A Meteor Shining Brightly: Essays on Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne

On Saturday, March 26, 2011, I’ll be presenting stories and songs in Cleburne, Texas at the General Pat Cleburne Birthday Party/ Scottish Festival & Heritage Celebration 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM  You can find a description of the event here:   Recently, I completed  reading A Meteor Shining Brightly: Essays on Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne, edited by Mauriel Phillips Joslyn with a foreword by Wiley Sword (Terrell House Pub).  Joslyn’s book was award Georgia Author of the Year in Creative Nonfiction and Best Biography in 1998.  The collection of essays and photographs on Cleburne is illuminating and fascinating to any student of America’s Civil War. The eleven essays reveal the story of one of the most respected and successful generals of the Confederacy, one known as “The Stonewall of the West.”  We see Cleburne from his birth and early life in Ireland, to his career in the British military, to his immigration to Arkansas, and to his final days in the Confederate Army, rising from private to Brigadier General.  It relates his heart-wrenching engagement to Susan Tarleton from Mobile, and describes numerous anecdotes that illustrate the love and respect he held from his peers and his soldiers.

I found this a touching Irishman’s story.  He was a man whose early years were spent in some of the most troubled in Ireland’s history. In America, he was a man of principle, and an early advocate of the emancipation of slaves and their use in the Army. At first, his ideas were rejected by those in power in the Confederacy, but his idea eventually won over that leadership, but it was too late in the war to make a difference.  As Wiley Sword says, “Patrick Cleburne represents an ultimate Southern hero . . .[who] did his duty, even under the maddening, frustrating circumstances of foolish orders and glaring mistakes . . . .”

Sometime ago I learned a song from Jed Marum, “The Stonewall of the West” and I often use the song in my Civil War and Arkansas History programs. (You can purchase Jed’s recording on iTunes). The song was written by Kim Feathers Caudell (unfortunately I couldn’t locate her website). I’ll be performing the song and sharing stories of Cleburne at the festival this weekend and for the Cleburne ISD on Friday.  As the town was named in honor of Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne, under whom many of the men had fought during the Civil War, Cleburne’s story is one they should know.  If you’re anywhere near Cleburne, please come and support the festival.  The image below was borrowed from Southernmessenger.com