A summary of the Great Locomotive Chase, whose fame is unquestionable but whose story had eluded me until this point, even with a family trip to Kennesaw, GA.* (We missed the park tour!)
Andrews, who led the mission, split the men into small groups. In civilian clothes, they made their way to Marietta, Ga., just north of Atlanta. There they bought Confederate tickets on a steam locomotive named the General.
Back then, railroads didn’t have dining cars. The train stopped in the morning for breakfast at the tiny town of Big Shanty (now Kennesaw). It was so small that it had no telegraph lines; Andrews’ men picked it as the place to seize the train because they believed the lack of communication would allow them to get away unpursued.
After the passengers got off to eat, Andrews disconnected the back part of the train, leaving only the General, her coal car and three box cars. The Union men took off with the shortened train while the breakfasting passengers and train crew watched in horror as the General left them behind.