Reminders of Patrick Cleburne are sprinkled all through Tennessee—on battlefields at Chattanooga, Stones River, Spring Hill, and Franklin; in Ashwood, the place his stays as soon as rested among the many oaks and magnolias; and in Nashville, the place as we speak you’ll be able to study for your self a poignant artifact related to the Irish-born basic’s loss of life.
However I start my journey on the path of “The Stonewall of the West” in aptly named Wartrace (inhabitants 700), “The Cradle of the Tennessee Strolling Horse,” and based on a city supply, a middle of paranormal exercise. My information is 73-year-old Philip Gentry, a retired AT&T challenge supervisor, Vietnam Battle Purple Coronary heart
recipient, former gold panner, and longtime curator of the city’s Tennessee Strolling Horse Nationwide Museum. (He poo-poos that ghost stuff.)
Patrick Cleburne, proper, was born in Eire in 1828, and got here to America in 1849 to remake his life. He joined the Accomplice Military as a non-public, however was quickly elected a captain within the 1st Arkansas. (Library of Congress)
Gentry lives together with his spouse, Laura, and a black Lab/German Shepherd combine named Alexander the Nice in a big home on a hill a couple of mile outdoors of city. After the Battle of Stones River, Accomplice Lt. Gen. William Hardee established his headquarters and camps at Andrew Erwin’s Beechwood Plantation—Gentry owns a 67-acre slice of what as soon as was the Southern sympathizer’s huge property.
British Military Lt. Col. Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, who visited with Hardee on the plantation, described the world in Might 1863 as “stunning nation, inexperienced, undulating, filled with magnificent bushes, principally beeches, and the surroundings was by far the best I had seen in America as but.”
The Erwins’ brick mansion, the place the household usually entertained Accomplice officers, is lengthy gone. (Gentry’s home rests on its previous footprint.) However Cleburne, who commanded a division in Braxton Bragg’s Military of Tennessee, undoubtedly roamed the grounds, my information tells me. The Irishman, after all, was all the time within the thick of the motion: “Within the advance from Tullahoma to Wartrace, and the following retirement of the military to Chattanooga,” Hardee wrote, “his division habitually shaped the vanguard prematurely and the rearguard in retreat.”
The view from Gentry’s home is spectacular on this grey, overcast morning—the encompassing hills appear to be a tan, wool blanket haphazardly tossed on the bottom. To our left, Gentry can see at night time the lights of Murfreesboro, the place Cleburne led his division towards Phil Sheridan at Stones River. A click on to the appropriate, roughly 10 miles away close to Bell Buckle, he despatched forces to fend off Federals at Liberty Hole in the course of the June 1863 Tullahoma Marketing campaign.
The monument to Patrick Cleburne is in Wartrace, Tenn. (John Banks)
Yards from a two-lane highway outdoors city, Gentry and I stand close to the Beechwood Plantation state historic marker—he researched and wrote the phrases for the signal; paid for it, too. “I’m not likely a historical past buff,” says the East Tennessee native, “however issues which are significant must be acknowledged.”
Gentry factors to a tree-lined ridge beneath his home. The stays of war-time trenches are again there, he says, and that’s the place his brother-in-law, a relic hunter, discovered Accomplice buckles. Bullets and different battle artifacts even have turned up on his property.
Gentry’s place might not be the one Wartrace spot with a Cleburne tie. The native Chamber of Commerce web site touts the historic Chockley Inn—reverse the railroad tracks—as a gathering place for the final and different Accomplice officers. Guests from as distant as Eire have come to see the rickety previous place, now the residence of a girl named Blossom. However its Cleburne connection, nicely, that deserves extra scrutiny—identical to these Wartrace ghost tales.
The view of Franklin from Winstead Hill—the jump-off level for Cleburne’s Division and hundreds extra troopers in Common John Bell Hood’s Military of Tennessee—was spectacular on November 30, 1864. Roughly two miles away, the Union Military awaited behind crude earthworks close to Fountain Carter’s home and outbuildings.
Now the scene is essentially blocked by a stand of bushes. It’s simply as nicely, as a result of the bloody plain upon which Cleburne and tons of of different Accomplice troopers superior to their deaths is clogged with fast-food eating places, retail shops, and residential neighborhoods. Progress? Meh.
On the east aspect of Columbia Pike, about 40 yards from Federal works, Cleburne—on foot after two of his mounts had been shot from underneath him—was killed by a shot to the chest. A contemporary memorial of cannonballs marks the final space of his loss of life—till a exceptional early-Twenty first century battlefield reclamation effort by preservation teams, the bottom was occupied by a pizza restaurant.
On the small Carter Home State Historic Web site guests’ middle, Cleburne fan Carrie Craddock serves as a tour information. A long time in the past, her “daddy,” a contractor, labored at a Victorian-era home on the location close to Carter’s long-gone cotton gin—scene of savage preventing.
When Craddock was a preteen, she adopted him as he tilled a backyard there: “We’d discover grapeshot left and proper,” she tells me. On one event, Craddock heard a clunk as Dad was tilling, “and there was a 12-pounder”—an artillery shell. At residence, she has a can stuffed with canister discovered on the battlefield.
