Monday, July 18, 2016

The Parrott Rifle

This is another post in a series on Civil War weaponry.

In 1860 Robert P. Parrott developed the Parrott gun at his West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, New York.  The first models were 10-, 20- and 30-pounders, but by the end of the Civil War 300-pounders were in production.  They were made of cast and wrought iron and identifiable by the reinforcing band around their breeches.  The guns were used in all theaters of the war by both armies and navies; the Confederates produced their own versions.

a 10-pounder Parrott gun -- photo taken at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitors' Center

Parrotts were extremely practical.  They could be operated and manufactured easily, but there were safety issues.  They tended to crack and burst.  In 1862, Henry J. Hunt, Chief of Artillery for the Army of the Potomac, tried to ban them from that army's inventory, and in 1889 the New York Times called on the Ordnance Bureau to ban them altogether after a series of mishaps at West Point.

Parrott's patent for his guns centered on the process of attaching the reinforcing band to the breech.  On most guns, the band was heated, slipped on the gun and allowed to cool.  Sometimes the band and tube were threaded and sometimes they were tapered, but the tube always remained stationary while the band was attached.  Parrott's method involved rotating the tube on rollers and spraying water inside to keep it cool while the hot band was slipped on.  Rotating the tube caused the band to clamp itself in place uniformly as it cooled.

Robert Parker Parrott was born in Lee, New Hampshire on October 5, 1804.  He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1824, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment.  He served as an assistant to the chief of the Ordnance Bureau and was assigned as an inspector of ordnance at the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, New York.  He eventually resigned from the army to accept a position as superintendent of the foundry.  Parrott worked here for the next 41 years, eventually becoming lessee and operator of the foundry.

Before the war the foundry manufactured all types of cannon, but during the war years, the foundry's heyday, it focused on the manufacture of Parrott guns.  Parrott also developed the Parrott shell, the Parrott sight and the Parrott fuse.  After the war, Parrott retired from the foundry, but continued to experiment with artillery projectiles and fuses until his death in 1877.

The most famous Parrott gun was the Swamp Angel, which was used by the 11th Maine to bombard Charleston, South Carolina, in 1863.  The gun fired on the city 32 times before bursting.  The gun is now a monument in Cadwallader Park in Trenton, New Jersey.  Its fame comes from the Herman Melville poem "The Swamp Angel."

Posted by Picasa  A Parrott at Point Park on Lookout Mountain

Thursday, July 14, 2016

William Crutchfield

In accordance with my previous post, I thought a few words about the ardent Unionist William Crutchfield were in order...

William "Bill" Crutchfield was born in Greenville, Tennessee, on November 16, 1824. His family moved to Chattanooga in the late 1830s, but William left home in 1840, moving first to McMinnville, Tennessee, then in 1844 to Jacksonville, Alabama, where he established a grain farm and became a captain in the local militia.

William's father, Thomas, a successful brick contractor and land speculator died in 1850, and William moved back to Chattanooga to help his younger brother, Thomas Jr., manage the estate and the large hotel their father had built, the Crutchfield House. Crutchfield was elected alderman in 1851 and again in 1854. He was instrumental in establishing the town's police and fire departments.

Although the family owned slaves, many of whom worked as cooks, housekeepers and laundry workers in the hotel, William Crutchfield, a Whig, became more and more outspoken in his opposition to secession as the war approached. Crutchfield gained regional fame and notoriety for his confrontation with Jefferson Davis as chronicled in my previous post.

Crutchfield was hardly alone in his Unionist leanings. East Tennessee was a bastion of Unionist sentiment (more on that in a later post); while most Chattanoogans leaned toward secession, Hamilton County was overwhelmingly Unionist. The attitude in the very early days of the war, especially before Tennessee finally seceded in June 1861, seemed to be live and let live. That all changed in November.

