PROFESSOR THADDEUS LOWE

THE CIVIL WAR YEARS

Calming the Fears of Washington D.C. After the Bull Run Disaster - August & September 2012

Military Ballooning During the Early Civil War - pages 213-215

    But observation, not artillery fire direction, was Lowe's main function. His contant surveillance of the enemy lines and positions during this period, even though the reports of observation did not reveal information of particular consequence, was important. The panic that had seized Washington after the Federal disaster at Bull Run was slow to disappear, and throughout the weeks that followed, alarms of supposed Confederate movements in force often revived the fear of sudden attack. The presence of the aerial observer helped in alleviating the uneasiness that prevailed after such rumors. When Lowe frequently reported the enemy camps the same as previously observed, or announced that there had been no change in their positiions, the natural result of such information was a greater sense of security than would have otherwise been enjoyed. At times scouts or civilians from localities outside the Union lines would come in and announce the approach of large forces of the enemy. On such occasions Lowe went up and scanned the hostile camps and lines, and the roads leading to the Capital, and dispelled the rumors by reporting all quiet in a wide radius. In the same manner he was able to prevent unnecessary preparations and useless "stand to" precautions among the units of the Federal army when false reports of a Confederate advance were circulated. In his report to the Secretary of War he emphasized this element of his early service and declared:

    From this time (September 7) to the 27th of September many alarms were given, and the troops called out in line of battle, and in every instance after an examination had been made by means of the balloon the troops were sent back to their quarters and allowed to rest without danger of being surprised.

    In this way Lowe's constant vigilance from his aerial observation made possible a measure of security against sudden attack in force, a factor that was of major importance to the Union high command. That the Confederate army at this time was neither in condition nor in sufficient strength to attack Washington, could not be apparent to the national authorities, either civil or military. Hence Lowe, in maintaining continual observation of the enemy and the roads leading to the Capital, performed excellent service even though the face value of his reports seems unexciting and insignificant to a present-day reader.

INDEX PAGE

BEFORE THE WAR

CIVIL WAR YEARS

INVENTIONS AND INDUSTRY

NORRISTOWN PENNSYLVANIA YEARS

PASADENA CALIFORNIA YEARS

MOUNT LOWE RAILWAY

AFTER THE RAILWAY

LOWE FAMILY

BOOKS ABOUT LOWE

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES

EVENTS AND REUNIONS

ARTIFACTS AND HISTORY

ENCYCLOPEDIA BIOGRAPHY

ACCLAMATIONS AND AWARDS

LINKS TO OTHER THADDEUS LOWE WEBSITES