PROFESSOR THADDEUS LOWE

THE CIVIL WAR YEARS

Professor Joseph Henry's Report on Lowe's Ballooning - June 21, 1861

Memoirs of Thaddeus Lowe, pages 68-69

        I had then begun to make some demonstrations at my own expense and I gave Professor Henry all the rehearsals he desired, sending up the balloon under many conditions. On the Smithsonian grounds, on the grounds of the White House, and in the environs of Washington, and satisfied the distinguished scientist as to its practical value. The following is Professor Henry's report.

 

Smithsonian Institution,

June 21, 1861

To the Honorable Simon Cameron,

 

Dear Sir:

        In accordance with your request made to me orally on the morning of the 6th of June, I have examined the apparatus and witnessed the balloon experiments of Mr. Lowe, and have come to the following conclusions:


1st. The balloon prepared by Mr. Lowe, inflated with ordinary street gas, will retain its charge for several days.


2nd. In an inflated condition it can be towed by a few men along an ordinary road, or over fields, in ordinarily calm weather, from the places where it is filled, to another 20 or more miles distant.


3rd. It can be let up into the air by means of a rope, on a calm day, to a height sufficient to observe the country for 20 miles or more, according to the degree of clearness of the atmosphere. The ascent may also be made at night and the camp lights of the enemy observed.


4th. From experiments made here by Professor Lowe, for the first time in history, it is conclusively proved that telegrams can be sent with ease and certainty between the balloon and the quarter of the commanding officer.


5th. I feel assured, although I have not witnessed the experiment, that when the surface wind is from the east, as it was for several days last week, an observer in the balloon can be made to float nearly to the enemy's camp (as it is not situated to the west of us) or even to float over it and then return eastward by rising to a higher elevation.


6th. From all the facts I have observed, and the information I have gathered, I am sure that important information may be obtained in regard to the topography of the country, and to the position and movements of an enemy, by means of the balloon, and that Mr. Lowe is well qualified to render service in this way by the balloon now in his possession.


7th. The balloon which Mr. Lowe now has in Washington can only be inflated in a city where street gas is to be obtained. If an exploration is required at a point too distant from the transportation of the inflated balloon, an additional apparatus for the generation of Hydrogen gas will be required. The necessity of generating the gas renders the use of the balloon more expensive, but this where important results are required, is of comparatively small importance.


        For these preliminary experiments, as you may recollect, a sum not to exceed two hundred or two hundred and fifty dollars was to be appropriated, and, in accordance with this, Mr. Lowe has presented me with the enclosed statement of items, which I think are reasonable, since nothing is charged for labor and time of the aeronaut.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have the honor to remain,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Very respectfully,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Your Obedient Servant,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (signed) Joseph Henry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Secretary, Smithsonian Institute

 


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