Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/40

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36 Southern Historical Society Papers.

camp to study the situation and my new duties. I was not left long- in suspense, for the next day I received an order from Gen- eral Johnston to make my first ascension. The balloon was an- chored to a long rope, probably a half of a mile long, which was tied to a tree and then coiled in a great number of coils, sailor fashion, on the ground, and then passed around a windlass, and was finally attached to a number of cords coming down from the balloon. From this cone of cords hung a goodsized hamper, or basket in which I was to stand or kneel and^make my observations. It did not take a very long time (in fact, it was accomplished much too quickly for my liking) to fill the balloon with hot air, for a plentiful supply of pine knots and turpentine had been made (to create a great heat under a flue, the end of which opened into the balloon), so that very soon I was told that my aerial horse was ready for me to mount and ride away. Therefore, with note book and pencil in my pocket, and a heart beneath it beating very furiously (although of course I put on a brave front to those about me), I stepped into the basket and gave the signal to rise. At first the balloon was let off quite gradually, and I began to ascend slowly. This is not so bad' I thought, but the worst was yet to come.


"Hardly, however, had I got above the tree tops and obtained a view of the enemy's line than I observed a great commotion among them, men running here and there, and in a very few minutes they had run out a battery. I saw the officer in charge elevate the gun and carefully sight it at me, and give the signal to fire. "Boom ! " went the cannon, and the shell whistled by me in most unpleasant proximity. For some minutes shells and bullets from the schrap- nels (which burst in front of me) whistled and sang around me with a most unpleasant music; but my balloon and I escaped. As you may readily imagine, I did not feel very happy or comfortable ; on the contrary, I was scared nearly breathless, and was exceedingly nervous. I at once gave the signal, 'faster,' and the balloon went upward more rapidly, and before long I reached an elevation above the line of fire, when I again signalled them to stop, and squatting down in the hamper, I tried to collect my thoughts and breathe more freely. I now began to recover my composure, when a most hor- rid thought intruded itself upon me. 'Whatever goes up is bound to come down,' is a trite, but a sad, true saying. I knew well I could