Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/42

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38 Southern Historical Society Papers.

When I had finished my report the General complimented me by saying I had done very well indeed. Therefore, at leaving I felt that my experiences were a thing of the past, and requested the General to assign me to the same duties which I had performed be- fore I had joined him.

" 'My dear sir,' replied the General, 'I fear you forget that you are the only experienced aeronaut that I have with my army, and you will please hold yourself in readiness, as we may wish you to make another ascension at any time!' I felt complimented, but I was not elated.

"That evening the whole balloon force was ordered to move to another point, somewhere nearer Yorktown, as the General did not think it safe that the balloons should go up from the same place again. Also, arrangement was made for increasing the speed in hauling down the balloon. This was that six artillery horses were hitched to the end of the rope which passed through the windlass, and upon the signal to lower the balloon they were ridden up the road and at full gallop, which brought the balloon down much more quickly. In a day or two a second ascent was made, at the Gener- eral's orders, which was much like the first one, but with some- what less trepidation by General Johnston's 'only experienced aero- naut,' who had already been nicknamed by his fellow soldiers 'Balloon Bryan,' and who was suspected by them of having a screw loose somewhere on account of his mad trips in the air, General Johnston received the second report about as he did the first, but still refused to discharge me from the balloon service, but ordered me to hold myself in readiness."


"A few nights later I made another, and, I am glad to say, my last ascension, which came near being my last trip in anything; but I shall proceed to narrate that occurrence.

"One night, just before the body fell back from Yorktown and fought the battle of Williamsburg (which was the 5th of May, 1862), the balloon squad was waked up one night with orders from General Johnston to fire up the balloon and make a reconnois- ance as soon as possible. The courier who brought the order in- formed me privately that information had been received at head- quarters from some of the scouts that the enemy was in motion