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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Yorktown in York County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Civil War Hot-Air Balloons

 
 
Civil War Hot-Air Balloons Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, April 20, 2013
1. Civil War Hot-Air Balloons Marker
Inscription. In April and May of 1862, Union and Confederate commanders deployed observation balloons near Yorktown during the Peninsula Campaign. Professor Thaddeus Lowe and Brigadier General Fitz-John Porter gathered intelligence about the Confederate defenses from the hydrogen balloons Constitution and Intrepid. In response, the Confederates launched a hot-air balloon that observed the Unionís siege lines.

The Union and Confederate balloons were natural targets for artillery and small arms fire, but neither side scored a direct hit. The gunfire, however, caused uneasiness as Confederate aeronaut John Randolph Bryan noted: “For some minutes shells and bullets from the shrapnel whistled and sang around me with a most unpleasant music, but my balloon and I escaped.” Furthermore, Bryan and General Porter had accidental free-flight experiences when their tethered ropes broke and both narrowly escaped serious injury or capture. Neither side adequately supported balloon operations, but this was an important technological development that foreshadowed the rise of air power in the twentieth century.
 
Erected 2010 by York County.
 
Location. 37° 14.222′ N, 76° 30.407′ W. Marker is in Yorktown
Yorktown's Riverwalk image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, April 20, 2013
2. Yorktown's Riverwalk
, Virginia, in York County. Marker can be reached from Water Street west of Read Street, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Located along Yorktown's Riverwalk. Marker is in this post office area: Yorktown VA 23690, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Steamboats on York River (here, next to this marker); Yorktown's Stormy Past (within shouting distance of this marker); TransAmerica Bike Trail (within shouting distance of this marker); USS Yorktown (within shouting distance of this marker); Seat of the County of York (within shouting distance of this marker); Great Fire of 1814 (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Tobacco Inspection (about 400 feet away); Yorktown Waterfront (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Yorktown.
 
More about this marker. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.
 
Categories. Air & SpaceWar, US Civil
 
Professor Lowe's military balloon near Gaines Mill, Virginia image. Click for full size.
By Mathew B. Brady, June 1, 1862
3. Professor Lowe's military balloon near Gaines Mill, Virginia
Library of Congress [LC-USZC4-7995]
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 291 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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