March 24

Georgia Demands Return of the General

March 24, 1939 - Kennesaw, Chattanooga

The General was the famous train captured by Andrews’ Raiders during the Civil War, and later made famous by Buster Keaton’s 1927 film, and the 1956 movie The Great Locomotive Chase. On this day in 1939, Gov. E.D. Rivers signed a joint resolution calling on the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee to give it back.

The General was part of America’s enduring fascination with the Civil War and had been in Chattanooga since 1911. In April 1862 James Andrews led a Union raiding party to what is now Kennesaw, stole the General, and dashed north, hoping to disable much of the vital Western & Atlantic Railroad. Confederates followed on an exciting seven-hour, 87-mile chase that ended in execution for Andrews and the very first Medal of Honor for one of his men.

Georgia wanted it returned to the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. She wouldn’t get it until 1972, following a federal lawsuit and more than 40 years after Georgia demanded the General’s return on March 24, 1939, Today in Georgia History.