On the Potomac, Thaddeus Lowe's balloon carrier is towed into position off Mattawoman Creek
The U.S. Navy purchased an 80 by 15 foot coal barge in August 1861 and later modified it to carry one of the balloons of Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, then serving as a Union colonel in charge of aerial observation. Renamed the U.S.S George Washington Parke Custis, she was towed down the Potomac to a position off Mattawoman Creek and there the next day launched a tethered balloon with Lowe and General Daniel Sickles aboard to an altitude of 1000 feet to observe Confederate movements. Navy historians credit her as America's first aircraft carrier. (By John Osborne)
J. Gregory Dill, Myth, Fact, and Navigators' Secrets: Incredible Tales of the Sea and Sailors (Guildford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2006), 170.