Image of John LaMountain via Wikipedia
On Saturday, August 3, 1861, the concept of the aircraft carrier was born as balloonist John LaMountain began making tethered ascents from the deck of the Union tug Fanny, anchored in Hampton Roads near Fort Monroe, Virginia.
LaMountain would also make the first night ascension on August 10. He counted the campfires and tent lights he saw in an effort to determine the enemy's strength.
LaMountain competed with Thaddeus S. C. Lowe to become Chief Aeronaut of the Union Army Balloon Corps. Lowe would win the competition, but an agreement was worked out wherein LaMountain would continue his work independent of Lowe, but would cooperate with him if necessary.