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Capturing the United States: Stills from Smithsonian Channel's Aerial America


If you're a fan of more intellectual travel programming than one finds these days on the Travel Channel, you might like AERIAL AMERICA, Smithsonian Channel's televised "quest to capture all 50 states from the air." Call it high-concept or just call it high-up from an elevation standpoint, the fact remains, this series takes a different perspective on American points of interest than the "down and folksy in the BBQ pit" rambles that most networks are going for.
Here's a gallery of stills from the filming of this season of AERIAL AMERICA, which began airing July 14 and runs Sundays at 9 p.m.
If you're a fan of more intellectual travel programming than one finds these days on the Travel Channel, you might like AERIAL AMERICA, Smithsonian Channel's televised "quest to capture all 50 states from the air." Call it high-concept or just call it high-up from an elevation standpoint, the fact remains, this series takes a different perspective on American points of interest than the "down and folksy in the BBQ pit" rambles that most networks are going for.
Here's a gallery of stills from the filming of this season of AERIAL AMERICA, which began airing July 14 and runs Sundays at 9 p.m.

Harpers Ferry
Historic Harpers Ferry — a town that's also a National Historic Park — is placed where two major rivers meet, and this photo illustrates that with its birds-eye perspective. The town is nearly encircled by the converging waters of the Potomac and Shenandoah. It's easy to see why early settlers including Thomas Jefferson hailed it a "stupendous scene," and also easy to understand why they found it a strategic location for a town. These days there are still a handful of residents in Harpers Ferry, but it primarily functions as a living history park.

Montezuma Castle National Monument
Cliff dwellings carved into limestone, approximately 800 years ago, once housed the Sinagua people; today they are under NPS protection. This was one of the first sites ever designated as a National Historic Landmark. Teddy Roosevelt declared Montezuma Castle and three others (including Devil's Tower) as national heritage sites back in 1906. This particular landmark is remarkable not only for its geological makeup, but for the human enterprise which put a lasting mark on the limestone cliffs. The Sinagua's vertigo-inducing multi-story "apartment-style" pueblos remain remarkably well preserved in the present day.

Downtown Cleveland
You'd never know Cleveland was once cruelly nicknamed "the Mistake on the Lake" by looking at this glorious sunset shot. Modern skyscrapers stand as testament to a generation of revitalization, economic growth and civic renewal. Lake Erie looks serene from this perspective, with little hint of the activity one would expect from such a busy maritime thoroughfare.

Florida Keys
Driving south from Key Largo to Key West, the Keys become increasingly closer to the water, till by the time you reach Seven Mile Bridge (which connects the Middle and Lower Keys), it's all around you. What this photo shows is how green they are. The lush tropical landscape often goes under-appreciated because of its reputation as a beach/boating/swimming destination — but it's the contrast of all the green with the blue that makes them really special.

Blackwater Falls
Though it's one of the most photographed falls in the country, most images only capture this West Virginia landmark from a safe distance back, with the central point being the rocky protrusion that divides the falling water neatly in half. Seen from above, the falls seem more powerful and angry, more befitting the name and less like the serene forest pond seen on so many greeting cards and lithographs over the years.

MS Headwaters
Magnificent fall foliage blankets the Mississippi Headwaters in this aerial snapshot from a journey over Minnesota, the so-called "land of 10,000 lakes."


Was the Civil War high tech?

Editor's note: Civil War technology is the topic of this weekend's symposium, and some of the sessions may surprise you, particularly the one with "Civil War Planes" in its title. You can tune in to the symposium by webcast.

We don't usually think of the Civil War as high tech. But what else can you call a war that included instantaneous telegraph communication, speedy travel by railroad, portable printing presses, mass production of uniforms and military equipment, and aerial spies?

"It was arguably the first war that the United States got involved with that was really using the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution—steam tools, engines, telegraphy, the railroad," said Dr. Merritt Roe Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will give the symposium's keynote address on Friday, November 9.

Which Civil War technological innovation was most important? "Probably the railroad because it was so essential to getting supplies to the front," said Smith. "The north really held an advantage in that area."

But less visible forms of technology were also key. Although "we often associate mass production with Henry Ford," said Smith, "When you look at the Civil War, there are plenty of examples in which textile mills and gun factories were spewing out uniforms and firearms at mass production levels. That's a much more invisible type of change but extremely important to both sides." Mass production of uniforms, weaponry, and other essentials, "enabled both sides to raise large armies and keep them in the field over extended periods of time, whereas before that was just not possible. Napoleon had large armies but they couldn't stay in the field over long periods of time," he said.

For Bart Hacker, Senior Curator of Armed Forces History at the museum, rifled muskets were a key innovation. They "completely changed the way soldiers had to act on the battlefield," said Hacker, by improving long-range accuracy. "The old tactics of mass charges and such didn't work any longer," he said. "It took most of the war to figure that out. That's why in the late part of the war, trenches became such a major feature of the fighting particularly. as it was the best way to defend against long-range fire."

Inspired by the symposium this weekend, here's a look at three unexpected technologies from the Civil War.

Portable printing presses

Speedy printing and communication wouldn't have been possible during the war without inexpensive portable tabletop printing presses, which were purchased by both Union and Confederate armies and navies. The presses were used for quickly printing orders and documents as well as unit newsletters.

One ad bragged, "From the ease with which they can be transported from place to place, they will be found exceedingly useful in the Army. Rear-Admirals Farragut and Goldsborough have them in constant use, and speak of them in the highest terms."

Of course, no matter how portable they were claimed to be, printing presses were sometimes abandoned on the battlefield.

Curator Joan Boudreau in the museum's Division of Culture and the Arts speaks on Saturday, November 10 on "The Portable Printing Press in the Civil War" as part of the symposium.

Aerial spies

When I think of reconnaissance by air, I imagine black-and-white photographs taken by high-flying planes during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but flying spies were also a fixture of the Civil War.

Balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe demonstrated balloons' usefulness in reconaissance on the future site of the National Air and Space Museum, using a telegraph to communicate what he could see from his lofty vantage point. President Lincoln was impressed (in fact, he wanted to discuss ballooning all night and during breakfast the next day) and Lowe was appointed to organize a balloon corps within the Union Army.

