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16th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Where was the regiment on
Friday, April 29, 1864

On this day, the 16th Ohio continued working on their defenses near Alexandria, Louisiana. They improved their rifle pits anticipating the Confederates, under Gen. Richard Taylor, would soon attack.

Meanwhile, Admiral David Porter's valuable fleet of gunboats was now trapped in the Red River just above the upper falls, about 15 miles north of Alexandria, the water level having fallen so low the ships were not able to pass over the rapids. This was a grave situation. Admiral Porter was preparing to the entire fleet, as many as 12 gunboats, to keep them from falling into enemy hands. At this time, however, an engineer from Wisconsin, Col. Joseph Bailey, proposed building a dam across the river to make the water level rise and allow the boats to pass. His original idea was to build a dam just above the lower falls, a few miles north of Alexandria. This dam, to be build completely across the 758 foot width of the river, would cause the water level to rise all the way back to the upper falls, allowing the gunboats to pass over those rapids. Then, when the boats arrive above the lower falls, the dam would be broken in certain places and the gunboats would be able to pass through the temporary channel to the safety of the deeper water, below. This plan to save the fleet met with much skepticism, but, there was no other choice. And the 16th Ohio would participate in what would become a famous engineering and military event.

This period military map shows the approximate position of the 16th Ohio on April 29, 1864, where it was busy building rifle pits in front of Alexandria, Louisiana, ready to defend the city against a Rebel attack.

Map (source unknown) of the Red River area north of Alexandria, Louisiana.

A - Location of Admiral Porter's stranded fleet of gunboats above the upper falls.
B - Upper Falls which could not be crossed by the fleet due to low water.
C - Lower Falls which also would not allow boats to pass due to low water.
D - Alexandria, Louisiana, the town which Gen. Nathaniel Banks had taken a month earlier and now where he and the entire Federal contingent of the Red River Campaign took refuge against an advancing Confederate army.
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