1867 – Wisconsin Civil War Hero Killed

On this date Joseph Bailey was killed while attempting to arrest two criminals in Vernon Co., Missouri. Prior to becoming sheriff, Bailey fought for the Union in the Civil War and used his logging experience in the Wisconsin pineries to save a fleet stuck on the Red River in Lousiana. The Union fleet had lost successive 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 damming the river to increase its depth and allow Union gunboats to float 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. Bailey’s story is told in by Albert Bigelow Paine, biographer of Mark Twain. [Source:  Paine, Albert B. “An Exploit of the War.”  St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 20, 1895]