Confederate monument
at St. Mary Parish
Courthouse (Franklin).

        Union General Culiver Grover of Maine was a West Point 
     graduate and in mid-April of he was in command of 4,000
     soldiers and assigned by General Banks get behind Dick 
     Taylor's Confederate army.  To do so he had left Baton 
     Rouge on troop transports and steamed down the
     Atchalfalaya River and he almost pulled it off.  On April
     14 Grover had successfully gotten a sizable part of his 
     forces across the Bayou Teche in the area known as 
     the Irish Bend.  Taylor was there to meet him and threw 
     his front lines into an attack.  
        Deadly combat raged all morning as Taylor tried to hold
     back the Yankees long enough to get the majority of his
     army across Yokely Bayou and on the road north to 
     Jenarette.  The Confederate gunboat Diana (captured 
     from the Federal fleet) held back Grover's men with 
     a steady shelling while Taylor's main force made its 
     escape.  Confederate General Alfred Mouton who was 
     fighting a rear guard action against Bank's main army
     coming up from Fort Bisland, managed to get his men
     across Yokely Bridge.  With this accomplished the 
     men on board the Diana set her ablaze and fled to join
     their comrades.
   Grover soon managed to get his entire force across the              Bayou Teche and into Franklin and merged with Banks                  army. The 16,000 Federals went North in pursuit of the much        smaller Rebel army but Taylor, who had honed his skills with          Stonewall Jackson in Shenandoah Valley, could not be caught.

Civil War
Field Trip

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Battle of Irish Bend (Franklin, LA)

(Visited August, 2018)

   From it's northern border with Arkansas to it's southern tip where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico, the state of Louisiana is blessed with incredible natural beauty.  In the northern parishes the Red and Ouchita Rivers take winding routes south, passing shady pine forests.  Around Alexandria the hills give way to almost prairie like scenes. Near Layfayette and New Orleans picturesque swamps are home to ancient cypress trees covered with Spanish Moss.
   Perhaps no other area of Louisiana offers more natural scenic vistas than St Mary Parish where the Bayou Teche is found.  The Teche flows calmly by Morgan City and the small town of Patterson, through thousands of acres of sugarcane fields to loop around historic Franklin, Louisiana.  Franklin is famous for being the home of five Governors of Louisiana.  The town was also the boyhood home of the only President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis.  Many of the town's beautiful old homes date back to well before the Civil War.
    In April of 1863 Franklin was also the site of small but bloody battle during the Civil War... The Battle of Irish Bend.

A modern day map that shows clearly how the Bayou Teche curves around Franklin, Louisiana.  Long before the Civil War this section of the stream was known as Irish Bend.  The 1863 clash
of the Blue and Gray armies inside this arc became known as The Battle of Irish Bend by Union veterans.  The Southern veterans called it The Battle of Franklin.
   CSA General Richard Taylor was politically connected, being the son of former U.S. President Zackery Taylor and the brother-in-law of Jefferson Davis.  However, Taylor was a proven military leader. Before he was transferred to Louisiana, he had led the Louisiana Tigers Infantry while serving under  General "Stonewall" Jackson during the successful Valley Campaign in Virginia. Taylor's Tigers were so respected by Jackson that the Louisiana troops were often the first units into battle and later served as the tough "Rear Guard."
   When Union General Nathaniel Banks led 12,000 troops and several gunboats to take control of the Bayou Teche and western Louisiana, Taylor was given the job of blocking the invasion.  He had less than half as many soldiers as the Yankees.
   At heart, Richard Taylor preferred the quick marching, lighting attacks he had mastered with Jackson in Virginia but to blunt the overwhelming Federal force moving up the Teche (from present day Morgan City) the Southern general sank a vessel to block the channel and hunkered down in the earth-walled Fort Bisland just west of Pattersonville. Taylor kept around 4,000 troops to defend the fort and placed another detachment (about 1,000 soldiers) up river at Franklin, where the Confederate general anticipated that Banks might try to flank his army. 
   The Union Army attacked Fort Bisland on April 12.  Taylor's little army held for two days against the assaults of infantry and heavy shelling from the gunboats.  Then came word from his scouts that a second Union force was indeed moving to cross the Teche upstream at Franklin.  Taylor knew he was about to face a two front battle and potential loss of his army.  On the night of April 13 Taylor pulled his entire command out of the fortifications at Bissland undetected and relocated to meet the threat at Franklin. The stage was set for the violent fight at Irish Bend.

Recommended Reading...
  In keeping with the magazine-type format of, the story you have just read is simply a glimpse of a historical event.  For a more detailed and very entertaining description of the Civil War actions along the Bayou Teche and the Red River Campaign in Louisiana, I suggest reading:  DARK AND BLOODY 
(Taylor Press - 2001) by Thomas Ayres.

   Another "Good Read" is DESTRUCTION AND RECONSTRUCTION by Richard Taylor.

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