The Battle of Irish Bend, also known as Nerson’s Woods or Franklin, was fought between Union Major General Nathaniel Prentice Banks against Confederate Major General Richard Taylor during Banks’ operations against the Bayou Teche region near Franklin, the seat of St. Mary Parish in southern Louisiana.
The other two Union XIX Corps divisions under Nathaniel Prentice Banks comprised the expedition into west Louisiana crossed Berwick Bay towards Fort Bisland. At the same time, Brigadier General Cuvier Grover’s division went up the Atchafalaya River into Grand Lake, where they could either block a Confederate retreat, or force a retreat if the Confederates stayed and fought at Fort Bisland. The battle occurred two days after the Battle of Fort Bisland.
On the morning of April 13, 1863, Grover’s division landed in the vicinity of Franklin and scattered Confederate troops attempting to stop them from disembarking. That night Grover ordered the division to cross Bayou Teche and prepare for an attack towards Franklin, Louisiana, at dawn. Meanwhile, however, Major General Richard Taylor reacted, feeling the obvious threat to his rear. He started withdrawing his forces from Fort Bisland, and his advance guard arrived quickly. On the morning of April 14, Taylor and his men were at Nerson’s Woods, around a mile and a half above Franklin. As Grover’s lead brigade marched out a few miles, it found Taylor’s men on its right and skirmishing began. The fighting became intense; the Confederates attacked, forcing the Federal soldiers to fall back. The gunboat Diana arrived and anchored the Confederate right flank on the Teche. Still, Grover’s men outnumbered the Confederates and when he paused to deploy his full force, Taylor withdrew rather than risk a pitched battle against superior numbers. Grover’s men had taken the strategic position they sought. This victory, along with the one at Fort Bisland, two days earlier, assured the success of the expedition into west Louisiana.