NOVEMBER 11TH, 1861: Thaddeus Lowe made a balloon observation of Confederate forces from Balloon-Boat G.W. Parke Custis, anchored in the Potomac River. The G.W. Parke Custis was procured for $150, and readied for the service at the Washington Navy Yard.
Lowe reported: "I left the navy-yard early Sunday morning, the 10th instant ... towed out by the steamer Coeur de Lion, having on board competent assistant aeronauts, together with with my new gas generating apparatus, which, though used for the first time, worked admirably.
We located at the mouth of Mattawoman Creek, about three miles from the opposite or Virginia shore. Yesterday [11 November] proceeded to make observations accompanied in my ascensions by general Sickles and others. We had a fine view of the enemy's camp-fires during the evening, and saw the rebels constructing new batteries at Freestone Point."
The Beginning of Naval Aviation. --Old B-Runner