THE GREAT RAILROAD CHASE
THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY AND ASTOUNDING ADVENTURE OF THE WAR
THE MOST DARING UNDERTAKING THAT YANKEES EVER PLANNED OR ATTEMPTED TO EXECUTE
STEALING AN ENGINE TEARING UP THE TRACK PURSUED ON FOOT ON HAND CARS AND ENGINES OVERTAKEN A SCATTERING THE CAPTURE THE WONDERFUL ENERGY OF MESSRS FULLER MURPHY AND CAIN SOME REFLECTIONS ETC ETC
SINCE our last issue we have obtained full particulars of the most thrilling railroad adventure that ever occurred on the American Continent, as well as the mightiest and most important in its results if successful that has been conceived by the Lincoln Government since the commencement of this war. Nothing on so grand a scale has been attempted and nothing within the range of possibility could be conceived that would fall with such a tremendous crushing force upon us as the accomplishment of the plans which were concocted and dependent on the execution of the one whose history we now proceed to narrate.
Its reality—what was actually done—excels all the extravagant conceptions of the Arrow-Smith hoax, which fiction created such a profound sensation in Europe. To make the matter more complete and intelligible we will take our readers over the same history of the case which we related in our last the main features of which are correct but are lacking in details which have since come to hand.
We will begin at the breakfast table of the Big Shanty Hotel at Camp McDonald, on the W. & A. R. R., where several regiments of soldiers are now encamped. The morning mail and passenger train had left here at 4 am on last Saturday morning as usual and had stopped there for breakfast The conductor, William A. Fuller, the engineer I. Cain—both of this city—and the passengers were at the table, when some eight men, having uncoupled the engine and three empty box-cars next to it from the passenger and baggage cars, mounted the engine, pulled open the valve, put on all steam and left conductor engineer passengers, spectators, and the soldiers in the camp hard by all lost in amazement and dumbfounded at the strange startling and daring act.
This unheard of act was doubtless undertaken at that place and time upon the presumption that pursuit could not be made by an engine short of Kingston some thirty miles above, or from this place; and that by cutting down the telegraph wires as they proceeded the adventurers could calculate on at least three or four hours the start of any pursuit it was reasonable to expect. This was a legitimate conclusion and but for the will energy and quick good judgment of Mr. Fuller and Mr. Cain, and Mr. Anthony Murphy the intelligent and practical foreman of the wood department of the State road shop, who accidentally went on the train from this place that morning, their calculations would have worked out as originally contemplated and the results would have been obtained long ere this reaches the eyes of our readers—the most terrible to us of any that we can conceive as possible, and unequaled by anything attempted or conceived since this war commenced.
Now for the chase!
These three determined men without a moment’s delay put out after the flying train on foot amidst shouts of laughter by the crowd who though lost in amazement at the unexpected and daring act could not repress their risibility at seeing three men start after a train, on foot, which they had just witnessed depart at lightning speed. They put on all their speed and ran along the track for three miles, when they came across some track raisers who had a small truck-car, which is shoved along by men so employed on railroads, on which to carry their tools. This truck and men were at once “impressed.” They took it by turns of two at a time to run behind this truck and push it along all up grades and level portions of the road and let it drive at will on all the down grades A little way further up the fugitive adventurers had stopped cut the telegraph wires and torn up the track Here the pursuers were thrown off pell mell, truck and men, upon the side of the road Fortunately, “nobody was hurt on our side.” The truck was soon placed on the road again enough hands were left to repair the track and with all the power of determined will and muscle they pushed on to Etowah Station, some twenty miles above.
Here, most fortunately, Major Cooper’s old coal engine the “Yonah”—one of the first engines on the State road—was standing out fired up. This venerable locomotive was immediately turned upon her old track and like an old racer at the tap of the drum pricked up her ears and made fine time to Kingston.
The fugitives, not expecting such early pursuit, quietly took in wood and water at Cass Station, and borrowed a schedule from the tank-tender upon the plausible plea that they were running1 a pressed train, loaded with powder for Beauregard. The attentive and patriotic tank-tender, Mr. William Russell, said he gave them his schedule, and would have sent the shirt off his back to Beauregard, if it had been asked for. Here the adventurous fugitives inquired which end of theswitchtheyshouldgoinonatKingston. When they arrived at Kingston, they stopped, went to the agent there, told the powder story, readily got the switch-key, went on the upper turn-out, and waited for the down way freight train to pass. To allinquiries they replied with the same powder story. When the freight train had passed, they immediately proceeded on to the next station— Adairsville— where they were to meet the regular down freight train. At some point on the way they had taken on some fifty cross- ties, and before reaching Adairsville, they stopped on a
curve, tore up the rails, and put several cross-ties on the track— no doubt intending to wreck this down freight train,whichwouldbealonginafewminutes. They had out upon the engine a red handkerchief, as a kind of flag or signal, which, in railroading, means another train is behind— thereby indicating to all that the regular passenger train would be along presently. They stopped a moment at Adairsville, and said Fuller, with” the regular passenger train, was behind, and would wait at Kingston for the freight train, and told the conductor thereon to push ahead and meet him at that point. They passed on to Calhoun, where they met the down passenger train, due here at 4:20 p. M., and without making any stop, they proceeded^on, oa and on.
But we must return to Fuller and his party whom wehaveunconsciouslyleftontheold”Yonah”making :heir vay to Kingston.
Arriving there and learning the adventurers were but twenty minutes ahead, they left the “Yonah ” to blowoff,whiletheymountedtheengineoftheRome Branch Road, which was ready fired up and waiting for the arrival of the passenger train nearly due, when it would have proceeded to Rome. A large party of gentlemen volunteered for the chase, some at Ac worth, Allatoona, Kingston and other points, taking such arms as they could lay their hands on at the moment; and with this fresh engine they set out with all speed but with great “care and caution,”astheyhad scarcely timetomakeAdairsvillebeforethedown freighttrain wouldleavethatpoint. Sureenough,theydiscovered this side of Adairsville three rails torn up and other impedimentsintheway. They”tookup”intimeto prevent an accident, but could proceed with the train nofurther. Thiswasmostvexatious,anditmayhave beeninsomedegreedisheartening,butitdid notcause the slightest relaxation of efforts, and as the result provedwasbutlittleinthewayofthedeadgame,pluck and resolutions of Fuller and” Murphy, who left the engineandagainputoutonfootalone! Afterrunning two miles they met the down freight train, one mile outfromAdairsville. Theyimmediatelyreversedthe train and run backwards to Adairsville— put the cars on the siding and pressed forward, making fine time to Calhoun, where they met the regular down passenger train. Here they halted a moment, took on board a telegraph operator, and a number of men who again volunteered, taking their guns along— and continued thechase. Mr.Fulleralsotookonhereacompanyof trackhandstorepairthetrackastheywentalong. A short distance above Calhoun they flusJiedtheirgame on a curve, where they doubtless supposed themseh’es out of danger, and were quietly oiling the engine, takingupthetrack,etc. Discoveringthattheywere pursued, they mounted and sped away, throwing out upon the track as they went along the heavy cross-tie
Published April 15, 1862, in the Southern Confederacy.