My Ezra Church section is rather brief and non-specific, as it appeared my unit of interest was not involved. When I look up ancesterial units, I generally search the ORs in depth. I have wondered about Ferguson's recollection of speaking with SD Lee, as it does not fit what I knew of his position with Wheeler at the time, on the east end of the CSA line. Perhaps he was mistaken (he wrote in the early 1900s) or for whatever reason made up the story (he did get the battle name wrong).
Ferguson really seems to be an enigma. He appears to have done well while leading a small 'brigade' (for lack of a better term) in the area north of the Yazoo in Spring 1863, and at least adequately while his brigade was on its own in Northeast Mississippi in the last half of 1863.
He had severe problems with superiors. I understand the situation with Red Jackson became so strained after New Hope Church that there was the possibility of a duel. I have been under the impression that the trade-off of brigades between Jackson's and Wheeler's commands was not offically permanent by the end of the Atlanta campaign, even though Ferguson's Brigade operated with Wheeler rather than Jackson by the time the Army of Tennessee crossed the Chattahoochee. Ferguson was left with Jackson when Wheeler was sent into Tennessee, as reflected in the order you cite. But it appears Ferguson offcially remained part of Jackson's Division into October, and was officially split off as the Army of Tennessee moved from Northern Alabama into Tennessee. In my notes, I have reference to a September 20, 1864 organization listing of the Army of Tennessee showing Ferguson's Brigade still in Jackson’s Division. Ferguson’s Brigade is listed as being under the command of Col. William Boyles at that time. On October 9th, Ferguson sent a dispatch to Frank Armstrong, advising that, “I have resumed command of my brigade,” and requesting Armstrong to give him “such instructions as you may deem it necessary to give me.”
Also, in his memoirs, Lt. Colonel Frank Montgomery of the 1st Mississippi Cavalry (Armstrong’s Brigade) referenced several orders he saved from the period (September/October 1864). On October 23rd, Montgomery received a communication from Captain Thomas Sykes, one of Jackson’s adjutants. Part of Sykes’ letter noted: “The command (Ross' and Armstrong's brigade) left Jacksonville to-day, en route to Gunter's Landing. I suppose General Hood with the infantry are crossing the Tennessee river to-day. Ferguson's brigade is left at Cedartown, with orders to report to General Wheeler. Jackson is to have some other brigade in place of Ferguson's. Our base is changed to Corinth and Tuscumbia." On October 24th, Montgomery received an order from General Jackson, which read in part: “Let the horses and men of General Ferguson's brigade remain in the present camp, and notify the officer in command that General F.'s brigade was left at Cedar Town, somewhere on the line from that place to this."
Unfortunately, Ferguson also did not get along with Wheeler any better than Jackson. According to Sherman's Horsemen, Wheeler did not want Ferguson shifted to his command during the Atlanta Campaign. In January 1865, after the official transfer, Wheeler was very critical of Ferguson in reports to Bragg, and in one states that he had been opposed to Hood sending Ferguson to him.
Interestingly, on August 21,1864, Maj. Gen. D. H. Maury, at Meridian, Mississippi, sent a dispatch to Ferguson, “Lose no time in procuring and executing orders for transfer of your brigade. I want you here immediately; answer.” The same day, Hood sent a reply: “Ferguson on raid. Don’t know when he will return. I have no intimation that the exchange of Pillow for Ferguson was contemplated until receipt of your former dispatch consenting thereto. What news from Mobile? Have you enough forces to hold it?” The next day, Maury wrote Hood, advising he wanted Ferguson’s Brigade to “cover [the] Mobile and Ohio Railroad.” I have found nothing further in regard to the possible transfer, and obviously it did not occur.
Unfortunately, I think Ferguson's problems with Jackson and Wheeler hurt the effective employment of his brigade. It seems to be 'pushed around,' with no one wanting them, despite the need for men.
Have you ever found any information in regard to Ferguson being court-martialed in 1864? According to Sherman’s Horsemen, Jackson ordered Ferguson to leave his brigade’s artillery battery with the division when sent to Wheeler during the Atlanta campaign, Ferguson disobeyed and took it with him, and Jackson filed charges against Ferguson. As noted above, Ferguson appears not to have been in command of his brigade in late September/early October 1864. In one of the January 1865 reports, Wheeler states that Jackson “tried to make him [Ferguson] do his duty properly, and had him tried before a court-martial for neglect of duty.”