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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: Father Emmeran Bliemel — Honoring a True American Hero

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Father Emmeran Bliemel — Honoring a True American Hero

By Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.

Hola mis Amigos or Hello my friends!

God, in his fifth commandment, said “Honor thy Father and Mother.”

This article is dedicated in honor of my Mother, Margaret L. Johnson, who has helped our Veterans, supported the Men and Women of the United States Armed Forces and worked to preserve the true history of the USA.

Let me tell you about a German-American who, with no thought for his personal safety, saw to the spiritual needs of his fellow soldiers.

Jonesboro, Georgia, a few miles south of Atlanta, could have been the setting for a Norman Rockwell painting. In 1977, super-stars; Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason and Jerry Reed put Jonesboro on the map with their hit movie “Smoky and the Bandit.”

The history of the War Between the States still holds the interest of both young and old but, since the passing of the soldiers of Blue and Gray, some people have shamefully criticized our gallant ancestors and their blood-stained flags of many battles.

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 led to Gen. William T. Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Jonesboro is called 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 and historic groups; Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc., Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy and Daughters of the American Revolution. My Mother started the Augustin Clayton “DAR” Chapter in 1973.

In 1982, while living in Clayton County, my mother, Margaret Johnson, and I were visited by Rev. Peter J. Meaney from Morristown, New Jersey. Father Meaney has researched the Confederate Chaplains of the War Between the States that include; Rev. Peter Whelan and Rev. Emmeran M. Bliemel. He asked if there was an organization that recognized such people. His candidate was that of a Chaplain Priest of the War Between the States–Father Emmeran M. Bliemel of the Order of Saint Benedict.

Rev. Peter Meaney, OSB sent me documented information on Father Bliemel who died a hero’s death on the first day of the War Between the States Battle of Jonesboro. After receiving approval from the Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp in Jonesboro , a request was sent to the SCV National Organization.

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 late Colonel Lindsey Henderson of the 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 Cleburne Camp SCV, to the City of Jonesboro and accepted by Mayor Hugh Dickson who had it displayed at Jonesboro’s City Hall.

March 12, 1983, was a chilly day in Jonesboro but many hundreds of people attended this event including; Chairman of the Clayton County Commission–Mr. Charley Griswell, the late Mayor of Jonesboro–Mr. Hugh Dickson and Rev. Peter J. Meaney, OSB.

Who was Rev. Emmeran M. Bliemel?

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.

A native of Georgia, Calvin Johnson, Chairman of the National and Georgia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Confederate History Month lives near the historic town of Kennesaw and he’s a member of the Chattahoochee Guards Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans. He is the author of the book ”When America Stood for God, Family and Country.” Calvin can be reached at:


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