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STONEWALL OF THE WEST by Craig L. Symonds

STONEWALL OF THE WEST

Patrick Cleburne and the Civil War

By Craig L. Symonds

Pub Date: April 8th, 1997
ISBN: 0-7006-0820-6
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas

 The heroic story of an outstanding divisional commander for the Confederacy in the Army of Tennessee. Symonds (History/US Naval Academy; Joseph E. Johnson: A Civil War Biography, 1992) combines well researched narrative history and biography with a highly readable style in exploring the life of this exceptional man. Cleburne was, as the narrative demonstrates, reliable, cool, and reserved under extreme hardship but passionate in battle. Leaving his starving homeland, Ireland, in the bitter year of 1849 after service in the British Army, Cleburne emigrated to the US and became a hard-working member of the frontier community in Helena, Ark. When the Civil War started, this accidental Southerner joined the Confederate forces and soon distinguished himself as an inspirational leader, displaying both courage and judgment. Symonds describes his gallantry in such battles as Shiloh, Chickamauga, and Kenasaw Mountain. Even though Jefferson Davis called him ``the Stonewall of the West,'' and Robert E. Lee described him as a ``meteor shining from a clouded sky,'' Cleburne, being foreign-born and an outspoken critic of ineffective officers (including his own commander), was often passed over for promotion. He also stirred controversy when he proposed abolishing slavery and enlisting ex-slaves in the army. Despite his disappointments, he achieved a superb record as an innovative division commander and was faithful to the Southern cause. After the capture of Atlanta, though the war had clearly been lost, the army's new commander fought on, rashly expending lives. Cleburne, though aware of the likely outcome, stayed with his troops and was killed at the Battle of Franklin at the age of 36. A fine addition to Civil War literature and a deserved tribute to a remarkable career. (20 photos, 11 maps) (History Book Club main selection)