Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Slaughter at the Chapel: The Battle of Ezra Church, 1864

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Slaughter at the Chapel: The Battle of Ezra Church, 1864

Article excerpt

Slaughter at the Chapel: The Battle of Ezra Church, 1864. By Gary Ecelbarger. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016. Pp. x, 275. $26.95, ISBN 978-0-8061-5499-2.)

Published in the wake of Earl J. Hess's The Battle of Ezra Church and the Struggle for Atlanta (Chapel Hill, 2015), Slaughter at the Chapel: The Battle of Ezra Church, 1864 is a thoroughly detailed military history of the battle of Ezra Church. Until recently, the battle was overlooked within the larger Atlanta campaign of 1864. As Gary Ecelbarger acknowledges, the limited number of sources have led scholars to rely heavily on the official war record of the Union army and the incomplete records of a few Confederate commanders and soldiers. Despite these limited sources, Ecelbarger masterfully traces the movements of both Union and Confederate forces throughout the day of July 28, 1864. In doing so, he argues that Ezra Church proved to be the pivotal battle in General William Tecumseh Sherman's capture of Atlanta and, more significant, in the destruction of Confederate morale within the Army of Tennessee under General John B. Hood.

Although Slaughter at the Chapel provides very little in the way of new documented evidence, it does offer a new perspective based on a "campaign-experienced" interpretation of the movements of both Union and Confederate forces (p. 6). Through this analysis, Ecelbarger challenges the traditional stance that General Stephen D. Lee's delayed attack on July 28 was responsible for the Confederate failures at Ezra Church. According to the author, scholars have unfairly criticized Lee's actions during the battle, as the blame rests more with Hood's unexplainable delay in issuing marching orders and General Alexander P. …

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