At the battle of Fair Oaks, Lowe's balloon spied on Confederate camps and troop movements, a test that was supported by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Joseph Henry, who served as President Lincoln's scientific advisor during the war. This was just one of thousands of reconnaissance flights Lowe and his balloonists made over the next two years. They even came under fire at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in 1863.

Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum, will speak about "Civil War Planes: Dreams of Aerial Navigation, 1861–1865" on Sunday, November 11.

Ironclad ships

When the Confederate States Navy raised the captured and sunken USS Merrimac at the Nofolk Navy Yard and converted it into an ironclad vessel, which they called the CSS Virginia, the U.S. Navy turned to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer, for help in matching southern naval innovation. Ericsson produced three armored warships, including the USS Monitor.

Surprisingly, building Monitor from keel to launch took just 100 working days, an incredible accomplishment. The battle between the Monitor and Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, may have been inconclusive, but it is often recognized as the battle that changed naval warfare.

Ironclad ships weren't the only naval technologies to advance during the Civil War. Torpedo boats, improved weaponry, daring blockade runners, and evolving battle tactics make Civil War naval technology a fascinating topic. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum's blog and newsletter are a great resource for learning more about it.

On Saturday, Jesse Heitz of King's College London gives the talk "Southern-built Iron: The Union Blockade and the Confederate Ironclads Constructed to Break It" and Jorit Wintjes of the University of Wurzburg will discuss "The Spar Torpedo Boat in the American Civil War." Don't miss Gordon Calhoun of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum speaking on "USS Cumberland — Why She Really Lost to CSS Virginia on 8 March 1862" on Saturday.

Erin Blasco is an education specialist in the museum's New Media Department. Her favorite Civil War story is that of the Confederate blockade runner whose capture resulted in a delay in the production of Confederate postage stamps.


Was the Civil War high tech?

Editor's note: Civil War technology is the topic of this weekend's symposium, and some of the sessions may surprise you, particularly the one with "Civil War Planes" in its title. You can tune in to the symposium by webcast.

We don't usually think of the Civil War as high tech. But what else can you call a war that included instantaneous telegraph communication, speedy travel by railroad, portable printing presses, mass production of uniforms and military equipment, and aerial spies?

"It was arguably the first war that the United States got involved with that was really using the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution—steam tools, engines, telegraphy, the railroad," said Dr. Merritt Roe Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will give the symposium's keynote address on Friday, November 9.

Which Civil War technological innovation was most important? "Probably the railroad because it was so essential to getting supplies to the front," said Smith. "The north really held an advantage in that area."

But less visible forms of technology were also key. Although "we often associate mass production with Henry Ford," said Smith, "When you look at the Civil War, there are plenty of examples in which textile mills and gun factories were spewing out uniforms and firearms at mass production levels. That's a much more invisible type of change but extremely important to both sides." Mass production of uniforms, weaponry, and other essentials, "enabled both sides to raise large armies and keep them in the field over extended periods of time, whereas before that was just not possible. Napoleon had large armies but they couldn't stay in the field over long periods of time," he said.

For Bart Hacker, Senior Curator of Armed Forces History at the museum, rifled muskets were a key innovation. They "completely changed the way soldiers had to act on the battlefield," said Hacker, by improving long-range accuracy. "The old tactics of mass charges and such didn't work any longer," he said. "It took most of the war to figure that out. That's why in the late part of the war, trenches became such a major feature of the fighting particularly. as it was the best way to defend against long-range fire."

Inspired by the symposium this weekend, here's a look at three unexpected technologies from the Civil War.

Portable printing presses

Speedy printing and communication wouldn't have been possible during the war without inexpensive portable tabletop printing presses, which were purchased by both Union and Confederate armies and navies. The presses were used for quickly printing orders and documents as well as unit newsletters.

One ad bragged, "From the ease with which they can be transported from place to place, they will be found exceedingly useful in the Army. Rear-Admirals Farragut and Goldsborough have them in constant use, and speak of them in the highest terms."

Of course, no matter how portable they were claimed to be, printing presses were sometimes abandoned on the battlefield.

Curator Joan Boudreau in the museum's Division of Culture and the Arts speaks on Saturday, November 10 on "The Portable Printing Press in the Civil War" as part of the symposium.

Aerial spies

When I think of reconnaissance by air, I imagine black-and-white photographs taken by high-flying planes during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but flying spies were also a fixture of the Civil War.

Balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe demonstrated balloons' usefulness in reconaissance on the future site of the National Air and Space Museum, using a telegraph to communicate what he could see from his lofty vantage point. President Lincoln was impressed (in fact, he wanted to discuss ballooning all night and during breakfast the next day) and Lowe was appointed to organize a balloon corps within the Union Army.

At the battle of Fair Oaks, Lowe's balloon spied on Confederate camps and troop movements, a test that was supported by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Joseph Henry, who served as President Lincoln's scientific advisor during the war. This was just one of thousands of reconnaissance flights Lowe and his balloonists made over the next two years. They even came under fire at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in 1863.

Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum, will speak about "Civil War Planes: Dreams of Aerial Navigation, 1861–1865" on Sunday, November 11.

Ironclad ships

When the Confederate States Navy raised the captured and sunken USS Merrimac at the Nofolk Navy Yard and converted it into an ironclad vessel, which they called the CSS Virginia, the U.S. Navy turned to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer, for help in matching southern naval innovation. Ericsson produced three armored warships, including the USS Monitor.

Surprisingly, building Monitor from keel to launch took just 100 working days, an incredible accomplishment. The battle between the Monitor and Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, may have been inconclusive, but it is often recognized as the battle that changed naval warfare.

Ironclad ships weren't the only naval technologies to advance during the Civil War. Torpedo boats, improved weaponry, daring blockade runners, and evolving battle tactics make Civil War naval technology a fascinating topic. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum's blog and newsletter are a great resource for learning more about it.

On Saturday, Jesse Heitz of King's College London gives the talk "Southern-built Iron: The Union Blockade and the Confederate Ironclads Constructed to Break It" and Jorit Wintjes of the University of Wurzburg will discuss "The Spar Torpedo Boat in the American Civil War." Don't miss Gordon Calhoun of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum speaking on "USS Cumberland — Why She Really Lost to CSS Virginia on 8 March 1862" on Saturday.

Erin Blasco is an education specialist in the museum's New Media Department. Her favorite Civil War story is that of the Confederate blockade runner whose capture resulted in a delay in the production of Confederate postage stamps.


