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The first American Catholic Chaplain to die on the battlefield

Rev. Emmeran M. Bliemel—Hero of Battle of Jonesboro


By —— Bio and Archives--August 31, 2008

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imageAugust 31 and September 1, 2008, marks the 144th Anniversary of the Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia which ended the War Between the States Campaign for Atlanta.

The following is dedicated to the unsung heroism of America ’s Military Chaplains.

European, African, Asian, American Indian, German, Hispanic and Jewish American, men and women, helped make this nation great. Please share this story about a German-American who, with no thought for his personal safety, saw to the spiritual needs of his fellow soldiers.

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The quaint-little town of Jonesboro , Georgia, a few miles south of Atlanta, easily might have been the subject of a Norman Rockwell painting. In 1977, superstars Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason and Jerry Reed helped put Jonesboro on the map with the premiere of the box office hit movie “Smoky and the Bandit.” 
 
Jonesboro is sacred-historical ground where Confederate and Union soldiers clashed in a War Between the States battle on Wednesday, August 31 and Thursday, September 1, 1864. These mighty armies fought the decisive “Battle of Jonesboro”, which ended the Campaign for Atlanta, Georgia and ultimately led to Gen. William T. Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea.
 
From 1979 to 1984, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy and Children of the Confederacy sponsored a Commemoration of the Battle of Jonesboro with parade and memorial at Jonesboro ’s “Pat Cleburne” Confederate   Cemetery. A Reenactment and living history of that battle has also been sponsored to the education and enjoyment of both young and old.
 
Jonesboro’s citizens are proud of their city and county history, as they continue to build for the future. Some folks call Jonesboro the home of “Gone with the Wind.” The past here is alive with historic treasures that include the Confederate “Pat Cleburne” Cemetery, the Old Jail, the Old Courthouse, Stately Oaks and the Old Railroad Station.
 
Jonesboro is the proud home to respected historical organizations that include Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc. , the Sons of Confederate Veterans of Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne Camp 1361, the United Daughters of the Confederacy of Frankie Lyle Chapter and the Daughters of the American Revolution of Augustin Clayton Chapter. The author of this article’s Mother started the DAR, Augustin Clayton Chapter, on June 8, 1973.
 
In 1982, while living in Clayton County , my mother and I were visited by Rev. Peter J. Meaney from Morristown, New Jersey . Father Meaney has done much research on Confederate Chaplains of the War Between the States that include; Rev. Peter Whelan and Rev. Emmeran M. Bliemel. He asked us if there was an organization that recognized heroes of the past. He hoped that such a group would be interested in honoring a heroic Chaplain Priest of the War Between the States—Father Emmeran M. Bliemel of the Order of Saint Benedict. I told him that the National Organization of Sons of Confederate Veterans had such an award.
 
Rev. Peter Meaney, OSB sent me documented information on Rev. Emmeran M. Blieme, l who is said to have died a hero’s death on the first day of the War Between the States Battle of Jonesboro. I first set out to get approval from my local Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp Cleburne 1361, and then sent a request to the National Organization of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. At the 1982 National SCV Convention in Oklahoma City , Oklahoma a Medal of Honor, in honor of Rev. Emmeran Bliemel, was approved.
 
This project would not have happened if it was not for Rev. Peter J. Meaney, OSB and his first contact, my Mother, Margaret L Johnson.
 
The forgotten Confederate Chaplain, Rev. Emmeran M. Bliemel, was finally remembered at a special ceremony in front of the Clayton County , Georgia Courthouse on Saturday, March 12, 1983. It was here that the National Sons of Confederate Veterans presented the posthumous “Medal of Honor” to the Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne Camp 1361 SCV, in Father Bliemel’s honor and tribute. It was then presented on loan, by the Cleburne Camp SCV, to the City of Jonesboro and accepted by Mayor Hugh Dickson. It was displayed there for many years.
 
March 12, 1983, was a chilly day in Jonesboro but many hundreds of people attended this event including: then Chairman of the Clayton County Commission—Mr. Charley Griswell, the late Mayor of Jonesboro—Mr. Hugh Dickson, Rev. Peter J. Meaney, OSB, the President of the Frankie Lyle Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy—Mrs. Margaret L. Johnson, the Commander of the 30th Georgia Reenactors—Mr. Mark Tippens, many members of the Georgia Division Reenactors, United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Chairman of the National SCV Confederate Medal of Honor Committee—the late Col. Lindsey Henderson, members of Historic Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc.,the Commander of Cleburne Camp 1361 SCV the late Mathew Thomaston ,Georgia Legislator and former Jaycee Mr. Frank Bailey and members of the Children of the Confederacy of the Tara Chapter.
 
Who was Rev. Emmeran M. Bliemel of the Order of Saint Benedict?
 
Father Emmeran M. Bliemel, OSB the first American Catholic Chaplain to die on the battlefield, was killed during the Battle of Jonesboro, Georgia on Wednesday, August 31, 1864.
 
As Chaplain of the 10th Tennessee Regiment,  he courageously and unselfishly ministered to the spiritual needs of all the wounded, both under fire and behind the lines. He died while giving the last rites to his Commanding Officer, Colonel William Grace. Rev. Bliemel also ministered to the men of the 4th Kentucky Regiment (the Orphan Brigade).
 
Bliemel was temporarily buried at Jonesboro ’s Pat Cleburne Cemetery , but his remains were removed to Tuscumbia, Alabama in 1899.
 
Today, the Sons of Confederate Veterans Medal of Honor, honoring Father Emmeran M. Bliemel, OSB, is displayed at the Knights of Columbus building in Jonesboro, Georgia .
 
Let’s never forget those who helped make the USA great!!


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Calvin E. Johnson Jr. -- Bio and Archives | Comments

A native of Georgia, Calvin Johnson,  Chairman of the National and Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Confederate Veterans Confederate History and Heritage Month Program

He is the author of the book “When America Stood for God, Family and Country.”


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