The General

The General is a steam locomotive built in December of 1855 in Paterson, New Jersey by Rodgers, Ketchum & Grosvenor Locomotive and Machine Works.  The train provided transportation and freight service between Chattanooga and Atlanta on the Western & Atlantic Railroad.  The train was hijacked on April 12, 1862 during the Civil War by Andrews’ Raiders at Big Shanty (now known as the city of Kennesaw) in what was later referred to as the Great Locomotive Chase.

The story of the chase began when the 22 Northern spies, let by James J. Andrews, arrived in Marietta on April 10 and made their way to the Kennesaw stop in small groups in order to avoid arousing suspicion.  When The General arrived on the morning of  April 12, the Raiders waited for the passengers and crew to exit the train for breakfast and to restock fuel and water.  When the train was empty, the Raiders seized control of the locomotive and steamed north, hoping to burn bridges and disrupt communication and transportation lines.  Before they were able to complete their mission, they ran out of water and wood two miles north of the city of Ringgold, Georgia (close to Chattanooga) and were forced to abandon the locomotive and flee. The raiders were eventually captured by the Confederate Army and some were executed as spies.  Later, some of the surviving members of Andrews’ Raiders were the first recipients of the Medal of Honor.

Narrowly escaping destruction itself during the burning of Atlanta, The General was in service for a number of years and then retired in Vinings, Georgia in 1891. In 1892, the General was refurbished and went on a tour that included the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta in 1895, and the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in Nashville in 1897 before being put on “permanent” display at the Union Depot in Chattanooga, Tennessee on May 16, 1901. In 1961, the General was removed and refurbished for a 1962 tour to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Andrew’s Raid. After the tour, the General was returned to Chattanooga until it was given to the State of Georgia by the L. & N. Railroad in 1967. After a legal battle for ownership of the historic locomotive, the General returned to Kennesaw in 1972. The General is currently housed in the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Downtown Kennesaw, Georgia and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The General Arrives in Kennesaw, Ga
Reconditioned by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad to run under its own power, the famous locomotive started on April 14, 1962 a series of Civil War Centennial tours. This first stop was made at the point where the “great locomotive chase” of April 12, 1862 began. Union raiders who stole the train and tried to wreck the W. & A. Railroad were overtaken and forced to abandon the General about ninety miles away near Ringgold, Ga., ending one of the most dramatic events of the war.
– Postcard published in 1962


The General

Model of The General

The General - Great Locomotive Chase
“The General,” Captured by Andrews’ Raiders
– Postcard sent from Chattanooga, Tennessee on May 2, 1905.
Civil War Train - The General
The “General” Made Famous by Andrews’ Raiders
The story of the ‘General’ – In the National Cemetery are buried James J Andrews and his companions, who captured an Engine at Big Shanty on the Western & Atlantic Railway in an attempt to burn bridges and cut the Confederate Army from its base of supplies. They were overtaken; eight were executed as spies, six were paroled and eight escaped from prison.
– Postcard sent from Nashville, Tennessee on September 18, 1952.
The Famous General Train from the Great Locomotive Chase
Western & Atlantic 4-4-0 No. 3, the renowned “General” of Civil War fame, poses on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad’s Beargrass Creek trestle in Louisville, Kentucky, in March, 1962. Built in 1855 by Rodgers, Ketchum & Grosvenor, and star of the famous “Great Locomotive Chase” in the Civil War, the “General” eventually was saved and placed on display in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, Union Station in 1891. On June 6, 1961, the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Co., which leases the Western & Atlantic from the state of Georgia, removed her so that she could be restored to run on the Centennial of the Chase. She emerged from the L & N’s South Louisville Shops on February 7, 1962, under her own power for the first time since 1915. Since then she has operated on various special occasions, and will eventually be put on display in Kennesaw (formerly Big Shanty), Georgia, the starting point of the Great Chase.
– Postcard published in 1962, Photo courtesy Louisville & Nashville R.R. Co.

Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History