Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Chasing the General

Will and Genevieve in Hot Pursuit

Need a perfect day trip for a Thomas the Tank Engine obsessed child or the family Civil War buff? Head north of Atlanta to Kennesaw, GA to visit the newly expanded Southern Museum, and its most famous artifact, the steam engine The General.

Immortalized by Buster Keaton, the theft of The General by James Andrews' ring of spies in 1862 was a sensation in the North and the South. In an effort to prevent reinforcements from Atlanta coming to the defense of Chattanooga, Andrew's Raiders ripped apart sections of the Western and Atlantic rail line, set fires and cut telegraph lines as they rushed towards Union lines in the hijacked train. The conductor of the The General stayed in hot pursuit of the bandits and most of the raiders were captured after the train ran out of fuel.

The conductor, William Fuller, became a Confederate folk hero. Andrews and many of his compatriots met the gallows, but their antics had a Doolittle Raid-type effect for the Union. The first awards of the newly created Medal of Honor were made to thirteen of the soldiers involved in The Great Locomotive Chase.

The Museum is a treasure trove of railroad memorabilia and Civil War artifacts. The General itself is the show stopper. Kids will enjoy the run through Tunnel Hill (above) as well as the park and displays across the street from the Museum.

Want a taste of The General's story in Atlanta? Fuller lays in rest at Oakland Cemetery. You will also find a discrete plaque (on the cemetery wall facing Memorial Drive, across from Doc Chey's) commemorating the Raiders.

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