History of Flying Machines


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, January 2, 1864

Harper's Weekly was published during the Civil War to keep the country informed on the critical events of the War. It contained fascinating first person reports of the battles and stunning illustrations drawn by eye-witnesses to the battles. Today, these newspapers serve as an incredible resource for those interested in this period of history.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the page of interest)




McClellan's Presidential Prospects

McClellan's Presidential Prospects


Death of General Buford

Flying Machines

Flying Machines

Christmas Story

Christmas Story

Germania Ford

Germania Ford


History of Flying Machines

Mine Run

Battle of Mine Run

Missionary Ridge

Battle of Missionary Ridge

Mine Run

Mine Run Battle

New Years

New Years Day

Fisk Hatch

Fisk & Hatch




JANUARY 2, 1864.]



The surgeon's eyes sparkled; he happened to be an enthusiast in the art of embalming. "Keep him to New Zealand?" said he contemptuously. "I'll embalm him so that he shall go to England looking just as he does now—by-the-by, I never saw a drowned man keep his color so well before—ay, and two thousand years after that, if you don't mind the expense."

"The expense! I don't care if it cost me a year's pay. I think of nothing but repairing my blunder as far as I can."

The surgeon was delighted. Standing over his subject, who lay on the captain's table, he told that officer how he should proceed. "I have all the syringes," he said; "a capital collection. I shall inject the veins with care and patience; then I shall remove the brain and the viscera, and provided I'm not stinted in arsenic and spices—"

"I give you carte blanche on the purser: make your preparations and send for him. Don't tell me how you do it; but do it. I must write and tell poor Lucy I have got him, and am bringing him home to her—dead."

The surgeon was gone about a quarter of an hour; he then returned with two men to remove the body, and found the captain still writing his letter, very sorrowful: but now and then slapping his face or leg with a hearty curse as the flies stung him.

The surgeon beckoned the men in softly, and pointed to the body, for them to carry it out.

Now, as he pointed, his eye following his finger, fell on something that struck that experienced eye as incredible: he uttered an exclamation of astonishment so loud that the captain looked up directly from his letter; and saw him standing with his finger pointing at the corpse, and his eyes staring astonishment. "What now?" said the captain, and rose from his seat.

"Look! look! look!"

The captain came and looked, and said he saw nothing at all.

"The fly; the fly!" cried the surgeon.

"Yes, I see one of them has been biting him; for there's a little blood trickling. Poor fellow!"

"A dead man can't bleed from the small veins in his skin," said the man of art. "He is alive, captain, he is alive, as sure as we stand here, and God's above. That little insect was wiser than us; he is alive."

"Jackson; don't trifle with me, or I'll hang you at the yard-arm. God bless you, Jackson! Is it really possible? Run some of you; get a mirror; I have heard that is a test."

"Mirror be hanged. Doctor Fly knows his business."

All was now flutter and bustle: and various attempts were made to resuscitate David, but all in vain. At last the surgeon had an idea. "This man was never drowned at all," said he: "I am sure of it. This is catalepsy. He may lie this way for a week. But dead he is not. I'll try the douche." David was then by his orders stripped, and carried to a place where they could turn a water-cock on him from a height; and the surgeon had soon the happiness of pointing out to the captain a slight blush on David's skin in parts, caused by the falling water. All doubt ceased with this: the only fear was lest they should shake out the trembling life by rough usage. They laid him on his stomach, and with a bellows and pipe so acted on the lungs that at last a genuine sigh issued from the patient's breast. Then they put him in a warm bed, and applied stimulants; and by slow degrees the eyelids began to wink, the eyes to look more mellow, the respiration to strengthen, the heart to beat: "Patience, now," said the surgeon, "patience, and lots of air."

Patience was rewarded. Just four hours after the first treatment, a voice, faint but calm and genial, issued from the bed on their astonished ears, "Good-morning to you all."

They kept very quiet. In about five minutes more the voice broke out again, calm and sonorous.



