sue was suffering from "neuralgia" and was unable to write.

On September 27 Hardee was finally transferred out of the army. Cleburne contemplated asking for a transfer as well and told his staff that he'd rather be an aide to Hardee than command a division in Hood's army. Cheatham was given Hardee's corps. The next day Cleburne went to Hood's headquarters to ask for a two week furlough so that he could go to Mobile and marry Sue. Hood denied the request saying that the campaign season was not yet over.

There was a bright spot that month though as Govan's men returned to the army after a particularly quick prisoner exchange. When President Davis visited the army that month he made a visit to every brigade. As Hood and Davis passed by Govan's brigade they chanted "Johnston! Johnston!"

The army now moved north towards Dalton. During the second week of October Cleburne's men wrecked the railroad with their bare hands. They lacked the proper tools so they just lined up on one side and lifted the whole rail up and were then able to remove the ties. From Dalton they went to Rocky Face Ridge, Lafayette, Alpine, Decatur and reached Tuscumbia on October 31. A pontoon bridge was built to cross the nearly one mile of river and Cleburne's division finally crossed on November 13 and camped at Florence. Cheatham's corps went north through Waynesboro and Cleburne left Mercer's brigade behind to guard the river crossings. On November 20 he set out with the brigades of Govan, Lowrey and Granbury.

On November 22 they passed through Waynesboro. South of Columbia on November 24 Cleburne met Lucius Polk again. Polk's house was across the road from Hood's headquarters. At Polk's chapel Cleburne idly remarked, "It is almost worth dying to rest in so sweet a spot." The next day they occupied Columbia on the Duck River. Across the river Schofield had two corps but Hood had no intention of a direct assault.

On November 29 Hood started his flank movement with Cleburne's division in the lead. By 3 PM Cleburne was near Spring Hill. There was a Union force south of town but Hood was more concerned with blocking Schofield's retreat. Schofield was still near Columbia apparently believing that Hood would assault him directly. Cheatham believed that Hood wanted him to assault Spring Hill and that the turnpike south of town was not his objective. Between 3:30 and 4 PM Cleburne deployed his division in echelon facing west, Lowrey on the right, then Govan and Granbury. Forrest deployed one brigade on Cleburne's right.

At 4 PM the division moved forward and then swung to the right. They quickly drove Bradley's brigade but came under fire from 18 cannon near Spring Hill. Lane's brigade then redeployed from Bradley's left and then came due south at Cleburne but nothing much came of this attack. It was now 5 PM (sunset was at 4:26) and Cheatham began to work at creating a solid line against Spring Hill. Bate's division was currently executing exactly the movement Hood desired, on the turnpike and moving south but at about 6 PM Cheatham ordered Bate to a different position. At 6:17 PM the field was completely dark and a hoped for second attack to be led by Brown was now impossible. The troops went to sleep a quarter mile from the turnpike. That night Schofield's army snuck past the Confederates.

When Hood woke in the morning and found out that the Union had slipped past he was furious. At a meeting of his generals he ranted and blamed them for the mistake. He had good reason to be upset but he also should accept some of the blame himself. From 4-6 the night before his headquarters were close to the front and yet he never ventured out or sent out aides to find out what was happening. There is also evidence that he went to sleep that night knowing that his troops were not in the right position but he did nothing to correct it. When Cleburne found out that Hood held him partly responsible he said to Brown that he would seek an investigation at the first opportunity. At a command conference at Harrison House Hood said that the Confederates should "go over the main works at all hazards." Cleburne replied "I will take the enemy's works or fall in the attempt." Later that day near Winstead Hill Govan noticed that Cleburne seemed more despondent than normal. He tried to engage him in conversation and said, "Well General there will not be many of us that get back to Arkansas." Unsmiling Cleburne responded, "Well Govan if we are to die let us die like men."

Cleburne arranged his brigades in column to the right of the Franklin Turnpike. They waited for about an hour when Cheatham gave the signal to advance at 4 PM. When the division hit the Union salient it turned into a race for the main Union line. Govan and Granbury's brigades pierced the line and Cleburne was soon with them. He was on foot now as two horses had previously been shot from under him. Fifty yards from the Carter cotton gin he was killed instantly when a single bullet entered his heart. Granbury and four other Confederate generals were also killed that day. Late that night the Union left Franklin.

Once Cleburne's body was identified he was taken to Carnton. He was later buried in Rose Hill cemetery in Columbia. Rose Hill though had former slaves, paupers and Yankees buried there too and so it was decided to rebury him at St. John's Chapel. This is the chapel that he had remarked upon the beauty of a week earlier in the presence of Lucius Polk. Finally in April 1870 his body was moved for a final time to Helena, Arkansas.

During Reconstruction he became a larger hero than he was in his lifetime. Veterans recalled with increased clarity his sterling character and devotion to duty. His martyrdom came to represent the martyrdom of the Army of Tennessee.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cleburne: command squables and Chickamauga

Due to some foulup with blogger this post did not get published at its appointed time, so it is now a bit out of order, sorry about that.

During the retreat after Stones River the criticisms of Bragg bubbled back up. On January 11th Bragg, after reading the criticisms in newspapers, sent a letter to all division and corps commanders asking their opinion of the retreat and their opinion of him in general. He told them to consult their subordinates and implied that he would resign if he had lost their good opinion. Hardee's corps came down unanimously against Bragg and thought that a change would be in the best interests of the army. Only Jones Withers supported Bragg. Instead of resigning Bragg told Davis that he was a victim of a cabal. While this was going on Polk was in Richmond complaining to Davis about Bragg and so Davis might have easily believed the cabal charge.

In order to get a second opinion on the army, and also perhaps to rid himself of a disgruntled general, Davis sent Joe E Johnston to Tullahoma. On January 27 Johnston met with Polk, Hardee and Bragg. He reported to Davis that there was unrest in the army but Bragg had performed well at Stones River and it would be unfair to remove him now. After Johnston left Bragg wrote his report on Stones River. He gave praise to Polk, Hardee and Cleburne while criticizing Cheatham, Breckinridge and McCown. Hardee thought Bragg's assessment of Cheatham, Breckinridge and McCown was correct but loved the fact that Bragg continued to make the army unrest even worse. Bragg had McCown arrested and Cleburne would serve on that court martial. Cleburne was the judge on the panel and also was one of the chief witnesses. McCown received a six month suspension and afterwards only served in minor posts.

On March 19th Johnston returned to Tullahoma, this time with orders from Davis to take command of the army from Bragg and send Bragg back to Richmond. At first Johnston kept Bragg in Tullahoma as Mrs. Bragg was sick. Then Johnston became ill and needed Bragg around in case Rosecrans' attacked. Eventually Johnston left Bragg's army to serve as theater commander.

In April Polk's report of Stones River came out and commended Cheatham. Bragg was convinced that they were in cahoots and sent a letter to Polk's subordinates asking about an event in the Perryville campaign. Cleburne also received this letter because he had serve with Polk during the Perryville campaign. Cleburne asked Hardee for advice. Hardee told Cleburne not to responded as it seemed that Bragg was just fishing for a court martial which is what Bragg was doing.