“If I’d discover something as we speak [on the battlefield],” Craddock says, “I’d be squealing, as a result of I’ve a deeper appreciation for it now.”
Years in the past, Craddock’s husband was a part of a Civil Battle reenactment group that went to Eire, marched within the
St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin on Cleburne’s birthday, and even noticed the room during which the final was born in 1828 in Ovens, County Cork.
A bronze contour map on Winstead Hill exhibits how open the strategy to Franklin was in 1864.
“Watch out for the snakes,” a Civil Battle confidant warns me earlier than a go to to St. John’s Episcopal Church Cemetery in rural Ashwood, website of Cleburne’s second Tennessee burial.
The 36-year-old basic’s stays initially had been buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in close by Columbia. However a Accomplice chaplain and an officer had been aghast upon discovering Union troops had been buried in the identical part. So, Cleburne was dug up the following day and reburied in a good-looking walnut coffin behind St. John’s Church, accomplished with slave labor by the summer time of 1842. (It was utilized by Confederates as a hospital throughout fierce skirmishing within the space.)
On the march towards Franklin with the Military of Tennessee, Cleburne famously remarked about the fantastic thing about the spot, which can have reminded him of his native Eire. A comrade of the final’s later described the cemetery as “stunning because the Backyard of Eden—seemingly a match place for pure spirits to dwell, and for the haunts of angels.”
Fortunately, the grounds weren’t the hang-out of snakes—not less than on at the present time. However the drone of visitors on busy Mount Nice Pike close by is a Civil Battle buzz kill. Cleburne’s resting place was behind the attractive, brick church, amongst gravesites for Accomplice fallen.
A cannonball pyramid marks the final location of Cleburne’s loss of life on the Battle of Franklin. (John Banks)
In late April 1870, a delegation from Arkansas arrived at St. John’s Cemetery for the disinterment of the final’s physique for reburial in his adopted state. Accomplice Generals Otho Strahl and Hiram Granbury—Battle of Franklin victims, too—additionally had been interred on the cemetery earlier than in addition they had been eliminated and reburied elsewhere.
On April 28, whereas en path to Helena, Ark., Cleburne’s hometown, the group stopped on the prepare depot in Memphis for a procession via town together with his stays. Among the many enormous White turnout was Jefferson Davis, former president of the Confederacy.
“The entire historical past of the previous ten years,” wrote a newspaper reporter who was there, “ran like a flash of lightning over Mr. Davis’ expressive face. There was an depth of feeling and thought written upon the strongly marked lineaments of his eloquent options that unfolded the profoundest feelings.” The procession via Memphis for “Arkansas’ biggest soldier” was referred to as “maybe the best ever witnessed within the metropolis.”
Cleburne’s second Tennessee burial was at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ashwood, above, till his stays had been exhumed in 1870 and moved to Arkansas. (John Banks)
Like Philip Gentry, Richard White—curator of 18th- and Nineteenth-century historical past at Nashville’s Tennessee State Museum—doesn’t purchase into the “ghost stuff.” However the man in control of the museum’s wonderful Civil Battle show does really feel the load of historical past when he handles a relic comparable to Cleburne’s kepi.
“Some museum professionals are stoic about their work,” says White, obsessive about Civil Battle historical past since he was eight. “However I geek out over this.” He final dealt with Cleburne’s navy hat 4 years in the past, shortly earlier than it was displayed with different Battle of Franklin artifacts—together with Cleburne’s cane with a knob within the form of a canine head.
My first response after I noticed it? Whoa, that’s spectacular. Response No. 2: Sheesh, Cleburne certain had a small head. The blue kepi, trimmed with gold braid, is likely to be measurement 6 ¾, a 6 7⁄8 max. In 2014, the museum had the kepi—then in a dismal state—conserved. The Sons of Accomplice Veterans and The Society of the Order of the Southern Cross raised $3,800 to cowl the price.
The overall’s embroidered kepi, left, is on show at Nashville’s Tennessee State Museum. (John Banks)
How the museum acquired the hat is a type of “you gotta be kidding me” tales. At about daybreak the day after the battle, Accomplice troopers found Cleburne amid their different lifeless—he was flat on his again “as if asleep,” a veteran recalled after the battle, the kepi partially masking his eyes. His stays had been taken by wagon to the McGavock household’s Carnton Plantation mansion, accompanied by the hat in addition to the final’s watch and sword. Carrie McGavock put away the sword and kepi for safekeeping. Later, she hid each between her mattress and mattress to maintain them from Union troops.
In 1887, the McGavock household donated the kepi to the Tennessee Historic Society, whose assortment is held in belief by the state museum. As for the sword and watch, nicely, the whereabouts are unknown. White particularly want to discover the weapon. “Are you kidding?” he says.
Hold your eyes peeled. ✯
John Banks is the writer of two Civil Battle books and his well-liked Civil Battle weblog (johnbanks.blogspot.com). He lives in Nashville, Tenn.