First Catholic Chaplain Killed On U.S. Battlefield Remembered
Published: August 19, 2004
JONESBORO—On Tuesday, Aug. 31, the Knights of Columbus, Father Emmeran Bliemel, OSB, Assembly 1962 will remember and celebrate the 140th anniversary of the death of Father Bliemel in the line of duty during the Civil War.
Father Bliemel, a native of Germany, was the first Catholic chaplain killed on the battlefield during an American war while attending to his men. During the battle of Jonesboro, Col. William Grace fell to the ground. As Father Bliemel, chaplain of the 10th Tennessee Infantry and 4th Kentucky Infantry of the Confederate States of America, knelt beside him to hear his confession, pronounced the words of absolution and raised his hands in prayer, a cannon ball struck and killed him. His lifeless body fell across Grace. He was originally buried in what became the Pat Cleburne Confederate Cemetery in Jonesboro, but his remains were moved to Tuscumbia, Ala., in 1899.
On March 12, 1983, Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans presented the Confederate Medal of Honor to him.
A public ceremony starting at 10 a.m. will be held at the Memorial Site of Clayton County old courthouse, 121 McDonough St., Jonesboro. Father John Kieran, pastor of St. Pius X Church in Conyers, will relate the story of the heroic chaplain. A wreath will be laid by the Knights of Columbus honor guard.
Archbishop John Donoghue will be the main celebrant at a 12:30 p.m. Mass at St. Philip Benizi Church, 591 Flint River Road, Jonesboro. A luncheon will follow at the Knights of Columbus, John C. Gavel, Jr. Hall, 481 Flint River Road, Jonesboro. Rear Admiral Louis V. Iasiello, OFM, will give the keynote address. Father Iasiello is chief of U.S. Navy chaplains.
All are welcome. To make a reservation, call John Gavel at (770) 898-5176.