These words set them all looking at one another; and very much puzzled the surgeon: they were delivered with such sobriety and conviction. "Captain," he whispered, "ask him if he knows you."

"David," said the captain, kindly, "do you know me?"

David looked at him earnestly, and his old kindly smile broke out, "Know ye, ye dog," said he, "why you are my cousin Reginald. And how came you into this thundering Bank? I hope you have got no money here. Ware land sharks!"

"We are not in a Bank, David; we are on board my ship."

"The deuce we are. But where's my money?"

"Oh, we'll talk about that by-and-by."

The surgeon stepped forward and said, soothingly, "You have been very ill, Sir. You have had a fit."

"I believe you are right," said David, thoughtfully.

Will you allow me to examine your eye?"

"Certainly, doctor."

The surgeon examined David's eye with his thumb and finger; and then looked into it to see how the pupil dilated and contracted.

He rubbed his hands after this examination; "More good news, captain!" then lowering his voice, "Your friend is as sane as I am."

The surgeon was right. A shock had brought back the reason a shock had taken away. But how or why I know no more than the child unborn. The surgeon wrote a learned paper, and explained the whole most ingeniously. I don't believe one word of his explanation, and can't better it, so confine myself to the phenomena. Being now sane, the boundary wall of his memory

was shifted. He remembered his whole life up to his demanding his cash back of Richard Hardie: and there his reawakened mind stopped dead short. Being asked if he knew William Thompson, he said, "Yes, perfectly. The man was a foretopman on board the Agra, and rather a smart hand. The ship being aground, he came out to sea on a piano: but we cut the hawser and he got safe ashore." His recovered reason rejected with contempt as an idle dream all that had happened while that reason was in defect. The last phenomena I have to record were bodily; one was noted by Mr. Georgie White in these terms: "Billy's eyes used to be like a seal's: but now he is a great gentleman they are like yours and mine." The other was more singular: with his recovered reason came his first gray hair, and in one fortnight it was all as white as snow."

He remained a fortnight on board the Vulture, beloved by high and low. He walked the quarter-deck in the dress of a private gentleman, but looking like an admiral. The sailors touched their hats to him with a strange mixture of veneration and jocoseness. They called him among themselves Commodore Billy. He was supplied with funds by Reginald, and put on board a merchant-ship bound for England. He landed, and went straight to Barkington. There he heard his family were in London. He came back to London, and sought them; a friend told him of Green; he went to him, and of course Green saw directly who he was. But able men don't cut business short; he gravely accepted David's commission to find him Mrs. Dodd. Finding him so confident David asked him if he thought he could find Richard Hardie, or his clerk, Noah Skinner; both of whom had levanted from Barkington. Green, who was on a hot scent as to Skinner, demurely accepted both commissions, and appointed David to meet him at a certain place at six.

He came; he found Green's man, who took him up stairs, and there was that excited group determining the ownership of the receipt.

Now to David that receipt was a thing of yesterday. "It is mine," said he. They all turned to look at this man, with sober, passionless voice, and hair of snow. A keen cry from Julia's heart made every heart there quiver, and in a moment she was clinging and sobbing on her father's neck. Edward could only get his hand and press and kiss it. Instinct told them Heaven had given them their father back mind and all.

Ere the joy and the emotion had calmed themselves, Alfred Hardie stepped out and ran like a deer to Pembroke Street.

Those who were so strangely reunited could not part for a long time, even to go dawn the stairs one by one.

David was the first to recover his composure: indeed, great tranquillity of spirit had ever since his cure been a remarkable characteristic of this man's nature. His passing mania seemed to have burnt out all his impetuosity, leaving him singularly sober, calm, and self-governed.

Mr. Compton took the money and the will, and promised the executrix Skinner should be decently interred and all his debts paid out of the estate. He would look in at 66 by-and-by.

And now a happy party wended their way toward Pembroke Street.

