War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 0265 UNION AUTHORITIES.

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being very dark, and we were constantly apprehensive of running the balloon against trees or other obstacles. After passing through Washington and Georgetown, crossing numerous flag ropes and telegraph wires stretched across the streets, we reached the road to the Chain Bridge. This was lined with trees and we were compelled to go across the fields, as the wind was too high to tow the balloon when elevated, and it soon became cloudy and so dark that it was with the utmost difficulty we advanced. At several points trees had to be felled to allow a passage for the balloon. We arrived at the Chain Bridge about 3 o"clock the next (Sunday) morning, and found it filled with artillery and cavalry going to Virginia. In order to take the balloon over my men were obliged to mount the trestle-work and walk upon the stringers, only eighteen inches wide and nearly 100 feet above the bed of the river. Thus, with the balloon above their heads, myself in the car directing the management of the ropes, the men getting on and off the trestle-work, with a column of artillery moving below, and 100 feet still lower, the deep and strong current rushing over the rocks, while the sky was dark above, the scene was novel, exciting, and not a little dangerous. At daybreak we arrived near Lewinsville, nearly exhausted by the excessive fatigue of the trip. Here a strong wind sprung up suddenly and I was obliged to lash the balloon with strong ropes to stumps in a field. In a few minutes the wind increased to a terrific gale, which continued for an hour, tearing up trees by the roots close to where the balloon was anchored. When the storm reached its height the cordage gave way and the balloon escaped. It ascended to a great height, and in less than an hour landed to the eastward on the coast of Delaware, a distance of about 100 miles, where I afterward obtained it. This gale proved the great strength of the balloon silk, and that the cordage was insufficient in comparison, although it was capable of bearing a strain of ten tons. I immediately ordered all the rest of the cordage used for my balloons to be made strong enough to resist a strain of twenty-five tons, which was proved sufficient to resist any gale thus far.

From this time to the 10th of November I was occupied in superintending the construction of balloons and gas generators. From the latter date to the end of the year the following reports and communications (to which I would call attention) embrace the principal operations in which I was engaged.



Mouth of Mattawoman Creek, Sunday Evening, November 10, 1861.

Major-General HOOKER:

SIR: In obedience to orders of Major-General McClellan I have come to this place for the purpose of making an aromatic observation of the forces of the enemy. The balloon will be inflated immediately, so as to be ready for use early to-morrow morning.

Will you have the kindness to detail an officer to confer with me, so that I may make such dispositions and arrangements as will best enable me to accomplish the object for which I have been sent.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. S. C. LOWE,

Chief Aeronaut, U. S. Army.


Washington, D. C., November 12, 1861.

Lieutenant-Colonel COLBURN:

DEAR SIR: I have the pleasure of reporting the complete success of the first balloon expedition by water ever attempted. I left the navy-yard early Sunday