APRIL 29TH, 1864: Union Army and Navy commanders accept a daring plan proposed by Union Lt.Col. Joseph Bailey to raise the water level of the Red River to enable the vessels to pass the treacherous rapids. He proposed the construction of a large dam of logs and debris across the river to back up the water level to a minimum height of seven feet.
The dam would be broken and the ships would ride the crest of the rushing water to safety. Work on the dam began on April 30th.
Porter wasn't sure about it, but any effort to save the ships was worth the attempt. He wrote: "The proposition looked like madness, and the best engineers ridiculed it, but Colonel Bailey was so sanguine of success that I requested General Banks to have it done... two or three regiments of Maine men were set to work felling trees...every man seemed to be working with a vigor seldom seen equalled....These falls are about a mile in length, filled with rugged rocks, over which at the present stage of water it seemed to be impossible to make a channel."
Doubtful Porter, But Anything Is Worth a Shot At This Point. --Old B-R'er