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our descending so gradually as to be able to clasp the top of a spruce, and make the balloon fast? Whether or not this puts all Mr. Wise's "experience hors du combat," is to me a matter of profound indifference; it is sufficient for me to know and state that such was the fact.

My account contains a careful notation of the fluctuation of the thermometer-more than can be said of any account ever presented to the public by Mr. Wise-and although he again indulges in doubts as to the truthfulness of my statement, the public will doubtless do me the justice to believe that my notations of these fluctuations, since I could have no object in misstating them, are scarcely obliterated by the mere doubts of my wise and able friend. It certainly was a great curiosity to me to witness the mercury steadily sink from 84 to 18 at the rate of about 1 per minute.

I expressly mentioned in my statement that our errir was in not landing when we first came down to the earth. "Why," you may ask, "did we not then land?" Because we were wholly deceived as to the distance we had traveled; and as we supposed we had not gone over 40 to 50 miles, we were unwilling to land the Atlantic in a forest, and as my statement further says:

"We thought it best to pick out a better place. This was our error, and it came very near being a fatal one to us-it certainly was so to the Atlantic. In trying to find our "better place" to land, we were unconsciously up longer than we supposed, and as we were traveling in a current which swept us to the northward at the rate of 100 miles an hour, we soon reached a country not pleasant nor profitable to land a balloon in."

When Mr. Wise permits his imagination to assume that we are "rushing along at the rate of a mile a "minute", when we tied up to the tree, he certainly indulges it in a flight to which the speed of Mr. La Mountain and myself is a snail's pace. In a word, and he can read it as well as any man, when we traveled we were in upper currents-when we landed, we were wholly out of those currents, and in a locality where scarcely a breath of air could be felt. Thus much for Mr. Wise's doubts and uncharitable sneers at my statement.

In speaking of his long experience, and the fact that all his ascension had demonstrated the existence of an easterly current, Mr. Wise says:

"These ought to be decisive arguments in favor of the safety of ballooning in proper hands. They certainly are to its workings in experienced hands. You would surely not expect a safe and very prosperous voyage in a ship bound from New York to San Francisco, if she were officered by a captain who had only one year's experience in navigation in an oyster-boat. Even thsi comparison tells favorably to ballooning, so far as its intrinsic perils are in question."

What does Mr. Wise mean by "proper hands?" Does he mean the remark as a fling at my friend, Mr. La Mountain, whose "proper hands," when the Atlantic was about to be dashed into the waters of Lake Ontario, rescued the party from death, and earned a reputation which Mr. Wise himself said ought to be commemorated by a gold medal? I felt myself safe in such hands, and should in a thousand voyages; for I do not believe a cooler-headed, more intrepid, nor more noble-hearted man ever sailed a balloon than John La Mountain; and I also believe that his knowledge of the general principles of ballooning is, to-day, superior to that of your distinguished correspondent. Of the St. Louis trip Mr. Wise says he has "little to say." I should think not, under all the circumstances.

I think Mr. Wise once said, in a letter he addressed to the public, that his business was to "make and sail balloons." Such, Mr. Editor is not my calling. My business is to use printing-presses. Would my brother printers consider me a good workman if I had a press which I could not work satifactorily after 20 years' trial? And would they not still more think me a dull scholar if, after 20 years' experience, I could not point out some way in which profitable and desirable improvements could be made upon the machinery to which I had devoted a quarter of a century of time and thought? How is it with Mr. Wise and his ballooning? Can he point out improvements which he has made, or is the whole "science" just where Mr. Wise found it? Are not the vast, untraversed fields of space which surround the earth as far beyond the reach of aeronautic skill as when Montgolfier first flew his paper balloon in France?

When traveling in a balloon, you are utterly unconscious of motion, unless you are in sight of the earth. Unless you can see the earth, therefore, you cannot tell how fast, nor in what direction, you are traveling. True, you may be able to see the north star, or you may have a compass, but you cannot, by these aids, tell whether you are drifting north or south, east or west, nor in any known manner take cognizance of your course, unless you have a fixed object-the earth-to aid you in your observations. Then, after 24 years' experience in building and flying balloons, our critical aeronaut, who does not believe in spruce trees nor in thermometrical speculations, has never invented any method by which travelers in a balloon may note their course and rate of speed in a cloudy day, or when from any cause out of sight of the earth. Yet this man is the champion aeronaut of America, and perhaps of the world. What would be said of the men who made pretensions to "scientific" knowledge in any other department of learning, who manifested so profound an indifference to the first steps in the accomplishment of their theories? They would be pronounced charlatans, quacks. Let me then, in all kindness, suggest that our good friend, Mr. Wise, devote himself to the completion of some instrument which shall serve the purpose I have named, even though his labors shall deprive the public of some of his long-winded letters to the press.

Can the air be navigated, and if so, can such navigation be rendered advantageous to man? That is a great question, and I shall leave its discussion to abler pens and more "scientific" heads than my own. To require a steady current, upon which the aeronaut may implicitly depend. I do not believe that such a current exists, except perhaps at nor near the equator. Mr. La Mountain thinks he traveled in the easterly current, and we may have done so-varying our course as we varied our altitude. But how, as ballooning is at present conducted (and as it always has been conducted) is the aeronaut to know with certainty when he is in that current?