In connection with a planned Union attack from Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap into East Tennessee (which General William Tecumseh Sherman cancelled at the last minute), East Tennessee Unionists burned a series of railroad bridges throughout the region. Only five of nine targeted bridges were destroyed and they were quickly rebuilt, but the Confederate authorities came down hard on the region. Several bridge burners were executed, martial law was declared in some areas, and dozens of Unionists, including William Crutchfield, were arrested. The 7th Alabama Infantry Regiment, led by Colonel S. A. M. Wood, was sent to Chattanooga to keep the peace.

Crutchfield escaped his imprisonment and fled the area. Although he never joined the Union army he served as a scout and guide throughout the Chattanooga Campaign. In 1862, he led General James Negley to a spot opposite the town on the Tennessee River on Stringer's Ridge where he could shell the town. In 1863, he led Colonel John Wilder to the same spot. Wilder also shelled the town there, opening the Chattanooga Campaign. Crutchfield also fought at Chickamauga, assisted Generals William Hazen and John Turchin at the Battle of Brown's Ferry, and Ulysses S. Grant and George Thomas at the Battle of Missionary Ridge, and James Steedman in the post-campaign Union occupation of the town.

Phil Sheridan wrote in his memoirs that Crutchfield's "devotion to the Union cause knew no bounds." Oliver Perry Temple, in his Notable Men of Tennessee, described Crutchfield as "eccentric and peculiar beyond description. He was vehement in manner and impetuous in action. Yet, with all his violence of manner, his heart was as kind and true as ever beat in the human breast. And he was brave, too, to the verge of desperation."

In April 1864, Crutchfield was a part of Hamilton County's three-man delegation to the East Tennessee Convention in Knoxville. The convention was called to discuss Lincoln's ten percent plan in which states would be readmitted to the Union if ten percent of their prewar voting populations took the Oath of Allegiance and pledged to support emancipation. The convention quickly devolved into infighting and disbanded without accomplishing anything.

In October 1865, Crutchfield was elected alderman in Chattanooga's provisional civil government. In December, he was reelected for a full term.

In 1872, Crutchfield ran for the 3rd District seat in the U. S. House of Representatives. He edged his Democratic opponent, David Key, 10,041 to 8960. In Washington, he gained widespread attention for his eccentricities and manner of dress. A Washington Star correspondent noted that...
Since the days of Davy Crockett, Tennessee has always managed to have one mountaineer character in Congress, and Crutchfield, the latest, is said to resemble Crockett more in originality and style than any of the intervening line. He is a sunburnt, wiry little man, with foxy hair and whiskers, and though, by report, of considerable means, wears the cheapest of homespun suits, a good deal frayed at the edges, and with a pair of heavy, well-greased brogans that were the perpetual despair of the Pullman boot-blacks. He is not only a mighty hunter, like Crockett, but is moreover a shrewd business man.
That same correspondent, in the same article, used eye dialect to record a speech that Crutchfield gave, mocking his thick Southern accent.

While in Congress, Crutchfield managed to obtain a $600,000 appropriation to make improvements in the Tennessee River watercourse. He also obtained smaller amounts for the Little Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers, but the money was never spent.

Crutchfield struck up a bit of controversy when he attached an amendment to a civil rights bill "that any white lady refusing the attention of a negro, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, shall be fined for each and every offense not less than five hundred nor more than one thousand dollars, and imprisoned not more than six months." He added, "Tack on this amendment and I'll vote for the whole thing."

Crutchfield said he was testing the devotion of Ben Butler and other Republicans to the social equality of the negro, and would have twenty of the choicest beaux from his plantation at each session of Congress so that those congressmen with daughters of marriageable age could take their pick.

He was bitterly denounced by his Republican colleagues, but he said he really didn't understand what they were so upset about. He was sure that Butler and his allies thought negroes were equal to themselves. "What's sauce for the goose isn't sauce for the gander. Civil rights are very fine for southern, but won't do for northern society."

His constituents back home in Tennessee were also outraged. He did not seek reelection in 1874.

After his time in Congress, he spent most of his time on his 500-acre fruit orchard south of Chattanooga in what is now Flintstone, Georgia. He died in Chattanooga on January 24, 1890 and is interred in Chattanooga's Citizens Cemetery. His epitaph reads, "The noblest work of God, an honest man."