But Alfred was beforehand with them: he went boldly up the stairs, and actually surprised Mrs. Dodd and Sampson together.

At sight of him she rose, made him a low courtesy, and beat a retreat. He whipped to the door, and set his back against it. "No," said he, saucily.

She drew back astonished, and the color mounted in her pale face. "What, Sir, would you detain me by force?"

"And no mistake," said the audacious boy. "How else can I detain you? when you hate me so?" She began to peep into his sparkling eyes to see the reason of this strange conduct.

"C'way from the door, ye vagabin," said Sampson.

"No, no, my friend," said Mrs. Dodd, trembling, and still peering into his sparkling eyes. "Mr. Alfred Hardie is a gentleman at all events: he would not take this liberty with me, unless he had some excuse for it."

"You are wonderfully shrewd, mamma," said Alfred, admiringly. "The excuse is I don't hate you as you hate me; and I am very happy."

"Why do you call me mamma to-day? Oh doctor, he calls me mamma."

"The audacious vagabin."

"No, no, I can not think he would call me that unless he had some good news for us both."

"What good news can he have, except that his trial is going well, and you don't care for that."

"Oh, how can you say so? I care for all that concerns him: he would not come here to insult my misery with his happiness. He is noble, he is generous, with all his faults. How dare you call me mamma, Sir! Call it me again, my dear child: because then I shall know you are come to save my heart from breaking." And with this, the truth must be told, the stately Mrs. Dodd did fawn upon Alfred with palms outstretched and piteous eyes, and all the cajoling arts of her sex.

"Give me a kiss then, mamma," said the impudent boy, "and I will tell you a little bit of good news."

She paid the required tribute with servile humility and readiness.

"Well, then," said Alfred, and was just going to tell her all, but caught sight of Sampson making the most expressive pantomime to him to be cautious. "Well," said he, "I have seen a sailor."


"And he is sure Mr. Dodd is alive."

Mrs. Dodd lifted her hands to heaven, but

could not speak. "In fact," said Alfred, hesitating (for he was a wretched hand at a fib), "he saw him not a fortnight ago on board ship. But that is not all, mamma, the sailor says he has his reason."

Mrs. Dodd sank on her knees, and said no word to man, but many to the Giver of all good. When she arose she said to Alfred: "Bring this sailor to me. I must speak with him directly."

Alfred colored. "I don't know where to find him just now."

"Oh, indeed," said Mrs. Dodd, quietly: and this excited her suspicion: and from that moment the cunning creature lay in wait for Master Alfred. She plied him with questions, and he got more and more puzzled how to sustain his story. At last, by way of bursting out of his own net, he said, "But I am sorry to say his hair has turned white. But perhaps you won't mind that."

"And he hadn't a gray hair."

"It is not gray, like the doctor's; it is white as the driven snow."

Mrs. Dodd sighed; then suddenly turning on Alfred, asked him, "Did the sailor tell you that?"

He hesitated a moment and was lost.

"You have seen him," she screamed: "he is in London: he is in the house. I feel him near me:" and she went into something very like hysterics. Alfred was alarmed, and whispered the truth. The doctor sent him off to meet them, and recommended caution: her nerves were in such a state a violent shock, even of happiness, might kill her.

Thus warned, Julia came into the room alone, and while Dr. Sampson was inculcating self-restraint for her own sake, she listened with a superior smile, and took quite a different line. "Mamma," said she, "he is in the town: but I dare not bring him here till you are composed: his reason is restored; but his nerves are not so strong as they were; now, if you agitate yourself you will agitate him, and will do him a serious mischief."

This crafty speech produced an incredible effect on Mrs. Dodd. It calmed her directly: or rather, her great love gave her strength to be calm. "I will not be such a wretch," she said. "See I am composed, quite composed. Bring me my darling, and you shall see how good I will be: there now, Julia, see how calm I am, quite calm. What, have I borne so much misery, with Heaven's help, and do you think I can not bear this great happiness, for my dear darling's sake?"

