General Joseph Bailey
Here the Army is saving the Navy by a brilliant piece of engineering that prevented the loss of a fleet
worth $2,000,000. The Red River expedition was one of the most humiliating ever undertaken by the
Federals. Admiral Porter's fleet, which had so boldly advanced above the Falls at Alexandria, was
ordered back, only to find that the river was so low as to imprison twelve vessels.
Lieut. Colonel Joseph Bailey, acting engineer of the Nineteenth Corps., obtained permission to build a
dam in order to make possible the passage of the fleet. Begun on April 30, 1864, the work was finished
on the 8th of May, almost entirely by the soldiers, working day and night, often up to their necks in
water and under the broiling sun.
Bailey succeded in turning the whole current into one channel and the squadron passed below the Falls
to safety. Not often have inland lumbermen been the means of saving a Navy.
The Man Who Saved The Fleet
The Army Engineers laughed at this wide browed, unassuming man when he suggested building a dam so as to release Admiral Porter's fleet imprisoned by low water above the Falls at Alexandria at the close of the futile Red River expedition in 1864. Bailey had been a lumberman in Wisconsin and had there gained the practical experience which taught him that the plan was feasable. He was acting Chief Engineer of the Nineteenth Army Corps. at the time, and obtained permission to go ahead and build his dam.
In the undertaking, he had the support and approval of Admiral Porter, who refused to consider the abandonment of his vessels, even though the Red River expedition had been ordered to return and General Banks was chafing at delay and sending messages to Porter that his troops must be put in motion at once. Bailey pushed on with his work and in eleven days he succeded in so raising the water level in the channel that all the federal boats were ablt to pass on down below the Falls.
"Words are inadequate", said Admiral Porter, in his report, "To express the admiration I feel for the
ability of Lieut. Col. Bailey. This is, without doubt the best engineering feat ever performed.......The
highest honors the Government can bestow on General Bailry can never repay him for the service he has rendered the Country."
For this achievment, Bailey was promoted to Colonel, brevetted Brigadier General, voted the thanks of
Congress, and presented with a sword and a purse of $83,000 by the officers of Porter's fleet.
He settled in Nevada, Vernon County, Missouri, after the War, and was elected Sheriff.
He was shot and killed in the line of Duty on March 21, 1867, supposedly by the Pixley brothers, former guerrillas.
Joseph Bailey was born at Salem, Ohio, April 28, 1827.
The Pixley Brothers
Plummer Pixley and his family were living in Madison County, Illinois, a border county along the Mississippi River near St. Louis, Missouri, on the 1840 Census. The family moved to Howard County, Missouri in 1843. In 1850, the family was living in Chariton County, near Glasgow, which is in Howard County. Plummer Pixley was listed as a wagon master. In 1860, they were still in Chariton County. Also in 1860, Plummer listed his farm for sale, but it apparently didn't sell.
Plummer Pixley was murdered in January 1865 in Chariton County by Union Militia.
According to The History of Howard and Chariton Counties, Missouri, "Pixley was shot and killed on the road between his house and Brunswick, and his face, when his body was found, had been partially eaten by hogs."
The Missouri Republican, reported the event on 10 Jan, 1865, as, "Pixley, age 55 killed in Chariton County."
"The History of Northeast Missouri" just calls him "an old man named Pixley" when reporting the death. It says the killers were Union Militia and were responsible for about fifty-five deaths in the area during the Civil War, mostly old men and young boys who were suspected of having Southern sympathies. Plummer Pixley had three sons in the Confederate service.
Lewis, Perry, and James, sons of Plummer Pixley, took matters into their own hands. Many of the murderers were killed in retaliation. The brothers had returned from serving with Price and had joined Holtzclaw's guerrilla unit. There was testimoney in the trial of Robert Black alias Aaron Blackburn, that he rode with Clifton Holtzclaw, Tom Tippett, Ben Boydston, Tom Plunket, and the Pixleys. Some of those named also served with Sam Hildebrand, Anderson and Quantrill.
Only one other statement in the Provost Marshal Records mentions the Pixleys directly. It is not clear why the statement was made but it is very detailed. It appears that the youngest son, James, had been accused of something but all three are mentioned, plus the oldest son, Daniel, who is accused of covering up for James. It also mentions Bill Anderson visiting the area.
