Fair Oaks, Virginia Prof. Thaddeus S. Lowe observing the battle from his balloon “Intrepid”] Photo Library of Congress
The balloons and aeronauts conducted aerial reconnaissance and artillery spotting. With an ability to soar a thousand feet above the landscape, balloons gave military leaders a platform that allowed them to see for miles around – a decided advantage, especially in areas with little topography. During the Seven Days Campaign in 1862, Union balloons stationed at the Gaines’ Farm could observe movement within downtown Richmond, which was roughly seven miles away.
Was a Civil War balloon ever shot down while in flight?
No. There are recorded attempts by Confederate artillerists to destroy balloons on or near the ground, but all of those attempts failed. Positioned well behind the front lines, and at an altitude of near 1,000 feet, balloons were difficult, if not impossible, targets for opposing militaries.-Info from The Civil War Trust-