Discussion Cleburne's Division: An Amateur Thread

Luke Freet

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BG James Argyle Smith's Report on the Battle of Nashville

James Argyle Smith was a West Point graduate from Tennessee who would be assigned as Colonel of the 5th Confederate Infantry, and following Chickamauga, would be promoted to command of Deshler's Texas Brigade. He only led this formation breifly; On November 25th, 1863, he was wounded at Tunnel Hill and would be out of action until June of 1864, where he took command of the brigade and led it at Bald Hill July 21st and 22nd, before again being wounded. He was transferred to command Olmstead's Savannah Brigade. This unit was left behind to guard the bridges across the Tennessee River while the rest of the division fought itself to death at Spring Hill and Franklin. J. A. Smith, the senior Brigade commander of the division, took command of the division on December 6th, and would lead the remnant of Cleburne's Command, some 1500 men (not counting the Georgians, who seemed avoided seeing action again at Nashville), at Nashville and Bentonville, before the division was merged and dispersed in April 1865.
The following is Smith's report of his division during the Battle of Nashville.
Source: O.R.s, Series 1, Part 45 (XLV), Part 1, 739-740
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lwhite64

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Overall a good listing, but I would also suggest seeing some of the battle studies like for Pickett's Mill, Symonds makes some errors in his battle descriptions. For instance there, there wasnt a 30 foot sink hole, it was a deep and steep ravine. Also for the first part of the Tennessee Campaign, see Steve Woodworth's The Tennessee Campaign of 1864, for an edited piece of Cleburne's Diary (covering about 3 weeks of the move into North Georgia).
 

Luke Freet

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Overall a good listing, but I would also suggest seeing some of the battle studies like for Pickett's Mill, Symonds makes some errors in his battle descriptions. For instance there, there wasnt a 30 foot sink hole, it was a deep and steep ravine. Also for the first part of the Tennessee Campaign, see Steve Woodworth's The Tennessee Campaign of 1864, for an edited piece of Cleburne's Diary (covering about 3 weeks of the move into North Georgia).
Thank you. I've found Symonds' book to be a bit more forgiving of Cleburne than he lets on, and is not the most objective source for Cleburne and his division. However, I'm working with what i've got.
Funny thing though; I've visited Pickett's Mill and saw the ravine you mentioned. Somehow, I did not question the absurdity of a sinkhole in North Georgia until you pointed it out just now. I wish I could edit older posts, because I'd fix that if I had the chance.
 

lwhite64

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Thank you. I've found Symonds' book to be a bit more forgiving of Cleburne than he lets on, and is not the most objective source for Cleburne and his division. However, I'm working with what i've got.
Funny thing though; I've visited Pickett's Mill and saw the ravine you mentioned. Somehow, I did not question the absurdity of a sinkhole in North Georgia until you pointed it out just now. I wish I could edit older posts, because I'd fix that if I had the chance.
Im currently working on a short book on Cleburne, just focusing on the last year of his life. I think there has yet to be a
definitive biography of him.
 

Luke Freet

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Im currently working on a short book on Cleburne, just focusing on the last year of his life. I think there has yet to be a
definitive biography of him.
Symonds may be the closest to what you speak of. I heard of a biography on Cleburne written by a couple named Perdue that I can't find a copy of (from the 70s and out of print).
I'd say the last 2 years of his life were very eventful, and worthy of a book on its own. He may not be as colorful as some of the cavalry commanders, but he certainly stands out among his contemporaries. Though I will say, having been fanboying over him for the last half decade, I can now say I think he may have been overrated by those who thinkk he should have been a corps or army commander. He had his screwups at Chickamauga and at Jonesboro. The man is not the perfect general.
 

James N.