Cleburne's division underwent a minor overhaul in May. Johnston was now in Mississippi halfheartedly trying to save Vicksburg. To respond to one of his calls for men Bragg sent Breckinridge with 2 of his 3 brigades. Then Bragg took Bushrod Johnson's brigade from Cleburne and combined it with Breckinridge's remaining brigade into a new division under Stewart. As compensation Cleburne received Churchill's brigade of recently exchanged prisoners, these men had surrendered at Arkansas Post without firing a shot. No other division in the army wanted these men but Cleburne welcomed them to the division. He told them that they would be judged on what they do and not on what happened previously.

Cleburne's division was in the Liberty Gap area but Bragg was not really prepared for a Union advance. On June 24 Liddell's two regiments were unable to hold Liberty Gap against the Union assault. Bragg now had to retreat as Rosecrans conducted a pretty impressive campaign of maneuver. Cleburne's men acted as the army's rear guard for most of this retreat. On July 5th his division crossed the Tennessee River and Hardee turned command of the corps over to Cleburne while Hardee went to Chattanooga to discuss strategy with Bragg. Cleburne's corps went east of Chattanooga and took up a defensive position upriver of the town. This is the area where Bragg thought Rosecrans would cross the river. A week later Hardee was sent west to help Johnston. Cleburne thought he might get corps command on a permanent basis but DH Hill soon arrived to take the position. In late August Rosecrans crossed west of Chattanooga and on September 7 Cleburne led his division south.


As his division marched south from Chattanooga more changes were being made to its structure. Churchill was transferred to the trans-Mississippi and his brigade was now commanded by Deshler. Liddell's brigade was removed from the division and Liddell soon had his own division. Despite the changes and the retreat esprit de corps was high in the division.

During the retreat Bragg found an opportunity to strike at Rosecrans' scattered army at McLemore's Cove. Hindman was to attack first and Cleburne would support the attack . The morning of the attack went by with no sound from Hindman's area. Bragg and Hill were with Cleburne but waited until noon to order him to attack. Bragg hoped that Hindman would attack if he heard Cleburne's attack. Just as Cleburne's skirmishers were becoming engaged Bragg changed his mind and called off the attack. At 4:30 PM firing was finally heard from Hindman but when Cleburne went forward they found that the Union had escaped from the trap.

On September 19th Cleburne marched north to take part in a new battle. Around sunset his division crossed Chickamauga Creek at Thedford's Ford and marched two miles to the extreme right of the army. In the dark they went into position behind Liddell's division and Liddell urged Cleburne to attack. Cleburne was hesitant to attack because of the late hour, thick woods and unknown terrain. DH Hill arrived and Liddell urged him to order Cleburne to attack, which he then did. Cleburne began his advance at 6 PM with Deshler on the left, then Wood and Polk. The attack was a success at first but Wood, in the center, gave way. Cleburne brought up artillery to within 60 yards of the Union line and Wood was able to resume the advance. Finally at 9 PM the attack was halted.

On September 20 Cleburne was awake at sunrise (about quarter to 6 AM). Hill and Breckinridge joined him for breakfast. At 6:30 AM a courier from Polk arrived with orders for Breckinridge and Cleburne. The orders were for a dawn attack, which time had already passed. Hill was upset that Polk was ignoring the change of command, but actually Bragg had reorganized the army the night before, in part to limit Hill's role. Hill wrote a reply for Polk and the courier left. Polk though soon arrived to find out why there was no dawn attack. Cleburne said that once his men had eaten they would attack. Polk was fine with this explanation and left. He wasn't gone long when Bragg arrived. Bragg was upset that there had been no dawn attack, said the attack should begin as soon as possible and then he too left. It was now 8 AM.

Cleburne got his men ready and made a reconnaissance of the ground. At 9:30 AM Breckinridge could be heard attacking so Cleburne went forward. They attacked the Kelly Field salient and it was pretty much a disaster. Thomas' men had been preparing breastworks most of the night and were able to shuffle fresh men in and out of the front line. Wood and Polk got separated in the attack. Deshler became entangled with Stewart on his left. Cleburne helped sort this mess out and got Stewart to join in the attacks with Deshler. At 11 AM Cleburne ordered Wood and Polk to retreat and had Deshler cover the retreat. Deshler was among the Confederate brigade commanders killed in the battle. At 2 PM Deshler's brigade was finally ordered out, the division had lost about 50%. At 3:30 PM a staff officer told Cleburne to move to the right to attack again. Cleburne had the officer lead him to the spot to attack from. At 5 PM they attacked just as Thomas was pulling out, the evacuation turned into a stampede. The pursuit didn't really get going until the next afternoon and reached Missionary Ridge on the afternoon of the 22nd. On September 24 Bragg made a reconnaissance in force at Chattanooga. Cleburne's division was within 200 yards of the Union trenches when he saw the divisions on either side of him retreat. He wanted to make the attack but without support had no choice but retreat. Cleburne had brought 5115 men into battle at Chickamauga, they lost 1743 killed and wounded. Despite fighting at night they only had 6 missing.

Bragg vs the generals

For the third straight time after a campaign Bragg and his generals turned to infighting rather than preparing to fight the Union. Bragg felt that with a victory he had more leeway to get rid of those he disliked. The first to go was Hindman, who was suspended from command. He also suspended Polk, but Davis said that he'd need to file official charges or let it go. Davis thought this would make Bragg give up on Polk but instead Bragg had Polk arrested. A petition was passed around asking for Bragg's removal from command. Cleburne mainly kept his opinions to himself but he did sign the petition. Davis had to come visit the army to see what all the trouble was and in essence gave Bragg carte blanche to fix the dissent. DH Hill was made the scapegoat. Hill asked for and received Cleburne's support.

In Cleburne's report he praised Polk, Deshler and RQ Mills (Deshler's successor). He made no mention of Wood, positive or negative. The day before Cleburne submitted his report Wood submitted his resignation. It is not known if Cleburne showed Wood the report first or why else Wood might have resigned. Neither ever talked about it.

Cleburne: Atlanta

The spring campaign in the west began May 8. Cleburne's first action was to reinforce Dug Gap. The situation appeared bleak but Granbury's brigade arrived in time to claim the gap and actually faced very little skirmishing. The next dawn Cleburne sent out pickets to see if the Federals were still there and found out they were gone. It appeared the Dug Gap attack had been a feint but Johnston wasn't sure. The movements of Cleburne's division over the next few days illustrate the difficulty Johnston was having determining Sherman's intentions. The night of May 9 Johnston pulled Cleburne's division out of the gap and sent them to Resaca. After a few hours there Hardee sent Cleburne back to Dug Gap, arriving there at sunset on May 10. The next day at 7 AM he was again on the move towards Resaca.

