earliest possible moment and support General Heintzelman. This was accomplished just in time, for it is asserted upon good authority that if General Summer had been one or two hours later the day would have been lost.
Is it not probable, to say the least, that my reports from the balloons caused the completion of this bridge two hours sooner than it would otherwise have been done? In reference to this point I would refer to the Prince de Joinville's narrative of the Peninsular Campaign, where in speaking of the battle of Fair Oaks he says that "there was some doubt whether the enemy were making a real attack, or whether it was merely a feint; but this doubt was soon removed by reports from the aeronauts, who could see heavy columns of the enemy moving in that direction." a
On the following morning I ascended at 4 a.m., but owing to fog I was unable to see anything until after 6 o"clock, and at 7 o"clock I sent the following dispatch by telegraph from the balloon.
Many dispatches were sent in this way, copies of which were not preserved:
NEAR DOCTOR GAINES" HOUSE,
June 1, 1862-7 a.m.
Brigadier-General HUMPHREYS, or
Chief of Staff:
I have just obtained a splendid observation from the balloon. I find the enemy in large force on the New Bridge road, about three miles this side of Richmond. In fact, all of the roads that are visible are filled with infantry and cavalry moving toward Fair Oaks Station. There is also a large force opposite here, and in the same position that they were yesterday, but not in motion. I can see smoke in the woods where the firing ceased last night. I hear no firing at the present. In the immediate vicinity of the heights opposite here there are nothing but pickets visible.
T. S. C. LOWE,
I am satisfied from what I heard on the previous evening that an attack by the enemy on the next morning was not expected. The above dispatch, therefore, giving timely notice that the enemy did really intend making a more severe attack than even that of the previous day, must certainly have been of the greatest importance, and gave our forces an opportunity of preparing for a vigorous defense.
I would here remark that of all the battles I have witnessed, that of Fair Oaks was the most closely contested, and most severe, and the victory, in my opinion, was due to the valor and skill of General Heintzelman's, who nobly sustained himself against great odds in favor of the enemy.
To the following reports I would call especial attention, as they speak for themselves.
The following order from General Humphreys was received one hour after my first report:
JUNE 1, 1862-6.45 a.m.
Have you been able to ascend this morning? Your balloon should be in connection by telegraph, and messages should be sent constantly-at least every fifteen minutes. The balloon must be up all day. The balloon at Mechanicsville should likewise be sent up at once, and remain up all day.
Same reports must be made from it as from the balloon at Doctor Gaines".
A. A. HUMPHREYS,
aNOTE.-These words are quoted from memory.