Confederate General Patrick Cleburne

This is historian Craig Symonds on the life of Patrick Cleburne.  Those who buy into the myth of thousands of black confederate soldiers should pay extra careful attention to the reactions of other confederate officers to Cleburne’s proposal to make soldiers of African-Americans.


  1. Symbonds has the definitive work on Cleburne Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne and the Civil War. He is very knowledgeable of Cleburne’s proposal and how it demonstrates that Cleburne did not truly understand the South’s connection to the peculiar institution when he suggested such a proposal.

  2. I disagree, Cleburne was not the originator of the argument, indeed the idea was being floated around in some of the southern newspapers in 1863, one being authored by Cleburne’s close friend, Thomas Hindman. SO I dont think Cleburne was unaware of how the south thought, the proposal was signed by several large slave owners, notably Lucius Polk, Hindman had been a strong supporter of secession as well, so could hardly be unaware of the South’s connection to slavery.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I think it would be interesting to see the two proposals side-by-side to compare and contrast them. Would it be fair to say that Cleburne’s proposal went further than Hindman’s proposal?

  3. Bob Nelson · · Reply

    Can’t find anything on Hindman’s proposal. Will keep looking. Did find this on John J. Cheatham’s proposal dated May 1861. In a letter to Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker, Cheatham suggested incorporating 10 to 20 blacks in each regiment. Go here for text of Cheatham’s letter to Walker, which was found by the Freedmen and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland in the early 90s. Cheatham, BTW, was a private citizen living in Athens, Georgia.

  4. Bob Nelson · · Reply

    Really good presentation. I had never seen a Symonds’ presentation and was expecting a much older man — gray beard, et al. He seems soooooooooooooooooo young.

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