During the initial part of the Georgia campaign Cleburne's division saw little combat. During the May 14-15 battle of Resaca Cleburne's division was in the center of the lines and saw very little action. Their next movements took them to Adairsville, Kingston and Allatoona. While at Allatoona (May 20-23) Cleburne likely learned of the death of Kit, his youngest half brother. Kit was a lieutenant in the 5th Kentucky and was killed in a skirmish at Dublin, Kentucky on May 10. Twice during the campaign Cleburne was in combat; at Pickett's Mill and Kennesaw Mountain. Both times he turned in sterling efforts.

May 27 found Cleburne at Pickett's Mill. Early in the morning he moved his men to the right, extending the army's flank, by his own initiative. He had been in reserve but now was in the front. Luckily for him this is exactly the spot the Union army would attack. If Cleburne had not moved his division the Union would have struck an open flank but now they ran into one of the better divisions of the army. The fighting centered around a sinkhole while the Union kept probing in the dense woods for the right flank, Cleburne held this line for several hours. At dusk two of Lowrey's regiments, the 33rd Alabama and 8/19th Arkansas, pulled back a few dozen yards to straighten the line. When Cleburne's staff saw this they though it was the beginning of a rout and sent two regiments to bolster the line. This confusion almost lead to a real rout but Cleburne was at the spot and soon straightened everything out.

That night Union soldiers could be heard rustling in the brush. Cleburne's men were not sure what was going on and Cleburne ordered Granbury to send out some pickets to figure it out. Granbury suggested using the whole brigade instead. At 10 PM they fixed bayonets and charged into the woods. There were some Federals there but they ran away after firing a volley and Granbury gathered about 200 prisoners. For the third time (Missionary Ridge and Ringgold Gap) Cleburne had repulsed a numerically superior enemy. Partly this was due to Howard committing his men piecemeal but Cleburne had prepared his position well with good trenches and interior lines to shift men. His brigade commanders also worked well as a team and would reinforce each other without waiting for the orders to be routed through Cleburne.

On June 14 Leonidas Polk was killed by an artillery shell. Johnston appointed Loring, Polk's senior division commander, the new corps commander, apparently Johnston never considered Cleburne. Loring was 10 months Cleburne's senior in rank and was from the same corps. A week later Stewart took permanent command of the corps. He was junior to Cleburne by four months and from Hoods' corps, but he was a West Pointer, had not been anti-Bragg and had not supported Cleburne's emancipation proposal. If Cleburne objected to these command decisions he never said anything about it. That's one of Cleburne's characteristics, he never complained openly about decisions concerning rank.

Sadness again hit Cleburne when his good friend Lucius Polk was wounded on June 15. He was severely wounded in the legs by an artillery shell, the second Polk to be hit by artillery in two days. Polk would resign from the army in July and return to his home near Columbia, Tennessee.

While Cleburne performed well at Kennesaw Mountain on June 27 it was not the sort of battle that needed the incredible to turn the tide for the Confederates. Quite simply Cleburne laid out good earthworks. The Union in his front lost 300 killed and 500 wounded. Cleburne lost just 2 killed and 9 wounded. Sherman listed his losses as 2500, then revised it to 3000 but even that was probably not correct.

Two months of campaigning had reduced his division from 5218 to 3855. Buck later claimed that morale in the army was higher when they reached the Chattahoochee than when it left Dalton. On July 17 Hood replaced Johnston as army commander. Cleburne was upset at Johnston's removal but mostly kept his feelings to himself. He also was not a fan of Hood and thought Hardee should have gotten the promotion instead. When Hood took over the army he needed a new corps commander for his old corps. He turned to Hardee for advice and Hardee selected Cheatham. Cheatham was Cleburne's senior but that had not stopped Hardee from previously advocating for Cleburne. Hardee had been Cleburne's commander for most of his service and it is possible that Hardee wanted to kept Cleburne with him or that Hardee thought Cleburne was best suited at divisional command. One thing that Symonds pointed out was that at command conferences Cleburne never spoke of his own ideas, he would freely give opinions of ideas that other brought forth but he never came up with ideas (with one notable exception).

Cleburne would be involved in two of the battles around Atlanta, at Bald Hill on July 22 and at Jonesboro at the end of August. At Jonesboro he would command a corps for the only time in his career.

The days of retreating were now at an end for the Army of Tennessee, they had run out of real estate and Hood had an aggressive nature. At Bald Hill Cleburne's division would be in its first battle under Hood. They were part of the flanking move on the east side of town. The attack was to begin at dawn but didn't get rolling until 1 PM. It was men of Smith's brigade who killed McPherson in this initial attack. Around 2 PM Govan ran into trouble and Cleburne ordered Lowrey to come up behind Govan to hit the entrenched line. The aide delivering the message noticed a gap forming between Cleburne and Walker and told Lowrey of it. Lowrey moved to fill this gap instead of following Cleburne's orders but when Cleburne was told of Lowrey's decision he approved of it, blind obedience to orders was not Cleburne's style. Govan's men though did push the Union back to Bald Hill and the next attack was coordinated. It appeared that the break through was at hand but after an hour of fighting Cleburne's division withdrew.

The battle had been hard on Cleburne's division. The division lost 1388 men, which exceeded total casualties since the beginning of the campaign in May. Thirty of forty field officers were killed or wounded, including 8 of 15 regimental commanders. James A Smith was badly wounded and turned command of his brigade over to Granbury. Lowrey lost 578 of 1000 men. Hood claimed a victory but the army could not stand many more such victories.

After three days of fury Cleburne's division was withdrawn into Atlanta. Sherman's force disappeared and Hood used the time to reorganize his army. SD Lee had arrived to take over Hood's corps on a permanent basis and Cheatham reverted to division command. Instead of replacing Walker (who had died near McPherson) Hood broke up his division and parceled out the remaining brigades. Cleburne was given Mercer's Georgia brigade, commanded by Colonel Charles Olmstead. Mercer's brigade had been in Savannah until recently and were basically green soldiers. Cleburne also did not think much of Olmstead.

By July 27 it was somewhat clear that Sherman's disappearance did not mean he was retreating, just that he was going to try to flank Atlanta from another direction. That day Cleburne moved to the west and occupied a mile and a half of trenches north of the Augusta Railroad. His 3000 men meant he had about 1 man per yard. Not much happened in this area until late August. On August 30 Hardee was summoned to Atlanta to confer with Hood and Cleburne took over control of the corps while it marched to Jonesboro. Hood told Hardee to take command of Lee's corps and use the two corps to drive the Federals back. Hardee arrived back at Jonesboro a few hours before daylight on August 31. The Federals had about 20,000 men and were well entrenched. Cleburne would get to continue to command Hardee's corps for the time being.

