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NavSource Online: "Old Navy" Ship Photo Archive

George Washington Parke Custis


Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Civil War Medal

Balloon carrier:
  • Built as a coal barge in the mid-1850s, location unknown
  • Purchased by the US Navy in 1861
  • Fitted out at Washington Navy Yard as a Balloon carrier
    Specifications:
    Displacement 1,726 t.
    Length 120'
    Beam 45'
    Depth 5' 6"
    Speed unknown
    Complement unknown
    Armament unknown
    Propulsion non-self propelled

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    George Washington Parke Custis 57k
    Namesake
    George Washington Parke Custis (April 30, 1781 October 10, 1857) was the step-grandson and adopted son of United States President George Washington, the grandson of Martha Washington and the father-in-law of American Confederate Army general Robert E. Lee. He spent part of his large inherited fortune constructing Arlington House on a plantation that was directly across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. After Custis died, his daughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, who had married Robert E. Lee, inherited his estate.
    Tommy Trampp
    George Washington Parke Custis 413k The barge George Washington Parke Custis was towed, 10 November 1861 by USS Coeur de Lion from the Washington Navy Yard down the Potomac River to a place off Mattawomen Creek where the balloon ascended over the Potomac River, making a reconnaissance of the blockade near Budd's Ferry below Mount Vernon. Drawing in Lowe Collection at National Archives.
    US Naval History and Heritage Command photo # NH 2079
    Robert Hurst
    George Washington Parke Custis 109k Model of the Balloon carrier George Washington Parke Custis, courtesy of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. The blue boxes housed the highly successful hydrogen generators devised by Thaddeus S.C. Lowe, that permitted the balloon to be inflated "in the field," far away from city gas supplies. Although it lacked self-propulsion, in other respects G.W.P. Custis foreshadowed 20th Century aircraft carriers, with a large, flat "flight deck" and a lower deck to store supplies and support the balloon and the hydrogen generators. Fabio Pena
    George Washington Parke Custis 109k
    George Washington Parke Custis 108k
    George Washington Parke Custis 116k
    George Washington Parke Custis 110k

    George Washington Parke Custis
    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS)
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    Last Updated 7 January 2017