Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Walk With Pat Cleburne

This is for my husband who loves Pat Cleburne.  He took me on a journey on the way back from Nashville and as we pulled up in front of St. Johns Church he was reading this part of his book to me.  It was such a special moment because I know Pat is his favorite General and this church has become one of our favorite places.  Now I would like to share this journey with you.   This is an excerpt from Tim's book, Die Like Men.  I hope you enjoy....

"...They had ridden up in front of Saint John's Episcopal Church.  Leonidas Polk had built it before the war.  They stopped their horses to admire it.  It was beautiful in the mist and fog.  Ivy grew on the walls, and magnolias and cedar trees dotted the churchyard.  A three-foot-high rock wall surrounded the place.  It was almost identical to St. Mary's Church back in County Cork, Ireland.  He wondered what the odds were that he would happen upon a church built identical to the one he'd been baptized in years ago and half a world away.
     The rest of Cleburne's staff had ridden up and were staring at the beautiful structure.  Cleburne climbed from the saddle and handed the reins to Mangum.  Mangum said, "That's the most beautiful thing I've seen since we've been in Tennessee."

     Cleburne walked through the opening in the rock wall and began to slowly make his way beneath the magnolias.  He seemed to be in awe at the place.  His staff watched him moving slowly about the churchyard.  It was as if he was studying the place.  The men of his division were trudging past them moving on north toward Columbia.


 Cleburne eventually made his way to the rear of the church.  There was a small cemetery there.  His staff could see him at times back there moving among the stones.  He seemed to stop and read every marker, pausing in deep thought at each one.  The staff officers began to eye each other warily. They'd all noticed how depressed he'd been lately.  

 What they didn't know, was that Pat Cleburne wasn't really studying the markers.  He was in deep thought.  He was thinking about Susan again.  He was ready for this war to end so he could get on with life and a family.

     He'd been back there for what seemed a long time to his staff, when he came slowly around the other side of the church.  He had his head down as he moved back toward the gate.  He walked over to his horse and gently patted the muzzle.  "Red Pepper" was his favorite horse.  He took the reins from Mangum and climbed back in the saddle."

     Staff member, Captain Charles Hill was on the north side of Cleburne.  As Cleburne turned his horse northward, he looked at Hill and said, "It would almost be worth dying to be buried in such a beautiful place.

     He spurred his horse and began moving toward Columbia with his division.  Mangum noticed him turning in the saddle and taking one last look at the beautiful churchyard."

     Pat Cleburne must have had a sense of foreboding or a seventh sense because several days later he would be interred into the very ground he had just walked on.  Unfortunately the people of Helena, Arkansas would have him moved, at a later date and interred in this town.  I think he should have been left where he felt like he was closest to the place he grew up.

     This is the spot where Tim thinks he could have been buried.  We have visited it many times and it still seems like hallowed ground every time I am there.

     Tim, I love you so much and I hope you enjoy this as much as I did living and experiencing it.  Thank  you so much for making history come alive for me.  You are a very talented man and I am honored to be your wife.


1 comment:

  1. I have been to that church in Ireland. It looks exactly like St.John's. His father is buried there.