Was the Civil War high tech?

Editor's note: Civil War technology is the topic of this weekend's symposium, and some of the sessions may surprise you, particularly the one with "Civil War Planes" in its title. You can tune in to the symposium by webcast.

We don't usually think of the Civil War as high tech. But what else can you call a war that included instantaneous telegraph communication, speedy travel by railroad, portable printing presses, mass production of uniforms and military equipment, and aerial spies?

"It was arguably the first war that the United States got involved with that was really using the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution—steam tools, engines, telegraphy, the railroad," said Dr. Merritt Roe Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will give the symposium's keynote address on Friday, November 9.

Which Civil War technological innovation was most important? "Probably the railroad because it was so essential to getting supplies to the front," said Smith. "The north really held an advantage in that area."

But less visible forms of technology were also key. Although "we often associate mass production with Henry Ford," said Smith, "When you look at the Civil War, there are plenty of examples in which textile mills and gun factories were spewing out uniforms and firearms at mass production levels. That's a much more invisible type of change but extremely important to both sides." Mass production of uniforms, weaponry, and other essentials, "enabled both sides to raise large armies and keep them in the field over extended periods of time, whereas before that was just not possible. Napoleon had large armies but they couldn't stay in the field over long periods of time," he said.

For Bart Hacker, Senior Curator of Armed Forces History at the museum, rifled muskets were a key innovation. They "completely changed the way soldiers had to act on the battlefield," said Hacker, by improving long-range accuracy. "The old tactics of mass charges and such didn't work any longer," he said. "It took most of the war to figure that out. That's why in the late part of the war, trenches became such a major feature of the fighting particularly. as it was the best way to defend against long-range fire."

Inspired by the symposium this weekend, here's a look at three unexpected technologies from the Civil War.

Portable printing presses

Speedy printing and communication wouldn't have been possible during the war without inexpensive portable tabletop printing presses, which were purchased by both Union and Confederate armies and navies. The presses were used for quickly printing orders and documents as well as unit newsletters.

One ad bragged, "From the ease with which they can be transported from place to place, they will be found exceedingly useful in the Army. Rear-Admirals Farragut and Goldsborough have them in constant use, and speak of them in the highest terms."

Of course, no matter how portable they were claimed to be, printing presses were sometimes abandoned on the battlefield.

Curator Joan Boudreau in the museum's Division of Culture and the Arts speaks on Saturday, November 10 on "The Portable Printing Press in the Civil War" as part of the symposium.

Aerial spies

When I think of reconnaissance by air, I imagine black-and-white photographs taken by high-flying planes during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but flying spies were also a fixture of the Civil War.

Balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe demonstrated balloons' usefulness in reconaissance on the future site of the National Air and Space Museum, using a telegraph to communicate what he could see from his lofty vantage point. President Lincoln was impressed (in fact, he wanted to discuss ballooning all night and during breakfast the next day) and Lowe was appointed to organize a balloon corps within the Union Army.

At the battle of Fair Oaks, Lowe's balloon spied on Confederate camps and troop movements, a test that was supported by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Joseph Henry, who served as President Lincoln's scientific advisor during the war. This was just one of thousands of reconnaissance flights Lowe and his balloonists made over the next two years. They even came under fire at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in 1863.

Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum, will speak about "Civil War Planes: Dreams of Aerial Navigation, 1861–1865" on Sunday, November 11.

Ironclad ships

When the Confederate States Navy raised the captured and sunken USS Merrimac at the Nofolk Navy Yard and converted it into an ironclad vessel, which they called the CSS Virginia, the U.S. Navy turned to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer, for help in matching southern naval innovation. Ericsson produced three armored warships, including the USS Monitor.

Surprisingly, building Monitor from keel to launch took just 100 working days, an incredible accomplishment. The battle between the Monitor and Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, may have been inconclusive, but it is often recognized as the battle that changed naval warfare.

Ironclad ships weren't the only naval technologies to advance during the Civil War. Torpedo boats, improved weaponry, daring blockade runners, and evolving battle tactics make Civil War naval technology a fascinating topic. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum's blog and newsletter are a great resource for learning more about it.

On Saturday, Jesse Heitz of King's College London gives the talk "Southern-built Iron: The Union Blockade and the Confederate Ironclads Constructed to Break It" and Jorit Wintjes of the University of Wurzburg will discuss "The Spar Torpedo Boat in the American Civil War." Don't miss Gordon Calhoun of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum speaking on "USS Cumberland — Why She Really Lost to CSS Virginia on 8 March 1862" on Saturday.

Erin Blasco is an education specialist in the museum's New Media Department. Her favorite Civil War story is that of the Confederate blockade runner whose capture resulted in a delay in the production of Confederate postage stamps.


Was the Civil War high tech?

Editor's note: Civil War technology is the topic of this weekend's symposium, and some of the sessions may surprise you, particularly the one with "Civil War Planes" in its title. You can tune in to the symposium by webcast.

We don't usually think of the Civil War as high tech. But what else can you call a war that included instantaneous telegraph communication, speedy travel by railroad, portable printing presses, mass production of uniforms and military equipment, and aerial spies?

"It was arguably the first war that the United States got involved with that was really using the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution—steam tools, engines, telegraphy, the railroad," said Dr. Merritt Roe Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will give the symposium's keynote address on Friday, November 9.

Which Civil War technological innovation was most important? "Probably the railroad because it was so essential to getting supplies to the front," said Smith. "The north really held an advantage in that area."

But less visible forms of technology were also key. Although "we often associate mass production with Henry Ford," said Smith, "When you look at the Civil War, there are plenty of examples in which textile mills and gun factories were spewing out uniforms and firearms at mass production levels. That's a much more invisible type of change but extremely important to both sides." Mass production of uniforms, weaponry, and other essentials, "enabled both sides to raise large armies and keep them in the field over extended periods of time, whereas before that was just not possible. Napoleon had large armies but they couldn't stay in the field over long periods of time," he said.

For Bart Hacker, Senior Curator of Armed Forces History at the museum, rifled muskets were a key innovation. They "completely changed the way soldiers had to act on the battlefield," said Hacker, by improving long-range accuracy. "The old tactics of mass charges and such didn't work any longer," he said. "It took most of the war to figure that out. That's why in the late part of the war, trenches became such a major feature of the fighting particularly. as it was the best way to defend against long-range fire."