Hardee planned to strike the Union with two prongs, Cleburne attacking first from the south and making a right wheel, driving the Union flank north. When the moment seemed right Lee's corps would join in on Cleburne's right. Due to some confusion Lowrey, commanding Cleburne's division, thought the objective was to drive the Union across the Flint River. Granbury began the assault at 3:30 AM but instead of wheeling right he continued west and drove the Union cavalry across the river. Lowrey would claim that Granbury attacked contrary to orders but two other brigades in the division followed Granbury's example. Brown's division on Lowrey's right attacked correctly but did not fare well as they lacked support and also had an open left flank. Maney now moved to fill the gap on Brown's left but suspended the attack as he asked Cleburne about support. Hardee told Cleburne to call off the attack and while Cleburne's corps was in shambles it was not the whole reason Hardee called an end to the battle. Lee had decided not to wait for Cleburne's attack and had attacked an hour before Cleburne did. This assault was a disaster and was the primary reason Hardee called it all off. Cleburne had not improved his reputation. Some blame could be placed on the divisional commanders, especially Lowrey, but Cleburne had also not communicated a clear battle plan.

That night the Confederate fell back closer to Jonesboro. Lee's corps was sent to near Rough and Ready. The next day, September 1, they could see two Union corps bearing down on their position. For awhile it was not clear if Sherman would attack or be content to place his force between Hardee and Atlanta. At 3 PM Sherman attacked. The Union suffered severe losses, similar to Kennesaw Mountain, but they had too many men for the Confederate to deal with and eventually gained the position. Govan and nearly 600 men of his brigade (nearly the entire brigade) was captured. At dark Sherman ended the attack. If he had continued to attack he might have destroyed Hardee's corps but he had achieved his objective, Atlanta was now untenable. That night Hood abandoned Atlanta.

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.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cleburne: slave proposal

Cleburne had made the South his home but in many ways he was still an outsider. This would be clearly seen in the winter of 1863-64. That December as the army retreated from Chattanooga Cleburne was putting the finishing touches on a proposal he had been thinking about for some time. Cleburne saw that the Confederacy was losing the numbers game. In many battles the numbers of lost on each side were pretty even but the percentages were not. At some point the Union's manpower advantage would win the war. Seeing this Cleburne proposed the radical idea of enlisting slaves into the Confederate armies.

As early as April 1863 he had asked Liddell if he'd willingly give up slavery if it meant the Confederacy would win its independence and Liddell answered "willingly." That December he sought the advice of three members of his military family. The first was Captain Buck who brought up military objections, such as would they fight, who would lead them. Cleburne thought they would fight for their freedom and the freedom of their families, it was already clear that they could fight as some black regiments had performed well for the Union. As for a leader Cleburne was willing to lead them if no one else would. Cleburne next asked his chief of staff Major Calhoun Benham. Benham was appalled at the thought of black regiments and asked Cleburne for a copy of the proposal so he could prepare a rebuttal. Cleburne wanted an open discussion of the proposal and gladly accepted Benham's request. A few days after Christmas Cleburne asked Captain Thomas Key for his opinion. Key commanded a battery in Cleburne's division and also had been a newspaper editor in Helena before the war. Key thought it was a pipe dream but was not able to persuade Cleburne against it.

Cleburne then decided to gather his regimental and brigade commanders together to discuss it. They supported it pretty enthusiastically (whether some of their support was because of hero worship is nearly impossible to tell) and a clean copy of the proposal was generated for signatures. Govan, Lowrey and John H. Kelly signed as well as many regimental commanders. Polk and Granbury were not present to sign the new copy but expressed their support of the proposal, in all 14 signed the document. Cleburne now decided to take the proposal to the upper army command. He asked Hardee to gather the division and corps commanders together at Johnston's HQ on January 2.

On the night of January 2 most of the Army of Tennessee's generals met at army headquarters in Dalton, Georgia. Most of them did not know at the time that the purpose of the meeting was to hear Cleburne's proposal for using slaves in the Confederate army. Those in attendance at this meeting, besides Cleburne, were Joseph E. Johnston, who had replaced Bragg as commander of the army one week earlier, Hardee, William H.T. Walker, Alexander Stewart, Thomas Hindman, Carter Stevenson, Patton Anderson and William Bate.

After everyone had arrived Johnston asked Hardee to explain why the meeting had been called, even Johnston didn't know. Hardee then simply said that Cleburne had prepared a paper "on an important subject." Cleburne then preceded to read his proposal, about 20 pages. When he finished Hindman was the first to speak, this had been prearranged, and he expressed support for the proposal. Benham was the next and he read his rebuttal. No notes were taken so it is impossible to know what was said but from later writings we know that Bate, Anderson and Walker were strongly against it. Bate called it "hideous and objectionable" and predicted that the army would mutiny at the mere suggestion of enlisting slaves. Anderson said it was "revolting to Southern sentiment, Southern pride and Southern honor." Walker labeled the proposal treason and said that any officer advocating it should be held fully accountable.

Johnston decided that forwarding the proposal to Richmond would cause more trouble than good so he swore everyone to secrecy. Walker though decided that he needed to be the protector of Southern values and was determined that Richmond hear about this. Days later he asked Cleburne for a copy and told him his intent. Cleburne by now knew that the proposal might cause severe trouble for him as there might be others in the government who would deem this treason. A fresh copy was made for Walker, but Cleburne removed the 14 signatures and instead was the only one to sign it. Cleburne was willing to stand by his position no matter the consequences but he decided to protect his subordinates. Walker also tried to get written statements from the proposal's supporters but no one was willing to go on the record with Cleburne. They were however upset that Walker had made himself the defender of Southern values and Hindman wrote him, "I do not choose to admit any inquisitorial rights in you."

Walker at first tried to send the copy to Davis through Johnston but Johnston refused to forward it. Walker was then able to give it to a congressman who would deliver it personally to Davis. When Davis finally got the proposal he wrote to Walker and Johnston that the matter was over and that everyone was sworn to secrecy. Only Benham's copy of the proposal survived the war and it wasn't until 1888 that it saw the light of day again when it was published in a magazine.

For most part secrecy was maintained but there were rumors. Colonel James Nisbet was particularly curious and after pledging to BG Clement H Stevens that he wouldn't tell anyone else Stevens told Nisbet of the proposal. Nisbet thought it was a good idea (it seems that supporters of the proposal tended to be lower in rank, coincidence?). Stevens exploded, calling slavery the reason for the war and said, "If slavery is to be abolished then I take no more interest in our fight." To many Southerners independence without slavery was not worth the fight. That is the point Cleburne missed as an outsider as he thought that independence was worth giving up other things.

Bragg soon became Davis' official military advisor. He was still upset over the various command squabbles he had been involved in. He loved Cleburne's proposal because he thought it discredited Cleburne and his allies, many of whom had been anti-Bragg men. Bragg wrote of them, "they are agitators and should be watched." He also said "we must mark the men."

Friday, April 16, 2010

Cleburne: Chattanooga

After Chickamauga Cleburne had two brigade vacancies to fill. He picked James A Smith to replace Deshler. Smith was a 1853 West Point graduate. To replace Wood Cleburne picked a man similar to himself, Mark P Lowrey who was an Irish Protestant and had been a company commander in the early days of the war before rising to regimental command. Before the war Lowrey had been a Baptist minister. Lidell's brigade was also returned to Cleburne's division.

