US Civil War observation balloon

US Civil War observation balloon

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: US Civil War observation balloon, 19th century artwork. The balloon, near Gaines Mill, Virginia, USA, is being inflated by gas being piped through tubes from the containers at left. This balloon was designed by Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe (1831-1913), who is standing to the right of the balloon. The balloons used hydrogen gas, and were used in several battles, including the battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia, on 31 May 1861. Lowe had been designing and building balloons since the 1850s, and established the Union Army Balloon Corps to perform aerial reconnaissance during the US Civil War (1861-1865). Despite some successes, problems led to the Balloon Corps being disbanded in 1863. Based on a contemporary photograph, this artwork was published in Astra Castra (Hatton Turner, London, 1865).

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