Past is Prologue

Clint Schemmer writes about history, heritage preservation and the American Civil War.  On Facebook: Past is Prologue  On Twitter: @prologuepast  ContactEmail Clint or call 540/374-5424.

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Reviving the Civil War’s aeronauts

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

Fresh from The Associated Press this morning:

Smithsonian recounts balloon flights of Civil War

WASHINGTON – The National Air and Space Museum is commemorating the nation’s first attempt at an air force during the Civil War 150 years ago – decades before the first airplane flight.

In June 1861, Thaddeus Lowe flew 500 feet high on the National Mall in a gas-filled balloon to show President Abraham Lincoln how balloons could be used to spy on the Confederates.

Curators say Lowe’s balloon remained tethered to the ground. His flight led to the creation of the Union Balloon Corps and the start of aerial espionage. The idea came when his balloon once floated into South Carolina.

On Saturday, the museum will inflate a similar balloon and host re-enactors portraying Lowe and Lincoln, with presentations on Civil War ballooning. The events run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

And I ‘d note that Lowe and his Balloon Corps reconnoitered the Confederate defenses in Fredericksburg from the air above southern Stafford County.