Encyclopaedia Caledonica–The Air War

Note:  From time to time, I will be posting selections from my upcoming books, or entries from various fictional sources on background information on the world of my book series. (Are these blogs canon?  Sure.  For now, at least.)  I’ll denote them by using the Fiction tag and coloring the text blue.

The entry in the Encyclopædia Caledonica (1876 Abridged Edition for the British Public) for the “Air War” is as follows:

At the outset of the year 1863, the circumstances of the various German States and Principalities were such that the Kingdom of Prussia was the most powerful, but not of sufficient influence to induce a union of the states. Wilhelm, the King of Prussia, however, sought a way to unite the Germanic states into a single empire with himself as Emperor. While a decisive military victory over a convenient foe might bring the other states under their leadership, the Prussian military, while powerful, did not possess sufficient men and materiel to provide a quick military triumph. Continue reading

Thaddeus Lowe–Abraham Lincoln’s Aeronaut

Thaddeus Sobieski Constantine Lowe is one of those people that, by his accomplishments, everyone should know, but that somehow has been almost forgotten. He was born in northern New Hampshire in 1832, and at the age of 18, went with his younger brother to a traveling lecture and demonstration about lighter-than-air gases by one Professor Reginald Dinkelhoff. When the esteemed Professor asked for a volunteer from the audience, Lowe jumped up, impressing the lecturer sufficiently to offer him a job as his assistant. When the Professor retired a few years later, Lowe bought the show—and the title Professor of Chemistry—from him and continued working the lecture circuit.

Thaddeus Lowe, ca. 1855

Thaddeus Lowe, ca. 1855

After a while, he began experimenting with building lighter-than-air balloons, and incorporated them into the act, offering rides to passengers at county fairs and the like. Imagine the excitement of a rural New England farmer of the late 1850s at being able to rise into the air tethered by only a thin rope to the ground.

I’m always somehow reminded of Professor Marvel from The Wizard of Oz at this point in Lowe’s story. Continue reading