JULY 4TH, 1862: The USS Maratanza, Lt. Stevens, engaged the CSS Teaser, Lt. Davidson, at Haxall's on the James River. The Teaser was abandoned and captured after a shell from Maratanza exploded her boiler. In addition to placing mines in the river, Davidson had gone down the river with a balloon on board for the purpose of making an aerial reconnaissance of Union General McClellan's positions at City Point and Harrison's Landing.
By this time both Union and Confederate forces were utilizing the balloon for gathering intelligence; the Teaser was the Southern counterpart, the USS G.W. Parke Custiss, from whose deck aerial observations had been made the preceding year.
Well, essentially they were early aircraft carriers.
The Teaser's balloon, as well as a quantity of insulated wire and mine equipment, were found on board the Teaser. Six shells with "peculiar fuzes" were also taken and sent to Captain Dahlgren at the Washington Navy Yard for examination.
Mines and Balloons, Oh My. --Old B-Runner