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Jeff Davis Stops Over in Chattanooga

William Crutchfield
One of the more interesting bits of Chattanooga Civil War lore concerns the time when Jefferson Davis almost got into a duel with a Chattanooga Unionist...

It was January 22, 1861. The Deep South states had seceded and Jefferson Davis had just given an emotional farewell to his colleagues in the Senate. He was on his way home to Mississippi by train and stopped for the night in Chattanooga. He checked into the Crutchfield House, Chattanooga's finest hotel at the time, which was operated by Thomas and William Crutchfield.

A crowd gathered in the hotel dining room, imploring Davis to speak on the issues of the day. Davis obliged, giving, according to David Key, "a short talk, very moderate in character; it had nothing in it personal or offensive in expression or manner." The gist of the speech was that Mississippi should be allowed to leave the Union in peace and that Tennessee should vote for a secession convention in its upcoming election on February 9. Davis then left the room.

Accounts vary as to whether William Crutchfield, who was a very outspoken Unionist, was asked to speak to rebut Davis's arguments or just took it upon himself. Regardless, Crutchfield jumped up on a counter and delivered a scathing speech/tirade against Davis.

He began with "Behold, your future military despot..." and went downhill from there. Crutchfield accused Davis and his ilk of deserting their seats in Congress when they were in the majority and might have prevented any legislation that might have been hostile to the institutions of the South, said that instead of Davis poking his nose into the affairs of Tennessee his time might be better spent advising his fellow Mississippians to pay their state debts, and denounced all secessionists as traitors. Tennesseans, Crutchfield said, would not be "hood winked, bamboozled and dragged into your Southern, codfish, aristocratic, tory blooded, South Carolina mobocracy."

Davis, informed as to what was going on, reentered the room while Crutchfield was still speaking and began speaking the language of the code duello, asking if Crutchfield was responsible for the insults to his honor and demanding satisfaction. Davis's supporters, of which there were many in the room, had "pistols drawn and cocked for immediate use."

Most accounts of the proceedings say that violence was averted when Thomas Crutchfield dragged his brother down from the counter and out of the hotel. An short account in Louis J. DuPre's Fagots from the Camp Fire states that John W. Vaughn, the sheriff of Monroe County, Tennessee, who was traveling with Davis, "instantly, in defence of Davis' wounded honor, broke a black bottle, snatched from the shelf of the bar-room, over Crutchfield's head. The bleeding, stunned Crutchfield was borne helpless and senseless from the scene of conflict, shedding the first blood spilled in the war."

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Iowa Reservation

I'm beginning to fill in some of the blanks on the Super Duper Chattanooga Civil War Map, and since you have to start somewhere, let's check out the Iowa Reservation.

The Iowa Reservation is the southernmost National Park Service Military Reservation on Missionary Ridge. The reservations are small plots carved out to denote important points along the ridge.

The main focal point of the Iowa Reservation is the 72-foot Iowa Monument, commemorating the Iowans who fought at the Battles of Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and Ringgold, Georgia. The units commemorated are the 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, 10th, 17th, 25th, 26th, 30th and 31st Infantry Regiments and the 1st Artillery Battery. The monument was dedicated on November 20, 1906.

The reservation also contains a small monument and markers (including one on the opposite side of West Crest Road) describing the events of November 25, 1863. General Joseph Hooker's Union army, which had captured Lookout Mountain the previous day, marched across the Tennessee Valley to attack the southern end of Missionary Ridge. They were delayed crossing Chattanooga Creek and had little effect on the overall battle.

There is also a marker denoting the Rossville Gap's position on the Chickamauga Campaign Heritage Trail, describing the events of September 21, 1863, the day after the Battle of Chickamauga. The Confederates made a feeble, unsuccessful attempt to keep the Union army from retreating into Chattanooga.

The reservation is located at the western opening of the Rossville Gap through Missionary Ridge, in Rossville, Georgia, at the intersection of Chickamauga Avenue and West Crest Road. Unlike some of the other reservations, there are actually a couple of parking spaces and benches.