Inspired by the symposium this weekend, here's a look at three unexpected technologies from the Civil War.

Portable printing presses

Speedy printing and communication wouldn't have been possible during the war without inexpensive portable tabletop printing presses, which were purchased by both Union and Confederate armies and navies. The presses were used for quickly printing orders and documents as well as unit newsletters.

One ad bragged, "From the ease with which they can be transported from place to place, they will be found exceedingly useful in the Army. Rear-Admirals Farragut and Goldsborough have them in constant use, and speak of them in the highest terms."

Of course, no matter how portable they were claimed to be, printing presses were sometimes abandoned on the battlefield.

Curator Joan Boudreau in the museum's Division of Culture and the Arts speaks on Saturday, November 10 on "The Portable Printing Press in the Civil War" as part of the symposium.

Aerial spies

When I think of reconnaissance by air, I imagine black-and-white photographs taken by high-flying planes during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but flying spies were also a fixture of the Civil War.

Balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe demonstrated balloons' usefulness in reconaissance on the future site of the National Air and Space Museum, using a telegraph to communicate what he could see from his lofty vantage point. President Lincoln was impressed (in fact, he wanted to discuss ballooning all night and during breakfast the next day) and Lowe was appointed to organize a balloon corps within the Union Army.

At the battle of Fair Oaks, Lowe's balloon spied on Confederate camps and troop movements, a test that was supported by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Joseph Henry, who served as President Lincoln's scientific advisor during the war. This was just one of thousands of reconnaissance flights Lowe and his balloonists made over the next two years. They even came under fire at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in 1863.

Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum, will speak about "Civil War Planes: Dreams of Aerial Navigation, 1861–1865" on Sunday, November 11.

Ironclad ships

When the Confederate States Navy raised the captured and sunken USS Merrimac at the Nofolk Navy Yard and converted it into an ironclad vessel, which they called the CSS Virginia, the U.S. Navy turned to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer, for help in matching southern naval innovation. Ericsson produced three armored warships, including the USS Monitor.

Surprisingly, building Monitor from keel to launch took just 100 working days, an incredible accomplishment. The battle between the Monitor and Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, may have been inconclusive, but it is often recognized as the battle that changed naval warfare.

Ironclad ships weren't the only naval technologies to advance during the Civil War. Torpedo boats, improved weaponry, daring blockade runners, and evolving battle tactics make Civil War naval technology a fascinating topic. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum's blog and newsletter are a great resource for learning more about it.

On Saturday, Jesse Heitz of King's College London gives the talk "Southern-built Iron: The Union Blockade and the Confederate Ironclads Constructed to Break It" and Jorit Wintjes of the University of Wurzburg will discuss "The Spar Torpedo Boat in the American Civil War." Don't miss Gordon Calhoun of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum speaking on "USS Cumberland — Why She Really Lost to CSS Virginia on 8 March 1862" on Saturday.

Erin Blasco is an education specialist in the museum's New Media Department. Her favorite Civil War story is that of the Confederate blockade runner whose capture resulted in a delay in the production of Confederate postage stamps.


Was the Civil War high tech?

Editor's note: Civil War technology is the topic of this weekend's symposium, and some of the sessions may surprise you, particularly the one with "Civil War Planes" in its title. You can tune in to the symposium by webcast.

We don't usually think of the Civil War as high tech. But what else can you call a war that included instantaneous telegraph communication, speedy travel by railroad, portable printing presses, mass production of uniforms and military equipment, and aerial spies?

"It was arguably the first war that the United States got involved with that was really using the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution—steam tools, engines, telegraphy, the railroad," said Dr. Merritt Roe Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will give the symposium's keynote address on Friday, November 9.

Which Civil War technological innovation was most important? "Probably the railroad because it was so essential to getting supplies to the front," said Smith. "The north really held an advantage in that area."

But less visible forms of technology were also key. Although "we often associate mass production with Henry Ford," said Smith, "When you look at the Civil War, there are plenty of examples in which textile mills and gun factories were spewing out uniforms and firearms at mass production levels. That's a much more invisible type of change but extremely important to both sides." Mass production of uniforms, weaponry, and other essentials, "enabled both sides to raise large armies and keep them in the field over extended periods of time, whereas before that was just not possible. Napoleon had large armies but they couldn't stay in the field over long periods of time," he said.

For Bart Hacker, Senior Curator of Armed Forces History at the museum, rifled muskets were a key innovation. They "completely changed the way soldiers had to act on the battlefield," said Hacker, by improving long-range accuracy. "The old tactics of mass charges and such didn't work any longer," he said. "It took most of the war to figure that out. That's why in the late part of the war, trenches became such a major feature of the fighting particularly. as it was the best way to defend against long-range fire."

Inspired by the symposium this weekend, here's a look at three unexpected technologies from the Civil War.

Portable printing presses

Speedy printing and communication wouldn't have been possible during the war without inexpensive portable tabletop printing presses, which were purchased by both Union and Confederate armies and navies. The presses were used for quickly printing orders and documents as well as unit newsletters.

One ad bragged, "From the ease with which they can be transported from place to place, they will be found exceedingly useful in the Army. Rear-Admirals Farragut and Goldsborough have them in constant use, and speak of them in the highest terms."

Of course, no matter how portable they were claimed to be, printing presses were sometimes abandoned on the battlefield.

Curator Joan Boudreau in the museum's Division of Culture and the Arts speaks on Saturday, November 10 on "The Portable Printing Press in the Civil War" as part of the symposium.

Aerial spies

When I think of reconnaissance by air, I imagine black-and-white photographs taken by high-flying planes during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but flying spies were also a fixture of the Civil War.

Balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe demonstrated balloons' usefulness in reconaissance on the future site of the National Air and Space Museum, using a telegraph to communicate what he could see from his lofty vantage point. President Lincoln was impressed (in fact, he wanted to discuss ballooning all night and during breakfast the next day) and Lowe was appointed to organize a balloon corps within the Union Army.

At the battle of Fair Oaks, Lowe's balloon spied on Confederate camps and troop movements, a test that was supported by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Joseph Henry, who served as President Lincoln's scientific advisor during the war. This was just one of thousands of reconnaissance flights Lowe and his balloonists made over the next two years. They even came under fire at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in 1863.

Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum, will speak about "Civil War Planes: Dreams of Aerial Navigation, 1861–1865" on Sunday, November 11.

Ironclad ships

When the Confederate States Navy raised the captured and sunken USS Merrimac at the Nofolk Navy Yard and converted it into an ironclad vessel, which they called the CSS Virginia, the U.S. Navy turned to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer, for help in matching southern naval innovation. Ericsson produced three armored warships, including the USS Monitor.

Surprisingly, building Monitor from keel to launch took just 100 working days, an incredible accomplishment. The battle between the Monitor and Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, may have been inconclusive, but it is often recognized as the battle that changed naval warfare.

Ironclad ships weren't the only naval technologies to advance during the Civil War. Torpedo boats, improved weaponry, daring blockade runners, and evolving battle tactics make Civil War naval technology a fascinating topic. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum's blog and newsletter are a great resource for learning more about it.

On Saturday, Jesse Heitz of King's College London gives the talk "Southern-built Iron: The Union Blockade and the Confederate Ironclads Constructed to Break It" and Jorit Wintjes of the University of Wurzburg will discuss "The Spar Torpedo Boat in the American Civil War." Don't miss Gordon Calhoun of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum speaking on "USS Cumberland — Why She Really Lost to CSS Virginia on 8 March 1862" on Saturday.

Erin Blasco is an education specialist in the museum's New Media Department. Her favorite Civil War story is that of the Confederate blockade runner whose capture resulted in a delay in the production of Confederate postage stamps.


Was the Civil War high tech?

Editor's note: Civil War technology is the topic of this weekend's symposium, and some of the sessions may surprise you, particularly the one with "Civil War Planes" in its title. You can tune in to the symposium by webcast.

We don't usually think of the Civil War as high tech. But what else can you call a war that included instantaneous telegraph communication, speedy travel by railroad, portable printing presses, mass production of uniforms and military equipment, and aerial spies?

"It was arguably the first war that the United States got involved with that was really using the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution—steam tools, engines, telegraphy, the railroad," said Dr. Merritt Roe Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will give the symposium's keynote address on Friday, November 9.

Which Civil War technological innovation was most important? "Probably the railroad because it was so essential to getting supplies to the front," said Smith. "The north really held an advantage in that area."

But less visible forms of technology were also key. Although "we often associate mass production with Henry Ford," said Smith, "When you look at the Civil War, there are plenty of examples in which textile mills and gun factories were spewing out uniforms and firearms at mass production levels. That's a much more invisible type of change but extremely important to both sides." Mass production of uniforms, weaponry, and other essentials, "enabled both sides to raise large armies and keep them in the field over extended periods of time, whereas before that was just not possible. Napoleon had large armies but they couldn't stay in the field over long periods of time," he said.

For Bart Hacker, Senior Curator of Armed Forces History at the museum, rifled muskets were a key innovation. They "completely changed the way soldiers had to act on the battlefield," said Hacker, by improving long-range accuracy. "The old tactics of mass charges and such didn't work any longer," he said. "It took most of the war to figure that out. That's why in the late part of the war, trenches became such a major feature of the fighting particularly. as it was the best way to defend against long-range fire."

Inspired by the symposium this weekend, here's a look at three unexpected technologies from the Civil War.

Portable printing presses

Speedy printing and communication wouldn't have been possible during the war without inexpensive portable tabletop printing presses, which were purchased by both Union and Confederate armies and navies. The presses were used for quickly printing orders and documents as well as unit newsletters.

One ad bragged, "From the ease with which they can be transported from place to place, they will be found exceedingly useful in the Army. Rear-Admirals Farragut and Goldsborough have them in constant use, and speak of them in the highest terms."

Of course, no matter how portable they were claimed to be, printing presses were sometimes abandoned on the battlefield.

Curator Joan Boudreau in the museum's Division of Culture and the Arts speaks on Saturday, November 10 on "The Portable Printing Press in the Civil War" as part of the symposium.

Aerial spies

When I think of reconnaissance by air, I imagine black-and-white photographs taken by high-flying planes during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but flying spies were also a fixture of the Civil War.

Balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe demonstrated balloons' usefulness in reconaissance on the future site of the National Air and Space Museum, using a telegraph to communicate what he could see from his lofty vantage point. President Lincoln was impressed (in fact, he wanted to discuss ballooning all night and during breakfast the next day) and Lowe was appointed to organize a balloon corps within the Union Army.

At the battle of Fair Oaks, Lowe's balloon spied on Confederate camps and troop movements, a test that was supported by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Joseph Henry, who served as President Lincoln's scientific advisor during the war. This was just one of thousands of reconnaissance flights Lowe and his balloonists made over the next two years. They even came under fire at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in 1863.

Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum, will speak about "Civil War Planes: Dreams of Aerial Navigation, 1861–1865" on Sunday, November 11.

Ironclad ships

When the Confederate States Navy raised the captured and sunken USS Merrimac at the Nofolk Navy Yard and converted it into an ironclad vessel, which they called the CSS Virginia, the U.S. Navy turned to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer, for help in matching southern naval innovation. Ericsson produced three armored warships, including the USS Monitor.

Surprisingly, building Monitor from keel to launch took just 100 working days, an incredible accomplishment. The battle between the Monitor and Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, may have been inconclusive, but it is often recognized as the battle that changed naval warfare.

Ironclad ships weren't the only naval technologies to advance during the Civil War. Torpedo boats, improved weaponry, daring blockade runners, and evolving battle tactics make Civil War naval technology a fascinating topic. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum's blog and newsletter are a great resource for learning more about it.

On Saturday, Jesse Heitz of King's College London gives the talk "Southern-built Iron: The Union Blockade and the Confederate Ironclads Constructed to Break It" and Jorit Wintjes of the University of Wurzburg will discuss "The Spar Torpedo Boat in the American Civil War." Don't miss Gordon Calhoun of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum speaking on "USS Cumberland — Why She Really Lost to CSS Virginia on 8 March 1862" on Saturday.

Erin Blasco is an education specialist in the museum's New Media Department. Her favorite Civil War story is that of the Confederate blockade runner whose capture resulted in a delay in the production of Confederate postage stamps.


Was the Civil War high tech?

