"Thirty thousand voices rose in one deafening cheer, and universal joy seemed to pervade the face of every man present." - from the new book, "General Joseph Bailey - Hero of the Red River". The cheering was heard at Alexandria, Louisiana in the spring of 1864, when the first Union gunboat trapped above the rapids of the Red River passed down the chute of the newly-constructed dam.
The dam saved the most powerful battle fleet ever assembled in the Mississippi Valley, spared the failed Union advance up the Red from suffering another disastrous defeat, and brought national fame and honor to its creator.
This is the story of the man, the places and the events that made Joseph Bailey the hero of the Red River. Click here for information about this book.
Wisconsin was first inhabited
by varied Indian tribes in the 17th century. They included the
Algonquian-speaking Menominee, Kickapoo, Miami, the Siouan-speaking
Winnebago, Dakota (or Sioux) and Iowa. In the mid-1600's other
groups entered Wisconsin, including the Fox, Sac, Potawatomi and
Jean Nicolet, a native of France,
was the first explorer to reach the area while searching for the
Northwest Passage to China in 1634. The French lost possession
of Wisconsin and all of it's territories east of the Mississippi
to Great Britain during the French and Indian War.
British possession of Wisconsin
ended in 1783, when Britain signed the treaty ending the American
Revolution. Because the U.S. government had no effective control
over Wisconsin, it remained under unofficial British control.
Fur trade continued as the foundation of Wisconsin's economy.
The first wave of American settlers
in Wisconsin came in the 1820's as a result of a lead mining boom in northwest Illinois and southwest Wisconsin. The movement of
white settlers into the Midwest caused intense conflict when the
federal government and settlers attempted to move Native Americans
from their lands. Federal policies included uprooting entire tribes
and forcing them to resettle west of the Mississippi. When the
Sac people tried to return in 1832, the Black Hawk War started
ending in the Bad Axe Massacre with less than 1000 Native Americans
surviving. Other Wisconsin tribes either left the area, or negotiated
No longer having opposition from
the Native Americans, a second wave of settlers came to Wisconsin
and in 1836 the Wisconsin Territory was organized. Around the
1840's a third wave of settlers came to Wisconsin, attracted by
good farmland. At that time the state became the nation's leading
wheat producer. On May 29, 1848, Wisconsin was admitted to the
Union as the 30th state.
State Historical Society of Wisconsin
An official design for Wisconsin's state flag was initially provided
by the legislature in 1863. Until that date, a flag had not been
adopted and Civil war regiments in the field were requesting flags.
The legislature formed a 5 member joint select committee to report
"a description for a proper state flag." This action
resulted in the adoption of Wisconsin's flag. In 1913, the flag
was changed, specifying a dark blue background with the state
coat of arms centered at each side. That design remained unchanged
until 1979, when legislature was asked to change the flag design
so it would appear more distinctive and recognizable. They added
the word "Wisconsin" and the statehood date in "1848"
in white letters, centered respectively above and below the coat
at the top is the state motto "Forward". Below is a
badger that represents the state animal. A sailor and miner show
that the people work on water and land. The shield in the center
shows Wisconsin's support for the United States. In four sections
surrounding the shield are representations of Wisconsin's main
industries: Agriculture, mining, manufacturing and navigation.
The cornucopia and pile of lead represent farm products and minerals.
The state seal consists of the coat of arms with the words "Great
Seal of The State of Wisconsin" centered above a curved line
of 13 stars representing the 13 original United States centered
below and surrounded by an ornamental border.
In 1851, Governor Dewey had asked UW Chancellor John Lathrop to
design a new state seal. It is alleged that the motto was selected
during a chance meeting between Governor Dewey and Edward Ryan
when the governor went to New York City to have the new seal engraved.
Ryan objected to the Latin motto "Excelsior", which
Lathrop proposed. According to tradition, Dewey and Ryan sat on
the steps of a Wall Street bank and designed a new seal, choosing
"Forward" as the motto.
June 20, 1957
The first European immigrants to arrive in Wisconsin found it
desirable for the natural resources it offered. They began mining
lead and galena to be used in shot for guns and paint. Miners
who wanted to work through the winter found that the most useful
shelters were their excavations. They added makeshift roofs or
walls to complete them. Since these miners dig for their livelihoods
and live in "burrows," they nicknamed them badgers.
The term was later applied to all new settlers in the mining area
and eventually to all who lived in Wisconsin.