The army also needed two new corps commanders. Cleburne seemed the logical choice to replace DH Hill but the position instead went to Breckinridge while the other corps went to Cheatham. Breckinridge and Cheatham were the two most senior officers who had not signed the anti-Bragg petition; they were not Bragg fans just astute enough not to anger him. Cleburne did not publicly complain about the slight but mentioned to Lidell, who was a friend of Bragg, that Breckinridge was "unlucky and inspired no confidence." Lidell said that there was no one else to which Cleburne responded that surely there were other candidates and that "I would rather the command were given to you." Perhaps Cleburne hoped Liddell would say something similar about Cleburne but either Liddell didn’t feel that way or did not understand the ruse (or maybe he understood it too well). Cleburne may have hoped that Liddell would repeat this conversation to Bragg. It appears that Liddell did not tell Bragg and Cleburne began to tell Liddell less and less. That situation Liddell did pick up on and resented it, later complaining about Cleburne in his memoirs. In late October Hardee returned to the army and took over from Cheatham. Cleburne's division was soon transferred into Hardee's corps.

Near midnight on November 22 Bragg ordered Cleburne to take his division to Chickamauga Station and move to Longstreet's aid. He would also take Buckner's division, now temporarily commanded by Bushrod Johnson, along. Cleburne might have noticed that this move would remove the last two division commanders from the army that had signed the petition. By midmorning all but one of Johnson's brigades had departed when Bragg sent a note that no new units should depart, that if part had already left then the rest should follow but no new units. A little later a second courier reported that all troops should return at once. Pretty soon a third courier arrived telling Cleburne to move to Bragg's HQ at once, that he would be the army's reserve.

The next morning, November 24, Bragg had Cleburne send one brigade (Cleburne selected Polk's) to guard the railroad bridge over Chickamauga Creek. That afternoon, after Lookout Mountain fell, Bragg sent Cleburne to Tunnel Hill as Sherman could be seen over there. Cleburne arrived at about 2:30 PM and sent Smith's brigade to take Billy Goat Hill. Sherman gained it before Smith but this was not the hill Sherman really wanted and he wouldn't realize his mistake until the next day. That night Cleburne had breastworks built but sent all but two cannon to the rear. He thought Bragg would retreat but as the night dragged on he became more anxious. He sent an aide to Bragg's HQ but it wasn't until midnight that he found out that Bragg was going to stay, Breckinridge had talked him into it. Cleburne now ordered the artillery back to the front.

Hardee could tell that Cleburne would be hard pressed and so in the morning he sent Joseph Lewis' Orphan Brigade to help Cleburne. At 11 AM Sherman began the attack. During the first assault Smith asked permission to counter attack, which proved quite successful but Smith was badly wounded during it. Hiram Granbury now took command of the brigade. The second attack pierced Cleburne's lines briefly but was repulsed. Instead of falling back to their jump off points the Union dug in close to Cleburne's lines. They were able to pick off many artillerists and Granbury had to press infantry into the artillery service. Cleburne moved Swett's battery to enfilade the Union and was then able to force them back.

For the next assault Sherman committed four divisions. This attack was working quite well and Cleburne called on Alfred Cumming's Georgia Brigade for help. These three regiments plus the 2nd-15th-24th Arkansas charged down the hill at 3:30 PM and drove the Union back. At 5 PM Cleburne sent another charge down the hill but the Union was gone. Soon he received an order from Hardee that he needed to send all available troops to the center. Quickly this order became useless as the center was pierced so Cleburne took command of the three divisions in his area and formed a line to prevent the Union from rolling up the line. In the dark he withdrew all his men.

During the evening of November 25 Cleburne ordered Lowrey to attack in front of Missionary Ridge to clear the Union pickets. While the rest of the army is fleeing Cleburne is attacking, though it is only as a ruse to help the withdrawal of his men. At 10 PM that night Cleburne's force reached East Chickamauga Creek. The bridge was burned but one of Bragg's staff officers ordered Cleburne to ford the river, camp on the opposite bank and march at 4 AM for Ringgold Gap. Cleburne thought that he would lose many men if they had to cross a cold river and then sleep with little protection from the elements so he ignored this order and went into camp where he was. He was risking possible capture if the Union advanced quickly but he thought the move was in the best interests of his men.

Sometime after midnight Cleburne received an order from Bragg to hold Ringgold Gap at all costs so that the wagon trains and artillery could escape. He feared that he did not have enough men to defend the gap and that his division might be destroyed so he had the orders put in writing. The Union advance would outnumber Cleburne 4 to 1; 16,000 to 4,000. Cleburne also sent Captain Irving Buck to Bragg's HQ to get further instructions. At 2:30 AM Cleburne began crossing the river. First he built large fires on the other side so his men would have a chance to dry off and warm up, one veteran said that the fires only helped them get warm but that they appreciated that.

The gap Cleburne would defend was just wide enough for the Western & Atlantic Railroad, a wagon road and a branch of the East Chickamauga Creek. The ridge south of the gap rose abruptly while on the north side it rose much more gradually. The wagon train continued southeast from the gap toward Dalton and crossed the Chickamauga Creek three times in a short distance. These three bridges could very easily lead to the destruction of Bragg's army if Cleburne could not hold the gap.

On the south side of the gap Cleburne placed the 16th Alabama to guard the left flank. In the gap itself there were four lines of infantry with skirmishers in a patch of woods. Three regiments were also kept in reserve near the gap. Two Napoleon cannons, under the command of Lieutenant Richard Goldthwaite, were put near the mouth of the gap and were concealed by branches. Cleburne's remaining force was left at the rear of the gap with orders to watch the right flank. Soon after placing his men, about 8 AM, Cleburne could see Hooker's skirmishers advancing towards the gap. Turning around Cleburne could see, "close in rear of the ridge our immense train was still in full view, struggling through the fords of the creek and the deeply cut roads leading to Dalton, and my division, silent, but cool and ready, was the only barrier between it and the flushed and eager advance of the pursuing Federal army."

The leading Union brigade was Woods's of Osterhaus' division. The Confederates held their fire until the brigade was within 50 yards and then they let loose with cannon fire and infantry volleys. When the smoke cleared the Union survivors were racing to the rear leaving many dead and wounded behind. Williamson's brigade was then ordered to take the ridge on the Confederate right. Creighton's brigade of Geary's division was also ordered to advance on Williamson's left in hopes of turning the Confederate right flank.

On the ridge the Confederates were commanded by Major W.A. Taylor who was soon re-enforced with two companies sent by Colonel Hiram Granbury. Taylor then launched a charge down the ridge that resulted in the capture of 60-100 Federals and the 29th Missouri's colors. Creighton, meanwhile, was making steady progress towards the top. When they arrived there they meet the 1st Arkansas and 7th Texas, dispatched by General Lucius Polk just in time to beat Creighton's men there. These two regiments were enough to drive Creighton's men back down the ridge. Williamson's and Creighton's brigades reformed and assaulted again several times, Creighton was mortally wounded in this action. Geary then pulled Creighton's brigade off the ridge.