Editor's note: Civil War technology is the topic of this weekend's symposium, and some of the sessions may surprise you, particularly the one with "Civil War Planes" in its title. You can tune in to the symposium by webcast.

We don't usually think of the Civil War as high tech. But what else can you call a war that included instantaneous telegraph communication, speedy travel by railroad, portable printing presses, mass production of uniforms and military equipment, and aerial spies?

"It was arguably the first war that the United States got involved with that was really using the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution—steam tools, engines, telegraphy, the railroad," said Dr. Merritt Roe Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will give the symposium's keynote address on Friday, November 9.

Which Civil War technological innovation was most important? "Probably the railroad because it was so essential to getting supplies to the front," said Smith. "The north really held an advantage in that area."

But less visible forms of technology were also key. Although "we often associate mass production with Henry Ford," said Smith, "When you look at the Civil War, there are plenty of examples in which textile mills and gun factories were spewing out uniforms and firearms at mass production levels. That's a much more invisible type of change but extremely important to both sides." Mass production of uniforms, weaponry, and other essentials, "enabled both sides to raise large armies and keep them in the field over extended periods of time, whereas before that was just not possible. Napoleon had large armies but they couldn't stay in the field over long periods of time," he said.

For Bart Hacker, Senior Curator of Armed Forces History at the museum, rifled muskets were a key innovation. They "completely changed the way soldiers had to act on the battlefield," said Hacker, by improving long-range accuracy. "The old tactics of mass charges and such didn't work any longer," he said. "It took most of the war to figure that out. That's why in the late part of the war, trenches became such a major feature of the fighting particularly. as it was the best way to defend against long-range fire."

Inspired by the symposium this weekend, here's a look at three unexpected technologies from the Civil War.

Portable printing presses

Speedy printing and communication wouldn't have been possible during the war without inexpensive portable tabletop printing presses, which were purchased by both Union and Confederate armies and navies. The presses were used for quickly printing orders and documents as well as unit newsletters.

One ad bragged, "From the ease with which they can be transported from place to place, they will be found exceedingly useful in the Army. Rear-Admirals Farragut and Goldsborough have them in constant use, and speak of them in the highest terms."

Of course, no matter how portable they were claimed to be, printing presses were sometimes abandoned on the battlefield.

Curator Joan Boudreau in the museum's Division of Culture and the Arts speaks on Saturday, November 10 on "The Portable Printing Press in the Civil War" as part of the symposium.

Aerial spies

When I think of reconnaissance by air, I imagine black-and-white photographs taken by high-flying planes during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but flying spies were also a fixture of the Civil War.

Balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe demonstrated balloons' usefulness in reconaissance on the future site of the National Air and Space Museum, using a telegraph to communicate what he could see from his lofty vantage point. President Lincoln was impressed (in fact, he wanted to discuss ballooning all night and during breakfast the next day) and Lowe was appointed to organize a balloon corps within the Union Army.

At the battle of Fair Oaks, Lowe's balloon spied on Confederate camps and troop movements, a test that was supported by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Joseph Henry, who served as President Lincoln's scientific advisor during the war. This was just one of thousands of reconnaissance flights Lowe and his balloonists made over the next two years. They even came under fire at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in 1863.

Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum, will speak about "Civil War Planes: Dreams of Aerial Navigation, 1861–1865" on Sunday, November 11.

Ironclad ships

When the Confederate States Navy raised the captured and sunken USS Merrimac at the Nofolk Navy Yard and converted it into an ironclad vessel, which they called the CSS Virginia, the U.S. Navy turned to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer, for help in matching southern naval innovation. Ericsson produced three armored warships, including the USS Monitor.

Surprisingly, building Monitor from keel to launch took just 100 working days, an incredible accomplishment. The battle between the Monitor and Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, may have been inconclusive, but it is often recognized as the battle that changed naval warfare.

Ironclad ships weren't the only naval technologies to advance during the Civil War. Torpedo boats, improved weaponry, daring blockade runners, and evolving battle tactics make Civil War naval technology a fascinating topic. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum's blog and newsletter are a great resource for learning more about it.

On Saturday, Jesse Heitz of King's College London gives the talk "Southern-built Iron: The Union Blockade and the Confederate Ironclads Constructed to Break It" and Jorit Wintjes of the University of Wurzburg will discuss "The Spar Torpedo Boat in the American Civil War." Don't miss Gordon Calhoun of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum speaking on "USS Cumberland — Why She Really Lost to CSS Virginia on 8 March 1862" on Saturday.

Erin Blasco is an education specialist in the museum's New Media Department. Her favorite Civil War story is that of the Confederate blockade runner whose capture resulted in a delay in the production of Confederate postage stamps.


Was the Civil War high tech?

Editor's note: Civil War technology is the topic of this weekend's symposium, and some of the sessions may surprise you, particularly the one with "Civil War Planes" in its title. You can tune in to the symposium by webcast.

We don't usually think of the Civil War as high tech. But what else can you call a war that included instantaneous telegraph communication, speedy travel by railroad, portable printing presses, mass production of uniforms and military equipment, and aerial spies?

"It was arguably the first war that the United States got involved with that was really using the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution—steam tools, engines, telegraphy, the railroad," said Dr. Merritt Roe Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will give the symposium's keynote address on Friday, November 9.

Which Civil War technological innovation was most important? "Probably the railroad because it was so essential to getting supplies to the front," said Smith. "The north really held an advantage in that area."

But less visible forms of technology were also key. Although "we often associate mass production with Henry Ford," said Smith, "When you look at the Civil War, there are plenty of examples in which textile mills and gun factories were spewing out uniforms and firearms at mass production levels. That's a much more invisible type of change but extremely important to both sides." Mass production of uniforms, weaponry, and other essentials, "enabled both sides to raise large armies and keep them in the field over extended periods of time, whereas before that was just not possible. Napoleon had large armies but they couldn't stay in the field over long periods of time," he said.

For Bart Hacker, Senior Curator of Armed Forces History at the museum, rifled muskets were a key innovation. They "completely changed the way soldiers had to act on the battlefield," said Hacker, by improving long-range accuracy. "The old tactics of mass charges and such didn't work any longer," he said. "It took most of the war to figure that out. That's why in the late part of the war, trenches became such a major feature of the fighting particularly. as it was the best way to defend against long-range fire."