In researching this post, I ran across this photo from the Library of Congress of the Iowa Monument taken in 1907, shortly after the monument's dedication, for your viewing pleasure.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Chattanooga Country

Understanding the terrain of the Chattanooga area is key to understanding the Chattanooga Campaign. In this post I'll try to explain the terrain as clearly as I can with the help of a couple of Google Maps I've put together. We'll begin our journey in Chattanooga itself.

When the Civil War began in 1861, Chattanooga was still a very young town going through its fair share of growing pains.
"The reason Chattanooga is many years younger than her sisters, the reason she lacks the old pillared homes of other towns, the tradition of 'Before the War' grandeur, is because the Cherokee Indians clung to the little place with desperate strength and courage. It was practically the last beautiful remnant of their once marvelous country." -- Zella Armstrong

Looking south across the Tn. River to Ross's Landing
Chattanooga began in a bend of the Tennessee River known as Ross's Landing. John Ross, years before he became chief of the Cherokees, settled here in 1816. He established a trading post and a swing ferry that was anchored on Maclellan Island. It was a prime location on the northern border of the Cherokee Nation, just across the river from the United States. Ross moved to Georgia in 1826 to be closer to the political center of the Cherokee Nation. He sold his land at Ross's Landing to a Nicholas Dalton Scales, a Methodist minister.

Around the time that the Cherokees were ceding the last of their lands east of the Mississippi in the Treaty of New Echota in 1835, white settlers began drifting into the area in greater numbers. The fledgling settlement experienced its first growth spurt a couple of years later when it became the major embarkation point of the Cherokees on the Trail of Tears.

Almost as soon as the Cherokees were gone, the white settlers met at the log schoolhouse and voted to change the name of the settlement to Chattanooga. They soon began selling lots and laying out city streets. Nine streets ran north and south and were mainly named after trees. The central street was named Market Street. Nine streets ran east to west and were numbered.

Through some vociferous lobbying by some of Chattanooga's most prominent citizens, the town became a major railroad hub before the beginning of the Civil War. Work began on the south end of the Western & Atlantic Railroad in Marthasville, Georgia (now Atlanta) in 1839, but proceeded slowly. Eventually Chattanooga was chosen as the northern terminus of the line, and the railroad was finally completed in 1849. Chattanoogans complained that the railroad depot, on Ninth Street (now MLK Blvd.), about a mile from the waterfront, was too far on the outskirts of town, and benefited only the Crutchfields, who operated a hotel across the street. The Western & Atlantic was soon followed by the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad (in 1854), the Memphis & Charleston Railroad (1857) and the East Tennessee & Georgia Railroad (1858), connecting Chattanooga to the rest of the United States in almost all directions.
Civil War era Chattanooga

Estimates vary, but when the war began in 1861, Chattanooga had approximately 5000 citizens. Most of the commercial activity in the town took place close to the river on Market Street. Most of the business buildings were small, one or two stories high, and unpretentious, mostly scattered on the west side of the street. The largest and fanciest building in town was the Crutchfield House, the hotel on 9th Street across from the depot. The buildings on the east side of Market Street were mostly houses. The finest houses were on the heights east of Market Street. More houses were scattered on Cameron Hill west of town.

The Crutchfield House

Cameron Hill is still a somewhat imposing presence west of downtown Chattanooga, looking like a miniature version of Lookout Mountain, but is vastly altered from its wartime appearance. In the early 1960s part of the east side of the hill was scraped away to make room for Highway 27 and the Olgiati Bridge. The southern portion of the ridgeline was also lowered and the top half of the hill removed.

There are a lot of hills, knolls and knobs east of town. To the south, the land is mostly flat all the way to the Georgia border.

This second map was created primarily for the purpose of marking the line of Missionary Ridge east of Chattanooga, but we can also use it to take a long view of the area.

The line of pins on the map shows the locations of Missionary Ridge's National Park Service Military Reservations and a couple of other points of interest. Missionary Ridge begins just south of the Tennessee River and meanders southward into Georgia, varying from a few meters to around 100 meters high, broken by just a very few gaps. The ridge presents a steep side rising from the plain on the west side, with undulating hills stretching to the east.

