Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/41

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Balloon Used for Scout Duty in C. 8. A. 37

not remain in this security forever; in fact, every moment that passed the hot air in my balloon became cooler. I therefore set to work. From my elevated position I could see the whole country in every direction. A wonderful panorama spread out beneath me. Ches- apeake Bay, the York and the James rivers, Old Point Comfort and Hampton, and the fleets lying" in both the York and the James, and the two opposing- armies lying facing each other. I therefore took out my note-book and made a rough diagram showing the rivers, the roads and creeks, and marking where the different bodies of the enemy's troops were upon this little map, using the initial T for infantry, 'C' for cavalry, ( A' for artillery, and 'W for wagon trains, and I marked down about the number of troops that I estimated at each point. Now, this was not such an easy thing to do, as we may at first suppose, for the various currents of air made my bal- loon spin and revolve like a top (only very much slower), so that I must needs wait for a whole revolution to occur before I completed my sketch of any particular spot. Finally I gave the signal to lower the balloon, but hardly had I begun the descent when I saw that the enemy had prepared to give me a very warm reception as soon as I came within range, for they had run out a number of other bat- teries, and stood by their guns preparing for firing and aiming them at the spot I must pass on my way to terra firma. I therefore gave the signal, 'faster faster,' and the men at the windlass put forth their best efforts, working in relays, and as fast as they could. However, it seemed all too slow to me, for I was soon again in the danger zone, and the enemy's guns opened on me, firing this time by batteries, four and six at a time, and filling the air with shells and bullets, and how I escaped I do not know, for some of their shells passed very close to me.


"However, after what seemed to me an age, the balloon was finally wound down, and I stepped out of my basket once more upon Mother Earth. Mounting my horse I rode to General Johnston's headquarters to make my report. The General listened intently to what I told him, and asked very particularly as to the position of the different branches of the service, and as to their numbers, and spreading out his map on the table, made me show him where the the different bodies of troops, artillery, and so on, were posted.