Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne, Confederate Paladin, Part 2

A BGES Civil War Field University Program

With Lee White

June 28-30, 2024; from Chattanooga, TN

The study of the Civil War is largely battles and personalities. The major battles and frontline characters get all the ink; however, leadership is best examined at the tip of the spear, where men in combat are led by men of intrinsic and or learned character. A select group of lower-level officers, young men who rose to prominence in the war and become legends. One such man was 33-year-old Patrick Cleburne, an Irish immigrant, and an Arkansas lawyer whose battlefield legend creates one of the great “What if?’ threads” of the American Civil War—What if he had been given more responsibility?

Cleburne has a following and several excellent books and essays written about him, but, we will contextualize his legend by examining those battles from late 1863 until his heroic death at Franklin on November 30, 1864. Set in the wake of our excellent program on the Battle of Chickamauga—we started last October with Cleburne in the subsequent Chattanooga Campaign and conduct it through the early part of the Atlanta Campaign—now we conclude it with the key battles for Atlanta and Hood’s Drive into Tennessee.


Friday, June 28, 2024

We will assemble at the Fairfield Inn and Suites at 6 PM to meet and greet your fellow students. Lee White will meet you to review the first half of the program and then overview this culminating program. White will address why Cleburne so interests him and the background that brought this Irishman to the hills and hollows around Chattanooga.

We will break so you can get your dinner.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Depart the hotel at 8:00AM, we are headed for Atlanta. Sherman’s skillful use of his 3 armies to maneuver for advantage caused General Johnston to establish a line of defenses along Brushy and Lost Mountains through Cobb County north of Atlanta. Cleburne’s Division was placed in line along Mud Creek east of Lost Mountain. In less than a month, Sherman would decide to offer battle and in an ill-advised frontal assault was beaten back in the bloodiest engagement of the campaign thus far.

Cleburne’s Division, with Granbury’s, Govan’s, Lowrey’s, Polk’s, Vaughn’s and Maney’s Brigades were central to the very costly fighting at Cheatham’s Hill. This fight of Hardee’s Corps was central to the Confederate’s tactical success in the battle; however, it had little overall impact on Sherman’s relentless advance and when Johnston was unable to arrest the crossing of the Chattahoochee River he was replaced by the young but aggressive John Bell Hood.

After lunch, we will venture into the urban jungle which is Atlanta where we will visit and discuss the progression of the Battle of Atlanta, made famous by the Atlanta Cyclorama, Hood expected hard fighting and Cleburne’s men gave that to him breaking through the Federal line near the end of the battle. Although unable to sustain themselves, Cleburne’s yet again proved him to be a dependable anchor for offensive and defensive operations.

Our day finishes with the Federal move to cut the last roads out of Atlanta and the battle of Jonesboro. Hardee commanding a two corps attack force moved to protect the Western and Atlanta Railroad. Cleburne was tapped as temporary commander of Hardee’s Corps but when a miscommunication occurred between new Corps Commander Stephen D. Lee, Lee’s force was routed before Cleburne could fully engage. The defeat spelled the end of the Atlanta Campaign. We will return to Chattanooga.

reset at Dalton. We will finish the day at Cleburne’s encampment and winter quarters over the 1863-1864 seasonal change. We are then back to the hotel.

Lunch is included but dinner is on your own.

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Having been to the south of Atlanta today we turn to the Northwest and go nearly to Nashville. Departing at 8:00 AM, we will discuss the maneuvers after Atlanta fell and the initiation of the 1864 Tennessee Campaign. The story is romantically tragic and befitting a man of Cleburne’s now well-established reputation.

Hood was late in maneuvering and by the time he reached a point where the battles would be joined he would find himself embroiled in the controversy surrounding Hood’s command. We will arrive in the vicinity of Columbia where Hood had skillfully maneuvered to advantage to cut of XXV Corps Commander, John Schofield’s retreating command. With the steady and solid General George Thomas in Command at Nashville, Hood’s pursuit demanded he fence in and destroy Schofield before Thomas could aid him.

Hood got in front of Schofield at Spring Hill but before the Franklin Turnpike was secured Confederate forces under new Corps Commander, Benjamin Cheatham (who replaced William Hardee) encamped for the night. When they awoke the next day they discovered that Schofield had slipped the noose and was headed north towards Nashville. The Federals would be required to cross the Harpeth River before they were safely under the protection of Thomas.

We will finish the day at Franklin where Cleburne famously said let us die like men. This last hurrah for the Confederacy would end before Cleburne saw another sunrise. We will examine his central role in the ill-fated frontal assault on the strong Federal trenches. at Franklin and will close the day witnessing his mangled corpse laid out with other fallen Confederate leaders on the porch at Carnton Plantation.

We will then make an ironically long and sobering ride back to Chattanooga, perhaps not dissimilar to Hood’s lonely and disastrous retreat after Nashville to Alabama. Along the way we will have the opportunity to reflect on Cleburne, his career, his wisdom, his politics and what might have been and would it have made a difference? Lunch is included but you may want to stay the night and depart Monday morning—of course you can leave after we return.

A great study of one of the Civil War’s great figures. Thanks for coming.

About the Faculty

Lee White is one of two outstanding interpreters working at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Lee has found his own niche in a society of younger Revolutionary and Civil War historians known as The Emerging Civil War and The Emerging Revolutionary War. He has published several books in that fine organization’s series of lengthy monographs under the name William Lee White, check them out in the recommended reading section.

If you have been out on a tour with Lee you will go again. If you haven’t you owe it to yourself.

Hotel Information

This program will be at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, 40 Starview Lane I-24 and Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, TN, The rate is $149 per night plus tax–call in to 423-664-4222. Ask for the Blue and Gray Education Society Stonewall of the West Part 2 rate. You may also directly book from the following hot link.

This is a busy time in Chattanooga and the block goes away on May 29th leaving you vulnerable to paying rack rates or staying elsewhere. The airport is very small.


The servicing airport is Chattanooga (CHA). Nashville (BNA) and Atlanta (ATL) require rental cars but may be more affordable for some despite the need to drive a rental car to and from. For people driving in, the hotel is convenient to Interstate 75.

Recommended Reading

You will be provided with maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program.


Registration includes two lunches, all paid admissions, maps, the academic program, support of a professional historian, tour director and transportation by passenger bus or van. We will also provide snacks and bottled water.

Register for this program using a secure PayPal link

Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne, Confederate Paladin, Part 2

Questions? Need more information? Please contact us.