150 Years Ago Today: July 28th, 1864 The Battle of Ezra Church

July 28th, 1864:
     After learning of the flanking movement being conducted by Howard’s Army of the Tennessee, Hood ordered S.D. Lee’s Corps and A. P. Stewart’s Corps to move out the Lickskillet Road in an effort to check the Federal advance and try to roll up their right flank.
     Howard began deploying his units on the 27th in an effort to reach the railroad at East Point.  He started his line of battle somewhere along what is now Chappell Road south of North Ave.  His line followed the high ground along Chappell Road to the south.  On the morning of the 28th, Howard began deploying the remainder of his army along the ridge and continuing south down Chappell Road.  The Federal line then began to curve to the right (southwest) near the intersection of Ezra Church Drive and Chappell.   The line continued its curve through what is now Mozley Park.  Ezra Church was located in the park on a grassy hill between MLK Blvd. and the ball fields of the park.  Federal units used Church Pews and wood from the church to construct barricades to fire from.  The line continued to curve southwest until it reached the point of Laural Ave. and Archer St.  This was the salient in the Federal line.  From this point it turned in a northwesterly direction.  It would have crossed West Lake Ave, passing over part of Anderson and Waterbury and ending on the hill where the current Sadie G. Mays Rehab Center (Nursing Home) is located.  This would have been the extreme right of the Federal line that surrounded Atlanta as well as Howard’s right.  This hill was called Battle Hill.
     Lee’s Corps formed up for battle in the area along the front portion of the current Westview Cemetery.  Brown’s Division formed up on the left with Brantley’s Brigade forming on the far left.  Clayton’s Division formed on the right with Holtzclaw’s Brigade at the right.  Stewart’s Corps formed to the rear of Lee along the Lickskillet Road (formerly Gordon Road and now called Ralph David Abernathy Blvd.).  An artillery battery was located in what is now the Westview Cemetery on a hill behind the Alms House (poor house).  They Alms House was located in the area just south of Westview’s original entry gate.
     In the early afternoon the Confederate attack began.  Their movement was screened by thick woods in the area and in some locations they were within 50 yards of the Federal line before they were seen.  Brantley’s Brigade on the Confederate left attacked Lightburn’s Brigade on the Federal right in the area of Battle Hill.  They were successful at first and were able to take the hill for a short time, but were forced to retreat when several regiments from the reserves of the XV and XVI Corps arrived.  Sharp’s Brigade, who held the center of Brown’s Division, advanced on the Federal line through the area of what is now the West Lake Marta Station.
     Clayton’s Division of Lee’s Corps was advancing on the Federal line just east of the salient and in the area of Ezra Church.  Their repeated assaults were constantly repulsed by the Federals who had the high ground and in some locations had begun to dig in and build barricades.  Around 2pm, part of Stewart’s Corps began to advance in support of Lee’s Corps.  They concentrated their force  in the same area of Clayton’s Brigade, but Stewart was also unsuccessful in his attack.  Stewart was wounded in the fighting on a hill on the south side of MLK Blvd between Federal Drive and Gordon Terrace.  Stewart was about to send additional units into the fight when he was wounded and carried from the field.  Walthall, one of Stewart’s Divisional commanders assumed command and instead of sending in more soldiers, he began to withdraw from the area.
     After being repulsed by the Federals multiple times and the coming nightfall, the Confederates pulled back to their jumping off point and began to dig in.  Some of the works are still visible in a section of Westview Cemetery.  This was the third defeat for Hood in his short time as the commander of the Confederate Army of Tennessee.  While they did not defeat the Federals, they did prevent their move on East Point, at least for the time being and as fast as the Federals tried to go around the Confederate flank, the Confederates just a little faster in building earthworks and extending their line. 

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Author: Clint Brownlee

My name is Clint Brownlee and I am a Photographer in Woodstock, Georgia with over 20 years of photographic experience in many different aspects of photography. I have photographed everything from weddings, special events and portraits to published materials, but my passion has always been Fine Art and Nature Photography. I have had a several shows at the Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia and The Roswell Visual Arts Center in Roswell, Georgia. I now sell through my website: www.clintbrownleephotography.com

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