Asked for the detail.
Major Henry Bryan, Magruder's Adjutant-General, strongly dissuaded me from the undertaking, but I was so bent on it that I went in person to General Magruder and asked for the detail, which, after some little persuasion on my part, was granted to me, although my friends told me that it was more than likely that I would get myself into hot water, and very possibly (in case I should go into the enemy's lines) that I would get shot for my pains. Nevertheless, I joyfully received my orders, and mounting my horse, rode gaily over to Lee's farm, where General Johnston was, to report myself for special service. On arriving there I handed my orders in to the proper officer, and reported for duty. Having a number of acquaintances around headquarters, I tried to find out for what purpose I was needed, or to what duty I would probably be assigned, but could get no information. All I could learn was from Colonel Rhett, Johnston's Adjutant-General, that the General would be out presently, and would himself tell me what he wanted me to do. After a while I was called into General Johnston's tent, and the General, looking at me, and seeming surprised that I was only a boy (for I was just twenty-one years old), began to question me quite closely as to what experience I had had in military affairs, how long I had been with the army, whether I could distinguish one branch of service from another, and the like. Having answered these questions to General Johnston's satisfaction, the latter laid a map of the Peninsula on the table before him, and began questioning me about the different roads and creeks and fording places, and other topographical matters on the Peninsula. Having shown myself sufficiently familiar with these matters, the General then turned to Colonel Rhett and remarked, “I think Mr. Bryan will do very well. You will please assign him to the balloon service to make the reconnoisances, and instruct him as to what information we want, and the kind of report we desire from him.” On hearing this order I at once sprang to my feet, protesting that while I could ride a horse, and would gladly do anything in my power, that I had never even seen a balloon, and that I knew absolutely nothing about the management of it, and that if the General simply wanted some information as to the position of the enemy and their numbers at any given point, that I would very cheerfully go into the lines and get this information and return as speedily as possible and report. My words had, however, small effect upon the