This historical study investigates the military effectiveness and combat power of Civil War balloons. The categories inherent to military effectiveness include timeliness, accuracy, usefulness, operational considerations, and logistics. Limited by available material, especially those documenting Confederate efforts, this paper highlights the history of ballooning prior to the Civil War, and focuses on the Union balloon operations during the initial fall and winter of 1861-2, the Peninsular campaign, and Chancellorsville. The analysis of the measures of effectiveness from these three periods indicates the Union balloon corps amply validated its worth. War, however, is more than just a science. In this case, the "art" of warfare better explains the collapse of Thaddeus Lowe's organization after Chancellorsville. The first two modern implications of this case study involve both the unfavorable impact of personality, and the commander's influence on the assimilation of new technology. Are we better today at bringing on line the benefits associated with technology? The final point links to the concept of battle command. With the massive infusion of information available to the modern commander, are we still sending him to the lions without a whip?