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Collection Joseph Bailey
WVM ID Number WVM Mss 1277
Object Name Archive
Title Civil War letters, 1860-1866.
Year Range from 1860
Year Range to 1866
Event Civil War
Description Letters, original and transcribed, written by Joseph Bailey, a resident of Kilbourn City (now Wisconsin Dells), Wisconsin who served as a brigadier general during the Civil War. Born in Salem, Ohio in 1827, Bailey later moved to Kilbourn City. In 1861, shortly after his enlistment, he was promoted to captain of Company D, 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He engineered the defenses of New Orleans in 1862, and by 1864 was a colonel in the 14th Wisconsin Infantry. Later that year, Bailey was given command of the engineering brigade of the 19th Army Corps. The dams that he built on either side of the Red River in Louisiana saved the 19th Corps and its supporting fleet during the Red River campaign of 1864. Bailey received the Thanks of Congress and a promotion to brigadier general for this act. Bailey was promoted to the rank of brevet major general before he mustered out in 1865. Following the war, Bailey moved to Nevada, Missouri, where he was killed by former bushwhackers while acting as sheriff. The letters were written between 1860 and 1866 to his children, wife, Captain Herren of Company D, 4th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and Perry G. Stroud, his lawyer. Collection contains 28 original letters and 55 transcriptions. All letters have been transcribed, with one exception, and photocopies are included of several original letters that are not present. Also included is an original letter from Bailey's wife to Stroud (August 15, 1869), a letter from Mrs. Bailey to her daughter (January 1, 1864), and a transcript of the second page of an unknown letter by Bailey. Bailey's letters to his children send words of guidance. The letters to his wife, Mary, provide her with updates from the front, and instructions for running the household. He also describes to her in detail a voyage from Newport News to New Orleans (March 11, 1862). Bailey's letters to Captain Herren provide in-depth detail of Bailey's beliefs and service. Bailey hints at paranoia by complaining of perceived enemies both at home and in the military, noting slander against him and a conspiracy to order him on a doomed cavalry raid. An account of this raid is included in a letter dated July 12, 1864. The first three letters to Perry G. Stroud are related to the crisis caused by the bankruptcy of the Wisconsin River Hydraulic Company. Bailey's wartime letters to Stroud again focus on Bailey's reputation and enemies. Bailey's post-war letters to Stroud are mostly requests for paperwork, help with business matters, and updates regarding attempts to sell his house and find a new place to live. In wartime letters to both Stroud and Herren, Bailey's conflicted beliefs regarding freed slaves are made clear. Due to the Emancipation Proclamation, Bailey writes Herren that he is uncertain whether to vote for Abraham Lincoln in the upcoming presidential election (July 30, 1864). In another letter to Herren, dated September 17, 1864, Bailey states that if the Proclamation had not been issued, more Black men could have been persuaded to fight for the Union, and many Black women, children, and cripples would not be straining the resources of the federal government. In the same letter, Bailey writes that Blacks are not equal to Whites, that God is using the North and the South as tools to punish their respective sins, and that the Devil will continue to control the United States until both sides repent. Bailey's racism is again made clear in his letters to Stroud. In a letter from December 5, 1862, he states that he would rather all Blacks be burned at the stake than the United States be destroyed, but in the same letter also expresses sympathy towards the plight of Blacks, and in a letter dated December 24, 1862, he recalls the celebration held when he gave his Black engineering work crew beer for Christmas Eve. All of the transcriptions were done by Bud Gussel, donor of the collection.
Extent and Medium of Description 0.2 linear ft. (1 archives box)
Subjects Generals -- Family relationships.
Generals -- Wisconsin -- Wisconsin Dells.
Veterans -- Missouri -- Nevada.
Red River Expedition, 1864.
Slaves -- United States.
Bailey, Joseph, 1825-1867.
United States. Army. Wisconsin Cavalry Regiment, 4th (1863-1866)
United States. Army. Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, 14th (1862-1865)
United States. Army -- Military life.
United States. Army -- Officers.
Letters (correspondence)
Xerographic copies.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Cavalry operations.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Public opinion.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.
United States -- Race relations.