KENNESAW, Ga. — April 12, 1862. It was the one-year anniversary of the start of the Civil War, and the morning passenger train — pulled by the locomotive General — arrived in town.
Deep in the heart of the Confederacy, Union spies under the command of James Andrews rode into town on the morning passenger train. Their motive was the destruction of the Western and Atlantic Railroad.
The three chased the raiders on foot, by handcar and by commandeering three different locomotives, finally catching them about two miles north of Ringgold, Ga. If successful, the raid would have left the Western and Atlantic Railroad in ruins. Instead, the raid became a race for life.
Today, the raid is a mere bookmark in the history of the Civil War and the General sits idle – an exhibit in the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History – yards away from where she was stolen 14 decades ago. The museum, a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, chronicles the chase through film, reproductions and exhibits, including the famous locomotive.
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