The Airship Could Have Saved the Confederacy... !


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#62
Here is a treat it was Lincoln that got the Balloon corps off the ground with a note to Gen. Scott...

https://airshipflamel.com/2014/08/06/thaddeus-lowe-abraham-lincolns-aeronaut/

But it did not end his belief that balloons could serve a useful purpose. Upon arriving back in Ohio, he left immediately for Washington, DC, hoping to convince officials that a tethered balloon could be used as a reconnaissance post to observe Confederate troop movements. He met with President Lincoln and proposed a test flight of Enterprise as a demonstration. For this, Lowe had the balloon equipped with a telegraph apparatus connected to the ground by a cable that ran along the tether. On June 16, 1861, the balloon rose from the grounds of the Columbia Armory just off the National Mall and close by to a gasworks. From a height of 500 feet with all of Washington laid out before him, Lowe telegraphed to the President,

This point of observation commands an area near fifty miles in diameter. The city with its girdle of encampments presents a superb scene. I have pleasure in sending you this first dispatch ever telegraphed from an aerial station and in acknowledging indebtedness to your encouragement for the opportunity of demonstrating the availability of the science of aeronautics in the military service of the country.
Lincoln was impressed. He and Lowe met late into the night discussing how balloons could be put to use for the Union cause. Lincoln shot off an order to General Winfield Scott to meet with Lowe. Thus began the Union Army Balloon Corps with Thaddeus Lowe appointed Chief Aeronaut.

Equipped with portable gas generators designed by Lowe, the balloon corps expanded to seven balloons, and served usefully at the Battle of Bull Run as well as during the Peninsula Campaign. He even launched balloons from a converted coal barge at the Siege of Yorktown, making the barge the first aircraft carrier in history. However, political infighting amongst the Army generals and with the civilian Lowe eventually caused Lowe to resign as Chief Aeronaut, and the Balloon Corps folded soon afterward.

A polite note to Lieutenant General Winfield Scott from the President asking him to stop ignoring Lowe.

1549852784641.png
 

Saphroneth

1st Lieutenant
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#63
Okay, so a cleansheet evaluation of the possibility goes like this.

Setting aside for the moment the question of whether it could be done in the CSA, was the technology there for a militarily meaningful dirigible at all in 1860-1865, beyond what could be achieved with an observation balloon?

There's no radio, so it would have to either be recon work (flying over enemy lines and returning to drop the information) or direct bombing.

It happens that an airship is largely invulnerable to most artillery fire at this time unless the enemy has some idea you're coming (guns are not built to fire upwards, and mortars are built to fire on very strict trajectories), but massed rifle fire could be a definite problem - the 1,000 fps of a rifle bullet will carry it quite some way into the air. No individual bullet is likely to hit your airship, but a few hundred holes peppered throughout could cause a problem if your performance is marginal.

The bad news is that your perfomance will be marginal. There's a reason why the first round-trip flight was in the 1880s, and it's that that was the first combination of an airship large enough (with enough spare lift) and an engine light enough (i.e. an electric one) to produce enough of a power-to-weight ratio to move upwind. These French aviation pioneers were not stupid; if they'd had a ton of useful lift beyond that needed to lift the engine in the 1870s they'd have used it on a larger engine. Thus any meaningful bombardment is unlikely to be useful; basically a matter of throwing the ballast over the side and hoping to hit "a target".

Assuming you have La France in the 1860s by means of an almost-magical leap of technological engineering, what can you do with it? You can do recon, which is to say finding the enemy army, but it's not something that can transit a long way and it requires a huge amount of hydrogen to fill it. Either you're launching it from a permanent Confederate base to recon a particular area, or you're launching it to scout ahead of where your army is going to go before it sets off, or you're using it as part of the scouting arm of the field army.
The problem is that all of these are round-trip jobs, and the range performance of an airship of this vintage - and the speed - is actually less than that of a cavalry patrol. You practically speaking cannot take it on a major campaign - the logistical requirements to be able to carry with you the equipment to generate over 10,000 cubic metres of hydogen is unfeasible, and you can't keep it in the air for days on end - and that means you're limited to one of these two situations:

1) Finding the enemy, when a cavalry squadron could do just the same for considerably cheaper.
2) Finding out the details of an enemy fortified position, when they're close to you.