While the Confederate right was being assaulted there were also attacks made on the Confederate left and center. The attack on the left was stopped by the 16th Alabama and some other skirmishers lead by James Dulin. The attack on the center first captured some houses near Cleburne's line from which sharpshooters shot at the cannoners. Then the 13th Illinois charged the cannon but were repulsed by canister. Goldthwaite then shelled the houses until they were destroyed. Sometime between noon and 1 PM Hardee notified Cleburne that the trains were a safe distance away and he could now withdraw, which Cleburne soon did. About this same time Grant rode up and told Hooker to discontinue the attack. Cleburne had saved the Army of Tennessee from destruction.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cleburne: Kentucky campaign and Stones River

To start the Kentucky campaign Bragg gave two brigades to Kirby Smith, his best two brigades, Preston Smith and Cleburne. Cleburne reported to Kirby Smith on August 7 in Knoxville and was given command of both brigades as a division, command of Cleburne's brigade went to Hill.

Kirby Smith planned to use Stevenson's division to hold the Union at Cumberland Gap and then move into their rear with his other three divisions. Cleburne's division was the first one to march, leaving at dawn on August 14. They covered the 60 miles to Barboursville, Kentucky in 50 hours and were then on the Union supply line. Kirby Smith then abandoned the earlier plan of joining with Bragg in Tennessee and decided to march on Lexington alone.

On the afternoon of August 29 Cleburne's division was at Big Hill, south of Richmond. The Confederate cavalry was in front but soon broke under a Union cavalry attack. Cleburne repulsed this attack, capturing about 30 soldiers. That night he received orders to attack the next morning. In the morning he advanced about 1-2 miles to Mount Zion Church, six miles south of Richmond. He deployed Hill to the right of the pike with Preston Smith behind Hill. At 7:30 AM Kirby Smith arrived and decided to flank the Union with Churchill's division which was coming up. Meanwhile Cleburne's sharpshooters had been skirmishing with the artillery pretty effectively. After an hour Union General Mahlon Dickerson Manson decided to attack first and launched an attack on Cleburne's right flank. Cleburne decided that to do this the Union must have weakened their center so instead of responding to the attack by reinforcing the point of contact he launched an attack of his own on the Union center. He brought Preston Smith up to hold the right while he lead Hill forward. As he passed down the line he saw his friend Lucius Polk being taken to the rear. He stopped to see if Polk was okay and Polk responded that he was only slightly wounded. Cleburne started to reply but a bullet pierced his left cheek, knocked out two teeth and exited through his open mouth, he would later joke that he spat the bullet out. The swelling and bleeding soon prevented him from speaking so he turned command over to Preston Smith, the battle was mostly over when he did this. It ended up being the most complete Confederate victory of the war; 4300 Union soldiers were captured including General Manson. Among the captured supplies were many pair of blue pants which Cleburne's division was soon wearing.

Kirby Smith's part of active campaigning in Kentucky was nearly over, which gave Cleburne some time to heal. Eating and speaking were difficult. Shaving was also difficult and he soon sported a beard, which he kept after the wound completely healed. It also happened to cover the scar quite nicely. In late September Preston Smith and Cleburne's brigades were returned to Bragg's army and Cleburne returned to brigade command. On September 23 he rejoined his brigade at Shelbyville. Bragg ordered him to hold Shelbyville and if pressed to retreat towards Frankfort. On October 1 he retreated towards Frankfort as the Union advanced to within 5 miles of his position. The next day he received orders to join Polk's move towards Harrodsburg, where he would be able to rejoin Hardee's corps (would become part of Buckner's division).

October 8 found Cleburne at Perryville. At this time his brigade numbered about 1000 men, the 13-15 Arkansas was down to 200. At noon he was ordered to support Johnson's brigade northwest of town. Buckner formed his division about 2 PM in column, Johnson in front, then Cleburne and St. John Liddell in the rear. To the right was Cheatham's division and on the left was Patton Anderson. Johnson soon advanced and Cleburne was held in reserve until 4 PM. When Cleburne advanced he found Johnson in a creek bed, Johnson expressed determination to advance again but his men were out of ammunition. Cleburne would attack alone.

Cleburne noticed that the Union line was a bit back from the crest and could not shoot at his advancing men. He put a skirmish line with the colors forward of the main line by about 10 paces. When they crested the hill that line would take the brunt of the fire and Cleburne's brigade could then rush upon the Union before they could reload. This charge succeeded and drove the Union back. After driving them from this position he crossed the Mackville road and stopped in a cornfield. A battery on his left started to enfilade this position, wounding Cleburne in the leg (foot) and killing his horse. Cleburne then advanced on this battery and drove it from the field, ending up 75 yards from the new Union line, with both flanks exposed. Rather than retreat his 800 men held on here resisting counter attacks until Liddell's brigade came up near dusk.

At one point in the fight Confederate artillery had fired on Cleburne's brigade mistaking the blue pants for a Union line. It took a little convincing but the Confederate artillery did stop the bombardment. Symonds says that Cleburne demonstrated more courage than judgment during the campaign but it seems to me that he did use very good judgment at Richmond and Perryville. Cleburne blamed Bragg for the outcome of the campaign.

The army soon retreated to Knoxville, then to Chattanooga and finally to Murfreesboro. During the army reorganization Buckner was transferred to Mobile, opening up a division command in Hardee's corps. Buckner suggested Cleburne and Hardee readily agreed. It was a slightly odd promotion in that Sterling Wood and Bushrod Johnson were both his seniors within the division. Johnson and Wood had performed well in Kentucky; Johnson was also a West Point graduate; and both were native southerners. Cleburne did get the promotion to division command and his promotion to major general became official on December 12. His division consisted of four brigades; Wood, Johnson, Liddell and his old brigade, now under Lucius Polk. It does not appear that Wood or Johnson were upset about Cleburne being promoted over them.

He received other good news that winter. Sometime in November his youngest half brother, Kit, came down from Cincinnati. It is not clear if Pat refused him a position on his staff or if Kit never asked. In any event Kit decided to join Morgan's cavalry and make a name for himself.

Stones River

The night before the attack Cleburne received his orders. His and McCown's divisions would lead the assault, supported by Polk's two divisions. That night his men crossed the cold Stones River and aligned for the attack by using the distant light from Cheatham's division's camps. Cleburne's men did not light any fires of their own so as to not reveal their location. The attack was to be made at dawn, which Cleburne estimated would be at 5 AM. At 4:30 AM he roused his command and arranged his division from left to right as Liddell, Johnson and Polk. Wood was placed in reserve behind Polk. When 5 AM came it wasn't light yet but Hardee sent Cleburne forward anyway. He was to follow McCown but McCown went too far to the left and Cleburne was unable to follow him. Eventually McCown got things back together and came up on Liddell's left.

Cleburne's men were able to knock through line after line and by 9 AM had reached the Wilkinson Turnpike. About this time they had advanced past Cheatham on their right and started to receive enfilading fire on their right. A half hour later the attack got rolling again, partly because McCown and Cleburne were now side by side. Together they presented a 10 brigade front which overlapped the Union right by a half mile. But now there were no Confederate reserves if the attack should falter.

