Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/39

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Balloon Used for Scout Duty in C. 8. A. 35

General. He told me very curtly and positively that I had been assigned to him for duty, and that he expected me to perform the duty to which I was assigned without any questions. He added that he had plenty of scouts already, and what he wanted was a man to go up in the balloon, and that I could now go and prepare myself to be in readiness when sent for. This was pretty hard, but as there was no sort of question about it, I could only make my bow and walk out with as brave an appearance as possible. Shortly afterwards I was fully instructed as to all the details ; that there was a crew of men already in charge of the balloon, who understood the management of it, as to the inflating, letting it ascend and drawing it down again by means of the rope which was attached to it (which passed around a windlass), and I was also instructed in the signals that I should make when up in the balloon, by means of a wig-wag flag, to tell those below what was wanted, whether I wished to go fast or slow, up or down. I was also given such information as was at hand as to the supposed position of the enemy, and was instruc- ted to carefully note where each different arm of the service (infantry, artilery, and cavelry) was located, and I was further told to make a memorandum or map of all that I saw while up in the bal- loon, so as to be able to give the best and most accurate account of all I saw when I returned provided of course, that I returned at all.


"The balloon party were located behind a large thicket of pine trees about a half mile back of the Confederate lines, with a view of allowing the balloon to reach a considerable elevation before it could be seen by the enemy, who would, of course, fire at it in the hope of destroying it. As I had seen some artillery service, I was quite well aware that after attaining a certain height the ordinary field cannon could not be trained to bear upon me, so that the danger zone was only between the time I appeared above the top of the trees and the time when I should have reached such an elevation that their guns could no longer be trained upon me. My ardor to go on special service had been much cooled at the bare thought o being suspended in mid air by what appeared to me as a mere thread uuder a hot-air balloon, with the chances pretty strong that it would be burst by the shrapnel or shells of the en- emy, when 'down would come baby and all.' However, I deter- mined to make best of a bad bargain, and went to the balloon