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Topics in Chronicling America - Civil War Ballooning

A comical, controversial, yet useful instrument, hot air balloons were used throughout most of the war for reconnaissance on the enemy. With frequent mishaps, difficult weather, inter-Corps rivalry and, of course, enemy fire, these missions could prove a wild ride for the brave aeronauts. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/). Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.


Text of an exchange between balloonist Lowe and Abraham Lincoln.

Jump to: Sample Articles

Important Dates:

  • June – December, 1861: Both the Union and the Confederacy prepare their ballooning units; a few preliminary scouting attempts; both sides are wary of the other
  • January 24, 1862: How balloon surveillance works
  • April 24, 1862: General Porter goes for a ride and gets a bit carried away
  • June 13, 1862: A successful ballooning venture helps General McClellan to win the battle
  • July 9, 1862: A balloonist relays a sighting of a North Carolinian mutiny
  • August 6, 1862: The Union and the Confederate lines exchange jests
  • September 4, 1862: Professor Lowe’s ballooning information proves vital in a battle near Richmond June 6, 1863: Professor Lowe’s balloon gets shot down
  • April 20, 1864: With the ballooning efforts declared failures, the equipment is sold off

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Ballooning, Professor Lowe, Balloon Corps, LaMountain
  • It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles for a particular event in order to narrow your results.
  • Be prepared to distinguish between the many articles that discuss the other ballooning trips, especially for scientific research.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

  • "A Chance for a Reputation," Newbern Weekly Progress (Newbern, NC), May 28, 1861, Page 3, Image 3, col. 2.
  • "The Balloon in Warfare," The Alleghanian (Ebensburg, PA), June 13, 1861, Page 2, Image 2, col. 5.
  • "Ballooning in the Army," Cleveland Morning Leader (Cleveland, OH), June 21, 1861, Page 2, Image 2, col. 1.
  • "Ballooning," Nashville Union and American (Nashville, TN), June 26, 1861, Page 2, Image 2, col. 1.
  • "A Balloon for Beaufort, South Carolina," Daily Intelligencer (Wheeling, VA [WV]), November 27, 1861, Page 2, Image 2, col. 3.
  • "Military Ballooning," Ashtabula Weekly Telegraph (Ashtabula, OH), December 28, 1861, Page 4, Image 4, col. 1.
  • "War Ballooning," Cincinnati Daily Press (Cincinnati, OH), January 24, 1862, Page 3, Image 3, col. 5.
  • "Gen. Porter in a Baloon," The Alleghanian (Ebensburg, PA), April 24, 1862, Page 1, Image 1, col. 6.
  • "War Ballooning," The Jeffersonian Democrat (Chardon, OH), June 13, 1862, Page 2, Image 2, col. 2.
  • "A Rebel Mutiny," The Star of the North (Bloomsburg, PA), July 9, 1862, Page 1, Image 1, col. 5.
  • "Picket Stories," Urbana Union (Urbana, OH), August 6, 1862, Page 1, Image 1, col. 6.
  • "The Balloon, an Auxiliary of War," The Pacific Commercial Advertiser (Honolulu, HI), September 4, 1862, Page 6, Image 6, col. 3.
  • "Bombarding. A Balloon," The Smoky Hill and Republican Union (Junction City, KS), June 6, 1863, Page 1, Image 1, col. 1-2.
  • "The End of Ballooning in the Army," The Grand Haven News (Grand Haven, MI), April 20, 1864, Page 2, Image 2, col. 2.
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  August 18, 2014
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