Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Great Locomotive Chase 150 - April 12, 2012

On 12-April-1862 a group of out-of-uniform Union Soldiers led by civilian scout James Andrews, seized a train of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which connected Atlanta and Chattanooga.  They planned to tear up the railroad, upsetting Confederate communications and transportation in an important theater of the war.

Conductor William Fuller, not about to stand for the theft of his train, pursued it on foot with a group of men.  When they found a handcar, they used that.  Eventually, they encountered an elderly switching locomotive, the Yonah, which they rode until they found a more modern locomotive, the Texas.  Using these different modes, the pursuers kept enough pressure on the raiders that were not able to inflict much damage, and were not able to take on more wood for fuel.

About 20 miles from Chattanooga, with the General out of fuel, the raiders left their train and scattered.  All were captured and tried as spies.  Eight men, including Anderson, were hanged.  Several received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Both the General and the Texas still exist. The General is preserved in Kennesaw, Georgia and the Texas in Atlanta.

The story became the basis of two movies, one by Buster Keaton and one by Walt Disney.  I like Keaton's movie better.

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