Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor

By Russell S. Bonds

Selected via Civil conflict Interactive as one of many best Civil conflict Books of All Time

"The definitive publication in regards to the nice Locomotive Chase."—Charlotte Observer

"Magnificent and definitive."—Wall road Journal

"The nice Locomotive Chase has been the stuff of legend and the darling of Hollywood. we've an excellent background of the Andrews Raid. Russell S. Bonds' stirring account makes transparent why the raid failed and what occurred to the raiders."—James M. McPherson, writer of conflict Cry of Freedom, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

"In this gripping, smooth-running account, Bonds zooms easily from broad-stroke overviews of Civil struggle technique to minute-by-minute scrutiny of unfolding occasions at the flooring. He units up the tale with a quickly, punchy define of the 1st yr of the struggle. What follows is a fast paced, super well-told story of espionage, trap, trial and escape."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Phenomenally good written, prepared, and presented."—Civil warfare Books and Authors

On April 12, 1862—one 12 months to the day after accomplice weapons opened on citadel Sumter and commenced the Civil War—a tall, mysterious smuggler and self-appointed Union secret agent named James J. Andrews and nineteen infantry volunteers infiltrated north Georgia and stole a steam engine known as the General. Racing northward at speeds coming near near sixty miles an hour, slicing telegraph traces and destroying tune alongside the best way, Andrews deliberate to open East Tennessee to the Union military, removing males and matériel from the accomplice forces in Virginia. in the event that they succeeded, Andrews and his raiders may possibly swap the process the warfare. however the General's younger conductor, William A. Fuller, chased the stolen educate first strolling, then by way of handcar, and at last aboard one other engine, the Texas. He pursued the General until eventually, operating out of wooden and water, Andrews and his males deserted the doomed locomotive, finishing the experience that may quickly be well-known as the nice Locomotive Chase. yet the ordeal of the warriors concerned used to be simply starting. within the days that undefined, the "engine thieves" have been hunted down and captured. 8 have been attempted and achieved as spies, together with Andrews. 8 others made a bold get away to freedom, together with assisted by means of a community of slaves and Union sympathizers. for his or her activities, earlier than a private viewers with President Abraham Lincoln, six of the raiders grew to become the 1st males in American heritage to be presented the Medal of Honor—the nation's optimum ornament for gallantry.

Americans north and south, either on the time and ever due to the fact that, were astounded and desirous about this bold raid. yet beforehand, there has now not been a whole historical past of the complete episode and the fates of all these concerned. in response to eyewitness money owed, in addition to correspondence, diaries, army files, newspaper reviews, deposition testimony and different fundamental assets, Stealing the final: the nice Locomotive Chase and the 1st Medal of Honor through Russell S. Bonds is a mix of meticulous study and compelling narrative that's now thought of to be the definitive background of "the boldest event of the war."

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The symptoms of downtown Atlanta’s a number of companies have been slightly noticeable within the susceptible predawn gentle: the Trout apartment inn, the day-by-day Intelligencer newspaper, M. Wittgenstein (“Wholesale broker in Imported Wines Liquors & Spirits”), F. Geuterbruck Tobacco, Atlanta Cigar Manufactory, and, at No. eight Whitehall highway, Crawford, Frazer & Company’s so-called “trading company,” with its signal ads “Auction & Negro revenues. ” The teach chugged prior the change for the Macon & Western Railroad after which less than the marketplace (later wide) highway bridge, deciding upon up velocity because it left at the back of the sidings and roundhouse of the W&A, the shadows of the wooded area to the north now obvious at the horizon past. the overall crossed the bridge over the Chattahoochee River at approximately 4:30 A. M. , preventing for wooden and water close to the river after which at Vinings Station to choose up extra passengers. It was once Saturday morning, April 12, 1862. At that hour, precisely 12 months ahead of, accomplice weapons had opened hearth on castle Sumter. The Atlanta papers made no point out of the anniversary. eleven even as the overall was once making its manner north from Atlanta, the raiders have been woke up by way of the inn males as promised. that they had gotten not more than 4 hours of sleep and maybe an exceptional bit less—“the or 3 hours quickly slipped by,” Alf Wilson later wrote. the warriors dressed quietly and rapidly at nighttime, cramped inn rooms, hitching up pants and belts, pulling on boots and checking their revolvers. If any prodding was once wanted, it was once supplied in a harsh whisper: “Hurry up or you’ll be left! ” notice was once handed ultimate meeting—an “informal council of war”— will be held in Andrews’s room, its home windows overlooking the railroad tracks. William Knight and Wilson Brown arrived correct on time from the Marietta inn down the road, yet Martin Hawkins and John Porter, the opposite Ohio squaddies who had bunked at Cole’s inn, didn’t exhibit. Andrews and the others definitely might have spotted this, yet it seems that their absence used to be no longer mentioned within the assembly, and no attempt used to be made to evoke and around up the lacking males. in spite of everything, Hawkins and Porter knew in addition to the others what the departure time was once that morning, and definitely they might be there on the station. For now, a complete of eighteen infantrymen, plus the enormous civilian William Campbell, crowded in with Andrews and leaned on the subject of pay attention his ultimate directions. “There used to be suppressed hearth in his low, nearly whispered phrases, a peaceful self belief in his tone that was once contagious,” Pittenger later wrote. “There doubtless, hesitation or shrinking on his half, yet, to the contrary, a fervour and pleasure that the time was once so close to to hand. ” “Get seats close to one another within the related car,” Andrews acknowledged, “and after all say not anything of our enterprise at the manner up. whilst the educate makes the massive Shanty breakfast cease, preserve your locations until eventually I let you know to head. If whatever unforeseen occurs, glance to me for the lead. ” He chosen the 3 males with railroad experience—engineers Knight and Brown, besides Alf Wilson—to sign up for him at the engine.

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