Review: Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne and the Civil War

Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne and the Civil War
by Craig L. Symonds

Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (October 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700609342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700609345

Patrick Cleburne established a record as an outstanding division commander with the Army of Tennessee during the war.  From Shiloh until his death at Franklin, he was entrusted with difficult tasks, performing each with diligence.  Frequently, his division was the rear guard fending off an advancing victorious army during a retreat.  As one of the few immigrant officers in the Confederacy, with family on both sides, Cleburne attracts attention for his war record and as a person.  Craig L Symonds’ biography is one of the best available.  While not the most detailed, it conveys both the man and the general at a level that will satisfy most of us.

The book needs to spend more time on the political battle that tore the Army of Tennessee apart and on the relationship between Cleburne and General Hardee.  Hardee is Cleburne’s mentor, protector and a key player in the anti-Bragg faction within the army.  I feel this area is poorly developed, as is Cleburne’s proposal to make slaves into solders.  These two items are what kept him at divisional command, possibly leading to his death at Franklin.  The second area that needs work is the Atlanta and Nashville Campaigns.  Again, the author skirts major issues that affected Cleburne and contributed to his death.

Overall, this is a well-written book, very readable and informative.  This is a worshipful picture of an odd and somewhat limited individual.   It is an excellent choice for someone that wants a good background on Cleburne without having to plow through hundreds of pages of details.

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3 responses to “Review: Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne and the Civil War

  1. jmnlman Avatar

    And if we did want hundreds of pages of details?

  2. Sam Elliott Avatar
    Sam Elliott

    There’s just no evidence that the slave proposal kept Cleburne from corps command in 1864. That is an often-stated conclusion, but it is just as likely that Cleburne was kept out of corps command because he had no formal military education.

  3. Aidan Shannon Avatar
    Aidan Shannon

    Mr.Elliott’s theory is somewhat underlined by Ben Cheatham’s promotion to senior command.Cheatham was not a west pointer

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