General Patrick Cleburne

Irishtom29

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
Not sure about the "Stonewall of the West"... but a very good division commander and underrated general. His idea to arm slaves tarnished his reputation within the high command and most likely prevented him from promotion and advancement.

His association with Hardee and the plotting against Bragg was no help either. I'm not so sure he was underrated, indeed, he's one of the better thought of division commanders on either side.
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2019
He had topographical skills that allowed him to use the terrain at best effect for his troops, specially in defense stance. Also, he was concerned about the drilling and condition of his men, making his brigade (then his division) one the best disciplined and efficient units in the Confederate Army (if not the best). However, he wasn't invincible and had unexplained small failures through the war (particularly at Chickamauga), which did not blow his fully-justified "hard-fighter" reputation.

If I had to rank him as a divisional commander, he will surely be at the top. In my war/boardgame project, he possess the best tactical values (3 in attack, 3 in defense) with an administration/drilling bonus (allowing faster recovery for subordinate units), and an average value of 3 (out of 4) in initiative (dealing with the number of semi-divisions (2 to 3 brigades) under his command he can activate). No one else achieve such high score at that level (Stonewall Jackson shares the same values, but as a corps commander). So, based on this statement, he deserves his nickname : "Stonewall Jackson of the West".

"Pat" Cleburne is one of my favorite (an Irish-born guy who learned the art of war in the British Army, settled in Arkansas, joined the Confederacy and proposed to arm slaves : at first sounds peculiar).
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
He had topographical skills that allowed him to use the terrain at best effect for his troops, specially in defense stance. Also, he was concerned about the drilling and condition of his men, making his brigade (then his division) one the best disciplined and efficient units in the Confederate Army (if not the best). However, he wasn't invincible and had unexplained small failures through the war (particularly at Chickamauga), which did not blow his fully-justified "hard-fighter" reputation.

If I had to rank him as a divisional commander, he will surely be at the top. In my war/boardgame project, he possess the best tactical values (3 in attack, 3 in defense) with an administration/drilling bonus (allowing faster recovery for subordinate units), and an average value of 3 (out of 4) in initiative (dealing with the number of semi-divisions (2 to 3 brigades) under his command he can activate). No one else achieve such high score at that level (Stonewall Jackson shares the same values, but as a corps commander). So, based on this statement, he deserves his nickname : "Stonewall Jackson of the West".

"Pat" Cleburne is one of my favorite (an Irish-born guy who learned the art of war in the British Army, settled in Arkansas, joined the Confederacy and proposed to arm slaves : at first sounds peculiar).

His short time in the British Army certainly helped him but i would not call him a tactical genius but more akin to a very charismatic leader.

His time in the British army would have taught him drill and discipline i have no doubt he installed this into his troops which indeed made them a tough nut to crack.

A great Brigade and Division commander but would he have made the grade as Corps and Army command? We will never know.
 

rpkennedy

Lt. Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
May 18, 2011
Location
Carlisle, PA
The first division commander of the war that comes to my mind is Cleburne, the second is Hood, the third is Custer. All were excellent division commanders, eh?

In my mind, Hood is an overrated division commander. He did well at Manassas and Antietam but fell almost at the start at Gettysburg and Chickamauga and the next time that he was in the field, he was a corps commander in the Army of Tennessee. And the fact that Lee was ok with losing Hood says a lot to me.

Ryan
 

jackt62

Captain
Member of the Month
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Aside from the fact that Cleburne was one of the first to advocate enlisting enslaved Blacks, I wonder whether his immigrant background, lack of a West Point credential, and the fact that he did not hail from an upper class southern family might have all contributed in some way to his lack of further advancement.
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2019
A great Brigade and Division commander but would he have made the grade as Corps and Army command? We will never know.
The only time he acted as a Corps Commander was during the Battle of Jonesborough, when Hardee was detached with Lee's Corps and his own (now in Cleburne's hands). Not much was said about his conduct of Hardee's Corps, he didn't show spectacular leadership at that level of command and failed to flank the enemy's right in time (he collided with Union cavalrymen under Kilpatrick) but he managed to avoid heavy losses.

Has he been promoted to LTG in early 1864, maybe the situation would have been different (his troops would have be more confident, and might have adopted the drilling standards of Cleburne's Division on a larger scale). From my point of view, at the end of Atlanta Campaign, the morale in the Army of Tennessee was too low to achieve anything remarkable under the conduct of Hood.

So, Cleburne alone would not have made the difference, there was a need for confidence in the Western high command. Hardee's fault ? Bragg's fault ? Polk's fault ? The supporters and detractors of each of these officers have destroyed the agressive spirit of the Army of Tennessee and that's why I think Joe Johnston's defensive and evasive strategy was the only viable solution to prevent a Union clear-cut victory in the West, with Hardee, Polk and Hood as only available LTGs in May-June 1864.

In my mind, Hood is an overrated division commander. He did well at Manassas and Antietam but fell almost at the start at Gettysburg and Chickamauga and the next time that he was in the field, he was a corps commander in the Army of Tennessee. And the fact that Lee was ok with losing Hood says a lot to me.

Indeed, I was hesitating between Hood and Cleburne when I said that Cleburne would be top-division commander. Hood was perhaps the mirror of Cleburne, more offensive and less defensive. In the East, I think he had no active rivals :
- D. H. Hill (my favorite) wasn't that inspiring when leading his brigades. He was tactically brilliant but he didn't possess the sparks of Jackson, Hood and Cleburne. He was also very critical against his superiors.
- A. P. Hill was perhaps overagressive at the division level (commanding the most numerous division in the ANV might help). He achieved many successes but he was also irascible and quarreled with both Longstreet and Jackson. Maybe not the perfect subordinate to work with.
- Ewell is considered to be a wonderful fighter but I don't know how to rate him, he was wounded too soon before achieving a lead-subordinate role under Lee and was directly put into Corps Command after healing his wound.

