PROFESSOR THADDEUS LOWE

THE CIVIL WAR YEARS

Lowe Contracts Malaria and Convalescents in Pennsylvania - Summer 1862

O.R.--SERIES III--VOLUME III [S# 124]
CORRESPONDENCE, ORDERS, REPORTS, AND RETURNS OF THE UNION AUTHORITIES FROM JANUARY 1 TO DECEMBER 31, 1863.--# 12

 

FRIDAY, June 27, 1862.

Professor LOWE:

        DEAR SIR: Ascensions must be made throughout the day, if practicable, at short intervals and reports made of what is seen.

A. A. HUMPHREYS.

 

JUNE 27, 1862---8.15 a.m.

        The heaviest cannonading at this time is near where the last headquarters were, between Doctor Gaines' house and Mechanicsville. We have large reserves across the river; our forces are in line of battle. On our left the enemy appear to be in large force in and about their intrenchments on this side of the river in the vicinity of. Doctor Friend's, and on this side very large.
        The dense smoke prevents me from seeing to Richmond. I am very unwell, and think it advisable for some good person to be constantly up.

Respectfully,
T. S. C. LOWE.

 

JUNE 27, 1862--9.20 a.m.

Brigadier-General HUMPHREYS, or
General MARCY,
Chief of Staff:

        Although I reported myself ill on this occasion I will remain constantly in the balloon, and if you will send me two orderlies I will keep headquarters constantly informed of what can be seen from the balloon. My assistants that you speak of are trying to save the property in their charge. In an exact north direction from here, and about two miles and a half from the river, in an open field, there are large bodies of troops, but I should judge they were too far down on our right to be the enemy. On a hill this side of Doctor Gaines' house there is a long line of skirmishers stationary. On the field near where General Morell was camped everything is on fire.
        About four miles to the west from here the enemy have a balloon about 300 feet in the air. By appearances I should judge that the enemy might make an attack on our left at any moment. We are firing occasional shots on our left.

T. S. C. LOWE.

 

JUNE 27, 1862--11 a.m.

Brigadier-General HUMPHREYS, or
General MARCY,
Chief of Staff:

        There is no firing on either side at this time. In a northerly direction, and about three or four miles from Woodbury's Bridge, there is a long line of dust running toward the York River Railroad. Quite a large body of the enemy are visible in the field where General Smith was camped, near the old headquarters. The rebel balloon suddenly disappeared about one hour since.

        The enemy in front of here remain silent in and around their earth-works and rifle-pits.

T. S. C. LOWE.

        P. S.--Can Major Webb come over and ascend?

        Other reports were made at short intervals during the rest of the day, and at 6 o'clock I reported that the enemy on Gaines' Hill were making a desperate advance, while a large column was moving to outflank our forces on the extreme right, and evidently intended to intercept our crossing at Woodbury's Bridge. Soon after this report was made our reserves were sent to protect the crossing and to relieve those troops who had been engaged for two days.

        I have no doubt that the information given in the above reports (from what I saw myself and have since learned) saved a large portion of our troops then engaged from being taken prisoners, and also caused a strong guard to be placed at Bottom's Bridge and other crossings below, which prevented the enemy from getting into our rear.

        On the evening of the 28th I received orders to pack up everything pertaining to the aeronautic department and to be ready to move. Owing to the want of transportation to carry material for gas, the balloons were not put in use again until we reached Harrison's Landing. Here I was taken very ill with fever, which had been gradually coming on me for two or three weeks, and I was compelled to leave the army, placing the management of the aeronautic operations in charge of Mr. C. Lowe, who kept the balloon in use during the time the army remained at that place. On one occasion Commodore Wilkes had the balloon taken on the river, and while at an elevation of 1,000 feet was towed by a steamer, while the banks and country for miles back were examined.

WAR OF THE AERONAUTS - Page 245

      In the aftermath of the Seven Days' battles the potential of success for General McClellan's once grand scheme to destroy the heart of the Confederacy was seriously in question. Even though the last engagement at Malvern Hill had resulted in significantly more Confederate casualties than Union, from June 26, McClellan had begun to withdraw to Harrison's Landing, which would become the Union army's new supply base. The base of operations was now the ancestral home of former U.S. president William Henry Harrison and was situated on the James River, where the army could continue to be supplied and still protected by Union gunboats.

    While McClellan's "strategic withdrawal" was soundly criticized in the North, in Virginia the action signified a temporary respite from war. Both Union and Confederate forces had suffered considerable losses, but the psychological damage inflicted by General Lee's fierce counterattack was a shock to the system as far as the Army of the Potomac was concerned. Moreover, the unseasoned Yankees proved to be even more vulnerable to the native maladies of the Virginia peninsula, such as salmonella from contaminated food and water, dysentery, typhoid fever, and malaria.

    As a casualty of this latter group, Thaddeus Lowe returned to the National Hotel in Washington, D.C., to recover from the malarial fever he contracted in the weeks prior to the Seven Days' battles.


INDEX PAGE

BEFORE THE WAR

CIVIL WAR YEARS

INVENTIONS AND INDUSTRY

NORRISTOWN PENNSYLVANIA YEARS

PASADENA CALIFORNIA YEARS

MOUNT LOWE RAILWAY

AFTER THE RAILWAY

LOWE FAMILY

BOOKS ABOUT LOWE

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES

EVENTS AND REUNIONS

ARTIFACTS AND HISTORY

ENCYCLOPEDIA BIOGRAPHY

ACCLAMATIONS AND AWARDS

LINKS TO OTHER THADDEUS LOWE WEBSITES