Once again, it’s time for one of my favorite events: The Patrick Cleburne Festival in Cleburne, Texas. Some had forced the festival to end due to Cleburne being a Confederate General. Ironically, he was one Confederate who early in the war advocated emancipation of all slaves in the South and stood opposed to it in principle.
Here are my two favorite quotes of Patrick Cleburne:
Here’s a good synopsis of the Festival and what you can expect to see this year as well. I found this in an article by the Cleburne Times Review in 2011 when the festival returned:
After an 11-year hiatus, a birthday celebration for Gen. Patrick Cleburne returns to his namesake city on Saturday.
The full day of events to honor the Irish-born Confederate general takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Buddy Stewart Park, on U.S. 67 South in Cleburne.
“I don’t know how many times people stopped me at Walmart or the grocery store and said, ‘Hey, when are we going to do the Pat Cleburne celebration again?’” said retired train conductor Melvin Burt, who is helping organize the event along with the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce.
The birthday commemoration activities include a Scottish Festival and Heritage celebration with living history camps, Civil War re-enactors, a chuck wagon cooking contest, Scottish and Irish vendors, a wild west show and Scottish games.
Activities also include a tractor show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., courtesy of the Johnson County Tractor Club, a car show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a period style fashion show at 2 p.m.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans Terry’s Texas Rangers Camp 1937 will conduct re-enactments throughout the day and the Heritage Brass Band from Dallas, a volunteer re-enactment band performing on Civil War-period instruments, will perform a concert at noon.
“[Terry’s Texas Rangers] has two cannons. They will be demonstrating firing and loading of those cannons,” Burt said. “We’ll set up command tents just like a camp where soldiers would live.”
Chamber President Cathy Marchel said that they have also received many requests from residents to bring back the birthday commemoration.
“The board this last year wanted to bring back the event. We’re excited about the opportunity to start the birthday celebration again for Cleburne,” she said. “We’re really hoping the people will come out. It’s going to be a fantastic event. The committee is very embraced in it.”
Historian Rick Pitman is also onboard to speak about Cleburne and the history surrounding him at two sessions at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Born in County Cork, Ireland, in March 1828, Cleburne immigrated to the United States in 1849 to escape the Great Famine.
Nicknamed “Stonewall Jackson of the South” and beloved by the soldiers under his command, Cleburne was also known for a most controversial proposal in an effort to save the Confederacy, proposing to enlist slaves into military service in exchange for their freedom.
He even proposed extending that freedom to their families.
He hoped emancipation would bring foreign support to the Confederacy and solve the manpower problem, and despite a similar proposal from Gen. Robert E. Lee, most Confederate leaders did not share the same opinion as Cleburne.
Cleburne would not live to see the act passed by the Confederate Congress in 1865 allowing slaves to enlist, dying in November 1864, along with Gen. Hiram B. Granbury, in Franklin, Tenn., in an ill-fated battle under the command of Gen. John Bell Hood.
Cleburne is buried at the Confederate Cemetery in Helena, Ark., where each year around his birthday, the Arkansas Division Sons of Confederate Veterans conducts a memorial service.
“It’s going to be a family fun day. We would like everybody to come out and see what the Pat Cleburne Day is all about,” Marchel said. “We hope to grow this event every year. We just need to have a sunny chamber day.”
Admission and parking is free and volunteers will be available to help visitors in and out of the park area.
Flatbed trucks with seating will be available for guests to go from the parking area to the activities area and wheelchairs for free checkout from Texas DME will also be available.