Lowe, a pioneer in balloon reconnaissance, flew high above the battlefields
to observe troop movements during the Civil War. In this photo, he is
shown reporting the approach of a Confederate regiment in an area where
Union officers had expected only friendly forces. (53k jpg)
Courtesy of Defense Visual Information Center
in 1860 photographed by William Black from Samuel Archer King's balloon,
the "Queen of the Air". A previous attempt by Black to photograph Providence,
R.I., from a balloon produced unsatisfactory results, and the Boston photos
represent the first successful aerial photographic effort in the U.S.
Courtesy of Boston Public Library
Note dated July 25, 1861, from President Lincoln urging Lt. Gen.
Winfield Scott to meet with Thaddeus Lowe to discuss his balloons. Lincoln
was impressed by the potential of balloons for reconnaissance, but the
skeptical General Scott, a senior military commander, needed some convincing.
Lincoln urged him to provide Lowe with any necessary assistance. (44k
Gift of the heirs of Thaddeus Lowe.
correspondence between Thaddeus Lowe and Joseph Henry, first Secretary
of the Smithsonian Institution. Henry gave Lowe much support in his quest
to use his balloons for Civil War reconnaissance. In 1861 with Henry's
aid, Lowe demonstrated the value of his balloon on the site where the
National Air & Space Museum now stands. From his vantage point 500 feet
above the ground, he telegraphed a message to President Lincoln thanking
him for his encouragement.
Text excerpts from Lowe's letter to Joseph
Henry, July 15, 1863