The Tennessee River takes a generally weird path. It's about 650 miles long, formed at the confluence of the Holston and French Broad Rivers in Knoxville, and flows mainly southwestward, looping through East Tennessee, into northern Alabama, where it changes direction, flowing northward, back through Tennessee and Kentucky, where it runs into the Ohio River. The river was much wilder before the Tennessee Valley Authority began constructing dams on it in the 1930s and 40s.

In the Chattanooga area, there are some interesting twist and turns. The river flows southwestward around a couple of bends until it runs into the north end of Lookout Mountain, where it makes a sharp turn to the north, carving out a generally foot-shaped section of land called Moccasin Bend at the northern foot of the mountain. The river then runs on both sides of Williams Island, then slices between Raccoon Mountain and Walden Ridge. After circling almost completely around Raccoon Mountain, it makes another couple of turns before diving southward into Alabama, passing through Bridgeport, the Union Army's supply base for most of the Chattanooga Campaign.
Moccasin Bend from Lookout Mountain

There is much mountainous terrain to the north and west of Chattanooga. This is respectively, the tail end of the Appalachian Mountains that dominate the eastern portion of the United States, and the Cumberland Plateau that dominates the central portion of Tennessee. Walden Ridge marks the eastern edge of the Cumberland Plateau and runs north for about 75 miles. Its highest point is Hinch Mountain, near Crossville, Tennessee. (Elevation: 929 meters)

During the siege of Chattanooga from September to November 1863, troops from the U.S. Army Signal Corps set up a post on the southernmost point of Walden Ridge. Using flags during the day and torches at night, this was virtually all the communication the besieged Union Army had with the outside world.  Their outpost was called Signal Point, and the southern part of the ridge became known as Signal Mountain.

Lookout Mountain rises up from the Tennessee River. It's a long ridge that runs through the northwest corner of Georgia into Alabama. The highest point (729 meters) is in Georgia.
Lookout Mountain

A couple of other points of interest:

The Chickamauga battlefield is on the western side of the southernmost part of Missionary Ridge.

Farther west is the city of Ringgold, Georgia, situated in a gap of Taylor Ridge. General Patrick Cleburne fought a rearguard action here on November 27, 1863, allowing Braxton Bragg's army to escape after the Battles of Chattanooga.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

William Lytle, U.S.A.

Although he is virtually unknown today, at the time of the battle William Lytle was one of the most famous men on the field at Chickamauga. A popular pastime was to hold piano recitals and poetry readings in parlors and drawing rooms. Lytle's "Antony and Cleopatra," released in 1857, was one of the most popular poems in the North and South before the war.

William Haines Lytle was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on November 2, 1826, the scion of one of the most prominent Cincinnati families. He graduated from Cincinnati College (now the University of Cincinnati) and passed the bar. He started a law firm, but soon enlisted in the 2nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, serving in the Mexican-American War, where he rose to the rank of captain.

After the war, he resumed his law practice and began a political career, winning election to the Ohio legislature as a Democrat. He ran for Lieutenant Governor in 1857, losing by just a few hundred votes. He also lost a race for his party's nomination for his district's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1860.

When the Civil War began in 1861, Lytle was serving as a major general in the Ohio state militia. Although he was a pro-states' rights Democrat, Lytle chose to defend his country and was sent to the newly-established Camp Harrison to train the Ohio volunteers who answered Lincoln's call for troops to put down the rebellion.

Through his military and political connections Lytle was commissioned as colonel of the 10th Ohio Infantry, and assigned to William Rosecrans's forces in western Virginia. He soon rose to command a brigade, but was severely wounded in the leg at the Battle of Carnifex Ferry on September 10, 1861.