On this they proposed she should retire to her room, and they would go for David.

"Think over the meeting, dear, dear mamma," said Julia, "and then you will behave well for his sake, who was lost to us and is found."

Husband and wife met alone in Mrs. Dodd's room. No eye, even of the children, ventured to witness a scene so strange, so sacred. We may try and imagine that meeting; but few of us can conceive it by the light of our narrow experience. Yet one or two there may be; the world is so wide, and the adventures and emotions of our race so many.

One by one all were had up to that sacred room to talk to the happy pair. They found David seated calmly at his wife's feet, her soft hand laid on his white hair, lest he should leave her again: and they told him all the sorrow behind them; and he, genial and kindly as ever, told them all the happiness before them. He spoke like the master of the house, the father of the family, the friend of them all.

But with all his goodness he was sternly resolved to have his £14,000 out of Richard Hardie. He had an interview with Mr. Compton that very night, and the lawyer wrote a letter to Mr. Hardie, saying nothing about the death of Skinner, but saying that his client, Captain Dodd, had recovered from Noah Skinner the receipt No. 17 for £14,010 12s. 6d., and he was instructed to sue for it unless repaid immediately. He added Captain Dodd was mercifully restored, and remembered distinctly every particular of the transaction.


IF we may believe the poets and fabulists, the idea of sailing in the air is no new one. Every school-boy knows the story of Daedalus and his son Icarus, and the wings made of feathers stuck together by wax, with which they attempted to fly over-sea from Crete to Sicily. These, it is said, worked well, only too well in the case of Icarus, for taking an upward flight he approached so near the sun that the wax melted, the wings came apart, and the son fell into the sea and was drowned, while the father, keeping nearer the earth, made good his flight. The story is a fable, upon the explanation of which sundry learned treatises have been written. But sometime in the eleventh century Oliver de Malmerburq, an English Benedictine, undertook to play the part of Daedalus; he fitted himself with a pair of wings with which he flew a hundred yards, but came down breaking his thigh. "This accident would never have happened," he said, "if I had only thought of putting on a tail." However, he did not try the experiment again, with or without a tail. Toward the close of the eleventh century Jean-Baptiste Dante, a French mathematician, tried the same thing with the same result—a broken leg. About the time of the Restoration the Marquis de Bacqueville fixed wings to his legs and arms, and launched himself from the balcony of his hotel, situated on the quay at Paris, intending to fly to the Tuileries. He came down upon a washer-woman's boat in the river, and also broke his leg. So much for wings fixed to the body.

Meanwhile another kind of aerial apparatus had been invented by Besnier, a French shoemaker. It consisted of a couple of poles, with a frame-work covered with silk at each end; these were strapped to

the shoulders, and moved up and down by the bands and feet. The Journal des Savants, for 1678, relates that he went above the roofs of the houses, but says nothing of the sad fall which he got.

In 1809, Degen, a German residing in Paris, invented a complex machine, consisting of a kite, a balloon, and an inclined platform to resist the air and give a working place for the aeronaut. He tried this in the Champ-de-Mars, and got for his pains a sound cudgeling from the spectators, who thought themselves humbugged by the would-be aeronaut who could not raise himself an inch from the ground.

In 1772 the Abbe Desforges made an aerial machine, consisting of a boat with wings hinged to the sides and moved by a crank. On the day of trial he tugged away at his crank, the wings flapped vigorously, but the boat would not budge. It remained immovable on the top of the tower where the experiment was performed.

In 1777 the brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier, of Annonay, in France, having read Priestley's work on "Different Species of Air," conceived the idea of sailing in the air. 'They made a balloon of paper, which was inflated by a fire lighted within, which rarefied the air in the balloon, making it specifically lighter than the surrounding atmosphere. The first ascension was made about the close of the year 1783. The balloon carried up Pilatre de Rosiers and the Marquis d'Arlande, who thus made the whole circuit of Paris. On the 1st of December following the art of aerostation was fairly created. M. Charles, a clever physician, in company with one of the brothers Robert, went up in a balloon of silk, coated with gum, and inflated with hydrogen gas. They reached a height of some 15,000 feet, descending several times during the voyage. The descents and ascents were accomplished by letting off gas and throwing over ballast.

