Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne Confederate Army Called the "Stonewall of the West” Cut Signature
MAJOR GENERAL PATRICK R. CLEBURNE (1828-1864). Confederate States of America Major General, Planned the Capture of the U.S. Arsenal in Arkansas, made proposal to Emancipate all Slaves! Wounded at Perryville, Killed in Action at the Battle of Franklin on November 30, 1864.
Cut Signature with Sentiment, "Your Obt. Servt., P. R. Cleburne, Maj. Genl", measuring 3.25” x 1.5”, very clear and readable in brown ink on lined blue paper, laid onto 4” x 2” lined blue paper for support and display, Choice Very Fine. In 1864, he dramatically called together the leadership of the Army of Tennessee and put forth the proposal to Emancipate all Slaves! Cleburne's autograph has been extremely rare and elusive to many Confederate General specialists. A superb opportunity to add this important and highly desirable rarity to a special collection. Extremely Rare.
Patrick Ronayne Cleburne (March 17, 1828 – November 30, 1864) was an Irish and later American soldier, best known for his service in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, where he rose to the rank of Major General.
Born in County Cork, Ireland, Cleburne served in the 41st Regiment of Foot, a Welsh regiment of the British Army, after failing to gain entrance into Trinity College of Medicine in 1846. He immigrated to the United States three years later.
At the beginning of the Civil War, Cleburne sided with the Confederate States. He progressed from being a private soldier in the local militia to a division commander. Cleburne participated in many successful military campaigns, especially the Battle of Stones River, the Battle of Missionary Ridge and the Battle of Ringgold Gap. He was also present at the Battle of Shiloh. His strategic ability gained him the nickname "Stonewall of the West". He was killed in 1864, at the Battle of Franklin.
By late 1863, it had become obvious to Cleburne that the Confederacy was losing the war because of the growing limitations of its manpower and resources. In 1864, he dramatically called together the leadership of the Army of Tennessee and put forth the proposal to Emancipate all Slaves ("emancipating the whole race upon reasonable terms, and within such reasonable time") in order to "enlist their sympathies" and thereby enlist them in the Confederate Army to secure Southern independence.
His plan did not include black equality, suggesting that legislation and foresight would ensure relations between blacks and whites would not materially change. This proposal was met with polite silence at the meeting, and while word of it leaked out, it went unremarked, much less officially recognized. From his letter outlining the proposal:
Satisfy the negro that if he faithfully adheres to our standard during the war he shall receive his freedom and that of his race ... and we change the race from a dreaded weakness to a position of strength.
Will the slaves fight? The helots of Sparta stood their masters good stead in battle. In the great sea fight of Lepanto where the Christians checked forever the spread of Mohammedanism over Europe, the galley slaves of portions of the fleet were promised freedom, and called on to fight at a critical moment of the battle. They fought well, and civilization owes much to those brave galley slaves ... [Cleburne also cites the prowess of revolting slaves in Haiti and Jamaica] ... the experience of this war has been so far that half-trained negroes have fought as bravely as many other half-trained Yankees.
It is said that slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.
Cleburne's proposal was vigorously attacked as an "abolitionist conspiracy" by General William H.T. Walker, who strongly supported slavery and also saw Cleburne as a rival for promotion. Walker eventually persuaded the commander of the Army of Tennessee, General Braxton Bragg, that Cleburne was politically unreliable and undeserving of further promotion. "Three times in the summer of 1863 he was passed over for corps commander and remained a division commander until his death."