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America's Great Locomotive Chase Story

Written By: Calvin Johnson  |  Posted: Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

            Tuesday, April 12, 2011, marks the 149th anniversary of the "Great Locomotive Chase" that made "The General" famous. Jefferson Cain, an employee of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, was Engineer of The General. At 4:15 on the morning of April 12, 1862, Cain pushed the throttle of The General and drove the engine out of Atlanta,Georgia for Chattanooga, Tennessee as a cool spring rain fell on the city.
            During the spring of 1862, the peaceful town of Big Shanty (now Kennesaw) was paid not so peaceful a visit by Union spies led by James Andrews, who brought with him plans to disrupt Confederate supply lines. Andrews and his men boarded the train at Marietta, Georgia. They had spent the previous night at the Fletcher House now (Kennesaw House). Twenty boarded the train while two were left behind.

            The next stop was the Lacy Hotel in Big Shanty for a twenty-minute breakfast break. That's where The General was stolen in full view of "Camp McDonald" a drill camp and home to many Confederate officers and enlisted men. There was no telegraph there, which was one reason Andrews chose the site.

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