Milk was adopted as the state beverage because Wisconsin is the
leading milk-producing state and because of its contribution to
the states economy.
June 4, 1949
The robin was elected the state bird by a youth committee set
up in 1948 for Wisconsin's Centennial. The children thought the
robin was most fitting because it brought glad tidings of spring
and the re-awakening of Nature's beauties after a cold winter.
The state dance was recommended by a group of second graders in
Madison and was supported by several other groups. It was chosen
for the polka heritage in Wisconsin and its cultural value.
State Dog: American Water Spaniel
The American water spaniel was chosen as the state dog because
it is one of only five dog breeds native to the United States
and the only one native to Wisconsin.
The dairy cow was adopted as Wisconsin's official domesticated
animal because of it's great contributions to the state. This
made sense since "America's Dairyland" is seen on our
license plates. As part of the adoption the state was required
to establish an annual rotation among Wisconsin's purebred cows.
Adopted: March 30, 1955
The musky was recommended as the state fish because of the dominance
of Wisconsin muskies in competition over the years. The trout
was also suggested but failed to pass because it wasn't nearly
as popular as the musky.
Adopted: June 4, 1949
Wisconsin's school children were asked to vote for an official
state flower in 1908, which left four finalists: arbutus, violet,
white water lily and wild rose. The following year they voted
again using the four finalists and the violet won. However, the
violet was only named Wisconsin's unofficial state flower until
1948. Finally, during the Centennial celebration, a youth committee
was set up to officially adopt several state symbols. At this
time the official flower, tree and bird were decided.
Trilobite Calymene Celebra
April 2, 1986
The trilobite was said to be the best suited for the state fossil
because no other fossil had been the subject of so much attention
in Wisconsin by both amateur and professional alike.
Corn was chosen as the states official grain because sponsors
claimed designating corn would draw attention to the importance
of corn as a cash crop and make people more aware of its many
The honey bee was adopted as the official state insect by the
request of a third grade class in Marinette and by Wisconsin Honey
Producers Association. Wisconsin produced around 3.6 million pounds of honey in 2011.
Mineral: Galena (lead)
Adopted: March 9, 1971
The Kenosha Gem and Mineral Society, to promote geological awareness,
introduced the proposal for Wisconsin to adopt a mineral. Galena
was chosen because of its immense role in Wisconsin's history
and economy. After all Galena (lead) was what first attracted
European settlers to Wisconsin.
March 9, 1971
As with the state mineral, red granite was chosen after the Kenosha
Gem and Mineral Society proposed a mineral and rock be chosen
to promote geological awareness. Red granite was chosen because
of its abundance, uniqueness, economic value, historical significance
and because it is indigenous to our state.
Antigo Silt Loam
Adopted: September 14, 1983
Professor Francis D. Hole chose the state soil because "...it
is scattered through a dozen or so counties from east to west,
and is versatile."
Written by J. S. Hubbard
and Charles D. Rosa Composed by William T. Purdy
Wisconsin! On Wisconsin!
Grand old badger state!
We, thy loyal sons and daughters,
Hail thee, good and great.
On Wisconsin! On Wisconsin!
Champion of the right,
"Forward," our motto
God will give thee might!
"On Wisconsin" was written in 1909 by William T. Purdy,
but the original lyrics were changed by J. S. Hubbard and Charles
D. Rosa in 1913. This was done to commemorate the centennial of
the Battle of Lake Erie. Although "On Wisconsin" was
widely recognized as the state song, it wasn't officially adopted
until 1959. At that time they had discovered that several different
lyrics existed so an official text for the first verse was incorporated.
Symbol of Peace: Mourning Dove
Adopted: November 16, 1971
The mourning dove was adopted as the state symbol of peace by
individuals and organizations concerned with conservation and
June 4, 1949
The sugar maple was elected as the state tree by a committee of
school children during the Centennial celebration in 1948, along
with the state bird and flower. It was also won during a vote
in 1893, but was never officially elected.
Wildlife Animal: White-tailed Deer
1957, people campaigned for the adoption of the badger as the
state animal, but residents of northern Wisconsin disagreed. Therefore
they introduced a legislation to adopt the white-tailed deer.
They noted that the white-tailed deer was abundant in northern
Wisconsin, were large and attractive and had reat economic value.
At that time the legislature decided to use both as state animals,
and the white-tailed deer became the state wildlife animal while
the badger became the state animal.