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[36] camp to study the situation and my new duties. I was not left long in suspense, for the next day I received an order from General Johnston to make my first ascension. The balloon was anchored to a long rope, probably a half of a mile long, which was tied to a tree and then coiled in a great number of coils, sailor fashion, on the ground, and then passed around a windlass, and was finally attached to a number of cords coming down from the balloon. From this cone of cords hung a good-sized hamper, or basket in which I was to stand or kneel and make my observations. It did not take a very long time (in fact, it was accomplished much too quickly for my liking) to fill the balloon with hot air, for a plentiful supply of pine knots and turpentine had been made (to create a great heat under a flue, the end of which opened into the balloon),so that very soon I was told that my aerial horse was ready for me to mount and ride away. Therefore, with note book and pencil in my pocket, and a heart beneath it beating very furiously (although of course I put on a brave front to those about me), I stepped into the basket and gave the signal to rise. At first the balloon was let off quite gradually, and I began to ascend slowly. “This is not so bad” I thought, but the worst was yet to come.

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Joseph E. Johnston (1)
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