Near the Nashville Pike Cleburne encountered the fifth Federal line. Around 3 PM they cracked this line and briefly held the turnpike, Rosecrans' line of retreat. A fresh Union line came up and drove Cleburne back from the turnpike. Cleburne wanted to attack again but wasn't sure if it was possible. He asked Johnson for advice and he replied that an attack would be "very hazardous." Then Cleburne asked Hardee if he should attack. Hardee knew that if Cleburne was having doubts then it was unwise to attack so he ordered Cleburne to hold his ground.

The next day Bragg ordered Cleburne to make a reconnaissance. Cleburne sent Liddell's brigade in but they soon needed help so he sent Wood in too. By the time Wood got there though Liddell had retreated and Wood found himself outgunned. The fighting cost 100 men from the division. The rest of the day was spent waiting for more orders. The third day, when the fighting kicked up in full force on the Confederate right, Cleburne's brigade saw no combat. On the morning of January 2nd Bragg held a conference and decided to retreat. That afternoon he held another conference asking if the army could stay 24 more hours to bring off the wounded. Cleburne said that he could hold for 24 more hours but most of the other generals said no and so the original plan of retreat remained.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cleburne: enlistment thru Corinth

In 1860 Cleburne formed a militia company in Helena that was more a social organization than military. He was elected captain of this company, the Yell Rifles. After the firing on Sumter he took his company to a training camp north of Memphis. Companies were combined and he was elected colonel of the newly formed 1st Arkansas. In Little Rock the state government appointed two generals to handle Arkansas troops, one for the eastern part of state and one for the western part. Thomas Bradley proved to be a poor general and after a disastrous scouting expedition Cleburne placed Bradley under virtual arrest (there was a guard around the general's tent and Cleburne refused to accept any orders from him). Cleburne allowed Bradley to leave the camp if he resigned, which he did and then went to Little Rock to seek a court martial against Cleburne. Bradley though had second thoughts, figuring the court martial would expose his own short comings and so instead turned the whole matter over to Gideon Pillow. Pillow did not want the headache and let the whole matter end quietly.

Jefferson Davis soon put a national commander into Arkansas, William Hardee. Hardee knew of the Bradley situation and so went to the governor first. The governor agreed to have Hardee in command if he would allow the Arkansas troops to vote whether they wanted to be transferred into national service or to serve as home guard only. Hardee reluctantly agreed. Cleburne liked Hardee right from the start and campaigned hard for the men to accept the transfer. 1800 of 3000 men in the camp voted for the transfer but 8 of Cleburne's 10 companies agreed to it. In June the camp was moved to a spot near the Missouri border on the Black River.

While a hard commander Cleburne also cared for his men's well being and came to be liked and respected. He was not just a commander but a leader.

After Polk broke Kentucky's neutrality Albert Sidney Johnston ordered Hardee's force to reinforce Bowling Green. They arrived there in October and Johnston soon made Hardee a division commander, Buckner was the other division commander. Hardee nominated Cleburne, Hindman and RG Shaver to command his three brigades. Cleburne's brigade consisted of the 1st Arkansas, 5th Arkansas, 6th Mississippi and 5th Tennessee.

On February 7, Johnston and Beauregard decided to abandon Bowling Green. March 4, Cleburne received official notification of promotion to brigadier general.


At Shiloh Cleburne commanded a brigade of six regiments and a battery. Three of his regiments had served with him previously; the 1st Arkansas had been redesignated the 15th Arkansas and the 5th Tennessee had also been redesignated the 35th Tennessee, while the 6th Mississippi remained. Cleburne also gained Bate's 2nd Tennessee, 23rd Tennessee, 24th Tennessee and Trigg's Battery. His brigade was one of three brigades in Hardee's "corps". The other two brigades, RG Shaver and Sterling Wood, were under the command of Cleburne's old friend Hindman.

On the march to Shiloh Cleburne's was the first brigade to leave Corinth, starting out about noon on April 3. That evening he took a side road to be near a spring but left no one in his rear to inform anyone else. When he returned to the main road in the morning he found it blocked by Polk's corps. Polk moved aside so Cleburne could pass but much time was lost in this enterprise. Luckily the entire army was behind schedule so Cleburne's problems were not too glaring. By dawn of April 5 Cleburne (and Hardee) were in position but Bragg and Polk were not. Cleburne formed Hardee's left flank and Bate's 2nd Tennessee was the extreme left of the army. On April 5 they had a small skirmish with a Union cavalry patrol, even fired off some artillery, but the Union high command ignored all signs of the Confederate advance.

In the early morning of April 6 Cleburne's attack took him into the swamp along Shiloh branch. The swamp formed a wedge in his lines sending the 6th Mississippi and 23rd Tennessee to the right and the rest of the brigade to the left. Initially he stayed with his right regiments but when their assault sputtered he detoured around the swamp to find the rest of the brigade. In the meantime they had been torn to tatters. Seeing he could do little there he went back around the swamp to his right regiments. While they were vastly depleted he did order another attack which finally pushed the Ohio troops out of the way. This contingent was so depleted that he ordered them to the rear for rest. On his way back to the left he received orders from Hardee (or perhaps saw Hardee directly) to go to the rear and round up stragglers from the captured camps. After a few hours of this proved useless he went off to find his other regiments. The 24th and 35th Tennessee were in the best condition and so he attacked with them and was able to drive the Union back, though this retreat was mostly due to other Union retreats along the line. It appears that at dusk Cleburne was near Cloud Field on the left of the Confederate advance.

For the second day only 800 of 2700 men answered roll call. It is not clear where he fought but appears that he was near the Davis Wheatfield. Late in the day Bragg ordered him to attack, an attack he thought was foolhardy but did anyway. The results were disastrous and he blamed Bragg for the loss, not the last time he would blame Bragg for the army's woes. As he left the field that day only 58 men of his brigade were with him. Nearly every officer in the brigade over the rank of captain was dead or wounded. In hindsight he should have given temporary command of his two right regiments to Hindman on the first day. Hindman would then have been able to coordinate their attacks and perhaps broken that Union line earlier. He could then have devoted all his focus to his other four regiments and perhaps done better with them. His attacks, three frontal charges, lacked creativity but he was hampered by terrain.

When the losses were counted later, after stragglers had reappeared, his losses in killed, wounded and captured amounted to 1043 of 2750, 38%. The 6th Mississippi lost 300 of 425 men, the fourth highest percentage loss by any unit in the entire war. The 15th Arkansas was so depleted that they were consolidated with the 13th Arkansas. Lucius Polk was elected the lieutenant colonel of the 13-15 Arkansas. Polk was a former member of the Yell Rifles, a friend of Cleburne's and also nephew of corps commander Leonidas Polk, the bishop. The commanders of the 2nd Tennessee, William Bate, and 35th Tennessee, Benjamin Hill, were wounded and would return to command. Other vacancies were filled by elections.


