The Ridge Pointe Community has very distinct ties to the Civil War. In 1862 Union Soldiers utilized a military spy balloon, the Eagle, in order to identify the number of Confederate Soldiers gathering across the Rappahannock River. Few Union officers knew the terrain on either side of the river much less the rebels' position, so they commissioned civilian professor Thaddeus Lowe to be their spy in the sky prior to the Battle of Fredericksburg. The Union Army launched this primitive aircraft from a ravine located within the boundaries of what is now Ridge Pointe Subdivision.
The Civil War, considered the first modern American war, featured the first successful submarine attack, the first battle between ironclad warships, and the first to use railroads to support the military. It was also the first war that utilized aerial observation.
Lowe’s balloons were made of silk and coated with a linseed Oil concoction. The envelope was made with silk designed to contain 15,000 cubic feet of hydrogen necessary to lift the balloon. A mesh pouch of rope encompassed the envelope and supported the basket, or gondola located below.
These observation balloons had their limits. Before each ascent the envelopes had to be filled with hydrogen. This meant the balloons could not travel far from a gas works. Lowe overcame this by creating a portable generator to fit in the back of a standard army wagon.
At the Battle of Fredericksburg LT Col William Teall bore the responsibility for making aerial observations. Lowe’s balloon, Eagle, made four ascents during the battle, and Teall was on three of them. At Fredericksburg the balloon was of little value. On the first three ascents it was too windy for Teall to make accurate observations. The fourth ascent was far more profitable. The wind had died down and the Eagle was able to ascend 800 to 900 feet offering a breathtaking glimpse of the battlefield. The Eagle returned to earth after 25 minutes. High winds grounded it for the next two days and by the time it was able to ascend the battle was over.
In 1988 Jim Stafford, owner of Sunshine Builders, discovered land filled with Civil War artifacts, land rich in history, land now known as Ridge Pointe, land which we call home!
On 12 October 2015 The Civil War Balloon Launch Site was officially dedicated as a Stafford County Historical landmark.