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The most popular Confederate division commander was the “Stonewall of the West”-Patrick R. Cleburne. Appropriately, the native of County Cork was born on St. Patrick’s Day and became the only product of the Emerald Isle to become a Confederate major general. Failing the language requirements for a druggist’s degree, he served with the British 4lst Regiment of Foot as an officer for a number of years before purchasing his way out.
Emigrating to America, he became a druggist and then a highly successful property attorney.
At the head of the Yell Rifles, he served in Arkansas before being named as commander of the state unit. Transferred with William J. Hardee to central Kentucky, he was promoted to brigadier general and fought at Shiloh and during the siege of Corinth. Taking part in the Kentucky Campaign, he was wounded at both Richmond and Perryville. Promoted to major general, he commanded a division at Murfreesboro, during the Tullahoma Campaign, and at Chickamauga. A favorite of Jefferson Davis, he is credited with covering the retreat from Chattanooga after his splendid defense of Tunnel Hill.
That winter he proposed that in order to reinforce the Confederate armies slavery would have to be abolished in a “reasonable time” and blacks be recruited for military service on the promise of their freedom. The proposal was rejected by the Richmond authorities and would not be passed by the Confederate Congress until a couple of months after Cleburne’s death. Cleburne went on to command his division, and briefly the corps, through the Atlanta Campaign and then with Hood into middle Tennessee.
At the battle of Franklin on November 20, 1864 he became the senior of six Confederate generals to die in this fight, which did little more than commit mass suicide against the Union works. His death was a calamity to the Confederate cause perhaps only exceeded by the death of Stonewall Jackson. First buried near Franklin, Cleburne’s remains were later removed to Helena, Arkansas.
(Purdue, Howell and Elizabeth, Pat Cleburne, Confederate General)