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Slaughter at the ChapelSlaughter at the Chapel

The Battle of Ezra Church, 1864

Gary Ecelbarger


Book published by University of Oklahoma Press


The Battle of Ezra Church was one of the deadliest engagements in the Atlanta Campaign of the Civil War, and continues to be one of the least understood. Both official and unofficial reports failed to illuminate the true bloodshed of the conflict: one of every three engaged Confederates was killed or wounded, including four generals. Nor do those reports acknowledge the flaws—let alone the ultimate failure—of Confederate commander John Bell Hood’s plan to thwart Union general William Tecumseh Sherman’s southward advance.

In an account that refutes and improves upon all other interpretations of the Battle of Ezra Church, noted battle historian Gary Ecelbarger consults extensive records, reports, and personal accounts to deliver a nuanced hour-by-hour overview of how the battle actually unfolded. His narrative fills in significant facts and facets of the battle that have long gone unexamined, correcting numerous conclusions that historians have reached about key officers’ intentions and actions before, during, and after this critical contest. Eleven troop movement maps by leading Civil War cartographer Hal Jespersen complement Ecelbarger’s analysis, detailing terrain and battle maneuvers to give the reader an on-the-ground perspective of the conflict.

With new revelations based on solid primary-source documentation, Slaughter at Ezra Church is the most comprehensive treatment of the Battle of Ezra Church yet written, as powerful in its implications as it is compelling in its moment-to-moment details.

Gary Ecelbarger is the award-winning author of seven books on the Civil War era, including The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlantaand is coauthor of three others. He has served as a historical consultant for battlefield interpretation in the Shenandoah Valley and has worked for twenty years as a symposium speaker and historical tour guide throughout the country.

REVIEWS:

“In this most insightful and judicious account of Ezra Church, Gary Ecelbarger leavens his detailed operational analysis with characterizations of numerous participants—Union and Confederate—and emphasizes the human element too often lacking in Civil War battle and campaign studies.”

—Edward G. Longacre, author of The Early Morning of War: Bull Run, 1861

“In his latest contribution to the literature, Gary Ecelbarger skillfully explains how and why the Union prevailed in one of the most brutal engagements determining the fate of Atlanta in 1864. Well written and eminently balanced in its analysis of men and events, this book will appeal to anyone interested in the military history of the Civil War.”

—Ethan Rafuse, author of Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863–1865





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