Surveillance of the Civil War
The Civil War was a time of tremendous change and innovation. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Americans witnessed the invention of numerous life changing machines. The 1800's brought the arc lamp, printing presses, photography, steam locomotives, telegraphs, revolvers, and the safety pin (About 1). The year of 1783 marked the invention of the air balloon. Over the next few decades scientists and adventurers modified and improved upon the original concepts of the air balloon. The air balloon, not to be mistaken with the hot air balloon, was often filled with helium or other light gases to get off the ground. The most primitive were even filled with smoke. During the early sessions of the Civil War we can see that air balloons played a major role in gathering battlefield information. Peter Jackson, a historian of air balloons has stated that "captive balloons were some of the first air balloons used during a period of war." During the Civil War both the union and confederate armies used air balloons for investigation. John Wise, a balloon inventor, was the first to receive orders to build a balloon for the union army (Stansbury 1). However, the balloon never was used because it escaped its tethers and was shot down to prevent it from falling into Confederate hands. Thaddeus Lowe was one of the most influential people using an air balloon during the 19th century. Lowe had learned the usefulness of balloon observations when he had accidentally landed in South Carolina on a flight from Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Atlantic Ocean, a trip that would almost have him arrested for spying. The term "spying" caught one of Lowe's financial supporters' attention. Murat Halstead considered the usefulness of the hot air balloon, then wrote to U.S. Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase and suggested that the United States establish a balloon corps under Lowe's command. This corps would provide aerial reconnaissance for the...
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