After a convalescent period, Lytle briefly commanded a training camp at Bardstown, Kentucky, then was given command of a brigade in the Army of the Ohio, first under Ormsby Mitchel, then in Lovell Rousseau's division. Lytle was again severely wounded at the Battle of Perrysville on October 8, 1862, and left for dead. He did not die, but was captured by the Confederates. On November 29, 1862, while still in captivity, Lytle was promoted to brigadier general.

In February of 1863, Lytle was paroled and rejoined the army, now named the Army of the Cumberland under the command of William Rosecrans. He was given command of the 1st Brigade of the Third Division (Sheridan's) of XX Corps (McCook's).

Lytle's brigade did not reach the battlefield at Chickamauga until after dark on September 19, 1863, after marching for seventeen days straight with the corps's baggage. They were positioned near the Widow Glenn's. The next day he was ordered by Sheridan to march to the north to join George Thomas's position on the left side of the line. Lytle had barely begun the movement when Confederates broke through the Union line directly in front of him. Lytle quickly formed his men into battle lines, but they were quickly overwhelmed. Seeing that his situation was hopeless, Lytle ordered a counterattack in a vain attempt to slow the Confederate advance. To his regiment, Lytle said, "All right, men, we can die but once. This is the time and place. Let us charge." Lytle had barely begun his charge when a bullet struck him near the spine, but he stayed on his horse in the front of his men. Then, three bullets struck him almost at once. One, which struck him in the face, was mortal. He was 36.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
"Reaction to Lytle's death in Cincinnati was remarkable," Gampfer says. "It was the biggest military funeral procession in the history of the city." He is buried at Spring Grove Cemetery. Six weeks before his death, when presented (a) Maltese cross by members of his old regiment, Lytle ended a speech this way:

"That the day of ultimate triumph for the Union arms, sooner or later, will come, I do not doubt, for I have faith in the courage, the wisdom, and the justice of the people. It may not be for all of us here today to listen to the chants that greet the victor, nor to hear the brazen bells ring out the new nuptials of the States.

"But those who do survive can tell, at least, to the people, how their old comrades, whether in the skirmish or the charge ... died with their harness on, in the great war for Union and Liberty."

"Antony and Cleopatra"
I am Dying, Egypt, dying,
Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast,
And the dark Plutonian shadows
Gather on the evening blast;
Let thine arms, O Queen, enfold me,
Hush thy sobs and bow thine ear;
Listen to the great heart-secrets,
Thou, and thou alone, must hear.

Though my scarr'd and veteran legions
Bear their eagles high no more,
And my wreck'd and scatter'd galleys
Strew dark Actuim's fatal shore,
Though no glittering guards surround me,
Prompt to do their master's will,
I must perish like a Roman,
Die the great Triumvir still.

Let not Caesar's servile minions
Mock the lion thus laid low;
'Twas no foeman's arm that fell'd him,
'Twas his own that struck the blow;
His who, pillow'd on thy bosom,
Turn'd aside from glory's ray,
His who, drunk with thy caresses,
Madly threw a world away.

Should the base plebeian rabble
Dare assail my name at Rome,
Where my noble spouse, Octavia,
Weeps within her widow'd home,
Seek her; say the gods bear witness -
Altars, augurs, circling wings -
That her blood, with mine commingled,
Yet shall mount the throne of kings.

As for thee, star-eyed Egyptian,
Glorious sorceress of the Nile,
Light the path to Stygian horrors
With the splendors of thy smile.
Give the Caesar crowns and arches,
Let his brow the laurel twine;
I can scorn the Senate's triumphs,
Triumphing in love like thine.

I am dying, Egypt, dying;
Hark! the insulting foeman's cry.
They are coming! quick, my falchion,
Let me front them ere I die.
Ah! no more amid the battle
Shall my heart exulting swell;
Isis and Osiris guard thee!
Cleopatra, Rome, farewell!
At the Chickamauga battlefield, the spots where high-ranking officers died are marked by pyramids of cannonballs. Over the years, cannonballs were removed from Lytle's pyramid to replace those that were damaged by vandalism in more visible parts of the park. Lytle's pyramid was eventually reconfigured to be just a simple triangle marking the spot on what is now Lytle Hill where he died. After a fundraising campaign, Lytle's pyramid was restored and re-dedicated on the 150th anniversary of his death, September 20, 2013.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Patrick Cleburne, C.S.A.

