On the evening of Sunday, June 16, 1861 Lowe met with President Lincoln and performed a demonstration, sending a telegraph to the Commander in Chief from a height some 500 feet above the White House:
Washington, June 16 1861, …o’clock, …min. M.
To President United States,
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.
* * *
It was this presentation that led the president to establish a balloon corps under Lowe’s command to provide aerial reconnaissance for Northern armies as well as to provide aerial telegraphy services under the auspices of the Union Army Balloon Corps.
(Photographs courtesy of the Library of Congress/Tehrkot Media)