PROFESSOR THADDEUS LOWE

THE CIVIL WAR YEARS

Balloon Corps Under the Direction of General A. A. Humphreys - May 26, 1862

Memories of Thaddeus Lowe, pages 130-132

HDQRS. TOPOGRAPHICAL ENGINEERS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
May 26, 1862.

Prof. T. S. C. LOWE,
Chief Aeronaut, Army of the Potomac:

        SIR: The balloon department has been placed under my direction by Special Orders, No. 157, May 25. Understanding that there are several balloons in your charge, you will immediately establish them in the following positions, viz, near Mechanicsville, General Stoneman commanding; near the Seven Pines, on the road from Bottom's Bridge to Richmond, about six miles from the bridge, General Keyes commanding, and in the vicinity of New Bridge, near the general headquarters.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Brig. Gen. and Chief Topographical Engineers.

 

HDQRS. TOPOGRAPHICAL ENGINEERS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
May 27, 1862.

Prof. T. S. C. LOWE,
Chief Aeronaut, Army of the Potomac:

        DEAR SIR: The general commanding desires-first, that balloon ascensions be made as frequently as is practicable at each balloon station and that full reports of one results of the observations be transmitted at once to these headquarters; second, that no persons be permitted to ascend in the balloon with the exception of the general in command at the position which the balloon occupies, and those authorized by him; third, that newspaper correspondents and reporters be in no case permitted to ascend.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. A. HUMPHREYS,

Brig. Gen., Chief of Topographical Engineers, Army of the Potomac.

 

It will be seen from the following dispatches that the enemy improved every opportunity to fire at the balloon. On this occasion I ascended to a high altitude, and before I descended I had the balloon moved considerably to one side, so that the subsequent firing was out of range, and thus, by changing my location, prevented the enemy from having a good mark to fire at.

 

MAY 27, 1862.

Gen. A. A. HUMPHREYS:

        Ascended at 4.45 p.m. one mile from Mechanicsville and, I should judge, four miles from Richmond, in an air line. At 5 o'clock three batteries opened upon me, firing many shots, some falling short and some passing beyond the balloon and one over it, while it was at an elevation of 300 to 400 feet. A battle is going on about four miles distant; heavy cannonading and musketry. I will go up again and report.

T. S. C. LOWE.

 

MAY 27, 1862.

Brigadier-General HUMPHREYS,
Chief of Topographical Engineers:

 

        GENERAL: I made my second ascent at 5.30 p.m., and remained up until 6.45 p.m. Richmond and vicinity are much more distinct from this point, and I was able to discover with ease the exact position of the enemy. The heaviest camps seem to be near the banks this side of James River and a little to the left of Richmond. The next heaviest are to the right of Richmond on the road from Mechanicsville. There are also several smaller on the first heights opposite Mechanicsville, and several batteries stationed there, some of which I saw put in position while in the balloon, besides those that fired at me.


        The heights opposite New Bridge for two miles each way seem to be entirely unoccupied, except by the enemy's pickets.


        No earth-works of any description are visible, although the country is tolerably clear from woods on the Mechanicsville road, and if there are earth-works on this side they are very near the city and behind the last line of woods.


        In the northwest from where the balloon is, and about ten miles distant, there was heavy smoke.


        To the north, near the Pamunkey River, was the heavy cannonading and musketry, but the distance and heavy woods prevented me from seeing the detail movements. The enemy in and around Richmond are apparently very strong in numbers.


Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


T. S. C. LOWE,

Chief Aeronaut.


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