Joseph Bailey

Joseph Bailey

Joseph Bailey Facts

May 6, 1825–March 21, 1867

Key facts about Joseph Bailey who is remembered for planning and supervising the construction of Bailey's Bridge during the Red River Campaign in 1864.

Full Name:

  • Joseph Bailey

Birth Date:

  • May 6, 1825

Birth Location:

  • Near Pennsville in southeastern Ohio


  • Undetermined


  • Undetermined


  • Lumberman
  • Military officer
  • Lawman

Career Summary:

  • Brigadier General (USVA)
  • Brevet Major General (USVA)
  • Sheriff of Vernon County, Missouri


  • Mary Spaulding (1846)

Place of Death:

  • March 21, 1867

Date of Death:

  • Near Nevada, Missouri

Place of Burial:

  • Evergreen Cemetery, near Fort Scott, Kansas


  • As a youth, Joseph Bailey moved with his family to Illinois, where he was raised.
  • On December 24, 1846, Joseph Bailey married Mary Spaulding, of New York.
  • In 1850, Joseph Bailey settled in Kilbourn City (now Wisconsin Dells) in central Wisconsin.
  • After moving to Kilbourn City, Wisconsin in 1850, Joseph Bailey became employed in the lumber business and gained practical experience in large construction projects, including dams on the Wisconsin River.
  • When the Civil War began, Joseph Bailey enlisted in the 4th Wisconsin Infantry.
  • Joseph Bailey was commissioned as a captain of Company D on July 2, 1861.
  • After the fall of New Orleans in April 1862, Joseph Bailey was named acting chief engineer of New Orleans.
  • In the spring of 1863, Joseph Bailey was redeployed to participate in the Siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana (May 22 – July 9).
  • Joseph Bailey was promoted to major on May 30, 1863.
  • Joseph Bailey was promoted to lieutenant colonel on July 15, 1863.
  • In spring of 1864, Joseph Bailey was detached from the 4th Wisconsin and accompanied Major General Nathaniel Banks on the ill-fated Red River Campaign (March 10 – May 22, 1864).
  • During the Red River Campaign (March 10 – May 22, 1864), Joseph Bailey planned and supervised the construction of a winged dam that temporarily raised the water level of the Red River, enabling Rear Admiral Daniel Porter’s fleet of gunboats to retreat to safety over the waterfalls and rapids at Alexandria.
  • In 1864, a grateful Congress brevetted Joseph Bailey to the rank of brigadier general, and awarded him the Thanks of Congress, for saving Rear Admiral Daniel Porter’s fleet of gunboats during the Red River Campaign (March 10 – May 22, 1864).
  • Joseph Bailey was one of only 14 men to receive the Thanks of Congress during the Civil War.
  • Joseph Bailey was the only recipient of the Thanks of Congress during the Civil War who was not an army or corps commander at the time.
  • Joseph Bailey was promoted to colonel of the Wisconsin 4th in June 1864.
  • On November 10, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Joseph Bailey brigadier general of volunteers (effective November 19) and submitted the nomination to the Senate on December 12. When the Senate failed to act, Bailey’s nomination expired on March 4, 1865. Lincoln resubmitted the nomination on March 7, but Bailey resigned from the army on July 7, 1865.
  • After resigning from the army, Joseph Bailey returned to Wisconsin.
  • In late 1865, Joseph Bailey moved his family to a farm in Vernon County, Missouri.
  • In 1866, Joseph Bailey was elected as sheriff of Vernon County, Missouri, with his office in Nevada City.
  • President Andrew Johnson nominated Joseph Bailey for promotion to brigadier general (effective November 10, 1864) on January 13, 1866, even though Bailey was out of the service. The Senate finally confirmed the nomination on February 23, 1866.
  • In 1867, two former Confederate bushwhackers murdered Joseph Bailey as he was escorting them to jail after arresting them for rustling. Bailey’s killers, Lewis and Perry Pixley, were never brought to justice.
  • Bailey is buried at Evergreen Cemetery, near Fort Scott, Kansas.
  • On March 28, 1867, President Andrew Johnson nominated Joseph Bailey posthumously for the award of the brevet grade of major general of volunteers, effective March 13, 1865. The Senate confirmed the nomination on March 30, 1867.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Joseph Bailey Facts
  • Coverage May 6, 1825–March 21, 1867
  • Author
  • Keywords joseph bailey
  • Website Name American History Central
  • URL
  • Access Date April 7, 2020
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 16, 2019

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