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Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne and the Civil War (Modern War Studies) [Paperback]

Craig L. Symonds
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

31 Oct 1998 Modern War Studies
To Jefferson Davis, he was the "Stonewall of the West"; to Robert E. Lee he was "a meteor shining from a clouded sky"; and to Braxton Bragg, he was an officer "ever alive to a success." He was Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, one of the greatest of all Confederate field commanders. In Stonewall of the West, Craig Symonds offers the first full-scale critical biography of this compelling figure. He explores all the sources of Cleburne's commitment to the Southern cause, his growth as a combat leader from Shiloh to Chickamauga, and his emergence as one of the Confederacy's most effective field commanders at Missionary Ridge, Ringgold Gap, and Pickett's Mill. In addition, Symonds unravels the "mystery" of Spring Hill and recounts Cleburne's dramatic and untimely death (at the age of 36) at Franklin, Tennessee, where he charged the enemy line on foot after having had two horses shot from under him. Symonds also explores Cleburne's role in the complicated personal politics of the Army of Tennessee, as well as his astonishing proposal that the decimated Confederate ranks be filled by ending a slavery and arming blacks against the Union.

Product details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; New edition edition (31 Oct 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700609342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700609345
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 774,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent biography 10 Nov 1999
I do not quite know where to start when talking about this book, it quite simply the best biography I have ever read. It is a splendid story of a great man and it's a tale that needs to be told.
The story of Cleburne's four years in the service of the Confedracy's 'Army of Tennessee' is compelling enough but so is the story of how he came to be in America at all. A Protestant (not a Catholic, as stated by another reviewer on this page) from Southern Ireland, he left to seek a better life and he found it. He gained friends and influence through his determined efforts and it was this strength of character which made him so successful once the war began.
Cleburne is rightly described as the "Stonewall of the West", for some of his actions were every bit as worthy as Jackson's in the east. History though has not seen fit to remember him as well and accord him his due status. It's to this book's credit that the real story of Cleburne is told, and told so well.
I enjoyed Symonds' style. The book is quick-paced without being sparse and all the facts are there without ever getting bogged down in too much needless detail. The battle accounts are handled well and you are always left with a clear idea of what is happening and where.
I cannot commend this book highly enough, it is a superb read from start to finish. Read it and you will be left with an appreciation of the author's competency, but, most importantly, you will read a compelling story of a truly great Civil War legend. The sooner Patrick Cleburne is universally recognised for his brilliance and given a proper place in the history books the better as far as I'm concerned!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This biography was an enjoyable read on several levels. First of all, if you are a Civil War or Confederate history buff, this book describes the military training, battles and other maneuvers which took place during that conflict. If you are simply someone who enjoys a good work of history or a sensitive, well-crafted biography, then this book is also for you. (I consider myself more in the latter category, at least initially.)
"Stonewall of the West" gives the reader a finely detailed portrait of Patrick Cleyburne, the conditions he fled in 1840s Ireland, the adjustments he had to make on the American frontier, his attempts at assimilation into Southern society and his tragic and ultimately unconsummated romance with a local Southern belle. I found it particularly poignant to learn that at least one of Cleburne's siblings settled "upriver" from him in Union territory and ended up supporting the opposite side during the Civil War. Cleburne's story as a soldier and commander has perhaps been overlooked because, for Southerners, he was not "really one of us" insofar as he was Irish. In addition, Cleburne's moral courage in proposing that the slaves be freed, organized into military units and sent into battle won him many enemies in the South even though some time later Jefferson Davis and other Southern leaders, in a fit of desperation late in the war, would propose precisely them same thing. Cleburne was never really forgiven for "breaking ranks" and making such a brilliant and creative suggestion, I think. My sense from the book is that Southerners ostracized him for his independence as an outspoken commander and strategic thinker.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
These days, the publishing world is well-supplied with Civil War general biographies. Even Gideon Pillow has one! Among those Civil War generals little understood or long remembered, and unjustifiably so, has been Patrick R. Cleburne. Craig L. Symonds fixes that quite nicely with this solid, well-written biography.
Cleburne came to the U.S. from Ireland, a protestant who immigrated in a ship's cabin rather than a Catholic who came in steerage. His life in Ireland before he came here, including his service in the British Army, are detailed more than I've ever read elsewhere, and his political and private life in Arkansas are retold carefully also.

It's the war, however, that gets most of Symonds' attention. We learn how Cleburne rose in rank, where he fought in various battles, and much about the various squabbles he had with other generals, notably his army commander, Braxton Bragg. We also learn, at some length, about the famous emancipation document that Cleburne presented to the rest of the army in the winter of 1863-4, and the impact it had on the rest of the army, and his career. You get a considerable amount of respect for the quaities of the man, commander and person that he was. He actually ran map exercises on a primitive level for his brigade commanders that winter of 1863-4, among the first of their type in the world. This is an impressive and thoughtful biography, the sort of book Cleburne has long deserved and not gotten.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great intro to the army of tennesee 12 April 1999
By A Customer
After reading this book you will want to read everything you can about the confederate army of tennessee.the soldier pat cleburne emerges as a great infantry commander.he is a figure overshadowed by more colorful or higher ranking officers-he commands a divsion when killed in action at franklin tn in late 1864.the book uses cleburne as a vehicle to tell the story of the confederate officer corps its politics and professional achievements.this book opened the door for me to horn,connelly,castel,evans and cozzens. i can't wait for the opportunity to visit the battlefields of ky ,tn and ga and it started with STONEWALL OF THE WEST
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