April 10, 2010

THERE'S NOTHING MORE EXCITING THAN A TRAIN CHASE:

'Great Locomotive Chase' Anniversary Noted: Disney Movie Dramatized Real Event (Calvin E. Johnson Jr., 4/10/10, Huntingtonnews.net)

During the spring of 1862, the peaceful town of Big Shanty (now Kennesaw) was paid not so peaceful a visit by Union spies led by James Andrews, who brought with him plans to disrupt Confederate supply lines. Andrews and his men boarded the train at Marietta, Georgia. They had spent the previous night at the Fletcher House now (Kennesaw House). Twenty boarded the train while two were left behind.

The next stop was the Lacy Hotel in Big Shanty for a twenty minute breakfast break. That's where The General was stolen in full view of "Camp McDonald" a drill camp and home to many Confederate officers and enlisted men. There was no telegraph there, which was one reason Andrews chose the site.

Andrews, A Kentuckian, had made a name for himself by smuggling much needed quinine through Union lines for the benefit of Confederate soldiers and civilians. There were with him three experienced engineers, William Knight, Wilson Brown and John Wilson. When asked where they were from, they replied by saying, "I am from Fleming County, Kentucky." They also said that they were on their way to join the Confederate Army.

The official plan to steal The General was approved by Union General Ormsby Michael. The plan was to take the locomotive north on the Western and Atlantic Railroad and destroy tracks, bridges and tunnels along the way. General Michael agreed that he would take Huntsville on April 11, 1862, and then would wait on Andrews before moving into Chattanooga, Tennessee.

"Someone.....has stolen my train,” William Fuller, conductor on the General said in amazement as the train was pulling away from the Big Shanty train depot. Men of the Western and Atlantic railroad almost immediately began the chase with engineer Jefferson Cain, William Fuller, and machine foreman Anthony Murphy close behind.


Posted by Orrin Judd at April 10, 2010 6:32 PM
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