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Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor
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Stealing the General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  405 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
On April 12, 1862--one year to the day after Confederate guns opened on Fort Sumter and started the Civil War--a tall, mysterious smuggler and self-appointed Union spy named James J. Andrews and nineteen infantry volunteers infiltrated Georgia and stole a steam engine called the General. Racing northward at speeds near sixty miles an hour, cutting telegraph lines, and dest ...more
Audio CD, 1 page
Published June 1st 2011 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published October 15th 2006)
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Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Civil War buffs
Shelves: history
Non-fiction represents about 20% of my book reading choices. I am very happy I chose this volume to listen to. I usually have at least one audio book going at any given time. This story, narrated by Bronson Pinchot, held me enthralled for about two weeks (I only listen during workouts and gardening chores).
This is the story of a group of two dozen very brave Union soldiers from Ohio infiltrating the border between the US and the CSA for the purpose of stealing a locomotive (The General) and br
This probably isn’t a well known story by people that study Civil War history. It’s about a group of 22 Yankee volunteers who hijacked a train in Georgia. The plan was to take the train and burn bridges along a railroad line that lead from Atlanta to Chattanooga. The hope was after the train was stolen the Federal troops could support the mission and cut off the south’s supply line to the eastern front of the war.

By today’s standards a train chase wouldn’t seem all that impressive but at the tim
Dec 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is the story of an unsuccessful raid to steal a steam engine in Atlanta and cripple the Confederate railroad supply line to its troops. The raiders, led by a northern spy but consisting mainly of volunteers from the Union Army, were captured, some were executed and others spent time in southern prisons. The Union soldiers were the first recipients of the Congressional Metal of Honor.

Over the years, the story was exaggerated and embellished, Hollywood movies were made that deviated larg
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great piece of Civil War history. The 'Great Locomotive Chase' was based on this story. I didn't know anything about it, very informative and weaves in the raider's personal stories with the main events of the Civil War very effectively. My only criticism is the author incorrectly assumes that all of his readers already know how it all goes down, so his book is littered with spoilers, even on the book jacket, about the own very dramatic story he is telling. I know a fair amount about the Civil ...more
Don Weidinger
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Andrews as scout/spy, eastern TN 2to1 union, Mitchell astronomy, 24 Andrew’s Raiders ages 17-33 all Ohio Mitchell Raiders telegraph bridges, go to Marietta first 200 miles in 4 days, 2 recruited on journey to one to canons and other escaped, Chattanooga a wild place, after engine left station 3 ran on foot, journey to Chat has 28 full circles at 1% grade, RR accidents 14xEngland, made 89 miles then 20 abandoned all captured, one whipped, dungeon in Chat where 7 hung-2 twice plus Andrews af ...more
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well researched and written account of early Civil War exploit. After our recent visit to Kennesaw Mountain and the railroad museum where the General is displayed, the book filled in the details and gave life to the participants.
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
excellent narrative filled with many facts and historic information. highly recommend for civil war and rail buffs as well.
A civil war story without all the usual civil war stuff.
Brian Yeagle
Good read about a key event during the Civil War that may be unknown to many people.
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a most compelling book, history that moves at the pace of a novel.

Since I was a kid and saw a Walt Disney production of "The Great Locomotive Chase" (starring Fess Parker, no less!), I have had an interest in the Civil War story of the Andrews raid, in which a group of Union soldiers went behind enemy lines to steal a train for the purpose of disrupting Confederate railroad traffic. What the raiders had counted on was a conductor on the train they stole, so offended by their act that he

Stealing the General covers the story of the first Medal of Honor recipients as a team of soldiers under the command of Andrew Jones, a civilian spy, who undertook a covert mission behind Confederate lines.

The plan: Destroy the confederate rail lines (long before the march to the Sea) and telegraph wires. They would escape using a confederate train following the schedule under the idea that they were carrying emergency gunpowder for Confederate troops at Cornith.

