The Battle of Ezra Church was fought on July 28, 1864, near Atlanta, the third in a series of unsuccessful attacks by General John Bell Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee on General William T. Sherman’s Union army. After the July 22nd Battle of Atlanta, Sherman decided to cut off Atlanta’s railroad supply lines, thus forcing the Confederates to withdraw without a direct assault. To accomplish this goal, Sherman transferred his easternmost army, under Major General Oliver O. Howard, north and west around the rest of the Union lines to the south western side of Atlanta where the railroad entered the city. Anticipating Sherman’s maneuver, Hood moved his troops out to oppose the Union army. Hood planned to intercept them and then make a surprise flank attack. The armies met on the afternoon of July 28 west of Atlanta, near Ezra Church. Hood’s plans for a flank attack quickly collapsed. His disjointed attacks hit Howard’s troops head on. The Confederate army suffered heavy losses assaulting the Union army’s improvised breastwork of logs and rails. The rebels were defeated, although they managed to stop Howard from reaching the railroad line. The discouraged Confederates blamed Hood for the defeat, lamenting that they “had just enough soldiers left for another killing.” One Confederate general complained that his men “had been butchered” by the high command. On January 12, 2018, Bruce Allardice will discuss this battle, and in particular critique John Bell Hood’s management (or lack thereof) of the battle. A professor of history at South Suburban College, he has given numerous lectures and presentations for Civil War Round Tables, museums, and civic organizations, including several to this round table. Among his publications is “‘It was Perfect Murder’: Stephen D. Lee at Ezra Church,” an essay in Confederate Generals in the Western Theater (vol. 3), which inspired this presentation. Professor Allardice received the CWRT of Chicago’s Nevins-Freeman Award for distinguished service in Civil War Scholarship and the CWRT movement. He is a former president of both the Chicago and Northern Illinois CWRTs. An avid sports historian, he heads the Civil War Baseball subcommittee for the Society of American Baseball Research.
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