Those Union balloons

The brigade’s picket duty in Fredericksburg finally became routine and the soldiers were comfortably situated in some occupied homes and some devastated ones.

17th Mississippi Private Robert A. Moore “impressed” two mattresses for his accommodations.

He also recorded the sighting of Professor Thaddeus Lowe’s balloon above Stafford Heights “much to the amusement of the boys….Prof. Lowe has been up several times making a reconnaissance¬† of our position.

Indeed, Lowe reported his success to his Union army superior, Gen. Hooker’s chief of staff General Daniel Butterfield, on Feb. 7:

“SIR: According to your order I have taken advantage of all suitable weather for several days past to reconnoiter the enemy’s position from the balloon.

“Yesterday in the afternoon the atmosphere was very clear, and from observations taken then and again to-day the various positions of the enemy could be determined by their camps and smokes.

“The line of hills opposite Fredericksburg and above and below the city appear to be occupied by a small force, divided into small squads, while the heaviest camp appears to be at or near Bowling Green

“Still farther beyond, say twenty-five miles from Fredericksburg, are heavy camp smokes, which I should judge was at the junction of the Virginia Central and Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroads. Off to the right of the city, about ten or twelve miles, and some distance back from the river, are quite large camp smokes (I should think that this camp was at Spotsylvania Court-House), while in a direct line from these and near the river appears to be a camp of much smaller size.

Very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Chief of Aeronautics, Army of the Potom

About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
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