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Joseph Bailey
[[Image:File:Josephbailey.jpg|center|200px|border]]Brigadier General Joseph Bailey, ca. 1864
Personal Information
Born: May 6, 1825(1825-05-06)
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Died: March 21, 1867 (aged 41)
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Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
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Branch: Union Army
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Rank: Brigadier General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Battles: American Civil War
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Joseph Bailey (May 6, 1825 – March 21, 1867) was a civil engineer who served as a brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Early life[]

Bailey was born near the town of buttsberg in Morgan County, Ohio. He earned a civil engineering degree at the University of Illinois, then moved to Wisconsin and became a civil engineer and lumberman. Politically, he was a Democrat.[1]

Civil War[]

Bailey entered the Union Army at the beginning of the war as captain of Company D of the 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment. He served as part of Major General Benjamin F. Butler's Army of the Gulf, which occupied New Orleans after Admiral David Farragut captured the city in April 1862. Bailey was named acting chief engineer for the city of New Orleans shortly after its occupation.

Promoted to major in May 1863, Bailey contributed to the Union Army's engineering activities in support of the Siege of Port Hudson. In August 1863, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel when the regiment was redesignated as the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment.

Red River Campaign[]

Bailey's engineering skills during Major General Nathaniel P. Banks' ill-fated 1864 Red River Campaign are considered the reason the campaign did not result in the loss of the entire 30,000-man Army of the Gulf. Having landed his forces at Simmesport, Louisiana in March with the intention of moving north along the Red River some 200 miles to capture Shreveport, the headquarters of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, Banks was repulsed at the Battle of Mansfield on April 8, 1864, by Confederate General Richard Taylor and his force of just 12,000 men.

Retreating down the Red River, Banks found the low river level at Alexandria prohibited the passage of Commander David Dixon Porter's fleet of ten Federal gunboats, part of the Union Army's Mississippi Squadron. Hounded by Taylor's forces in the rear, Banks faced the humiliating necessity of abandoning Porter's fleet. Without the fleet's supporting fire power, his entire Army would risk capture before it could return to safety in New Orleans.

Resigned to his fate, Banks reluctantly listened to Porter's suggestion to give Bailey's idea a try. Bailey suggested building a winged dam, similar to those he had built as a Wisconsin lumberman. The dam, Bailey argued, would raise the level of the river. When it was high enough to carry Porter's fleet over the falls, Bailey would blow up the dam, and the fleet would be saved.

Persuaded by Porter, Banks agreed to the plan. For ten days, 10,000 troops worked feverishly on both banks of the River to build the dam. Finally, on May 10, 1864, the river rose, the dam was broken, and the fleet floated past. Porter's fleet and Banks' army were saved. The ruins of "Bailey's Dam" can be seen to this day in Alexandria.

A grateful United States Congress voted Bailey the Thanks of Congress, making him only one of fifteen men to receive such an honor during the Civil War. He was the only person to receive the honor who did not command a corps or division at the time.

Promotion to general[]

In June 1864, Bailey became the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry's colonel. However, he was soon assigned to command the Engineer Brigade in the XIX Corps in the Department of the Gulf from June through August. He then commanded the District of West Florida from August until November, when he was sent back to Louisiana to take charge of the District of Baton Rouge and Port Hudson. He was promoted to brigadier general and held other commands in the Western Theater until the war's end. In March 1865, he was breveted as a major general.

Last years[]

Joseph Bailey survived the war by less than two years. In October 1865, he moved with his wife and children to Vernon County, Missouri, where he was elected sheriff. He was shot and killed in March 1867 near Nevada, Missouri by two brothers he had arrested (but failed to disarm) for stealing a hog. Despite a $3,000 reward, the killers, former guerrillas Lewis and Perry Pixley, were never brought to justice.[2][3]A third suspect was lynched.

General Bailey was buried with Masonic honors in the military cemetery at Fort Scott, Kansas. His remains were later moved to Evergreen Cemetery, where he rests next to his wife.[4][5]

A monument to his memory stands in Malta, Ohio, and he is the subject of a recent biography, Hero of the Red River - The Life and Times of Joseph Bailey.[6]

See also[]

External links[]