During April Cleburne decided to have shooting contests and pick the 5 best shots in each company to create sharp shooter companies. In his unique command style he went to each regiment to explain his idea to the men before implementing it. He wasn't shying away from charges he just wanted to better the odds before a charge, especially when it came to dealing with artillery.

While in Corinth he had only one occasion when he met the enemy, May 28 at Farmington. They were out on a patrol when the 35th Tennessee (with Cleburne) ran into a Union division. He rode off to get support and found the 24th Tennessee blocked by a small creek. He chewed out Colonel RD Allison and got the regiment in position but as soon as he left them they ran. He then found the 2nd Tennessee and 48th Tennessee and got them into position but orders then arrived from Hardee reminding him that since he was not to bring on an engagement that he should now withdraw. Afterwards he relieved Allison of command and placed Major Hugh Bratton in command. That night Beauregard decided to evacuate Corinth (the decision had nothing to do with Cleburne's engagement). During the night of May 29-30 the Confederates left Corinth. First they went to Baldwin for a week and then to Tupelo. On June 14 Beauregard took a leave of absence and Bragg took command, but Davis soon made the command change permanent.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cleburne: before the war

I ended up catching strep last week so I was unable to make the presentation at the Rocky Mountain Civil War Round Table meeting on last Thursday. I've been moved to May but I'm not 100% positive I can attend that night either, and I think that even if I do I'll do a brand new presentation. The Cleburne presentation was chosen because I could do it last minute but given a month lead time I have another topic I'd like to do and it'd be fresh. So I've decided to post my old Cleburne presentation here over the next few days (so its not one giant post).

When one thinks of Pat Cleburne they probably think of his battle accomplishments. They might know of his slave enlistment proposal and how this damaged his chances at promotion. He was not perfect in battle, as few men could ever claim to be. He made his mistakes and usually learned from them. As far as his slave enlistment proposal is concerned it did damage his reputation but there were other things that kept him from promotions. I regret that this presentation will be mostly a recap of Cleburne's battles because he was a private person and not much about his person life is known.

Before the Civil War:

Pat Cleburne was born March 16, 1828 (have seen some sources claiming 17 March). His father was a doctor and Pat grew up as part of the upper middle class in Ireland. His mother died in the fall of 1829 leaving four children; William age 4, Anne age 3, Patrick 19 months and infant Joseph. His father soon hired a live in housekeeper and nanny who in December 1830 became his new wife. They would have one daughter and three sons over the next 11 years. Isabel was the only mother Pat ever knew. In the summer of 1842 his father died and Pat dropped out of the local boarding school (that also did some military drills) and became an apprentice to a colleague of his father so that he would not be a financial encumbrance to his family.

Over the next two years Pat twice applied for admission to Apothecaries Hall and was rejected. As money became tight due to the potato famine of 1845 Pat was let go as an apprentice. In Feb 1846 he traveled to Apothecaries Hall in hope that a personal visit would work better than a letter. He was rejected again and so joined the army. He joined the 41st Foot which was to be soon sent back to India but the regiment stayed in Ireland as a police force as the famine worsened. Two years later he was appointed to corporal but soon lost his stripes when he failed an inspection. In 1849 the family decided to go to America and Pat volunteered to go first as a scout. He had recently inherited 20 pounds as his birth mother's dowry and was now able to buy a discharge. In July 1849 he was again promoted to corporal but in September 1849 he purchased his discharge.

William, Anne, Joseph and Pat took passage to America in private cabins. Their first stop was in New Orleans (on Christmas Day), then to Cincinnati after which the family separated. Joseph moved to Indiana, William to Milwaukee, Anne was married in Cincinnati and Pat also stayed in Cincinnati.

Pat became a drug store clerk but the next spring he got a job prospect in Helena, Arkansas. The job wasn't his when he left Cincinnati but at his interview he was offered the job. He would manage a drug store for two doctors, Nash and Grant. He was allowed to live above the drugstore with Nash as a roommate and was also paid $50 a month. After a year Nash got married and Cleburne moved in with him as a boarder. In December 1851 Grant decided to sell his share of the store and Cleburne was able to buy him out. In 1852 Cleburne joined the Masons, sponsored by Nash, and quickly became a leader of the lodge. Nash and Cleburne became good friends, Nash helped Cleburne with high society and Cleburne helped Nash in fights. Cleburne had little contact with alcohol in Ireland but once in America found out that he was an angry and mean drunk and so became a teetotaler.

In the winter of 1853 Cleburne decided to move up in Helena society. The standard way to do that was to buy a cotton plantation and slaves but he instead decided to become a lawyer. It does not appear that he reached this decision because of a distaste for slavery but that he just thought he could advance faster and farther as a lawyer. As a frontier state there were many legal fights over land ownership so this was a good choice. In April 1854 he sold off his share of the store and used the money to live off of while he studied for the bar. He made $3000 from the sale and he figured he could live off that for two years which was how long he thought it would take to join the bar.

In the summer of 1854 Cleburne meet Thomas Hindman who he'd have a connection with the rest of his life. Hindman was Cleburne's opposite in nearly every way but they became fast friends. During 1854 the Whig party split over the Kansas-Nebraska act. Cleburne was a Whig but mostly because his friends were Whigs and the best people in Helena tended to be Whigs. In Arkansas former Whigs joined the Know Nothing Party (anti-immigrant party) which pushed Cleburne into the Democratic Party. Hindman happened to be the leader of the Democrats in Helena. In September 1855 Cleburne's social reputation increased when he and Hindman volunteered to stay behind to help doctors when a Yellow Fever epidemic swept Helena. In January 1856 he was accepted to the bar. That spring he and Hindman bought a local newspaper, the Democratic Star and renamed it the States Right Democrat.

Like Nash, Hindman seemed to attract violence. On May 24, 1856 Hindman convinced Cleburne to be his backup when Hindman confronted a rival politician. On the way to a hotel that this man was believed to be staying at the two groups met on the street. A shoot out began, Hindman was wounded and Cleburne was severely wounded, though he did kill one of the assailants. A grand jury later cleared Hindman and Cleburne and their social standing increased.

After the 1856 elections went favorably Cleburne and Hindman ceased publication of their newspaper. Hindman campaigned for Breckinridge in the 1860 election (Bell was the other candidate in Arkansas). Breckinridge won the state. During 1856 the rest of Cleburne's family came over from Ireland and settled in Kentucky. In 1860 the scattered elements of the Cleburne family mirrored the opinions of their states. In January 1861 Pat wrote half brother Robert in Kentucky, "I am with Arkansas in weal or woe."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


This Thursday I'll be giving a presentation on Patrick Cleburne at the Rocky Mountain Civil War Round Table. I'm filling in last minute for another presenter who cannot make it. I gave this presentation about five years ago so hopefully people won't be upset that its a repeat. But I'll change a few things, alter the focus a bit from the first time. I think Cleburne is a fascinating character. So if you're in the area come on by and catch my presentation.