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The Great Locomotive Chase

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The Truth and Nothing but

    The Background: On 10 April 1861 after many diplomatic failures, General Beauregard of the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina gave the commander of Fort Sumpter a final ultimatum to either vacate and surrender the Fort or suffer consequences. This was again ignored. South Carolina was no longer an American State but an Independent Nation and having foreign soldiers quartered on her lands were an intolerable offense against her Sovereignty. ON 12 April 1861 Citadel Cadets following Beauregard’s orders fired up on the Fort at 4 pm and the bombardment of Ft. Sumpter began. The next day, 13 April 1861, General Anderson surrendered and began vacating. Thus began the War of Aggression and the end of Slavery. William Rowland was in charge of all Georgia Railroads during this period. He was involved in this raid by Union Soldiers which is not mentioned generally in the story. The basic story is that on 12 April 1862 Union Spies and forces pretending to be Southerners from Kentucky led by Andrews stole a train after it stopped in Big Shanty, just outside of Atlanta, to let passengers and crew have breakfast at the hotel. Andrews apparently knew this and took advantage of it. While the Conductor, Engineer and passengers were enjoying breakfast. Andrews and his 22 cohorts jumped back aboard and stole the train. They had been riding as passengers and nothing had been suspected. The Conductor was simply outraged by this theft and doggedly pursued the robbers. In the movie there are some exciting as well as outright dangerous scenes as the Conductor pursues the robbers. He finally caught up with them when Andrew’s locomotive ran out of fuel to burn water and water. The raiders jumped from the train but that was not enough to save them. They were caught, tried and convicted and sentence to death. On 18 June 1862, Andrews was publicly hung in downtown at Atlanta. About the same time Andrews’s cohorts were also hung after digging their own graves in what today is Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery. Only 7 were executed, the others either escaped or were sentenced to Andersonville Prison which was little more than a concentration death camp. This Movie helped launch the movie acting career of Fess Parker, who later played the role of Davy Crockett so well it was difficult for him to get any other roles. Parker took California real estate and made himself a millionaire many times over. Walt Disney was a big railroad fan. He was able to get some of the actual locomotives from this period to use in this movie which was filmed in Clayton, Georgia--- which is not that far removed from the actual places that this drama took place. Fess Parker’s and Jon Voight’s hometown. This movie began to be shot in 1954 and was completed for release in 1956. You can see the actual locomotives in Atlanta’s Grant Park at the Cyclorama and just North of Atlanta at the museum there. The details of the movie cd are not told but originally it was about two hours long---that is until it was shown on ABC- network TV when many scenes were severely cut out to make room for an excess of commercials. This ruined the movie story because the chase scenes are essential to the story and what was left of this movie was about one hour’s worth of watching was barely enough to justify seeing it. Hopefully, Disney has restored these scenes to the video. This movie is well worth watching but for history buffs one needs to be on the lookout for stretching the truth somewhat.

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