A Wisconsin logger saves the Union fleet in 1864

The Official Reports of Building the "Red River Dam" at Alexandria, La., May 1864.


Wisconsin soldier Joseph Bailey (1827-1867), an engineer with the 4th Wisconsin cavalry, used his logging experience in the pineries to save a Union fleet stuck on the Red River in Lousiana in May, 1864. The Union forces had lost a string of battles with Confederate soldiers during an abortive river invasion of Louisiana in May, 1864. As the troops retreated, $2,000,000 in federal ships were in danger of being captured by the enemy because falling water levels had stranded them. Bailey, a former lumberman, proposed a string of dams be built on the river to increase its depth -- a technique he had seen used to float stranded logs to sawmills - - and allow Union gunboats to break free when the dam was released. His plan, enacted in last-minute desperation, worked successfully, and Bailey is still remembered for his heroic efforts during the Civil War. The links below take you to a 22-page series of documents from the official government report on the incident, including many quotes from participants. Shortly after the war Bailey became a law enforcement officer and was gunned down by escaping criminals in March of 1867.


Related Topics: Wisconsin in the Civil War Era
The Iron Brigade, Old Abe and Military Affairs
Creator: Pearsall, Lieut. Col. Uri B.
Pub Data: Excerpted from: United States War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. (Washington, 1880-1901), volume 34, series 61.
Citation: Pearsall, Lieut. Col. Uri B. "The Official Reports of Building the 'Red River Dam' at Alexandria, La., May 1864." Excerpted from: United States War Dept. The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. (Washington, 1880-1901), volume 34, series 61. Online facsimile at:  http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/turningpoints/search.asp?id=1137; Visited on: 7/25/2014
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