The third battle within nine days as General Sherman closed in on Atlanta (American Civil War). The previous two battles (Peachtree Creek and Atlanta) had been launched by the Confederate General Hood in an attempt to take advantage of perceived weaknesses in Sherman’s deployment. In contrast, the fighting at Ezra Church was triggered by an attempt by Sherman to cut the last railroad into Atlanta.
General McPherson having been killed during the Battle of Atlanta, his army had taken over by General Howard. Under his command, the army was moved from the Federal left to the far right, in an attempt to cut the railroad fairly close to the city.
The problem with doing this was that Hood could use that very railroad to rush troops to the danger point. On this occasion he moved two corps (S. D. Lee’s and Stewart’s) to intercept the Federal movement. The two forces clashed at Ezra Church, some way short of the threatened railroad. The battle started at two in the afternoon and continued for the rest of the day, with Hood’s Confederates attacking increasingly entrenched Federals.
The battle was something of a draw. Sherman’s men were unable to reach the railroad, and so failed in their objective. However, the Confederates lost 4,100 killed and wound, compared to only 732 on the Federal side, and were unable to push Howard’s men back from their initial position. Hood could not afford many such battles.
Luckily for him, Sherman now settled down to conduct a regular siege of Atlanta. Safe behind the impressive defences of the city, Hood was able to hold on for another month, before finally been forced to abandon the city after Sherman launched yet another outflanking manoeuvre (see Battle of Jonesborough).
|Memoirs, William T. Sherman. One of the classic military auto-biographies, this is a very readable account of Sherman's involvement in the American Civil War, supported by a large number of documents. A valuable, generally impartial work that is of great value to anyone interested in Sherman's role in the war.|