Civil War Hot Air Balloons


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During the Civil War, Hot Air Balloons were used for Surveillance. This represented the first serious use of air ships in war.  This page includes some intriguing examples of Civil War Hot Air Balloons. All illustrations on this page are original, and over 140 years old.

Civil War Balloons

Hot Air Balloon Reconnaissance

This is an original leaf printed in 1861 showing a Civil War Hot Air Balloon.  The upper image is captioned, "The War Balloon at General M'Dowell's Headquarters preparing for a Reconnaissance".  The image shows a Hot Air Balloon in a Civil War Camp.  A number of soldiers are pictured holding on to tethers, keeping the balloon on the ground. The US flag is shown flying over the camp.  The lower image shows Fremont's camp new Jefferson City, Missouri.  The balloon in the upper image is sailed by Mr. Lowe.  

h1861p679           Price: $155


Civil War Flying Machines

This is one of the most intriguing illustrations from Civil War era Harper's Weekly. It is an original 1864 illustration of various flying machines.  The illustration includes no less than ten concepts for flying machines.  One Hot Air Balloon is pictured tethered to the ground.  Another is the famous Teisol system which features birds pulling the balloon along.  The upper right balloon is a dirigible style system including a propeller. In the center is the Petin system which features a number of balloons connected together, holding a large observation platform aloft.  People are pictured walking around the large platform.  Most unusual is the Nadar system which features upward pointing propellers with no balloon at all.  Accompanying this illustration is another leaf with includes a long and interesting story on the history of ballooning and descriptions of the various systems in this illustration. This illustration is in very good condition.  The margin is a little ragged, but this will be behind the mat when you frame it, and it will not show.  Click on the image to see a higher resolution picture.

h1864p5           Price: $165

Flying Machines

balloon crash

Balloon Crash

This is an original 1863 print showing the crash of a Hot Air Balloon.  Hot Air Ballooning is a relatively old sport, as shown in this fascinating print.  Hot air balloons were routinely used for surveillance in the Civil War.  This leaf contains two dramatic images of the crash of one of these earliest balloons.  The upper image is captioned, "The French Balloon Le Grant Sweeping Along the Earth Near Nienburg", and the illustration shows four men falling from the large gondola.  Interestingly enough, a small rabbit is pictured running for his life.  The lower image is captioned, "The Balloon Caught in a Forest- Attempts of the Aeronauts to Escape".  This image shows a spectacular view of the crashed balloon.  The envelope is strewn across a number of trees, and the unfortunate victims are pictured around the gondola.  The gondola appears to be completely enclosed, and is very large by today's standards.

The back of the print contains a fascinating story

h1863p773           Price: $155




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