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Sam Foster's Account of the engagement at Granbury's Lunette, Battle of Nashville, Dec. 15th 1864

Sam Foster was a Captain servering in the 24th Texas Dismounted Cavalry (consolidated with the 17th, 18th, and 25th Texas Dismounted Cavalry), part of Granbury's Texas Brigade since Arkansas Post. He had fought with the division at Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Ringgold Gap (where he was presumably wounded), Pickett's Mill, Bald Hill, Jonesboro, and Franklin. He would fight in his last battle of the war here on December 15th. According to his account, he suffered a bullet wound to the leg around 3 hours into the engagement, and went back to the field hospital to recieve treatment. He'd soon have to make a desperate trek south after the disaster of the following day left much of the wounded stranded behind the Federal advance. He would return to his unit, but he would see no major action for the rest of the conflict (he would have been present at Bentonville, but his brigade arrived after the AoT's assault on Day 1 and took no action; it seems it was so insignificant to Foster that he does not even record it in his diary).
His diary entry for December 13th (actually the 15th; for some reason he was off a few days in his writings):
"I am on picket today as Brigade officer of the day. The Yanks have been fighting our picket line with negroes, for nearly a week, and we have killed several so close that they can't get them. So they remain where they fell froze as hard as a log.
About One O'Clock they send a skirmish line out to fight us. About 4 O'Clock PM I am wounded in my right leg about 6 inches above the knee, the ball going in, in the front side of my leg, passing out the back side to the right of the bone without touching it."
Source: Brown, Norman. One of Cleburne's Command: The Civil War Reminiscences and Diary of Capt. Samuel T. Foster, Granbury's Texas Brigade, CSA. 153-154
My "favorite" part of Foster's account relates to his walk back to the aid station, which as I remember was two or more miles in the rear. After arriving at the little log cabin in which it was located, the surgeon or assistant surgeon knelt down and inserted his fingers into both entry and exit wounds until they met, encountering no bone splinters - which indicated that there had been no damage to the bone - thereby averting amputation.
 

James N.

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Overall a good listing, but I would also suggest seeing some of the battle studies like for Pickett's Mill, Symonds makes some errors in his battle descriptions. For instance there, there wasnt a 30 foot sink hole, it was a deep and steep ravine...
... I've visited Pickett's Mill and saw the ravine you mentioned. Somehow, I did not question the absurdity of a sinkhole in North Georgia until you pointed it out just now. I wish I could edit older posts, because I'd fix that if I had the chance.
The "sinkhole" in question:
DSC01484.JPG


Foster also gives a wonderful description of Granbury's Brigade's counterattack down it and the slaughter he witnessed there!
 

Luke Freet

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The "sinkhole" in question:
View attachment 384783

Foster also gives a wonderful description of Granbury's Brigade's counterattack down it and the slaughter he witnessed there!
Yeah. I'll get to posting more of his entries down the line..
Was saddened to read his reminiscences get muddied around the time of Ringgold Gap. The next clear section we see is in March of 64 when he's returning from a field hospital on crutches.
Was he wounded at Ringgold?
 

James N.

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Yeah. I'll get to posting more of his entries down the line..
Was saddened to read his reminiscences get muddied around the time of Ringgold Gap. The next clear section we see is in March of 64 when he's returning from a field hospital on crutches.
Was he wounded at Ringgold?
Unfortunately, I don't remember, though since he was likely involved in the counterattack by Granbury's Brigade there he certainly might've been. I don't have my copy at hand here in the library and will try to remember to look later.
 

Luke Freet

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I'd like to ask the mods if they could move this thread from General Discussion over to the South and Western Theaters Battle Forum, as I intend to do more of these kinds of threads on the various divisions, once I get enough sources on hand.
 

Luke Freet

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Many thanks for writing and sourcing all of that. I very much enjoyed reading through the history, I learned a lot and it helped fill in a lot of gaps in my knowledge of Cleburne and the men he led.
I've seen a couple threads on Cleburne, but very few on the men who served under him. I hope other people can contribute accounts of individuals who served in the division, ones I don't have the sources on. My one primary source (and this wasn't published until 1962) is Sam Foster's diary.
 

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