General Burnside, might know that I was ready for duty, I addressed the following communication to his chief of staff:
HEADQUARTERS AERONAUTIC CORPS,
Washington, November 20, 1862.
Chief of Staff, &c.:
GENERAL: Considering it necessary that the commanding general should be informed in relation to my operations, and the service that I am prepared to render, I would respectfully submit the following statement:
First. The U. S. aeronautic department under my direction is in excellent condition, with all the improvements just added that over a year's continual operations and experience could suggest. I have at this time six superior silk balloons with portable gas-generating apparatus, which enables me to inflate a balloon at any point in three hours sufficiently to raise two men and ropes to an elevation of 1,000 feet or more. The balloons can be used with nearly, if not quite, as good success in winter as in sumner.
Second. In order to facilitate my operations and making prompt reports, I was permitted by General McClellan to add for my use a telegraph train, with five miles of insulated wire, which will enable me to make reports directly from the car of the balloon while viewing the enemy's position. The line can be otherwise useful for transmitting other messages not connected with my department.
Third. It being often necessary to inflate a balloon at night, and having many times performed the same under difficulties, owing to the want of light, I have introduced a powerful oxyhydrogen or calcium light for that purpose. Aside from the benefits of this light for the above purpose, it can be used to great advantage for many other purposes where night-work is to be performed, such as felling timber, building bridges, crossing streams, building earth-works, &c. One of these lights would be sufficient for at least 2,000 persons to work by with as much convince as by daylight, and the rays can be entirely hidden from any point where it is not desirable to show them. With this apparatus light can be thrown two miles distant sufficiently powerful to work by. The cost is trifling.
Fourth. I also have with me a set of powerful magnifying lenses with which a photograph of three inches square can be magnified to the size of twenty feet square. Thus it will be seen that a view taken at a distance too far for the objects to be discernible with the naked eye, could be easily distinguished with the magnifier. A map photographical and thus magnified would be found much easier to consult.
Fifth. I keep with my corps a large number of small signal balloons which can be used day or night. Fires of red, white, blue, or green can be attached, which will burn more than ten times as long as a rocket, and with much greater brilliancy, and therefore can be seen with more certainly, and costs no more for them than for rockets.
Having reduced all of the above-mentioned branchers to a practical everyday working, I can be called upon for any or all of them at any time without inconvenience to the main balloon operations, and with but little expense, as the same portable gas-works can be used for them all.
Not considering it necessary to give a detailed account of what may be done, but hoping soon to be called into active again.
I remain, with great respect, your very obedient servant,
T. S. C. LOWE,
Chief of Aeronautic, &c.
On receipt of the above communication the following order was returned:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
Opposite Fredericksburg, November 24, 1862.
The commanding general desires that you proceed to Washington and bring up the apparatus and material, so that an ascension can be made at this point as early as possible. He desires that the Quartermaster's Department furnish you such aid and assistance in Washington and en route that you may require.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. G. PARKE,
Chief of Staff.