Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/45

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

Balloon Used for Scout Duty in C. S. A. 41

blown out over York river, which, although half a mile wide at Yorktown, is three or four miles wide where I was now suspended in the air. The balloon began now to settle quite rapidly, and it was evident that I would be dumped unceremoniously in the mid- dle of this broad expanse of water.


<l l, therefore, began to undress, preparatory to my long swim, but I regret to record that being a young man I was what is termed 'somewhat dressy,' and I had on a pair of very tight, fitting boots, which, do what I might, I found impossible to pull off, and after tug- ging and scuffling in every conceivable position that my cramped quar- ters in the basket would permit, and still being unable to rid myself of those accursed boots (which were not long since my joy and pride.) I fortunately remembered my pocket knife, and had soon ripped them down the back and joyfully dropped them over the edge of my basket. The balloon was now so near the river that I could hear my rope splashing in the water as it dragged along over the surface and I was waiting to begin my swim at any moment when the wind again changed and blew me towards the Williamsburg shore. This was, indeed, luck of the greatest kind. After travelling a short distance inland, my balloon, by this time having settled nearly to the ground, I slipped over the side of the basket and sliding down the rope safely, joyfully stood once more on my native heath. I had landed in an orchard, and running with my rope, as the bal- loon passed over an apple tree, I twisted it quickly about the tree trunk, and after a few ineffectual flops, my balloon sank, exhausted to the ground. What remains to be told can be related in a few words.

"I dressed myself as quickly as possible and made my way to a neighboring farm house, where, after quite a hot discussion with the farmer, I succeeded in securing a horse and rode back to Gen- eral Johnston's Headquarters, a distance of about eight miles, and made my report as to my experience and as to what I had seen. On this trip my balloon had (so far as I can judge) made a half moon circuit of about fifteen miles, about four miles of which was over York River. As to the height to which I attained I cannot well compute.

"The information which I was able to give General Johnston as