The second one especially does give you information you couldn't get otherwise, but it's not much more than what a hot-air balloon could achieve and the hot-air balloon is much cheaper. It also has the problem that it's only useful when the CSA is involved in a siege/regular approaches to a siege of a Confederate position, and historically speaking that's a situation in which the CSA was about to lose anyway.

About the only circumstance where it could change anything is if a dirigible flight over McClellan's lines shortly after the beginning of the Yorktown operation revealed his relatively sparse numbers. But that gets to the final problem - weather.

Basically a hot-air balloon in bad weather has to get down quickly or it's toast. A dirigible in the same situation that happens to be operating over enemy lines is simply toast, and early 1862 had some utterly appalling weather - rain for days at a time. You don't want to be over enemy lines when a 12-mile-per-hour wind means you're stuck there and quickly running down your battery, let alone when there's a storm on the way!


So, the long story short is - they would have had no noticeable military value that could not be achieved by a hot air balloon for cheaper. The technology is simply not there for them to do anything useful whatsoever with their motive power.
 
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#64
@5fish What if . . . . . if only . . . .

In 1847, during the Mexican War, John Wise, considered the "Father of American Aeronautics," devised a plan to take the city of Vera Cruz, which was guarded by the imposing fortress of San Juan de Ulua. Wise suggested fabricating a gas balloon capable of lifting 20,000 pounds, attaching it to a five-mile-long cable and flying the craft over the fortress so that 18,000 pounds of explosives could be dropped on it. Wise sent his ambitious idea to the War Department, but it appears to have gone unanswered.

The Confederates DID use balloons for aerial observation

Their first was the ONLY fire or Montgolfier (hot air) balloon used during the Civil War and it only went aloft 3 times before it was damaged and became unairworthy. An Adjutant, Captain John Randolph Bryan volunteered to scout the area near West Point, Virginia - North of Yorktown - and was surprised when General Johnston ordered him to report to the balloon! You can read CPT Bryan's thoughts about the adventure in volume 33 of the Southern Historical Papers beginning on page 32:

http://books.google.com/books?id=tAgTAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA32&dq="Balloon used for scout duty"&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Jgl6VI34Fqq1sQSwxYKIAg&ved=0CCkQ6wEwAA#v=onepage&q="Balloon used for scout duty"&f=false

While there no pictures of the first Confederate balloon, the ONLY fire or Montgolfier (hot air) balloon used during the Civil War, it would look similar to this. The balloon's mouth would be placed over a hole in the ground capturing heat from a nearby fire

smoke balloon.jpg


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

A Southern Aeronaut, Langdon Cheves built the Confederate's second balloon in Savannah, Georgia. This balloon, named the Gazelle, was half the size of the smallest Union balloon at about 7,200 cu ft of volume. It was very porous and could barely carry one person aloft - E.P. Alexander. They inflated the balloon with "City" or "Coal Gas" (distilled coal produced a mixture of hydrogen, methane, and ammonia gas, all of which are lighter than air giving lift to balloons) from the Richmond Gas Works on the James River

Gas Works.jpg


It's first ascent was on June 24, 1862 and they carried the balloon to the 'front' on a railroad flat car.

Confederate Balloon by Train new.jpg



The first time two opposing forces had aircraft in the sky was June 27th.

Richmond June 27, 1862 w both balloons.jpg




The Gazelle was captured by the Union on July 4th, 1862 when the boat it was on, the CSS Teaser, ran aground.


CSS Teaser sketch copy.jpg



The Gazelle received the nickname "The Silk Dress Balloon" from Lieutenant General James Longstreet. While it was made of bolts of silk material that could have been used to make dresses, NO Southern Belles donated the dresses off of their backs nor were they harmed in it's construction. Longstreet wrote: "the Federals gathered it in and with it the last silk dress in the Confederacy. This capture was the meanest trick of the war and one I have never forgiven."
 
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#65
Here is a treat it was Lincoln that got the Balloon corps off the ground with a note to Gen. Scott...Will Lieut Gen Scott please see Professor Lowe, over more about his balloon? A Lincoln
Lowe spent the night with President Lincoln after ascending to 500' and sending the first air to ground telegraph to him one month prior and Lincoln sent Lowe to see General Scott. Scott said something similar to 'That's interesting . . . . Go away son, you bother me' Even after President Lincoln wrote the note you shared, Lowe couldn't get past Scott's gatekeepers. Lowe returned to Lincoln who promptly put him in his carriage, drove to the War Department, and as Commander in Chief, ordered Scott to use the balloons . . . . The rest as they say is history!
 