Anderson, Early, McLaws, D. R. Jones, Johnson, Rodes and Heth were good to average division commanders, no one possessing the fighting qualities of Hood at that level of command.

Concerning who's the best between Hood and Cleburne, I think they're equally matched : Cleburne's a defensive hammer, Hood's an agressive anvil (complementary fighters).

In my game, this would be like =

MG Cleburne :
- Initiative (number of semi-divisions activated): 2 out of 4 (I revised it because of his performance at Jonesborough)
- Tactical Value : 3 in attack / 3 in defense
- Military Bonus (provided to subordinates / units) : +1 Defense (Entrencher), +1 Recovery (Administrator)
MG Hood :
- Initiative : 2 out of 4
- Tactical Value : 3 in attack / 3 in defense
- Military Bonus (provided to subordinates / units) : +1 Attack (Agressive Leader), +1/1 for Cavalry Units (Cavalryman)
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2019
Concerning who's the best between Hood and Cleburne, I think they're equally matched : Cleburne's a defensive hammer, Hood's an agressive anvil (complementary fighters).
In fact, what makes Cleburne better than Hood is the casualtie ratio : Hood's tactical moves are very costly while Cleburne can achieve the same result with less casualties. Even at Jonesborough, he barely missed the fight but managed to reduce the losses while S. D. Lee was pushing forward agressively without success.

I didn't take that into account before but the casualtie ratio is definitely a decisive factor to choose between leaders. It is also linked to the fighting style (agressiveness, caution, etc.).
For a fast-flanking attack on a couple of days = take first Sam Hood and then Cleburne.
For a defensive operation on several months, with evasive movements and ambushes = prefer Pat Cleburne.
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
In fact, what makes Cleburne better than Hood is the casualtie ratio : Hood's tactical moves are very costly while Cleburne can achieve the same result with less casualties. Even at Jonesborough, he barely missed the fight but managed to reduce the losses while S. D. Lee was pushing forward agressively without success.

I didn't take that into account before but the casualtie ratio is definitely a decisive factor to choose between leaders. It is also linked to the fighting style (agressiveness, caution, etc.).
For a fast-flanking attack on a couple of days = take first Sam Hood and then Cleburne.
For a defensive operation on several months, with evasive movements and ambushes = prefer Pat Cleburne.

Their are a lot of variables to take into consideration when rating Division Commanders its not as clear cut as you make it sound for a start you have to look at the objectives each commander was assigned , Hood was given some hard tasks by Lee fortunately for Hood he has some of the best troops in the ANV which brings me to my second point the quality of the troops , A division commander can only work with the tools he has.

AP Hill stands out for me he was an outstanding division commander so if your ranking CSA division commanders he would be first on my list due to his achievement's in the role in my opinion.
 

rpkennedy

Lt. Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
May 18, 2011
Location
Carlisle, PA
Their are a lot of variables to take into consideration when rating Division Commanders its not as clear cut as you make it sound for a start you have to look at the objectives each commander was assigned , Hood was given some hard tasks by Lee fortunately for Hood he has some of the best troops in the ANV which brings me to my second point the quality of the troops , A division commander can only work with the tools he has.

AP Hill stands out for me he was an outstanding division commander so if your ranking CSA division commanders he would be first on my list due to his achievement's in the role in my opinion.

The Army of Northern Virginia was blessed with some really talented division commanders although the fact that Lee got rid of the lesser officers has to play a role in that fact (something that no other army commander in the CSA could do).

Ryan
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
The Army of Northern Virginia was blessed with some really talented division commanders although the fact that Lee got rid of the lesser officers has to play a role in that fact (something that no other army commander in the CSA could do).

Ryan

I agree Ryan although the purge really started after Gettysburg where i feel Lee thought he was let down especially at brigade level.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Cleburne is the poster boy for the lack of upward mobility for talent in the CS army. The deadwood Major Generals at the top of CS chain of command prevented talented men from rising through the ranks. Compare Cleburne with Black Jack Logan, Wilder, John Sprague & other Union generals who were not professional military officers. Of course, after his proposal to arm slaves, it was unlikely that he was ever going to be promoted. On his own merit, Cleburne should have received a second star.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I agree Ryan although the purge really started after Gettysburg where i feel Lee thought he was let down especially at brigade level.
I think more to the point is the drastic attrition suffered by the ranks of experienced field grade officers in the Army of Northern Virginia. The single field grade officer who served through the war without a wound, when asked how that happened he said, "It wasn't for lack of trying." That was a talent pool that once drained could not be refilled.
 

covers

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Official Vendor
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Oct 3, 2020
Location
Taos, NM
I am certainly not qualified at all to comment on the virtues of the general. However, it is interesting to note that the British armed slaves previously in the Revolutionary War. I was not aware of British Genl. Leslie’s “Black Dragoons” and thier activities in South Carolina in 1782 until I starting researching the letter below last week. Below is a page I mounted with some background. sure would like to pin-down the “Prince” of “Prince Express” ....

5ED9A700-C760-42AA-A822-DD551FB693FB.jpeg
 
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Dave DuBrucq

Corporal
Joined
Oct 28, 2020
Location
Tennessee
One of the best, indeed very likely the best division commander the Confederacy had. Because he had the temerity to suggest slaves be enlisted into the Confederate ranks he was passed over for promotion. That suggestion is what we call a career ender in the modern military. This was a foolish waste of talent and a monumental loss to the Confederacy.
 
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