Long, long ago, in a blog far, far away, I had every intention of doing a series of posts on the notable people involved in Chattanooga's Civil War history. I got as far as this post on Confederate General Patrick Cleburne, reposted here for your enjoyment...

"The Stonewall of the West," Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, was born on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1828 in Oven, County Cork, Ireland. His mother died when he was eighteen months old and he was an orphan at age 15 when his father, Dr. Joseph Cleburne, died of typhus contracted from a patient. He was expected to follow in his father's footsteps and pursue a career in medicine. To that end, he apprenticed with a nearby pharmacist, but twice failed the entrance exams for Trinity College of Medicine. Humiliated, he enlisted in the 41st Regiment of Foot of the British Army, expecting to be sent to India. Instead, the regiment was sent to Ireland to put down civil unrest due to the Potato Famine.

After serving three years and achieving a promotion to corporal, Cleburne purchased his discharge and emigrated to America, eventually settling in Helena, Arkansas, where he operated a drugstore and began studying law. By the start of the Civil War, he was the senior partner in the law firm of Cleburne, Scaife and Magnum and a naturalized citizen. He developed a close friendship with Thomas Hindman, a fellow lawyer and Democratic politician (and another future Confederate general.) That friendship involved Cleburne in a feud with local members of the Know-Nothing Party which culminated in a shootout in downtown Helena. Cleburne was shot in the back and the Memphis Daily Appeal reported that he had died.

As war became imminent, Cleburne sided with the South...

"I am with the South in death, in victory or defeat...I never owned a Negro and care nothing for them, but these people have been my friends and have stood up to me on all occasions. In addition to this, I believe the North is about to wage a brutal and unholy war on a people who have done them no wrong, in violation of the constitution and the fundamental principles of the government. They no longer acknowledge that all government derives its validity from the consent of the governed."

Cleburne joined a local militia company, the Yell Rifles, named in honor of General Archibald Yell, a former governor of Arkansas who died in the Mexican War. Cleburne was soon elected captain and led the company in the seizure of the U.S. Arsenal in Little Rock. After Arkansas seceded, the Yell Rifles became part of the 1st Arkansas Infantry Regiment (later the 15th Arkansas). Cleburne was elected colonel. The regiment, a part of Major General William Hardee's command, spent the fall and winter of 1861-62 near Bowling Green, Kentucky. Cleburne was given temporary command of a brigade. The post became permanent in March 1862 when he received his brigadier's commission.

Despite his British Army experience, Cleburne's first taste of combat came in April of 1862 at Shiloh. On April 6, on the far left of the Confederate line, Cleburne's brigade (along with the rest of Hardee's corps) shoved the Federals under William Sherman back to the Tennessee River. When the tide of the battle turned on the second day, Cleburne fought rearguard action while the rest of the Confederate army retreated. He was rewarded with praise and increased responsibility.

At the Battle of Richmond, during Major General E. Kirby Smith's 1862 invasion of Kentucky, Cleburne led two brigades. On August 30, while preparing for the second day's fighting, Cleburne was shot in the face. The ball entered through his open mouth and exited out his left cheek, taking several teeth with it. Unable to speak, he relinquished command to Preston Smith. Cleburne's skillful handling of his troops and the timely arrival of reinforcements were among the factors that gave Smith one of the most complete victories of the war.

At Chickamauga, Cleburne's division was called upon to attempt an attack at dusk against Richard Johnson's and Absalom Baird's divisions around Winfrey Field. In the gathering darkness the attack turned into one of the most confused incidents of the entire battle with "friendly fire" casualties outnumbering the intentional kind. The Federals eventually withdrew, leaving Cleburne in possession of the field, but the attack accomplished little except to add to the casualty lists and to leave Cleburne's division too battered to accomplish much in more important attacks the next day.

