The Death of General Patrick Cleburne
"If we are to die Govan, let us die like men," Cleburne said to his friend, Daniel Govan, as he rode to his death.
Major General Patrick Ronayne Cleburne, Helena's best-known Confederate soldier, came to Arkansas looking for a better life. He adopted Helena and Arkansas as his home. Cleburne died leading his division into the murderous fire at Franklin, Tennessee.
He was laid to rest just outside of Columbia, Tennessee many miles from his home and friends.
No images of Cleburne's funeral procession are known to exist but it may have looked like the Currier & Ives drawing above or the photograph below.
Bringing Cleburne Home
On April 27, 1870, Leonard Mangum and Dr. Hector Grant journeyed from Arkansas to Tennessee to bring Cleburne home. In Memphis, black-plumed horse pulled the hearse, draped in black crepe and decorated with green ribbons, from the railroad station to the wharf. Jefferson Davis and a host of other former Confederates marched in the procession. People lined the streets to say farewell to the fallen hero. "Never did Memphis exhibit such a solemn, impressive and soul moving scene" reported one newspaper.
In Helena, the body lay in state at St John's Church. The city, awash in black crepe, closed for the
day. A quarter-mile-long procession snaked from the church to Confederate Hill. Cleburne was home at last.
The Cleburne Memorial
For twenty-one years, the small headstone brought from Tennessee marked Cleburne's grave. The Ladies' Memorial Association let the effort to erect the memorial dedicated May 10, 1891. The ceremony began at Helena's grand Opera House. General James C. Tappan acted as master of ceremonies for the speeches, poems and songs. Scores of Confederate veterans, residents and visitors marched to the cemetery. After speeches and prayers, five young women dressed in white, the daughters of Confederate Generals unveiled the memorial.