Battle of Irish Bend

Other Names: Second Assault, Morris Island Location: City of Charleston Campaign: Operations against Defenses of Charleston (1863) Date(s): July 18-September 7, 1863 Principal Commanders: Maj.

Gen. Quincy Gillmore [US]; Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard [CS]

Forces Engaged: 6,800 total (US 5,000; CS 1,800)

Estimated Casualties: 1,689 total (US 1,515; CS 174)

Description:After the July 11 assault on Fort Wagner failed, Gillmore reinforced his beachhead on Morris Island. At dusk July 18, Gillmore launched an attack spearheaded by the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, a black regiment. The unit’s colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, was killed. Members of the brigade scaled the parapet but after brutal hand-to-hand combat were driven out with heavy casualties. The Federals resorted to siege operations to reduce the fort. This was the fourth time in the war that black troops played a crucial combat role, proving to skeptics that they would fight bravely if only given the chance.

Result(s): Confederate victory

CWSAC Reference #: SC007

Preservation Priority: IV.2 (Class B)

The Battle of Irish Bend, also known as Nierson's Wood or Franklin, was fought between Union Major General Nathaniel Prentice Banks against Confederate Major General Richard Taylor during Banks's operations against the Bayou Teche region in southern Louisiana.


While the other two Union XIX Corps divisions under Nathaniel Prentice Banks were comprising the expedition into west Louisiana crossed Berwick Bay towards Fort Bisland, 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.