As the Battles of Chattanooga were starting, Cleburne's division was on its way toward Knoxville to join Longstreet's men there. The division was hastily recalled and posted on Bragg's far right on the north end of Missionary Ridge, the prime focus of General Ulysses S. Grant's efforts against the Confederates. Grant put William T. Sherman in charge of the operation. Sherman moved slowly to cross the Tennessee River and get in position only to realize he had taken the wrong hill. He was on Billy Goat Hill, a small hill separated from the main ridge. Although outnumbered 10 to 1, Cleburne was able to hold off Sherman's advances throughout the remainder of the Battle of Missionary Ridge, withdrawing only when Union troops climbed the ridge and broke the Confederate defenses farther south. The Union victory was total and the Confederates fled, leaving Cleburne's division to fight a rearguard action on a small ridge just east of Missionary Ridge.

After the rout, the Confederates were still in danger. They were disorganized and strung out over many miles with Joseph Hooker's army in hot pursuit. Bragg called upon Cleburne to save the army one more time while he tried to regroup in Dalton, Georgia. At Ringgold, Georgia, there was a gap in the mountains where the Western and Atlantic Railroad ran toward Atlanta. Using the Ringgold Depot as an anchor, Cleburne concealed his men and two cannon there and waited until Hooker's men entered the gap before opening fire. Hooker halted and sent troops to test Cleburne's flanks. Cleburne anticipated the move. Immediately after the initial volley, he moved men away from his center toward the flanks. When he repulsed the attacks on his flanks, Hooker withdrew to await his cannons which were a day behind. With just over 4000 men, Cleburne had stymied Hooker's 12,000.

In late December 1863, recognizing the South's dwindling manpower, Cleburne came up with a unorthodox solution. He called together the leadership of the Army of Tennessee and proposed using slaves as combat troops with the promise of emancipation upon enlistment. His proposal was met with much skepticism and, when it was finally presented to the Confederate Cabinet, they almost unanimously rejected it, but Cleburne's steady rise in the Confederate army came to a halt. He was never promoted to lieutenant general or given command of a corps.

In January 1864, General William Hardee married Mary Lewis Foreman in Demopolis, Alabama. Patrick Cleburne was his best man. There at the wedding, he met 24-year-old Susan Tarleton of Mobile. Shortly after the wedding, he called on Miss Tarleton in Mobile and asked her to marry him. He returned to the army, then arranged for a leave in late February. “I took advantage of the lull after the little storm at Dalton to come down and learn my fate from Miss Sue,” Cleburne wrote. “After keeping me in cruel suspense for six weeks she has at length consented to be mine and we are engaged.” But the war interfered with their plans and, when Cleburne left in early March, they never saw each other again.

From "Cleburne's Banner" by John Trotwood Moore...
Folded now is Cleburne's banner,
But one day it gleamed along
When the war-drum's stern hosanna
Echoed in a nation's song!
Shiloh saw it sweep from under
Like a tempest in its wrath;
Chickamauga heard its thunder,
Felt the lightning of its path.

Ringgold Gap, New Hope, and Dalton,
Peachtree Creek---Atlanta, too---
Till it kissed the bloody Harpeth,
Where it broke the ranks of blue---
Till it kissed the bloody Harpeth,
And its blue was turned to red,
When it floated from the breastworks
Over gallant Cleburne---dead!
The Harpeth River, a tributary of the Cumberland, ran through the sleepy little town of Franklin, Tennessee. On November 30, 1864, General John Bell Hood, now commanding the Confederate Army of Tennessee, launched a suicidal frontal assault across nearly two miles of open ground against John Schofield's entrenched Federals. Patrick Cleburne was killed, shot in the chest. He was 36. Cleburne was laid to rest at St. John's Church near Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee. After six years, he was disinterred and returned to Helena, Arkansas, where he was buried in Maple Hill Cemetery.

Lieutenant General William J. Hardee -- "Where this division defended, no odds broke its line; where it attacked, no numbers resisted its onslaught, save only once; and there is the grave of Cleburne."

For more information, see also:

Cleburne -- The Graphic Novel
Patrick Cleburne YouTube videos