15 January 2023

The Ballad of Thaddeus Lowe

Have you ever heard of Thaddeus Lowe? No, I hadn’t but a quick check on Wikipedia verified that he did actually live and everything that you see here actually happened.  It tells the little known story of Lowe - aeronaut, scientist and inventor who came to prominence during the American Civil War when he performed aerial reconnaissance on the Confederate troops on behalf of the Union Army – in a balloon. Unfortunately his endeavors were not too well received and he had to resign in 1863.

This very amusing animated short was written, directed, animated and narrated by Kelly Jones who also wrote the accompanying song which is probably going to be in my head all day now – for which I don’t know whether to thank Ms Jones or invoice her. 

If Lowe’s civil war activities were not widely appreciated then a later invention was.  He conceived the water gas process by which large amounts of hydrogen gas could be manufactured from steam and charcoal – his patents and ice making machines associated with this process made him a millionaire.  Unfortunately he invested unwisely later in life and died without much to his name – financially speaking at least.  We, of course, will always remember him for his services to his country as an aeronaut – not to mention his ballad… “Oh Thaddeus, Thaddeus Lowe… it’s too bad you’re still unknown”.