For nearly six years, Confederate General Patrick Cleburne's remains rested in a church cemetery near Columbia, Tenn., among the oaks and magnolias. A comrade of the Irish-born officer called the spot as "beautiful as the Garden of Eden -- seemingly a fit place for pure spirits to dwell, and for the haunts of angels."
In late April 1870, a delegation from Arkansas arrived at St. John's Church Cemetery for the disinterment of Cleburne's body for reburial in his adopted state. The division commander had been killed during a charge against Union breastworks at Franklin on Nov. 30, 1864 -- one of six Confederate generals to die of wounds suffered in the battle. Two of them -- Otho Strahl and Hiram B. Granbury -- also were interred at the cemetery with Cleburne before they too were removed and re-buried elsewhere.
(Click at upper right for full-screen experience.)
|Until 1870, Cleburne was buried in the cemetery behind historic St. John's Church, built from 1839-1842.|
|Historical sign and Civil War Trails marker in front of St. John's Church.|
"The cosmopolitanism of an interior city was never more thoroughly illustrated than in the conduct of Memphis ... when its whole population went forth to tender a deserved tribute of respect to the memories and virtues of a great soldier," the local newspaper said, omitting any reference to its black population.
"Helena and Memphis, Arkansas and Tennessee, yesterday wept side by side over Cleburne's bier," the Daily Appeal wrote, "and if Helena did not claim the body of the illustrious soldier, that it may find its final resting place within the city which was his home, Helena would concede to Memphis the trust of giving worthy sepulture to the most famous of all citizen soldiery of Arkansas."
|War-time image of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, |
who was in the procession with Patrick Cleburne's remains
in Memphis in 1870.
His head uncovered, Davis stood at attention "straight as an Indian" as he watched Cleburne's coffin carried from the depot to the hearse. "The whole history of the past ten years," a reporter noted, "ran like a flash of lightning over Mr. Davis' expressive face. There was an intensity of feeling and thought written upon the strongly marked lineaments of his eloquent features that unfolded the profoundest emotions."
Added the observant reporter about Davis:
"There were tears in his eyes and his face expressed sympathies, emotions and strong memories, seemingly shared by none of those who sat beside him. As a statesman and soldier -- we read it there -- Mr. Davis was relentless in direct paths of duty. The duty of the hour often drew a veil over the heart and the inner man, while the fate of an empire was dependent on his words and acts [and] was rarely revealed to the outer world. His heart was on his lips yesterday, and there was the tenderness of woman's love in his soulful eyes when Cleburne's encoffined body was borne into his presence."Other ex-Confederates and a few U.S. soldiers followed the hearse, decorated with black plumes, crape and green ribbon. Cleburne's remains were in a "handsome metalic case, the lid of which was closely screwed down so that even a glance at the remains through the glass was impossible." A large cross wreath and white flowers lay atop his coffin.
|Grave marker for Patrick Cleburne|
at Confederate Cemetery in Helena, Ark.
(Find A Grave)
"Balconies and windows were everywhere filled with people who watched the hearse and its multitude of silent followers with eager interest," it added. "The bells were tolled, and skillful musicians burdened the air with mournful melody."
The crowd was so huge that street cars became hopelessly stuck along the route. "There were countless vehicles," the newspaper reported, "in which were seated the matrons and youth and beauty of the city."
After the procession ended, pall-bearers removed Cleburne's coffin from the hearse and placed it aboard the steamer George W. Cheek, docked in the Mississippi River. Before the vessel departed for the trip downriver to Helena, hundreds of Cleburne's former army comrades crowded to view the coffin that contained "the sacred dust" of the beloved Confederate general.
"At Helena the same ceremonies will be gone through with," the Arkansas newspaper noted, "when all that is left of the immortal Cleburne will be conveyed to their final resting place.
"Peace to his ashes."
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-- Memphis Daily Appeal, April 29, 1870.
-- The Southern Standard, Arkadelphia, Ark., May 14, 1870.
-- Public Ledger, Memphis, Tenn., May 3, 1870.