The balloon invented by Montgolfier, and improved by Charles, having given the power of ascent and descent, men began to hope that means could be contrived for directing the passage through the air. Oars were first tried. On the 2d of March, 1784, Blanchard went up in a car suspended from a balloon, furnished with oars and rudder, and was seen voyaging backward and forward. He boasted that he had sailed against the wind; but it was demonstrated that he had only availed himself of different currents at various elevations. Sundry other experiments to the same purpose are on record. Among these was that of Alban (shown in Figure 1). His plan consisted of a number of rotary oars, not unlike the sails of a wind-mill. This worked tolerably in calm weather. However, the French Academy pronounced the idea impracticable, and ceased its experiments.

We come to the systems which are now actually proposed. First is that of Petin (Figure 2). This consists of four balloons mounted on a large platform. The floor of this is made like a Venetian shutter, so as to offer more or less resistance to the ascent. Sails and "screws" are the means of propulsion. This plan has never been actually tried.—Mr. Henin's "reversed parachute" (Figure 3) has only sails fixed to the balloon and car. The parachute below the car is designed to moderate the rate of ascent, and to aid the action of the wind upon the sails, which are managed as on a vessel.—The system of Mr. Helle (Figure 4) is a combination of "fans" and "screws," moved by a couple of men below the car.

M. M. Julien and Sanson have given up the spherical form of the balloon as presenting too large a surface, and offering too great resistance to the wind, and have adopted (Figure 5) an elongated shape, something like that of a fish. In Julien's balloon the "screws" are placed not under the car, but at the centre of resistance, beneath the balloon. A little balloon of this kind, in which the "screws" were moved by clock-work, was put in operation at the Hippodrome some years ago. It moved against the wind, and seemed to demonstrate that the fish-form was the one for aerial navigation; and many competent judges thought that with adequate motive power Julien would be able to overcome the currents of the atmosphere. Jarcot's system (Figure 6) has not, we believe, been tried practically. M. Teisol's project of a balloon drawn by birds (Figure 7) is ingenious. If it succeeds, we shall be happy to record the fact. M. Moreau-Seguin has projected a "captive-balloon" (Figure 8), the object of which is to give timid persons the advantage of an air voyage. This is to be moved by a locomotive on land. Who knows whether this may not turn out a profitable speculation in somebody's hands? M. Le Vicomte de Penton d'Amecourt, finding in the great surface of a balloon the chief obstacle to aerial navigation, has propounded a system of which M. Nadar is the expounder. His design (Figure 9) stands at the head of our picture. Nadar's "Helicoptere" is composed of two screws placed horizontally on a vertical axis. When revolving, the wings strike the air obliquely, and send the machine up. For steering there is the third screw placed horizontally, with the axis perhaps oblique to those of the vertical screws. The motive power is furnished by a steam-engine specially designed for the purpose. M. Nader, in order to raise funds to try this system practically, is now making the tour of Europe with his monster-balloon. If he raises the funds, we shall not be sorry; if he raises the machine, we shall be more than delighted.


PAGE 4 contains an illustration from a drawing by our correspondent, who was an eye-witness of the affair, of GENERAL BAIRD'S DIVISION CAPTURING THE REBEL GUNS AT MISSIONARY RIDGE. Our artist writes that "the twilight was just perceptible as this gallant division gained the crest, Baird's right joining Wood's left. The ridge is steep, and was only carried by the most determined gallantry. After gaining the crest the division swept to the left, where the fight lasted till long after dark, the rebels making desperate but unavailing efforts to carry off their guns."




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