Memoirs of Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, Chief of the Aeronautic Corps of the Army of the United States During the Civil War

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Although Thaddeus Lowe is a known figure to some historians, his scientific contributions such as the portable gas generators that filled his balloons and the compression ice machine that introduced “artificial” ice to the world, remain largely hidden. Ironically, it is very possible to find literature that references his work and his Civil War experiences, yet it is nearly impossible to read the book that this related literature is based upon – Lowe’s autobiography. This book has been painstakingly prepared from one of the only known copies of Lowe’s difficult-to-decipher text. This amplified autobiography includes photographs of the inventor and his balloons as well as photos of artifacts such as correspondences (including a handwritten note from President Lincoln) and receipts. It also contains relevant maps and supplementary information to enhance understanding of Lowe’s journeys and the battles he participated in.


“Now, for the first time, Lowe’s recollections of his time above the war are being made available to the public. [The authors] have painstakingly transcribed Lowe’s handwritten memoirs…. [and] the result of their work is a fascinating glimpse into the war and Lowe’s part in it…..The book also gives a more complete picture of Lowe’s Civil War activities than in previous works….. These memoirs will likely be of interest to a wide range of Civil War aficionados as well as those interested in the history of science and technology.[The authors] have done admirable work in bringing this information to light.” – Charles Ross, Associate Professor of Physics and Chair of the Department of Natural Sciences, Longwood University, Farmsville, Virginia

“[A] carefully crafted memoir ... both autobiography and a revealing compilation of military records that will be of interest to both general readers and those with a special interest in military history and the history of science and aviation…..The bulk of the memoir involves a detailed and fascinating account of Lowe’s struggle to use balloons to help the U.S. Army of the Potomac from 1861 through 1863.” – Dr. Richard Hughes, Assistant Professor of History, Eastern Oregon University

Table of Contents

1. Developing an Idea
2. The Great Airship
3. Entertaining the Japanese Embassy, Continued Experiments, The Press on the Airship
4. A Ride in the Mammoth of the Air
5. Meeting Professor Henry
6. The Test Flight
7. The Author Imprisoned as a Spy
8. Practical Endorsements by the Leading Minds of the Country
9. Experiences with General Scott, Overcoming Difficulties
10. First Active Service
11. Enthusiastic Support of the Generals of The Army of Potomac
12. First Aeronautic Expedition by Water in History, Forming the Aeronautic Corps.
13. The Army Moves
14. Before Yorktown
15. Events Leading up to the Battle of Fair Oaks
16. Fair Oaks
17. After Fair Oaks
18. The Recall of McClelland [sic]
19. Campaigning Before Fredericksburg
20. An Aeronautic Critic
21. Serving with Comstock
22. Battle of Chancellorsville
23. Leaving the Service
24. Afterwards
25. The Close of my Career as an Aeronaut

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