Great Locomotive Chase

Civil Morning: Today in the War

               

April 12, 1861 -  The war begins with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina.

                          

April 12, 1862 - The Andrews Raid (the Great Locomotive Chase) occurs, starting from Big Shanty, Georgia (now Kennesaw).

April 12, 1864 - The Fort Pillow massacre: Confederate forces kill most of the African American soldiers that surrendered at Fort Pillow, Tennessee.

               

April 12, 1865 - Mobile, Alabama, falls to the Union Army.

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The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History contains a collection of artifacts and relics from the American Civil War, as well as from railroads of the state of Georgia and surrounding regions.  The highlight of the said museum is the General, a steam locomotive used in the Great Locomotive Chase in April 1862.  It is located in Kennesaw, Georgia and the archive house has a significant collection of company records, engineering drawings, blueprints, glass plate negatives, photographs and correspondence from various American businesses representing the railroad industry in the South after the Civil War including a growing collection of Civil War letters, diaries, and official records.

The museum was previously known as the Big Shanty Museum, in a barn that once housed a cotton gin, which initially opened on April 12, 1972, on the very date which the chase occurred one hundred and ten years prior, with the General as the centerpiece.  Later, the theme expanded to include Civil War pieces as well.

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The General

IMDB Top 250: 136

AFI Top 100: 18

Empire Top 500: N/A

TSPDT Top 1000: 35

The General is a 1926 silent comedy film directed by Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton. The plot is inspired by the Great Locomotive Chase, which happened in 1862. It was adapted from the memoir The Great Locomotive Chase by William Pittenger. Although not commercially or critically successful upon release, the film has since been reevaluated by critics, and is considered a classic.

The film is about Johnnie Gray (Keaton), a railroad engineer, in Marietta, Georgia. He loves his fiancé Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack) and his locomotive, The General. When the Civil War breaks out, Johnnie tries to enlist, but is turned away because he’ll be of more use to the South as an engineer (although they don’t tell him this at the recruiting office). Annabelle tells him she doesn’t want to see him again until he’s in uniform. A year later, Union spies steal The General in a plot to deprive the South of resources by cutting off rail shipments. Annabelle, who is on the General when it’s stolen, is taken prisoner. Johnnie chases after them, going to great lengths to rescue Annabelle and The General.

The film is funny, entertaining, and enjoyable. The film is comprised of one humorous sequence after another as Johnnie chases after The General on foot, on a handcar, and on a boneshaker bicycle before he finally manages to find another train, The Texas, to use to pursue the Union spies. Most of the action takes place while Johnnie’s chasing The General in The Texas. It’s amusing how many different ways the Union spies in The General try to shake Johnnie, such as by letting loose their cars and dropping railroad ties on the tracks. Some of these tricks will be repeated with minor variations later when Johnnie steals back The General and heads back to Georgia, now pursued by the Union spies.

Buster Keaton’s physical performance is impressive. Now only does he create a likeable comedic character, he also does a number of seemingly dangerous physical stunts. In a memorable moment, he sits on the train’s connecting rod as the train moves. This was risky, because if the wheels had slipped, he’d have been thrown (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017925/faq?ref_=tt_faq_sm). He climbs into, out of, and over the train’s cars throughout the film, all while the train is in motion.

The film also contains an iconic moment: when The Texas goes over a burning bridge, which collapses underneath it. This scene was the single most expensive shot of the entire silent movie era, costing $42,000 ($1.7 million at 1995 price levels). The Texas itself remained in the river until WWII, when it was salvaged for scrap iron. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0017925/trivia?ref_=tt_ql_2).

Overall, I enjoyed this film. I would be interested to see other films by Buster Keaton, especially The Cameraman, Steamboat Bill Jr., and Our Hospitality. I would recommend The General to fans of silent films, comedies, and Buster Keaton.  

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On this day in 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad was opened for business with the ceremonial driving of the Last Spike. This symbol of continental unity made trade and commerce possible through all corners of a nation that had so recently been divided by the Civil War. Unfortunately, the war had been hard on other areas of the nation’s rails. The Andrews’ Railroad Raid, for instance, saw Union volunteers destroy tracks and rail cars between Confederate strongholds Chattanooga and Atlanta. The group’s main transportation throughout the raid was the steam locomotive the General, seen above in 1887.

(images from William Pittenger’s Daring and Suffering: A History of the Great Railroad Adventure (E473.55 .P695 1863) and Pittenger’s Daring and Suffering: A History of the Andrews’ Railroad Raid … (E473.55 .P695 1887))

HOLD. THE. FUCK. UP.

I’VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY ABOUT THE GREAT LOCOMOTIVE CHASE.

FOR TWO OUT OF THE THREE YEARS I WENT TO THIS BAND FESTIVAL, THIS SONG WAS ON THE PROGRAM.

MY BAND DIRECTOR LIKED IT SO MUCH THAT WE PLAYED IT FOR ONE OF OUR CONCERTS MY SENIOR YEAR.

I HAD THE BASS CLARINET PART FOR THIS SHIT MEMORIZED.

THEN, AFTER I GRADUATE, MY SCHOOL GOT A NEW DIRECTOR WHO FOUND THE SHEET MUSIC IN OUR FILES.

MY HIGH SCHOOL BAND PLAYED THIS SONG FOR A CONCERT TWO YEARS IN A FUCKING ROW.

MY LITTLE SISTER WAS PISSED.

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Great Steam Locomotive Chase York #17 & Leviathan

A Re-enactment of 153 years ago today!

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A selection by Robert W. Smith

This song is called The Great Locomotive chase, it is an awesome song because of all the dynamics. I especially love all the crescendos and decrescendos. hope you enjoy. recommend it to you conductor to play, its awesome!!!