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: by Fred L. Holmes, pg 260-272]