The Operation: Dozens of soldiers
Ben Hallman
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Bonds has written quite the encompassing history of the Great Locomotive Chase. He covers seemingly every single facet of this incredible story, almost to a fault, and does so without diverting the attention from central figures or the main story. This book fully illustrates the subject, yet never grows exhausting in its extensive research, and Bonds' talent as a storyteller as well as a historian shines through this heroic yet tragic piece of American history.

And I'm not kidding when I say
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In high school I discovered Buster Keaton's 1926 silent move "The General" and to this day it is my favorite movie. Little did I know that it was based on a true story! The Great Locomotive Chase, or Andrew's Raid occurred on April 12, 1862 in northern Georgia.

Two civilians and 22 Union soldiers (mainly from Ohio) volunteered for a mission to steal a railroad engine and destroy track and telegraph in Georgia and Tennessee. They snuck behind enemy lines, boarded the train at Marietta GA, and whi
Stealing the General covers a rambling series of adventures and events that starts early in the American Civil war surrounding the stealing of the locomotive The General by a band of Northern soldiers. The book follows the raiders to the end of the war and beyond in this well-structured historical account. The large cast of characters including the 24 men sent on the mission are given a depth of detail that allows the reader to get to know them as individual personalities.

The cultural and histor
Jeffrey Williams
Russell S. Bonds does an excellent job separating fact from myth in relating the tale of the Andrew's Raiders and the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862. The event itself was remarkable and needed no embellishment, but like most stories of that era, facts have gone the way of fiction in popular culture. Bonds excels as a historian uncovering the facts from myth and making the participants human. We are in the camp when the participants were chosen. We are in the swamps of Tennessee when they are mak ...more
Jun 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very interesting first half. I honestly did not realize that Buster Keaton's The General was based on a real event until I read this. So many things went wrong with the undertaking of this raid that I found myself thinking that if this were not a real event, I would have believed the author was deliberately making the characters do foolish things, but this just goes to show that in real life, you don't always plan for every possible problem until it is too late, and sometimes you just have to im ...more
Josh Liller
Excellent book about the famous "Great Locomotive Chase" of 1862 during the American Civil War. The first half of he book covers the events leading up to the Andrews Raid and the Raid itself, which gained its better known and more exciting nickname. The second half covers the experiences of the captured raiders, including escape attempts and the execution of some. Once the remaining raiders return to the Union in a prisoner exchange, Bonds covers the origins of the Medal Of Honor which was first ...more
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I grew up knowing the story of the Great Locomotive Chase because I lived where the Disney movies was filmed back in 1958. Then I ended up working in Adairsville, GA, which is right on the railroad where the event took place. Mr. Bonds' book is a wonder. I actually listened to it instead of reading it, and enjoyed every minute. Mr. Bonds' research was meticulous, gleaning from every available source to get all the facts as correct as possible, making a far more complicated and compelling story t ...more
Mark Luongo
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Civil War and RR buffs
Recommended to Mark by: Adams County Library System
One of those events where is the aftermath is the story. The raid itself was a bust, contrary to the derring-do Walt Disney presented back in 1956 starring Fess Parker. The raiders suffered incarceration, privation and, in some cases, execution for the deed. The escape from an Atlanta jail of eight of the raiders through enemy territory was pretty wild. Not to mention that the event inspired the first presentation of the country's highest decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor.
The battle for
In April 1862, one smuggler named James J. Andrews talked 19 Union soldiers into following him to Georgia, sneaking past Rebel lines and stealing a train. Their plan was to drive the train back to the Union force, burning bridges and cutting telegraph wires along the way. They successfully stole the engine named the General. They were followed by the train's conductor relentlessly. This is the story of their daring raid, the chase and their subsequent capture and imprisonment.

