Battle of Vermillion Bayou
Other Names: None Location: Lafayette Parish Campaign: Operations in West Louisiana (1863) Date(s): April 17, 1863 Principal Commanders: Brig.
Gen. Cuvier Grover [US]; Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor [CS]
Forces Engaged: 4th Division, XIX Army Corps, Army of the Gulf [US]; District of Western Louisiana [CS]
Estimated Casualties: Unknown
Description: While Rear Adm. David G. Farragut remained above Port Hudson with USS Hartford and Albatross, Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks decided to go after Maj. Gen. Richard Taylor’s Confederate forces in western Louisiana. He moved by water to Donaldsonville and began a march to Thibodeaux up Bayou Lafourche. Banks beat Taylor at Fort Bisland and Irish Bend, forcing the Rebel army to retreat up the bayou. Taylor reached Vermillionville, crossed Vermillion Bayou, destroyed the bridge, and rested. Banks, in pursuit, sent two columns, on different roads, toward Vermillion Bayou on the morning of April 17. One column reached the bayou while the bridge was burning, advanced, and began skirmishing. Confederate artillery, strategically placed, forced the Yankees back. Then Federal artillery opened a duel with its Confederate counterpart. After dark, the Rebels retreated to Opelousas. The Confederates had slowed the Union advance.
Result(s): Union victory
CWSAC Reference #: LA008
Preservation Priority: IV.2 (Class D)
The Battle of Vermillion Bayou was fought on April 17, 1863, the third battle in a series of running battles between Union Major General Nathaniel Prentice Banks and Confederate Major General Richard Taylor. The battle was fought after both the Battle of Fort Bisland and the Battle of Irish Bend.
After Nathaniel Prentice Banks had outmaneuvered Richard Taylor's Army of Western Louisiana out from the Bayou Teche region, he continued his movements towards his main objective of Alexandria, Louisiana. The Confederates were trying to slow him down as much as they could and they once again tried slowing him down right outside of Vermillion Bayou.
As Richard Taylor's small army was withdrawing up the Teche, they crossed a bridge going over Vermillion Bayou. In order to slow Banks' army down, Taylor's men lit the bridge on fire and stopped for a rest. Banks, who was in pursuit of Taylor, split his army into two columns and sent one towards the bridge and the other column around the side.
As soon as the first column came within sight of the bridge, Confederate artillery began shelling the Union soldiers. After a while, Union artillery came up and a series of counter-battery exchanges ensued.
During the night, Taylor, knowing himself to be outnumbered, withdrew his force again.
Though Taylor had not dealt Banks a defeat, he was continually slowing Banks down from reaching Alexandria, Louisiana, and his ultimate objective of Port Hudson, Louisiana.