The Great Train Chase

 

Date: April 12, 1862

Situation:

  • Maj. Gen. Ormsby M. Mitchel commanded the Federal troops in Tennessee.

  • Maj. Gen. Mitchel planned to move southwest with his army and seize Huntsville, AL, before turning east in hopes of capturing Chattanooga, TN.

  • James J. Andrews, a civilian scout and part-time spy, proposed a daring raid aimed at destroying the Western and Atlantic Railroad link to Chattanooga, isolating the city from Atlanta.

  • Andrews recruited a civilian named William Campbell, as well as 22 volunteer Union soldiers from three Ohio regiments.

  • Andrews instructed the men to arrive in Marietta, Georgia, by midnight of April 10th. With the plans delayed a day by heavy rain, they traveled in small parties in civilian clothing to avoid arousing suspicion. All but two men were able to reach the designated rendezvous point at the appointed time.

Description:

  • The Great Locomotive Chase or Andrews' Raid was a military operation that occurred April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia.

  • A team of Union Army raiders planned to seize a train on the vital Western & Atlantic Railroad, which ran from Atlanta, GA, to Chattanooga, TN and destroy bridges so that Confederate troops and supplies could not be moved to Chattanooga, TN.

  • In order to implement their plan, volunteers lead by James J. Andrews, a civilian spy, stole a train powered by a locomotive called the General.

  • The train's conductor, William Allen Fuller, chased the General by foot and handcar.

  • At Etowah, Fuller spotted the Yonah and with it chased the raiders north, all the way up to Kingston.

  • At Kingston, Conductor Fuller got on the William R. Smith and headed north to Adairsville.

  • The tracks two miles south of Adairsville were broken by the raiders, so Fuller had to run the distance by foot.

  • At Adairsville, Fuller took command of the southbound locomotive Texas and chased the General.

  • The Union raiders were pursued by other locomotives, and captured, with some being executed as spies.

  • Some of Andrews' Raiders became the first recipients of the Medal of Honor.

Map of the Great Train Chase - Click on the location to learn more

 

Places of Interest

Players:

  • Union:

    1. James Andrews - Leader - Civilian - Hanged

    2. Pvt. William Bensinger - 21st Ohio - Exchanged

    3. Pvt. Wilson Wright Brown - 21st Ohio - Escaped

    4. Pvt. Robert Buffum - 21st Ohio - Exchanged

    5. William Campbell - Civilian - Hanged

    6. Cpl. Daniel Allen Dorsey - 33rd Ohio - Escaped

    7. Cpl. Martin Jones Hawkins - 33rd Ohio - Escaped

    8. Pvt. William James Knight - 21st Ohio - Escaped

    9. Cpl. Samuel Llewellyn - forced to enlist in a Confederate unit before reaching Marietta

    10. Sgt. Elihu Harlam Mason - 21st Ohio - Exchanged

    11. Pvt. Jacob Wilson Parrott - 33rd Ohio - Exchanged

    12. Sgt. William Pittenger - 2nd Ohio - Exchanged

    13. Pvt. John Reed Porter - 21st Ohio - Escaped

    14. Cpl. William Henry Harrison Reddick - 33rd Ohio - Exchanged

    15. Pvt. Samuel Robertson - 33rd Ohio - Hanged

    16. Sgt. Maj. Marion A. Ross - 2nd Ohio - Hanged

    17. Sgt. John Morehead Scott - 21st Ohio - Hanged

    18. Pvt. Charles Perry Shadrack - 2nd Ohio - Hanged

    19. Pvt. Samuel Slavens - 33rd Ohio - Hanged

    20. Pvt. James Ovid Wellford Smith - forced to enlist in a Confederate unit before reaching Marietta

    21. George D. Wilson - 2nd Ohio - Hanged

    22. Pvt. John Alfred Wilson - 21st Ohio - Escaped

    23. Pvt. John Wollam - 33rd Ohio - Escaped

    24. Pvt.  Mark Wood - 21st Ohio - Escaped         

  • Confederate:

    1. William Allen Fuller - Train Conductor

    2. E. Jefferson Cain - Engineer

    3. Anthony Murphy - Foreman of Motive and Machine Power

Medal of Honor Winners - The nineteen soldiers that were  awarded the Medal of Honor for involvement in the raid are shown in red.  Andrews was not given an award.

Sources:

  • This interactive map is based on information from Russell S. Bonds' book Stealing the General - The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor, Westholme Publishing, c 2007.

  • Russell Bonds has produced an excellent book that tells the story of the Great Train Robbery in a well-documented and entertaining fashion.  We highly recommend this book for all those who want a real life adventure story.

  • Map of The Great Locomotive Chase - from April 12, 1962 souvenir cover marking the centennial of the chase.

Related Websites:

Lodging and Restaurants: Georgia Tourism

Recommended Resources:



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Revised 03/10/2012