Counters for the Balloon Corps of “Professor” Thaddeus Lowe. Lowe was quite a showman. He was captured by the Rebels when his balloon landed near Fort Sumter in 1861. At the time he was not a spy and he convinced them of that. However, only a few months later he would be a spy for the Union.
Lowe impressed President Lincoln who authorized him to create an aeronautics unit. Although assigned to the Army, he was not in any capacity in the Army and had to constantly fight for resources.
As can be seen here, Lowe had four balloons on the Peninsula: Union, Constitution, Excelsior and the famous Intrepid. During the campaign, the balloons went up hundreds of times. They relayed information to the ground by signals as well as telegraph. They acted as spotters for the artillery to suppress Confederate batteries. Just having the balloons up in the air caused apprehension among the southerners. One of their officers noted that, if nothing else, the balloons impacted the decision-making and movements of their troops.
During the battle of Seven Pines / Fair Oaks, Lowe and Park Hill observed the battle from above (as shown in the Currier & Ives print here), sending updates of the battle back to Fort Monroe and Washington.
Lowe was quite an inventor. He developed a special wagon that used water, iron filings and sulphuric acid to generate hydrogen for his balloons. The Confederacy had nothing like it. Their balloon on the Peninsula was lifted by lamp gas and could only ascend to 500 feet or so compared to the 1000+ feet of Lowe’s balloons.
He had two stations at the end of May: One at Mechanicsville and the other at Gaines’ Farm. In the game, their impact will be to act as supplements to the artillery and to prevent surprise.