Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Battle of Ebenezer Creek - Stanton, Alabama

On April 1, 1865, Confederate Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest fought one last time on ground of his own choosing in a last ditch effort to stop the Union army then advancing on the vital manufacturing center of Selma, Alabama.

The Battle of Ebenezer Church is often remembered today as a preliminary to the Battle of Selma, which was fought one day later. In reality, though, the April 1st encounter decided the fight for Selma before it ever took place.

Knowing that he could not hope to defend the vast fortifications surrounding Selma with the limited number of troops at his disposal, Forrest searched for good defensive ground north of the city where he could spring a trap on the army of Major General James H. Wilson. The Union general was then driving south through Alabama, destroying ironworks and farms as he advanced, and there was no doubt that his target was Selma and its militiary manufacturing facilities.

Forrest selected a site at Ebenezer Church, in today's community of Stanton about 24 miles north of downtown Selma. There he was able to place three brigades of troops into a line of battle stretching from a high hill on the left to Mulberry Creek on the right. The Confederate general hoped that with reinforcements coming up under Brigadier General James R. Chalmers he would be able to hold this line until 3,000 additional Southern troops came in behind Wilson and struck the rear of his army.

The battle did not unfold as Forrest hoped. Chalmers was unable to reach the field in time and only a portion of his brigade took part in the fighting at Ebenezer Church. The other 3,000 men that he planned to hurl against Wilson's rear were prevented from crossing the Cahaba River and did not reach the field.

Even without these men and despite the fact that he was outnumbered more than 2 to 1, Forrest waged a fierce fight at the Battle of Ebenezer Church. He was wounded by a saber blow during the fighting and also killed a Union officer who is thought to have been his 33rd combat victim.

To learn more about battle, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/ebenezerchurch.

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