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On This Day: June 11

1859 - Construction Begins on Iowa County Courthouse

On this date construction of the oldest existing courthouse in Wisconsin started. It is located in Dodgeville and is Iowa County's fourth courthouse. The first three were located in Mineral Point. [Source: History Just Ahead: A Guide to Wisconsin's Historical Markers, edited by Sarah Davis McBride, p. 147]

1861 - Second Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment Organized

On this date the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment was organized in Madison, Wisconsin as a three year regiment. Soldiers were issued Harper's Ferry muskets with 40 rounds of Buck & Ball ammunition each. It was the first three year regiment to arrive in Washington, charged with the task of defending the National Capitol after Lincoln issued his call for troops. 1000 members of the 2nd Wisconsin arrived in Washington D.C. on June 25 and marched through the streets. Three years later few were left. Their first engagement was Blackburn's Ford and First Battle of Bull Run under W.T. Sherman. In May 1862 Wisconsin's 2nd Infantry joined the 6th Infantry, and 7th Infantry; Indiana's 19th Infantry; Michigan's 24th Infantry; and Battery B of the 4th U.S. Light to form the famous "Iron Brigade". This group fought in the battles at Bull Run, Gainesville, Antietam, and Gettysburg. [Source:]

1864 - (Civil War) Eleventh day at Cold Harbor, Virginia

From May 31-June 12, 1864, more than 160,000 men clashed at Cold Harbor, Virginia, during the Wilderness Campaign. The 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 36th Wisconsin Infantry regiments took part. On June 11, the 37th Wisconsin Infantry arrived at Cold Harbor after the worst of the fighting had ended.

1864 - Wisconsin Civil War Hero Honored

On this date Colonel Joseph Bailey was honored with a "resolution of commendation," by the United States Congress for his "distinguished services in the recent campaign on the Red River." Bailey, a logger from Wisconsin, saved a Union fleet stuck in the Red River, Louisiana, due to a sudden drop in water level. Although his idea of damming the river to relieve the fleet was scorned by many of his peers and superiors (including many West Point graduates), his experience in logging on the Wisconsin River proved invaluable. Desperate, the Union Generals relented and Bailey was granted 300 men and 300 wagons to try to dam the river. After 10 days of labor, the dam was built, released, and the fleet was wisked away with the water to a deeper bend in the river. Bailey was promoted to Brigadier General. After Congress' "declaration of commendation," Bailey received a gold-mounted sword and a three-gallon silver punch bowl, priced at several thousand dollars, by the fleet he saved. After the war, Bailey served as an Indian Agent and served in Nevada and Missouri. He then returned to Wisconsin and became Vernon County sheriff. In 1867 he was killed by two criminals while attempting an arrest. [Source: Badger Saints and Sinners by Fred L. Holmes, pg 260-272]

1900 - Famous Confederate Spy Dies in Wisconsin

On this date Belle Boyd died while touring the Western states. One of the most famous of Confederate spies, Belle Boyd served the Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley. Born in Martinsburg, now part of West Virginia, she operated her spying operations from her fathers hotel in Front Royal, providing valuable information to Generals Turner Ashby and "Stonewall" Jackson during the spring 1862 campaign in the Valley. Jackson made her a captain and honorary aide-de-camp on his staff. Boyd died in Kilbourne, Wisconsin where she had gone to address members of a GAR post. She is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in the Wisconsin Dells. [Source: Civil War Biographies]

1927 - Marquette Athlete Wins Championship

On this date Melvin "Buster" Shimek became the first Marquette University athlete to win an NCAA Track & Field Championship event. He won the 2-mile run, clocking 9 minutes 34.4 seconds at Soldier Field in Chicago. [Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

1935 - Gene Wilder Born

On this date Gene Wilder (aka Jerome Silberman) was born in Milwaukee. Wilder graduated from Washington High School in Milwaukee in 1951. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1955. and studied judo, fencing, gymnastics and voice at the Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, England. Wilder won the Clarence Derwent award for the Broadway play "The Complaisant Lover" in 1962. He continued to perform on Broadway in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1963), Dynamite Tonight (1964), and The White House (1964). Wilder made his film debut in Bonnie and Clyde (1967), then earned an Oscar nomination the following year as the accountant Leo Bloom in The Producers, the first of three films he made for writer-director Mel Brooks. Wilder is known for his work in such films as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972), Blazing Saddles (1973), and Young Frankenstein (1974). After his second wife Gilda Radner died of ovarian cancer, Wilder co-founded Gilda's Club, a support group to raise awareness of the disease. [Source: Internet Movie Database]

1999 - Milwaukee Brewer Paul Molitor's Number 4 Jersey Retired

On this date former Milwaukee Brewer Paul Molitor's number four jersey was retired at County Stadium at a pre-game ceremony. If Molitor is inducted into the Baseball's Hall of Fame, he proclaimed he would be proud to enter as a Brewer. [Source: Major League Baseball]