Patrick Cleburne: Stonewall of the West

Patrick Cleburne: The Stonewall of the West

This post resulted from a series I’m writing, Confederate Generals: Texas Legacy. Not too far from Texomaland where I write articles for my Civil War column, TGIF Weekend Bandit, is the little town of Cleburne, Texas. Cleburne is the county seat of Johnson County. The town was named after Irish-Arkansas general, Patrick Cleburne, known as the Stonewall of the West. After the Civil War, many soldiers who had loved and served under Cleburne found themselves on the wagon roads and cattle trails in this locale and they decided to name the new town in Cleburne’s honor. You can read more about the history of the town of Cleburne here:

There are many sources of information on this general (who by the way, was one of the first to call for the enlistment of black Southerners), but perhaps the best source of information is from the Patrick Cleburne Society, whose site is here:

When the war began he enlisted with the Confederacy. His leadership and soldier abilities were quickly recognized, and he rose through the ranks from private to brigadier general.

This site also says this of Cleburne’s military ability: “Cleburne achieved lasting military fame for his defense of Tunnel Hill on Missionary Ridge in Tennessee and at the Battle of Ringgold Gap in North Georgia. His brilliant tactical command in the use of his small force, and strategic utilization of terrain remain among the most compelling in military history to study.”

Unfortunately, due to Hood’s incompetent leadership at the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee, Cleburne was one of six Southern generals to die. His last words, inscribed on a plaque at the Franklin battlefield were: “If we’re to die, let us die like men.” Cleburne died, leaving behind his recent fiancee and a testimony to the courage and character of so many Confederate leaders.

Jed Marum, who in my opinion is the best writer of Confederate songs in the country, wrote a great song about General Patrick Cleburne. It is a song I sometimes perform in my own Civil War show. It is entitled, “The Stonewall of the West.” Here are the lyrics:

He left his native Ireland
His fortune for to find
He sailed across to America
Beyond the ocean wide
As a soldier he proved bold and true
Stood tall among the rest
His name was Patrick Cleburne
The Stonewall of the west

He made his home in Arkansas
‘til eighteen sixty one
He swore allegiance to the South
When the conflict had begun
But the fury that awaited him
He scarcely could have guessed
But Cleburne was a mighty man
The Stonewall of the West

He found himself in Tennessee
In eighteen sixty four
The Confederate Army was nearly spent
And couldn’t stand much more
General Hood, only God knows why,
He put them to the test
Well, if we’re to die, let us die like men
Said the Stonewall of the West

‘Twas on that sad November day
That Cleburne met his fate
The rebels were outnumbered
And the field they could not take
As he led his men through the hail of fire
A bullet pierced his breast
And Ireland called home the soul
Of the Stonewall of the West

Many a brave man died that day
On the bloody Franklin ground
The smell of death hung in the air
The bodies lay all around
Six southern generals lost their lives
But none as sorely missed
As Cleburne, the pride of Erin
The Stonewall of the West
You can (and should) purchase Jed’s CD containing this song. The CD is entitled, Cross Over the River. You can look at it and purchase it here:

One thought on “Patrick Cleburne: Stonewall of the West

  1. You may have already read “The Widow Of The South”, by Robert Hicks. It’s about Carrie McGavock, whose home becomes the hospital for the woulded soldiers of the Battle of Franklin. It mentions the six generals laid on her porch. I’m not sure but I think one of my g-g-grandfathers fought for the South in that battle. I’ll be buying Jed Marum’s CD. Thanks for sharing the lyrics with us!

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