Monday, March 16, 2009

St. Patrick Cleburne Day

Sorry for the little play on words there. Today is Patrick R. Cleburne's 181st birthday and since it is so often listed as being tomorrow, St. Patrick's Day, I thought I would reflect a little about Memory and Patrick Cleburne. It is curious to see how his popularity has increased over the last couple of decades, without a movie or major novel to propel him into popularity. This October there will be a statue of him errected in Ringgold, GA, site of his defense of Ringgold Gap. Cleburne now rivals N.B. Forrest for popularity among Western Theater Civil War buffs and may eclipse Forrest eventually. So why? I think it has a lot to do with him being clean of the taint of slavery and white supremacy that Forrest is linked to, Cleburne never owned slaves and is even on the record saying that he "cared nothing for them", and now Cleburne's proposal to arm slaves is being blown to bigger proportions, even though it directly contradicts the notion of Black Confederates. Now, I admit I am a great admirer of Cleburne, I bought Cleburne and his Command and Pat Cleburne" Confederate General when I was a teenager and literally wore both copies out, but that actually predates the modern surge of popularity, so back to the original premise of this post, is it now that Cleburne is more appealing due to being clean? or is it a great general finally getting his due? I think a study of Cleburne and Memory may be a new project for me.


DW@CWBA said...

Have you examined it yourself or heard any thing about the quality of the new Cleburne bio published by Mercer Univ. Press ("Invisible Hero: Patrick R. Cleburne" By Bruce H. Stewart)?


Lee White said...

No, I havent seen a copy yet, although I hope to get to see a copy soon.


Anonymous said...

Lee, I think the romantic aspects of Cleburne's life give him a modern popularity. Immigrant who rises to major general, shy man who finds love at the end of his life, bold enough to make the arm the slaves proposal, heroic death at Franklin, to be buried at his chosen spot (for 5 years). This sort of stuff builds on the fact that he was a very competent division commander, if not the most competent of them, in the AOT. What is obscured is the question of why he did not rise to higher command.

Anonymous said...

I think it might be a little bit of both. I have been an admirer of Patrick Cleburne for many years. I think his bravery in battle was pretty incredible and daring. He had some of the better tactics and leadership of the generals in the Army of Tennessee and his death at Franklin when the Army of Tennessee basically died is very moving. I wish someone would do a historically accurate movie on him or at least the Army of Tennessee because they deserve it. 'Cold Mountain' was made into a movie but 'The Black Flower' by Howard Bahr about the battle of Franklin and the Army of Tennessee is a hundred times better as a novel than 'Cold Mountain'. I would like to see that as a movie. It could do true justice to the story of the Army of Tennessee.

Anonymous said...

Lee, I think PRC has a modern romantic appeal. Immigrant, successful general, controversial suggestion, shy with women, but finds love late in life, heroic death. I don't think his merit as a general has ever faded from the sight of the serious CW reader--if anything, he tends to be overrated in the sense that some wildly believe he would have defeated Grant and Sherman if he'd be in command of the AOT.

Wash Ives said...

It's gotta be the flags. The only thing that would have further enhanced PRC's legacy would have been the Florida boys serving under his direct command.
For me, I read an article about Ringgold Gap in a magazine when I was about 14 and that did it for me. Hooked me on PRC and the AOT as well.

Washy Ives

Anonymous said...

I always loved Cleburne b/c of that book A Meteor Shing Brightly, esp the essay on "Cleburne's Own" about the 15th Ark, early war.

Anonymous said...

Just looked up Meteor online, and found a review at
Is the "noted contributor William Lee White" the same as on this blog?

Lee White said...

To Washy Ives, I dont know about that, Florida troops were hard to handle if the decendents I know are any indication.

And, yes, my essay in Meteor was my first published writing outside of some hobby publications.

Anonymous said...

I live in the Texas Town named for the Beloved Gen Cleburne. I am doing research for a speech on Cleburne for his birthday next year. Growing up in around Helena Ar it is sad that more people in Eastern Arkansas don't even know who he is. IMO he was the best young Gen the AOT had other than Johnston.

Hood's Tennessee Campaign by Thomas Hays NY 1929 has some good info on Cleburne and a Blister assualt upon Hood.

MSimons said...

2010 news article