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Civil War Round Table of Kansas City
November 2013 Meeting

450th Regular Meeting, Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Major Kevin N. Knapp, retired Army Officer, former professional hot air balloon pilot and Board member of the Balloon Federation of America, delivered a presentation entitled, “Military Ballooning during the Civil War”

Balloons were used for surveillance and reconnaissance during the Civil War by the Union Army from 1861 through 1863 and by Confederate Army in 1862. The North made over 3,000 ascensions with seven balloons and the South made less than 10 ascensions with two. Years after the war the famous Artillery Officer and observer in the Confederate’s second balloon, E.P. Alexander wrote, “I never understood why the enemy abandoned the use of military balloons…Even if the observer never saw anything, they would have been worth all they cost for the annoyance and delays they caused us in trying to keep our movement out of sight.” In this presentation you will learn about the first air to ground telegraph, the first field hydrogen generators, the first air directed artillery fire, the first air craft carrier, the first time two opposing forces had aircraft in the air at the same time, and the beginning of U.S. Military Aviation.

Kevin Knapp is a retired Army Officer, former professional hot air balloon pilot and Board member of the Balloon Federation of America, and Civil War Balloon Corps enthusiast. He has owned and operated the modern “Army” Balloon since 1993 and shares oral and living history as Thaddeus S. C. Lowe, Chief Aeronaut, of the Army of the Potomac’s Balloon Corps. In 2006 Kevin was the co-pilot for the winning team of the America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race flying from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Citra, Florida-1,478 miles in 60 hours and 45 minutes. Most recently, Kevin operated the Command Center for Jonathan Trappe’s attempt to cross the Atlantic flying a Cluster Balloon System.

Kevin Knapp’s portrayal of Thaddeus Lowe has been featured at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, the National Civil War Museum, by the US national Park Service Civil War defense of Washington, Fort Ward, and Gaines Mill Battlefield, as well as the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church, Gloucester, Manassas, Yorktown, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville , Virginia’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Committees. Knapp was also featured in the History Channel’s “Man, Moment, and Machine’s” segment on Civil War Ballooning called “Lincoln’s Spy Machine.”

Major Kevin N. Knapp about ready to take off.

Major Kevin N. Knapp delivers presentation “Military Ballooning during the Civil War”

CWRT President Dennis Garstang presents Kevin N. Knapp with Round Table's Certificate of Appreciation

CWRT President Dennis Garstang presents Kevin N. Knapp with Round Table's Certificate of Appreciation

Civil War Round Table of Kansas City
P.O. Box 6202
Shawnee Mission, KS 66206

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