Cleburne, Patrick Ronayne (1828–64), confederate general, was born 17 March 1828 at Annbrook, near Queenstown, Co. Cork, son of Joseph Cleburne, physician, and Mary Ann Cleburne (née Ronayne). He was educated locally, and at 18 was apprenticed to a local chemist, a trade for which he had little enthusiasm. In February 1846 he failed the entrance examination for Apothecaries' Hall in Dublin. He joined the army, hoping to be sent to India. In 1849 his regiment was stationed in Cork and he reestablished contact with his family, bought his discharge, and emigrated with his sister and half-brother to New Orleans. He worked in druggist stores and became a partner in a practice in Helena, Arkansas. During the yellow fever epidemic at Helena (1855), he remained in the city helping the sick. From the time of his arrival in America he studied law, passing his bar examination in 1856, and soon had a flourishing legal practice.
In 1860 he was instrumental in organising an Arkansas volunteer company, the Yell Rifles. When Arkansas voted to leave the union (March 1861), he became captain of this company. His service in the American civil war was distinguished and he became known for his tactical sense and aggression. He led his men from the front and was wounded twice as a result. At the battles of Shiloh, Richmond, and Perryville he played a decisive part. At the engagement at Ringold Gap he saved his army's transport column and received a note of thanks from the confederate congress. By December 1862 he had reached the rank of major-general. Considered one of the best divisional commanders in either army, he was referred to as the ‘Stonewall Jackson of the west’. In January 1864 he sparked a controversy by writing a memorandum suggesting that southern slaves be freed and allowed to enlist in the army. The paper was suppressed, and while Jefferson Davis praised his pragmatism, it was generally felt that he had ruined his chances of further promotion. In January 1864 he met Susan Tarleton of Mobile, Alabama, and the couple became engaged (March). Preparations for their wedding were under way when he left on his last campaign. He was killed leading his men in an ill-conceived attack at Franklin (30 November 1864). Initially buried at St John's churchyard near Columbia, Tennessee, he was later reinterred on a ridge overlooking Helena, Arkansas.