Thaddeus S. Lowe replenishing the balloon Intrepid from the balloon Constitution in 1862. Library of Congress photo, LC-DIG-cwpb-01562 DLC.

From the frontlines of the Civil War, Francis Marion Poore witnessed a number of military innovations.

Among these were Yankee observation balloons.

Located at Fredericksburg, Va., in the spring of 1863, Francis, his comrades in the 13th Mississippi Infantry and other rebels became used to seeing the balloons in the sky.

Thaddeus S. Lowe observes a battle in Virginia from his balloon Intrepid in 1862. Library of Congress photo, LC-DIG-cwpb-01561 DLC.

The self-styled professor of aeronautics, Thaddeus S. C. Lowe often watched the rebels from high overhead in the balloon Washington.

Francis and the other Confederates sometimes shot at the balloons to bring them down or drive them away.

What finally brought the balloons to the ground was disagreement among Union leaders about their value and their cost. By August 1863, the balloon corps ceased to exist.

What military innovation is your Civil War ancestor likely to have seen?

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