Irish-born Confederate Major General Patrick Cleburne is not the best known Confederate General and until now there has not been any statue erected in his honor. However, the good people of Ringold, Georgia are getting ready to correct that oversight and give the brave general his well-deserved due. A new 700 pound bronze statue, with a price tag of $120,000, is to be unveiled at a small roadside park in Ringold during a festival slated for next fall.
Cleburne saw action in Ringold, which is not far from the famous battlefields of Chattanooga and Chickamauga, on the Tennessee/Georgia border. He also fought in many other battles including Kennesaw Mountain and the Battle of Atlanta. He was killed in the Battle of Franklin, Tenn., in November 1864 at age 36.
Cleburne's name has been given to several Southern places including Cleburne County, Ala., on the Georgia state line west of Atlanta. However, it has only been in recent years that Cleburne himself has become better known, even among War Between the States buffs. In the past decade or so new biographies have been written about him, and a comic book illustrator in Florida just published a graphic novel about Cleburne. A prominent Civil War historian and Cleburne biographer, Craig Symonds said, "Nowadays he is beginning to earn his due. I think the erection of this statue is reflective of that."
Many people like myself, with Confederate ancestors, are familiar with General Cleburne's famous words dated January, 1864. In a letter he proposed mass emancipation and enlistment of Black soldiers in the Confederate army. The best known lines of the letter contained a somber prediction about our Southern heritage. Cleburne spoke prophetically:
"Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late . . . It means that the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern school teachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by all the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision . . . The conqueror's policy is to divide the conquered into factions and stir up animosity among them . .."
You may learn more about the new statue by following this link to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2008/12/28/Cleburne_statue_ringgold.html
Article by J. Stephen Conn - Historic Photo from the Public Domain