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Hampton Roads History: Ballooning in Hampton Roads

November 13, 2020 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST


Presented by John V. Quarstein, noted author, historian and director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center

John Quarstein

John V. Quarstein

Join us on Friday, November 13 at 12 p.m. for a virtual lecture with author and historian John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center. Quarstein will give a 30-minute presentation live from his home in Hampton, Virginia, about the use of balloons for reconnaissance during the Civil War. 

About the lecture:
Gas and hot air balloons were first used for military purposes in America during the Civil War. The first launching of an observation balloon was made on July 31, 1861, by aeronaut John LaMountain who had traveled to Fort Monroe, Virginia. LaMountain wanted to get a closer look at Confederate fortifications defending Norfolk. He turned USS
Fanny into the first aircraft carrier when he lifted from the ship’s deck on August 3, 1861. Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe created the US Balloon Corps and supported the Army of the Potomac during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Although cumbersome to move and challenging to operate, these balloons were effective intelligence tools when properly used. 

Viewers are welcome to send him any comments or questions during the presentation, and John will answer them following his talk.

Image credit: Union soldiers prepare Thaddeus Lowe’s reconnaissance balloon for assent. Photograph taken just prior to the Battle of Gaines’ Mill. Mathew Brady, photographer. Ca. 1862. Courtesy of Library of Congress.


November 13, 2020
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST


The Mariners’ Museum
100 Museum Drive
Newport News, VA 23606 United States
(757) 596-2222