Inspired by the symposium this weekend, here's a look at three unexpected technologies from the Civil War.

Portable printing presses

Speedy printing and communication wouldn't have been possible during the war without inexpensive portable tabletop printing presses, which were purchased by both Union and Confederate armies and navies. The presses were used for quickly printing orders and documents as well as unit newsletters.

One ad bragged, "From the ease with which they can be transported from place to place, they will be found exceedingly useful in the Army. Rear-Admirals Farragut and Goldsborough have them in constant use, and speak of them in the highest terms."

Of course, no matter how portable they were claimed to be, printing presses were sometimes abandoned on the battlefield.

Curator Joan Boudreau in the museum's Division of Culture and the Arts speaks on Saturday, November 10 on "The Portable Printing Press in the Civil War" as part of the symposium.

Aerial spies

When I think of reconnaissance by air, I imagine black-and-white photographs taken by high-flying planes during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but flying spies were also a fixture of the Civil War.

Balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe demonstrated balloons' usefulness in reconaissance on the future site of the National Air and Space Museum, using a telegraph to communicate what he could see from his lofty vantage point. President Lincoln was impressed (in fact, he wanted to discuss ballooning all night and during breakfast the next day) and Lowe was appointed to organize a balloon corps within the Union Army.

At the battle of Fair Oaks, Lowe's balloon spied on Confederate camps and troop movements, a test that was supported by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Joseph Henry, who served as President Lincoln's scientific advisor during the war. This was just one of thousands of reconnaissance flights Lowe and his balloonists made over the next two years. They even came under fire at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in 1863.

Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum, will speak about "Civil War Planes: Dreams of Aerial Navigation, 1861–1865" on Sunday, November 11.

Ironclad ships

When the Confederate States Navy raised the captured and sunken USS Merrimac at the Nofolk Navy Yard and converted it into an ironclad vessel, which they called the CSS Virginia, the U.S. Navy turned to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer, for help in matching southern naval innovation. Ericsson produced three armored warships, including the USS Monitor.

Surprisingly, building Monitor from keel to launch took just 100 working days, an incredible accomplishment. The battle between the Monitor and Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, may have been inconclusive, but it is often recognized as the battle that changed naval warfare.

Ironclad ships weren't the only naval technologies to advance during the Civil War. Torpedo boats, improved weaponry, daring blockade runners, and evolving battle tactics make Civil War naval technology a fascinating topic. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum's blog and newsletter are a great resource for learning more about it.

On Saturday, Jesse Heitz of King's College London gives the talk "Southern-built Iron: The Union Blockade and the Confederate Ironclads Constructed to Break It" and Jorit Wintjes of the University of Wurzburg will discuss "The Spar Torpedo Boat in the American Civil War." Don't miss Gordon Calhoun of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum speaking on "USS Cumberland — Why She Really Lost to CSS Virginia on 8 March 1862" on Saturday.

Erin Blasco is an education specialist in the museum's New Media Department. Her favorite Civil War story is that of the Confederate blockade runner whose capture resulted in a delay in the production of Confederate postage stamps.


Was the Civil War high tech?

Editor's note: Civil War technology is the topic of this weekend's symposium, and some of the sessions may surprise you, particularly the one with "Civil War Planes" in its title. You can tune in to the symposium by webcast.

We don't usually think of the Civil War as high tech. But what else can you call a war that included instantaneous telegraph communication, speedy travel by railroad, portable printing presses, mass production of uniforms and military equipment, and aerial spies?

"It was arguably the first war that the United States got involved with that was really using the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution—steam tools, engines, telegraphy, the railroad," said Dr. Merritt Roe Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will give the symposium's keynote address on Friday, November 9.

Which Civil War technological innovation was most important? "Probably the railroad because it was so essential to getting supplies to the front," said Smith. "The north really held an advantage in that area."

But less visible forms of technology were also key. Although "we often associate mass production with Henry Ford," said Smith, "When you look at the Civil War, there are plenty of examples in which textile mills and gun factories were spewing out uniforms and firearms at mass production levels. That's a much more invisible type of change but extremely important to both sides." Mass production of uniforms, weaponry, and other essentials, "enabled both sides to raise large armies and keep them in the field over extended periods of time, whereas before that was just not possible. Napoleon had large armies but they couldn't stay in the field over long periods of time," he said.

For Bart Hacker, Senior Curator of Armed Forces History at the museum, rifled muskets were a key innovation. They "completely changed the way soldiers had to act on the battlefield," said Hacker, by improving long-range accuracy. "The old tactics of mass charges and such didn't work any longer," he said. "It took most of the war to figure that out. That's why in the late part of the war, trenches became such a major feature of the fighting particularly. as it was the best way to defend against long-range fire."

Inspired by the symposium this weekend, here's a look at three unexpected technologies from the Civil War.

Portable printing presses

Speedy printing and communication wouldn't have been possible during the war without inexpensive portable tabletop printing presses, which were purchased by both Union and Confederate armies and navies. The presses were used for quickly printing orders and documents as well as unit newsletters.

One ad bragged, "From the ease with which they can be transported from place to place, they will be found exceedingly useful in the Army. Rear-Admirals Farragut and Goldsborough have them in constant use, and speak of them in the highest terms."

Of course, no matter how portable they were claimed to be, printing presses were sometimes abandoned on the battlefield.

Curator Joan Boudreau in the museum's Division of Culture and the Arts speaks on Saturday, November 10 on "The Portable Printing Press in the Civil War" as part of the symposium.

Aerial spies

When I think of reconnaissance by air, I imagine black-and-white photographs taken by high-flying planes during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but flying spies were also a fixture of the Civil War.

Balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe demonstrated balloons' usefulness in reconaissance on the future site of the National Air and Space Museum, using a telegraph to communicate what he could see from his lofty vantage point. President Lincoln was impressed (in fact, he wanted to discuss ballooning all night and during breakfast the next day) and Lowe was appointed to organize a balloon corps within the Union Army.

At the battle of Fair Oaks, Lowe's balloon spied on Confederate camps and troop movements, a test that was supported by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Joseph Henry, who served as President Lincoln's scientific advisor during the war. This was just one of thousands of reconnaissance flights Lowe and his balloonists made over the next two years. They even came under fire at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in 1863.

Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum, will speak about "Civil War Planes: Dreams of Aerial Navigation, 1861–1865" on Sunday, November 11.

Ironclad ships

When the Confederate States Navy raised the captured and sunken USS Merrimac at the Nofolk Navy Yard and converted it into an ironclad vessel, which they called the CSS Virginia, the U.S. Navy turned to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer, for help in matching southern naval innovation. Ericsson produced three armored warships, including the USS Monitor.

Surprisingly, building Monitor from keel to launch took just 100 working days, an incredible accomplishment. The battle between the Monitor and Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, may have been inconclusive, but it is often recognized as the battle that changed naval warfare.

Ironclad ships weren't the only naval technologies to advance during the Civil War. Torpedo boats, improved weaponry, daring blockade runners, and evolving battle tactics make Civil War naval technology a fascinating topic. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum's blog and newsletter are a great resource for learning more about it.

On Saturday, Jesse Heitz of King's College London gives the talk "Southern-built Iron: The Union Blockade and the Confederate Ironclads Constructed to Break It" and Jorit Wintjes of the University of Wurzburg will discuss "The Spar Torpedo Boat in the American Civil War." Don't miss Gordon Calhoun of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum speaking on "USS Cumberland — Why She Really Lost to CSS Virginia on 8 March 1862" on Saturday.

Erin Blasco is an education specialist in the museum's New Media Department. Her favorite Civil War story is that of the Confederate blockade runner whose capture resulted in a delay in the production of Confederate postage stamps.


Was the Civil War high tech?

Editor's note: Civil War technology is the topic of this weekend's symposium, and some of the sessions may surprise you, particularly the one with "Civil War Planes" in its title. You can tune in to the symposium by webcast.

We don't usually think of the Civil War as high tech. But what else can you call a war that included instantaneous telegraph communication, speedy travel by railroad, portable printing presses, mass production of uniforms and military equipment, and aerial spies?

"It was arguably the first war that the United States got involved with that was really using the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution—steam tools, engines, telegraphy, the railroad," said Dr. Merritt Roe Smith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who will give the symposium's keynote address on Friday, November 9.

Which Civil War technological innovation was most important? "Probably the railroad because it was so essential to getting supplies to the front," said Smith. "The north really held an advantage in that area."

But less visible forms of technology were also key. Although "we often associate mass production with Henry Ford," said Smith, "When you look at the Civil War, there are plenty of examples in which textile mills and gun factories were spewing out uniforms and firearms at mass production levels. That's a much more invisible type of change but extremely important to both sides." Mass production of uniforms, weaponry, and other essentials, "enabled both sides to raise large armies and keep them in the field over extended periods of time, whereas before that was just not possible. Napoleon had large armies but they couldn't stay in the field over long periods of time," he said.

For Bart Hacker, Senior Curator of Armed Forces History at the museum, rifled muskets were a key innovation. They "completely changed the way soldiers had to act on the battlefield," said Hacker, by improving long-range accuracy. "The old tactics of mass charges and such didn't work any longer," he said. "It took most of the war to figure that out. That's why in the late part of the war, trenches became such a major feature of the fighting particularly. as it was the best way to defend against long-range fire."

Inspired by the symposium this weekend, here's a look at three unexpected technologies from the Civil War.

Portable printing presses

Speedy printing and communication wouldn't have been possible during the war without inexpensive portable tabletop printing presses, which were purchased by both Union and Confederate armies and navies. The presses were used for quickly printing orders and documents as well as unit newsletters.

One ad bragged, "From the ease with which they can be transported from place to place, they will be found exceedingly useful in the Army. Rear-Admirals Farragut and Goldsborough have them in constant use, and speak of them in the highest terms."

Of course, no matter how portable they were claimed to be, printing presses were sometimes abandoned on the battlefield.

Curator Joan Boudreau in the museum's Division of Culture and the Arts speaks on Saturday, November 10 on "The Portable Printing Press in the Civil War" as part of the symposium.

Aerial spies

When I think of reconnaissance by air, I imagine black-and-white photographs taken by high-flying planes during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but flying spies were also a fixture of the Civil War.

Balloonist Thaddeus S. C. Lowe demonstrated balloons' usefulness in reconaissance on the future site of the National Air and Space Museum, using a telegraph to communicate what he could see from his lofty vantage point. President Lincoln was impressed (in fact, he wanted to discuss ballooning all night and during breakfast the next day) and Lowe was appointed to organize a balloon corps within the Union Army.

At the battle of Fair Oaks, Lowe's balloon spied on Confederate camps and troop movements, a test that was supported by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Joseph Henry, who served as President Lincoln's scientific advisor during the war. This was just one of thousands of reconnaissance flights Lowe and his balloonists made over the next two years. They even came under fire at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville in 1863.

Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum, will speak about "Civil War Planes: Dreams of Aerial Navigation, 1861–1865" on Sunday, November 11.

Ironclad ships

When the Confederate States Navy raised the captured and sunken USS Merrimac at the Nofolk Navy Yard and converted it into an ironclad vessel, which they called the CSS Virginia, the U.S. Navy turned to John Ericsson, a Swedish engineer, for help in matching southern naval innovation. Ericsson produced three armored warships, including the USS Monitor.

Surprisingly, building Monitor from keel to launch took just 100 working days, an incredible accomplishment. The battle between the Monitor and Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, may have been inconclusive, but it is often recognized as the battle that changed naval warfare.

Ironclad ships weren't the only naval technologies to advance during the Civil War. Torpedo boats, improved weaponry, daring blockade runners, and evolving battle tactics make Civil War naval technology a fascinating topic. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum's blog and newsletter are a great resource for learning more about it.

On Saturday, Jesse Heitz of King's College London gives the talk "Southern-built Iron: The Union Blockade and the Confederate Ironclads Constructed to Break It" and Jorit Wintjes of the University of Wurzburg will discuss "The Spar Torpedo Boat in the American Civil War." Don't miss Gordon Calhoun of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum speaking on "USS Cumberland — Why She Really Lost to CSS Virginia on 8 March 1862" on Saturday.

Erin Blasco is an education specialist in the museum's New Media Department. Her favorite Civil War story is that of the Confederate blockade runner whose capture resulted in a delay in the production of Confederate postage stamps.


Watch the video: Aerial America: New York 1080p (January 2022).