June 18th 1861, Thaddeus Lowe ascended with a tethered balloon five hundred feet above the National Mall. He intended to demonstrate, amid the Civil War, practicality of observing enemy troop movements from the air. His audience was the Commander-in-Chief.
A telegraph wire connected the basket with the White House. The scientist sent a message to the President Lincoln:
This point of observation commands an area nearly fifty miles in diameter. The city, with its girdle of encampments, presents a superb scene. I take great pleasure in sending you this first dispatch ever telegraphed from an aerial station, and in acknowledging my indebtedness to your encouragement for the opportunity of demonstrating the availability of the science of aeronautics in the military service of this country.
Lincoln appointed Lowe Chief Aeronaut for the Union Army.