Battle of Ebenezer Church
Fought on April 1, 1865, the
fight at Ebenezer Church
opened the door to the
industrial center of Selma.
Battle of Ebenezer Church - Stanton, Alabama
Battle of Ebeneze Church, Alabama
The battle took place on the day before the Union
capture of Selma and was Nathan Bedford Forrest's
last fight on ground of his own choosing.
Monument to Northern Dead
The monument to the twelve
Union soldiers killed at
Ebenezer Church is unique in
that it was placed by the
United Daughters of the
Confederacy.
Ebenezer Church Battlefield
The undeveloped battlefield is
now covered with forests,
fields and houses.
Bogler Creek
The creek was running very
high at the time of the battle
and Confederate troops
fought to hold the crossing.
The Battle of Ebenezer Church - Stanton, Alabama
Forrest vs. Wilson in Alabama
On April 1, 1865, Confederate Lieutenant
General Nathan Bedford Forrest fought one
last time on ground of his own choosing. The
Battle of Ebenezer Church, Alabama, was a
last ditch effort to prevent the Union army of
Major General James H. Wilson from
reaching the
vital manufacturing center of
Selma.

Forrest's outnumbered Confederates had
skirmished with Wilson's columns as they
moved south through Alabama from the
Tennessee River. Despite such resistance,
the Federals had demolished vital ironworks
and inflicted heavy damage on farms along
their route. Knowing that he could not hope to
hold the miles long fortifications of Selma
with the troops at his disposal, Forrest began
looking for a place where he might spring a
trap and turn back Wilson's juggernaut.

He picked the ground around Ebenezer
Church, a country chapel in today's small
town of Stanton, Alabama. A combination of
high ground and a tight curve of swampy
ground where Mulberry Creek flowed into
Bogler Creek created ideal defensive terrain
at the site. In addition, the two roads by which
Wilson's divided columns were approaching
also joined at the church.

Contributing to Forrest's decision to fight at
Ebenezer Church was his expectation that he
would soon be reinforced there by the cavalry
brigade of Brigadier James R. Chalmers
which was moving up from the south, but not
at the speed Forrest believed. In addition,
Brigadier General William H. Jackson was
approaching from the west with another
3,000 men.

If all went well, Forrest believed he could
blunt Wilson's drive at Ebenezer Church long
enough for Jackson to cross the Cahaba
River and plow into the rear of the Federal
army. The plan was classic Forrest and, as
one participant noted, could have led to the
"cavalry battle of the ages." Unfortunately for
the Confederates, it was not to be.

As the two columns of Wilson's main force
approached Ebenezer Church via converging
roads, General Forrest moved his troops into
position. Facing north, his line stretched from
Mulberry Creek on the right, across the
railroad and main Selma Road and then up
to the top of a commanding hill on the left.
Manning this line, from right to left, were the
Alabama state troops of Brigadier General
Daniel W. Adams, the cavalry brigade of
Brigadier General Philip D. Roddey and the
cavalry brigade of Colonel Edward Crossland.
The Confederates were outnumbered more
than two to one by the 9,000 or so Federals
who were bearing down on them, but had
strengthened their position with breastworks
made of fence rails. Eight pieces of artillery
were also positioned to sweep the routes by
which the Union troops would be
approaching.

Most Union accounts of the Battle of
Ebenezer Church indicate that the Federal
commanders were stunned when they
realized the Confederates had turned and
were making a stand. For days Southern
cavalry had been skirmishing and falling
back ahead of the Union columns and the
Northern officers seem to have expected
more of the same when they suddenly
plowed into Forrest's line of battle.

The fight was extremely fierce. At one point,
four companies from the 17th Indiana Infantry
(Mounted) charged the Confederate lines. It
was a mistake, as the 17th was supposed to
support a planned charge by the 72nd
Indiana, but instead moved out too soon.

Even so, the four companies of Hoosiers
broke thundered across the Confederate
breastworks. Forrest counter-attacked with
his escort company and other reserves and
drove back the Federals in a desperate hand
to hand encounter. It was during this fight that
he shot and killed Captain James D.M. Taylor
of the 17th Indiana after the captain had
struck the general with his saber.

Taylor was the last of at least 33 men that
General Forrest killed with his own hands
during the war.
The weight of numbers, however, finally
made the difference for General Wilson. Only
a portion of the reinforcements that Forrest
hoped to receive from Chalmers arrived in
time and the brigade under General Jackson
was prevented from crossing the Cahaba
River and was unable to strike the rear of the
Union army as planned.

A Union charge finally broke the Alabama
troops on the right of the Confederate line
and the battle degenerated into a desperate
fight to reach the crossing of Bogler Creek,
which ran along the rear of the Southern
position.

Withdrawing from the battlefield along the
railroad and main road leading to Selma,
Forrest kept his army intact. He knew,
however, that the
Battle of Selma coming the
next day would almost certainly result in the
loss of the important industrial center. There
was no way he could hope to properly man
the city's extensive fortifications with his
available force. The battle for Selma had
been fought - and lost - at Ebenezer Church.

The site of the Battle of Ebenezer Church
today is undeveloped. There is a marker in
front of the church that provides a version of
the fight and a monument can be found up
the hill in the cemetery paying tribute to the
12 Union soldiers killed in the battle. It is
interesting to note that it was funded and
placed by the United Daughters of the
Confederacy.

Available Confederate reports indicate that
no Southern troops were killed in the action,
although a number were wounded.

The cemetery is on the heights that formed
the left of Forrest's line. From there his line
extended down the ridge through the houses
of the modern community of Stanton and
across the railroad to Mulberry Creek.

Although there is no battlefield park at
Ebenezer Church, it is possible to view much
of the scene of the fight from the parking lot of
the church. The view looking across State
Highway 22 from the church allows one to
see the scene of the collapse of the Alabama
troops and the area where the Union attack
broke Forrest's line. The cemetery is just up
the hill on County Road 45 from the church

Ebenezer Church is located on State
Highway 22, 24 miles north of downtown
Selma, Alabama. To learn more about
Wilson's raid and other related events,
please follow the links below.
Forrest's Ridge
The ridge seen here in the
distance was the position on
which Forrest placed his line
of battle at Ebenezer Church.
The Cemetery
The monument to the Union
dead stands beneath the
trees at right. One of the
roads used as an approach
route by the Federals passes
through the old cemetery.
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Copyright 2011, 2012 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update:
January 29, 2014
Civil War Sites in Alabama