Thaddeus Lowe's Balloon Ascent

ID: SIA2011-0961 and A30915H

Creator: Brady & Co. (Washington, D.C.)

Form/Genre: Event

Date: May 31, 1862

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 54, Folder: 9D

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Image of Thaddeus Lowe's balloon test of the "Intrepid" at the battle of Fair Oaks, Virginia, during the Peninsular Campaign, May-August 1862. Lowe's balloon was used for reconnaissance for the Union Army during the Civil War. Using a telegraph the driver could send a message about Confederate camps and troop movements to soldiers below who then gave the information to Union generals. The test was supported by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Joseph Henry, who served as President Abraham Lincoln's scientific advisor during the war.


  • Lowe, T. S. C (Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt) 1832-1913
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Lincoln, Abraham 1809-1865
  • Intrepid (Hot Air Balloon)


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


Note that this is a composite image, consisting of the May 31, 1862, stereo view photograph showing people on the ground and the basket of the balloon, with the balloon labeled "Intrepid" drawn in above the original image.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 54, Folder: 9D

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


  • May 31, 1862
  • Civil War, 1861-1865

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Telegraph
  • Soldiers
  • Balloons (Aircraft)
  • Tents
  • Hot air balloons
  • Fair Oaks, Battle of, Va., 1862
  • Aeronautics
  • History
  • Experiments
  • Ballooning
  • Balloon ascensions


  • United States
  • Virginia


  • Event
  • Photographic print
  • Group, candid

ID Number

SIA2011-0961 and A30915H

Physical description

Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and White; Size: 10w x 8h; Type of Image: Event; Group, candid; Medium: Photographic print

Full Record

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