War of the Rebellion: Serial 124 Page 0294 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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The next day everything was moved down to the army, but as General Burnside had deferred his operations, he desired the balloon should not be shown to the enemy till he was ready to cross the river. On the 12th of December I received orders to get the balloon ready, and the following morning (being the day of the battle of Fredericksburg) ascensions were commenced, and during the day many staff officers ascended, and much valuable information was furnished the commanding general, whose headquarters being directly under the balloon, verbal communications only were given, and no written reports are therefore inserted. Several shots were fired at the balloon during the day, one striking about two miles beyond the balloon, passing close to it, and going in all about three miles and three-quarters from where it was fired.

Nearly all of my reports during the following month were given verbally.

The following report was forwarded on December 22, which shows the duty that the balloon was required to do while the army was lying still:


December 22, 1862.

Major-General PARKE,

Chief of Staff:

GENERAL: By observations taken from the balloon to-day the enemy's position was very clearly defined. Their main camps are opposite to our left, and extend down the river from four to six miles, and three miles back. Earth-works appear to be thrown up on the next range of hills beyond the first line of woods, but nothing definite could be ascertained concerning them owing to the heavy smokes.

By moving a balloon farther down the river more information can be obtained. They do not appear to have withdrawn any of their forces.

Very respectfully,

T. S. C. LOWE.


January 13, 1863.

Major-General PARKE,

Chief of Staff, &c.:

GENERAL: Please find inclosed a copy of a lithograph representing the balloon signals. Should these signals meet with the further approval of the general commanding I would respectfully ask that I may be notified as early as possible that I may have prepared a sufficient number to operate successfully. I would recommend about thirty of each denomination.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

T. S. C. LOWE,

Chief of Aeronautic, &c.

The signals above alluded to are not intended to take the place of anything now in use, but are simply an addition to be used in case of emergency, where it was necessary to communicate a long distance. Further mention of this will be made hereafter.

The following orders and reports up to March 21 will be sufficient to show the principal duties performed by the aeronautic department:


February 4, 1863.


Chief of Staff:

SIR: From an observation taken this afternoon the enemy appear still in camp about three miles west of Fredericksburg; also a large camp south by west, about eight miles. The largest camp noticed appears to be south from the city about fifteen miles; also a smaller camp east by south.