Aeronautics: Silk Dresses in the Sky

In 1862 the women of the Confederacy were called upon to make a strange sacrifice in the cause of Secession. Their army wanted all the silk dresses in the South. Chests, closets, wardrobes were ransacked and bales of silk dresses were sent to a designated station. There a battery of sewing machines stitched them into a great envelope for a balloon. For the Union army had been harassing the lines of greycoats with artillery fire directed by balloon observers.

The Confederate balloon was mounted on a barge in the James River. The barge ran...

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