I respect Mr. Wise, for I believe he possesses a certain amount of skill in ballooning. But he will excuse the American people, and I trust he will recognize me as one of them, if they demand from him something more definite, as regards his favorite theory, than he has as yet advanced. With him, however, I agree that our late voyage disproves nothing. It merely demonstrates the fact that a man is lost, when in a balloon, the moment he loses sight of the earth-an idea which will scarcely admit of "disproof" 

Watertown, N.Y., Oct. 13, 1859

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From St. Louis to Henderson, Jefferson Co.



A Plunge into Lake Ontario.





The St. Louis Republican of the 2d gives the following account of the inflating of the balloon, and the departure from that city if the aerial voyagers:

A very large number of citizens of St. Louis witnessed a novel scene yesterday-that of the ascension of two balloons from Washington square, corner of Clark avenue and Twelfth streets.

The men who have embarked their interests in this undertaking are all of them gentlemen of excellent judgement, and two of them (Profs. John Wise and Mr. John La Mountain) are experienced aeronauts. Mr. O. A. Gager, the third, furnished the means by which the experiment has been made.

It was proposed to pay the expenses of gas used for inflation by the sale of tickets at the gate, but the inside paying spectators were scarcely a unit when compared to the hundreds without.


commenced gathering within and without the inclosure at 1 o'clock p. m., but the unusual heat of the day deterred the majority of spectators from reaching the ground until 4 or 5 o'clock p. m. The inclosure contained from 600 to 800 people, and the streets, open lots, board piles and house tops were filled for squares around, so soon as the monster balloon Atlantic began to lift its magnificent proportions into the air, by the process of  


At 4 o'clock p. m. we entered the grounds, and found the inflation far advanced. It was the intention to fill the balloon to  only one half its capacity, or 60,000 cubic feet of gas, leaving plenty of room for expansion in the rare atmosphere of the upper regions. This was likely to be accomplished before 6 o'clock p. m., and the flow of gas was decreased. During this process the liveliest interest was manifested by the spectators in attendance, and the aeronauts, sanguine more than ever of success, were kept continually busy in discoursing with their friends on matters pertaining to the air-ship and the long voyage on which they were about to embark.

The swelling volume of the balloon and its perfect proportion were admired, and the beautiful boat which was soon to carry the daring voyageurs was examined minutely. The operation of the wheels to be used in the management of the vessel was explained, and all was inquiry, animation and satisfaction. Matters went smoothly and delightfully on until


This ingredient of an excited crowd took place near the entrance gate, and was occasioned by a visitor insisting on making free use of a lot of wine which had been provided for the special use of the aeronauts. Mr. Baker, general superintendent of the grounds, interfered, but the thirsty individual insisted on helping himself to wine, whereat a scuffle ensued, in which the pertinacious wine-bibber was vanquished, and soon after fell into the hands of the police. This little episode lasted but a few minutes, when all became quiet again, and the interest in the legitimate business of the occasion resumed.


A peep into the boat or car, revealed a strange medley. The most noticeable article was an Express bag, labeled as follows:

"T. B. MARSH, Agent United States Express Company, No. 82, Broadway, New York

This bag is sent from St. Louis by the aerial ship Atlantic, July 1st. Please forward to destination from landing of balloon by Express, as above directed.

C. W. FORD, Agent St. Louis.

Besides this business-like package, there was $30 worth of provisions furnished by Gnenaudon, sundry bottles-supposed to contain champagne and other refreshing beverages-blankets, overcoats, gloves, anchors, flags, and cards of mercantile houses and candidates for office at the coming election. There were also packages, letters, and newspapers, a telescope, thermometer, barometer, and all the necessary scientific paraphernalia of ballooning.


Time flew, and 5 1/2 o'clock arrived. Expectancy was on tip-toe, and the balloon was pronounced sufficiently inflated; orders were given for the ring to be cleared, and two men were posted at each cord connecting with the net-work of the balloon (so numerous were these cords that occupation was thus given to more than 100 strong-armed men); the sand-bags were unhooked from the meshes, and the buoyant vessel rose from the ground. The aeronauts stepped into the ring beneath it, and Prof. Wise made a few appropriate remarks stating that he was not certain of success, as the ascension depended as much upon the friends around him as upon the aeronauts themselves. He requested those in present charge of the balloon to follow orders, which they all agreed to do. The air-ship was then towed to some distance from where it had been inflated, and the boat was brought into the ring and made fast. Above the boat was suspended the car, a capacious wicket basket, and about 1,000 pounds of ballast were placed in the boat and basket, in addition to the articles they already contained.