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#69
first airmail delivery from his BALLOON "Jupiter" :smile:
Here a picture of the only letter surviving letter from that flight... an interesting tale...

1550040484859.png


He tried another air delivery...

Wise's pluck exceeded his luck. A few weeks before his shortfall delivery of New York mail, he had made another attempt, taking off in a different balloon from St. Louis for New York City. On that flight, Wise covered 809 miles, the longest balloon journey ever made at the time, but a storm caused him to crash in Henderson, New York. Since the mail he was carrying was lost in the crash, his 30-mile August flight is the one counted as history's first airmail.

Despite the unpredictability and danger, Wise never lost his enthusiasm for balloon flight, or his belief that it was the wave of the future. During the Civil War, he flew observation balloons for the Union Army. Twenty years after his Lafayette takeoff, at the age of 71, he died in a crash into Lake Michigan.



Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/airmail-letter-126118503/#2OWRDiFdc5o04Peh.99
Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
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Saphroneth

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#71
Yes, but them marsians only sent military advisors... How you think them Yankees came up with the Total War concept...?
Depending on the degree to which it's expressed, the total-war concept is very old. The idea of total shutdown of non-military activity is either pretty new or as old as the hills purely by default - if your army is every non-child male, then functionally speaking you are shutting down your non-military economy whenever you muster the army.

The level to which a war-geared economy is acceptable goes back and forth throughout history - France was a good example in the early 19th century of a very highly geared economy, while most British wars in the mid-19th had very little impact on the metropole.

If OTOH you mean "total war" to mean "attacking all aspects of the enemy state" then it's the historical default, and leaving civilians alone is arguably the anomaly - albeit quite a pleasant one.
 
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#74
An Airship I designed with a CW concept in mind. I found this thread and couldn't resist.
Love <3, Love <3, Love <3 !!! Nicely done sir! I see model rail in the background and if you are so inclined I would love to see your interpretation of a Confederate rail car towing the "Gazelle" from Richmond to Fair Oaks :smile:

Confederate Balloon by Train new.jpg
 
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#75
French balloons and dirigibles couldn't even save France during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.
There is no reason to suppose that they would have saved the less techonology-abled CSA.
 

USS ALASKA

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#76
Has anyone read this?

'Aeronautics in the Union and Confederate Armies: With a Survey of Military Aeronautics Prior To 1861' by Frederick Stansbury Haydon

1553029926704.png


An illuminating study of the history of the development of air weapons for reconnaissance and offensive operations, usually thought to have only begun with WWI but which, the author shows, go back well before the American Civil War but saw important developments during that war. The book studies the work of such pioneers as James Allen, John Wise, John La Mountain, and T.S.C. Lowe, their failures and, in the case of Lowe, important successes in the creation of the Balloon Service of the Army of the Potomac. The book traces in detail the materiel and personnel, its administration and operation, and operations during the war. 55 plates including a fold-out map. Index. Reprint edition. 1941: 443 pages + plates.

REVIEW
In "Aeronautics in the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume 1", F. Stansbury Haydon writes THE essential history of the Union Balloon Corps. Haydon begins his account with a study of previous uses of balloons during wartime in France and various early proposals for an American balloon corps. He then proceeds to biographical and historical analyses of the men who first attempted to create a balloon corps during the Civil War: James Allen, John Wise, and John La Mountain. Of these, La Mountain was most successful, but personality conflicts with Professor Thaddeus Lowe, a contemporary aeronaut, put an end to La Mountain's aspirations.
The bulk of Haydon's account focuses on the balloon corps under Lowe, beginning with Lowe's early work in August and September of 1861. The next chapters focus on the Balloon Service of the Army of the Potomac, with chapters dedicated to material and personnel, administration, and operation. Haydon ends with a description of the Balloon Corps' work from November 1861 - March 1862 and a look at attempts to utilize the balloons further south and out west.
Despite the book's title, Haydon never examines the Confederate balloon corps. He alludes to it on occasion and even mentions some of the southern aeronauts, but he may have intended to focus on this material in the never-written second volume. Even without the Confederate balloons, Haydon created an impressive historical work drawing extensively upon primary sources, from military records, private letters, newspaper accounts, and more. He corroborates or shows the error in Union aeronauts' observations with Confederate records of troop movements, demonstrating just how effective the balloon corps was. Haydon laments the army command's poor implementation of the balloons, quoting Joel Roberts Poinsett, who said "that such an innovation 'can only succeed in willing hands'" (p. 397). Haydon's book is a must-have for Civil War buffs and those interested in the history of science.