James married Martha ____ and went to La Grange, Indiana. Perry Pixley married Synthia Ann Robbins on 08 Nov 1866 in Chariton County. Lewis and Perry went to Vernon County, Missouri.
General Joseph Bailey, a talented engineer in the Union Army, had received a vote of thanks from Congress and was brevetted to the rank of Brigadier General for his work building wing dams, which saved the Union Fleet on the ill-fated Red River Expedition. After the war he settled in Nevada, Vernon County, Missouri, and was elected Sheriff. He was shot and killed on March 21, 1867. He had gone to serve a warrant on Lewis and Perry Pixley for stealing a hog and didn't come back. His body was found later along the trail from the Pixley house. It was said that the brothers had been arrested and had shot Bailey on the way back to Nevada.
The Pixley brothers escaped and were never captured. Thomas Ingram, supposedly a former Quantrill Guerrilla, was arrested as an accessory, then taken from the jail by a mob and lynched.
Many people in Vernon County didnít think they killed Bailey. They said the Prosecuting Attorney did it with outside support and it was a political killing. It was thought that Bailey would eventually be governor, then possibly president. People said that he was too smart to arrest the Pixleys, then let them ride behind him. He was shot in the back. Some thought the Pixleys had also been killed and the bodies hidden. If not, they probably headed west or south and changed their names.
Despite a large reward, the accused killers, former guerrillas Lewis and Perry Pixley, were never found. In later years, Bailey's son claimed that the official story of his father's death was a cover up and that his father had been set up by local officials with Southern sympathies.
Note: Vernon County newspapers have published several stories in the past that state that the Pixleys were "former guerrillas from Clay County". That is not true. There was a Confederate Pixley family in Clay, but not this one. They may have been distantly related.
The Herald, Osceola, St. Clair County, Missouri
April 24, 1867
John T. Birdseye, County Attorney of Vernon County offers an additional $1500 reward added to the $1500 offered by the citizens of Vernon County, for the apprehension of Lewis Pixley and Perry Pixley , the murderers of Gen. Joseph Bailey, Sheriff of Vernon Co. on March 26th. Perry Pixley is 5 feet 8 inches, weights 165 lbs., small clear blue eyes, light hair, very light think whiskers, 22 or 23 years of age and talks out of one side of his mouth. Lewis Pixley bears a strong resemblance to Perry, but is larger and more rough, nose is rather large, bones of the face are large, about 5 feet 9 inches, 180 lbs. with smooth face, light hair, 25 or 26 years old and has a defense in one eye which gives it a slightly inflamed appearance; was once shot in the left arm; was also wounded in the high which causes a slight limp.
OFFERING A REWARD
APRIL 9, 1867
From the Register of Civil Proceedings, 1861-1868, p. S57
WHEREAS Perry Pixley and Lewis Pixley, who are charged with the murder of Genl. Joseph Bailey, Sheriff of Vernon County, Missouri on the 26th of March 1867 and WHEREAS the said Perry and Lewis Pixley have fled from justice and are still at large Now THEREFORE I, George Smith, acting Governor of the State of Missouri, for good and sufficient reasons appearing and by virtue of authority in me vested by law, do offer a reward of Three Hundred Dollars for the apprehension
and delivery of the bodies of each of the aforesaid fugitives from justice to the proper authorities of Vernon County.
Description of Fugitives:
Perry Pixley is 5 ft. 10 inches high, weighs about 175 pounds, eyes small, clear and blue, full face, light hair, light thin whiskers, is about 22 years of age.
" Lewis Pixley bears a close resemblance to Perry, but is larger and coarser in appearance, larger nose, and face more bony, about 5 feet 11 inches high, weighs about 180 Ibs., with smooth face and light hair, about 25 or 26 years of age.
In Testimony Whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of
the State of Missouri:
Done at the City of Jefferson this ninth day of (SEAL) April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven; of the Independence of the United States the Ninety-first and of the State of Missouri the Forty-seventh.
By the Governor: Acting Governor.
FRANCIS RODMAN, Secretary of State.
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