1864 – Joseph Bailey Saves Union Fleet

On this date Joseph Bailey began to direct the men of six regiments, including the 23rd Wisconsin, in a dramatic attempt to save the heart of the Union fleet during the Civil War. Bailey, who was from Wisconsin Dells and an experienced lumberjack, served as an engineer in the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry. In a doomed campaign against the Confederates on the Red River in Louisiana, Union warships found themselves trapped by low water and the rocky river bed. As Confederate soldiers approached, Bailey employed water control techniques used by loggers to construct a series of dams that successfully narrowed the river, raised the water level by six feet, and provided enough surge to . For his role in this rescue, Bailey was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He also received a from his fellow officers. [, pg. 18.]