Friday, November 18, 2016

MCCWRT Meeting-- Part 8: Red River Campaign-- Bailey and the Dam

On April 23, 1864, there was an engagement at Monett's Ferry and banks was able to get away to safety.

In the meantime, Admiral Porter's Union fleet was in dire straits at Alexandria as the Red River was too low for his ships to pass there.  It was six feet lower than usual and the gunboats were stranded.  The Union faced the serious possibility of having to destroy its entire fleet.

Enter Joseph Bailey who suggested temporary dams to raise the water level and enable the ships to pass over the shallows.  The first dam broke, but the USS Lexington and some ships did manage to get through to safety before the river got too shallow again.

It was rebuilt, along with wing dams upriver.  It was opened May 13 and all of Porter's ships got through this time.

Then on May 20th, the Union Army was unable to cross the Atchafalaya River because of high water.  It was Bailey to the rescue again when he had steamers line up, placed planks across them and a temporary bridge made.

For his efforts, Bailey was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Some Kind of Engineer, That Joseph Bailey.  --Old Secesh

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