https://www.amazon.com/Aeronautics-Union-Confederate-Armies-Seventy-Five/dp/0405121814
1098

A tad pricey for the hardcover...
USS ALASKA
 

Saphroneth

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#78
It is well that they only sent advisors. Imagine how Sherman would be remembered if they had sent the 1st team.
Oddly the original Martian vehicles - which were specifically designed by Wells to be as far beyond the armies of the day as the armies of the day were beyond recently-contacted tribespeople - were functionally rendered completely obsolete by the military advances of the first half of the 20th century. The British Army in War of the Worlds gets a few successes by luck and pluck, but the Martians' point-and-shoot weapon and poison gas are too much for them to deal with; a battalion of Shermans would have been pretty nasty as a counter.

That's why the aliens in the War of the Worlds movie use flying machines...
 

wbull1

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Messages
908
#79
Has anyone read this?

'Aeronautics in the Union and Confederate Armies: With a Survey of Military Aeronautics Prior To 1861' by Frederick Stansbury Haydon

View attachment 297899

An illuminating study of the history of the development of air weapons for reconnaissance and offensive operations, usually thought to have only begun with WWI but which, the author shows, go back well before the American Civil War but saw important developments during that war. The book studies the work of such pioneers as James Allen, John Wise, John La Mountain, and T.S.C. Lowe, their failures and, in the case of Lowe, important successes in the creation of the Balloon Service of the Army of the Potomac. The book traces in detail the materiel and personnel, its administration and operation, and operations during the war. 55 plates including a fold-out map. Index. Reprint edition. 1941: 443 pages + plates.

REVIEW
In "Aeronautics in the Union and Confederate Armies, Volume 1", F. Stansbury Haydon writes THE essential history of the Union Balloon Corps. Haydon begins his account with a study of previous uses of balloons during wartime in France and various early proposals for an American balloon corps. He then proceeds to biographical and historical analyses of the men who first attempted to create a balloon corps during the Civil War: James Allen, John Wise, and John La Mountain. Of these, La Mountain was most successful, but personality conflicts with Professor Thaddeus Lowe, a contemporary aeronaut, put an end to La Mountain's aspirations.
The bulk of Haydon's account focuses on the balloon corps under Lowe, beginning with Lowe's early work in August and September of 1861. The next chapters focus on the Balloon Service of the Army of the Potomac, with chapters dedicated to material and personnel, administration, and operation. Haydon ends with a description of the Balloon Corps' work from November 1861 - March 1862 and a look at attempts to utilize the balloons further south and out west.
Despite the book's title, Haydon never examines the Confederate balloon corps. He alludes to it on occasion and even mentions some of the southern aeronauts, but he may have intended to focus on this material in the never-written second volume. Even without the Confederate balloons, Haydon created an impressive historical work drawing extensively upon primary sources, from military records, private letters, newspaper accounts, and more. He corroborates or shows the error in Union aeronauts' observations with Confederate records of troop movements, demonstrating just how effective the balloon corps was. Haydon laments the army command's poor implementation of the balloons, quoting Joel Roberts Poinsett, who said "that such an innovation 'can only succeed in willing hands'" (p. 397). Haydon's book is a must-have for Civil War buffs and those interested in the history of science.


https://www.amazon.com/Aeronautics-Union-Confederate-Armies-Seventy-Five/dp/0405121814
1098

A tad pricey for the hardcover...
USS ALASKA
Um, as to the cover illustrations, may I point out as an author that the cover design is almost never within an author's control.
 

USS ALASKA

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#80
Um, as to the cover illustrations, may I point out as an author that the cover design is almost never within an author's control
Yes sir, I believe that the cover is the result of the book being part of a series called 'Flight : Its First Seventy-Five Years', published by Arno Press.
1130

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 
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