Mr. S. M. Brooks, an aeronaut of this city, now unrolled his balloon, the "Comet," which was soon swaying in the air, impatient for a start into the blue ether. Mr. Brooks had volunteered to act as escort, and his light basket car was soon attached, and in the space of half an hour from the time the inflation commenced the Comet with Mr. Brooks in his car was mounting

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upward in a beautiful style. It was pronounced by all a very find ascension, and Mr. Brooks was highly complimented by the 


now ready to follow in the airy track. The eyes of the crowd rested on the Comet until its lone passenger was no longer visible, and then turned with eager gaze on the Atlantic and her passengers, about to be cut loose from the earth and waited away to the Eastward.

Prof. John Wise, Scientific director, ascended into the basket, suspended midway between the boat and the mouth of the balloon. Messrs. La Mountain aeronaut, O. A. Gager, navigator, and Wm. Hyde, reporter for this paper, took their places in the boat. A I arrangements being pronounced complete, and everything ready, the largest aerial ship ever built ascended with four passengers, amid the cheers of the spectators, many of whom fully expect to hear of her landing on the Atlantic seaboard. And if this should not be accomplished, those who are least sanguine confidently expect that a greater distance will be traversed than has ever before been known in the science of ballooning. The most noted achievement recorded in aerial navigation, as regards distance traveled, is the ascension of Mr. Clayton made in the year 1833, in Cincinnati. On the occasion referred to, that intrepid aeronaut was nine hours and a half in the air, and descended in Western Virginia, 350 miles from the Queen City, Mr. Wise and his associates have only to beat this exploit to carry off the palm in success and daring.


The ascension of the Comet took place at a quarter to 7 o'clock p. m., and that of the Atlantic at five minutes to 7, just ten minutes apart. Both ascensions were grand sights to behold, and the style of entertainment. The course of the Comet was for a few minutes almost due North, after which it passed off eastward and was soon out of sight.
The Atlantic did not drift so directly for the North, but gradually attained an eastward course. The direction of the balloons, so far as they could be seen, was several points North of East.


Although it was intended to have started on this voyage on the 23d of June, we were delayed in our preparation until the 1st of July. By 6 o'clock p. m., the air-ship Atlantic was duly inflated, and while we were putting her in trim with ballast and provisions, Mr. Brooks, leasee of the St. Louis Museum, who had kindly volunterred to escort us over the Mississippi in his balloon Comet, got ready for the occasion, and upon a signal agreed ascended from the ground. AT 7:20 p. m., the Atlantic was ready to sail. Messrs. La Mountain and Gager, thinking some difficulty might arise at the start if they should attach the fan-wheels to the shafts and wheel gearing, determined to omit that until we should be fairly under way next morning. Having had much experience in hard winds, and the perils of landing a balloon under them, we had constructed at St. Louis a good wicker-work car (which, with a good and strong concentric hoop, are life preservers in these perils), which was suspended between the boat and balloon, and about eight feet between the boat and balloon, and about eight feet above the former and within six feet of the hoop, so that the neck of the balloon hung in the basket-ca whenever the balloon was fully distenced. the boat contained 600 pounds of ballast, one bucket of water, one bucket of lemonade, with an abundance of bread and wine, poultry and sandwiches, beside delicacies too numerous to enumerate, furnished by kind friends. Mr. La Mountain took command of the boat the ballast, and took his place on one end; Mr. Gager took the other end, and took charge of the charts and compass; Mr. Hyde, local editor of The St. Louis Republican, took his seat in the middle, with note-book and pencil, as historian. Although Mr. Hyde was not in the original programme, we unanimously agreed to let him accompany us, provided it would not interfere with our ultimate design; and as it was arranged that, under any circumstances, when the balloon should fail, the boat with its occupants should be disposed of, and myself or Mr. La Mountain should proceed with the voyage alone.

The basket contained 350 pounds of ballast, a barometer, wet and dry bulb, thermometer, besides a quantity of w nes and provisions; and I took my place in the basket and charge of the valve rope, and, as director of the general plan of the voyage, by the unanimous consent of the party engaged in this long devised enterprise. I must say here that Mr. La Mountain took in charge a part of the programme, that none but a cool head and a most accomplished aeronaut could be trusted with; and especially the night-sailing. At 7:20 p. m., we set sail from the Washington Square of St. Louis, and our course a starting was north of east. When we got up and over the Mississippi and well under way, we saw Mr. Brooks land in a clear place, about sunset.

At 8:30 p. m., the shades of the evening shut from our view the noble city of St. Louis and the father of waters, though it continued light until after 9. Mr. La Mountain having suffered from sickness on Thursday, and being too unwell to work hard under a burning sun at the inflation, left much hard labor for me at that work. I submitted the whole thing to his charge for the night, with the understanding to have me waked whenever he wanted the valve worked. and he took it with alacrity. Before I went to sleep we had mounted to a hight at which the balloon had become completely distended, and where we found the current due east. Here it became chilly, and Mr. La Mountain, as well as all of us, suffered from the change of air; and with all the clothing we could put on us it was still uncomfortable, though the thermometer stood at 42, and the barometer at 23, and this was the lowest of both the instruments during the whole voyage, except the crossing of Lake Ontario.

Mr. La Mountain proposed to take the lower current