Why I started this
Oct 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite a tale about a plot by a civilian to hijack the General, a Southern locomotive and use it to help the Union capture Chattanooga and possibly divide the Confederate states.
It is a fascinating story but I really didn't enjoy it until the second half.
There are So Many characters to keep track of before the story really gets going.
I found it worth the trudge thru for the latter half.
Hope its made into another more fact based movie as this story has inspired many movies in past.
15hours &
Hugh Henry
Nov 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Great Locomotive Chase fans
Here is the definitive secondary source description of the Great Locomotive Chase that we have awaited. Mr. Bonds has conducted thorough research and examined every primary source currently known to exist. He succeeds in presenting a fast-paced narrative while also presenting a vast trove of facts and stories. This book reads much more quickly than does Pittenger's Daring and Suffering. The only criticism is the short shrift he gives to James Andrews' origins. Charle O'Neill in Wild Train tried ...more
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent take on telling the true story of Andrew’s Raiders. Detailing how the raid came about, the men tasked with carrying out the raid and the employees of the railroad who chased after them. It tells of their imprisonment and the trial and execution of a third of the raiders including James Andrews. I learned several things, that not 1 but 3 trains along with a push car and running on foot were used in the pursuit and the lives of the raiders who survived, amazingly all of the Raiders wh ...more
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read a lot about the Civil War but I've focused more on the battles and key figures of the war in the north. Ironically, I found out in the course of reading the book that this is a well-known story but I had never heard of it. I guess Disney even made a movie of it years ago. It is story of federal attempts to steal a confederate train from deep within Georgia with the potential to change the course of the war. As a result of what happened, the United States developed and awarded the fir ...more
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can't begin to tell how much I enjoyed this book. The audio version is quite enjoyable, Bronson Pinchot (Balki!) is the narrator and he is pleasant to listen to. Some amazing history here from my hometown, and the area around it - not taught to us in school, so that is appreciated by this gal who likes to know her local history. Highly recommend this book if you are interested in history, and from the Atlanta area - you will really appreciate it. I also was fascinated with the creation of the me ...more
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Give this tale another 100, better yet, 1000, years, and it will permutate into something mythological. As it is, it has moments that seem quite akin to Davy Crockett or even Pecos Bill-like exploits. Finally, though, it is a compelling story, deeply anchored in the grim realities of war. The twenty-two Andrews Raiders (sometimes styled the Mitchell Raiders) were seemingly, at the outset, an unremarkable lot save for their willingness to volunteer for an unknown mission and their dedication to t ...more
Matt Fitz
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a kid of the 70s who watched a lot of matinees at the local military theater, I remember seeing the 1950s "Great Locomotive Chase." I'll have to revisit that movie after reading this incredible account of "Andrew's Raiders." Author does a great job of connecting various accounts and providing historical information about the Civil War, those involved in the fight, from privates to generals as well as the history of steam locomotives and Civil War era railroading. Fascinated to also learn of t ...more
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book that was not all historical fact, But an adventure to me. This setting was near Georgia in 1862 during the Civil War. A network of Union spies led by James Andrews volunteered to go behind enemy lines to Atlanta and capture the locomotive the General, Which was vital to the Confederates. They were caught and some were imprisoned and hung. The remaining that took part in the raid, Were awarded the first Medals of Honor.
Ryan Rauber
Non-fiction story of a group of Union soldiers who sneak behind enemy lines to steal a locomotive in Atlanta during the Civil War. Of course, nothing in their plan works out the way they expect. Since I live in Atlanta, I liked reading about the localities of all the events. This was a piece of the war I was not familiar with, and the author presented a non-fiction book in an entertaining way. I think any student of the Civil War will enjoy this.
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a thrill for me to read which may sound a little ridiculous when you know the mission doesn't succeed even before you start! Modeled on the best of war stories - the bold moves on both sides, the coincidental encounters, the missed chances, & brave soldiers & rascals in nearly equal measure. Lots of what ifs & if onlys to nosh on mentally after completing the book - and isn't that what good historical writing should do?
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“a gang of unpredictable ruffians by day who turned to enthralling storytellers after dark. "I would sometimes join them, and listen for a great part of the night to some of the finest fairy tales and most romantic legends it has ever been my fortune to hear.” 0 likes
“[General-in-Chief of the army, Lieutenant General Winfield] Scott not only believed that the idea [for a battlefield decoration, to wit, a Medal of Honor, or valor] smacked of Old World vanity, elitism, and snobbery, he also thought that such an award was entirely unnecessary.” 0 likes
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