Learning Lincoln On-line


Topic Forty-four:  Air Balloons in the Civil War &

Topic 28:  Civil War Technologies

Those Great Civil War Battlefield Technologies, Weapons and Firsts  PART TWO

A Part of the War & Weapons Activity Page

Look up any words you don't know the meaning of.  Abraham Lincoln was very interested in using balloons and other new devices in the Civil War.


       Thaddeus Lowe had a similar beginning to President Lincoln.  He was born and raised in a poor frontier farmer life.  Lowe would become a chemistry professor, and a 19th century aeronaut (balloon flyer).  He would make enough living to be able to gain a formal education. 

       Thaddeus was interested in meteorology, the study of winds and clouds.  When the Civil War started he realized he could serve the Union by using a balloon to gather information on Confederate troop movements from the sky.

       In July 1861 Lowe was appointed Chief Aeronaut of the Union Army Balloon Corps by President Abraham Lincoln. Though his work was generally successful, it was not fully appreciated by all members of the military, and disputes over his operations and pay scale forced him to resign in 1863. Lowe returned to the private sector and continued his scientific exploration of hydrogen gas manufacturing. He invented the water gas process by which large amounts of hydrogen gas could be produced from steam and charcoal. He is given credit for the first ice machine.

From "A personal reminiscence by Professor T. S. C. Lowe, who introduced
and made balloon observations on the Peninsula for the Union Army"  Go to Song of the South for more information about air balloons.

Go to Website: Song of the South for more information about air balloons

Read a Battlefield Story by a Balloon Pilot

lowe's american civil war balloons


Intrepid balloon

T.S.C. Lowe in the Intrepid balloon gathering information to transmit to the ground via telegraph


Lincoln's Flying Spies:
Thaddeus Lowe and the Civil War Balloon Corps

Civil War Hot Air Balloon Corps

How Civil War Hot Air Balloons Work

Civil War Hot Air Activity Sheet

Civil War Weapons

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