Outfitted with civilian clothes and Confederate money, the company, led by James J. Andrews, was to divide up and make its way across country, traveling 200 miles into enemy territory to Chattanooga. There the men would board a train bound for Marietta. The rendezvous point was Fletcher House, one of two hotels on Marietta Square.
Andrews and company reached Marietta shortly before midnight April 11, 1862. He and most of his men stayed the night at the Fletcher House, currently the Kennesaw House and museum.
"Discussing the Civil War in the South can turn negative. For so many it's a sad and sensitive topic, but the Great Locomotive Chase is one of the parts of the war that is exciting and interesting to both sides, the Union and Confederacy."
The museum features a recreation of an 1860s era hotel room, authentic furnishings from the Kennesaw House and a timeline of the Great Locomotive Chase. There will also be living history characters of people who were in Marietta during the Civil War at the museum for the four-day event.
"Discussing the Civil War in the South can turn negative. For so many it's a sad and sensitive topic, but the Great Locomotive Chase is one of the parts of the war that is exciting and interesting to both sides, the Union and Confederacy," museum curator Amy Reed said.
Kennesaw House History
Originally a cotton warehouse built in 1845, the building was remodeled to become the Fletcher House Hotel in 1855. During the Civil War, it served as a makeshift Confederate hospital and morgue. Andrews’ Raiders stayed in a second floor room on the evening prior to their theft of the General.
In July of 1864, the Union Army took over the building. When General Sherman came through Marietta on his “March to the Sea,” he spared the hotel. However, the fourth floor did catch fire as ashes from other burning buildings blew onto the roof, and the fourth floor was not rebuilt.
The Marietta Museum of History opened in the Kennesaw House in 1996.
Hop on board the Texas III and Me Tour: From the Rails to the Road and travel the Great Locomotive Chase segment from the Marietta Museum of History to the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History, home of The General. The replica of the Texas will run 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 1 to 2:30 p.m. and 3 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. Short rides will be given around Marietta Square at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
On April 12, 1862, Andrews led a party of disguised Federal soldiers and seized the General in Big Shanty (modern-day Kennesaw) then headed north.
"It's a great story for train enthusiasts. Disney even loved the story enough to make a movie. The Great Locomotive Chase is a feel good story, if you can have one during war."
Immediate pursuit by the General conductor William A. Fuller followed. He was joined by engineer Jeff Cain and the crew foreman Anthony Murphy, first on foot and later with a push car. In Etowah they boarded the locomotive Yonah, but a broken rail halted the pursuit.
Setting out again on foot, Fuller and Murphy flagged down the south-bound freighter Texas, whose engineer, Pete Bracken, expertly backed his freight cars up to Adairsville and dropped them. Then, with a full tender and a fast engine, Bracken, accompanied by Fuller, Murphy and a small group of armed men, put the Texas in reverse.
The Texas soon bore down on the General. Two miles north of Ringgold and 21 miles south of Chattanooga, the Federals abandoned the stolen locomotive.
Medal of Honor
From 1863 to 1866, Congress awarded the new Medal of Honor to 19 of the men who participated in the Andrews Raid, making them the first recipients of the nation’s highest military honor. There is an exhibit on the Medal of Honor at the Marietta Museum of History.
"The Raiders were the first recipients of the medal of honor; the Confederates stopped the theft; it's a great story for train enthusiasts. Disney even loved the story enough to make a movie," Reed explained. "The Great Locomotive Chase is a feel good story, if you can have one during war."
Historians Speaking at the Event
Civil War experts, including Willie Johnson, historian at the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield; Gordon Jones, military historian and curator at the Atlanta History Center; and Paul Johnson, a noted Civil War historian, will hold lectures to talk about the war and the Great Locomotive Chase on Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14.