Book Chat
Stealing The General:
The Great Locomotive Chase and The First Medal of Honor
by
Russell Bonds

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 01/19/08 and covered Chapters 3 & 4

1/27/2008 9:13 pm (et) bluelady: we are ready to start chapter 3 of Stealing the General, "The Heart of Dixie".

1/27/2008 9:14 pm (et) bluelady: any comments?

1/27/2008 9:14 pm (et) Babs: Just that it was an amazing amount of miles those guys were supposed to cover in a short time.

1/27/2008 9:15 pm (et) Susansweet: I got a hoot about the man who ended up with Yellow striped britches.

1/27/2008 9:15 pm (et) bluelady: Exactly and in what started out as 3 days.

1/27/2008 9:16 pm (et) Babs: Yeah, he was stylin'.

1/27/2008 9:16 pm (et) bluelady: I can imagine how he felt talking to reb in UNION pants!

1/27/2008 9:16 pm (et) Susansweet: That would have been scary

1/27/2008 9:16 pm (et) bluelady: I can't see how he would have been inconspicuous in those.

1/27/2008 9:17 pm (et) Susansweet: Seems like they dodged getting caught several times

1/27/2008 9:17 pm (et) Babs: Said he thought others could hear his heart beating

1/27/2008 9:17 pm (et) bluelady: Striped pants that is...the union blue might have been better especially at that time of the war.

1/27/2008 9:18 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I found it interesting that, as far as those I've read about, none of them seem to have been outstanding citizens, or soldiers, as far as positive qualities go.

1/27/2008 9:18 pm (et) bluelady: The description of the men involved...anything that sticks out to you?

1/27/2008 9:18 pm (et) amhistoryguy: It almost seems a common denominator among those men.

1/27/2008 9:18 pm (et) bluelady: lol AMHG..you read my mind.

1/27/2008 9:19 pm (et) Susansweet: Just average guys but some had the talents needed to drive the trains.

1/27/2008 9:19 pm (et) bluelady: Makes you wonder how they were chosen to begin with.

1/27/2008 9:20 pm (et) bluelady: It is interesting that Campbell and Shadrach paired up from the start.

1/27/2008 9:20 pm (et) Babs: Blue, just about to say the same thing. Did they sit down and discuss who might be good for it or just randomly pick guys.

1/27/2008 9:21 pm (et) bluelady: From what we discussed last week I think mostly it was ..you want to go? Ok you're it.

1/27/2008 9:21 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Ordinarily, I would think these are not the volunteer types.

1/27/2008 9:21 pm (et) bluelady: Except for the skilled train men...they were hand picked and then given the opportunity to say no.

1/27/2008 9:21 pm (et) Gus: Made it sound like they just put the word out for vols, except the engineers.

1/27/2008 9:22 pm (et) amhistoryguy: This type of "job" does offer those volunteers a bit more "freedom'" from being "commanded as spit polish soldiers.

1/27/2008 9:22 pm (et) bluelady: I agree...but almost all of them had not had the chance to "see the elephant" yet.. And it was early enough in the war to have some that wanted to see glory.

1/27/2008 9:23 pm (et) amhistoryguy: This might have made volunteering a bit more acceptable.

1/27/2008 9:23 pm (et) Gus: And they were idle so long.

1/27/2008 9:23 pm (et) Susansweet: What got me too was that they were suppose to be speaking in Southern dialect. I can't imagine how a New Englander would know how to do this well.

1/27/2008 9:24 pm (et) Susansweet: Not like today where you could listen to recordings to practice.

1/27/2008 9:24 pm (et) bluelady: No big battles and high casualties to that point...Shiloh and its news had not reached them yet.

1/27/2008 9:24 pm (et) mobile_96: Maybe they didn't want spit polish soldiers, to military in training to keep from being discovered quicker.

1/27/2008 9:25 pm (et) bluelady: Well here is another thing...so many people were "transplanted" maybe regional dialect was easy to pass by.

1/27/2008 9:25 pm (et) Susansweet: Mobile that makes sense, just average guys who could blend in.

1/27/2008 9:26 pm (et) Babs: It was a bit hard to keep track of all the little groups. I wish I had made a chart.

1/27/2008 9:26 pm (et) bluelady: Besides, Buffam was the one who would have the hardest time.

1/27/2008 9:26 pm (et) mobile_96: Good point blue, 2 relatives of mine fought union, but had moved to IL from VA, before the war..

1/27/2008 9:26 pm (et) bluelady: Babs and the little groups changed as it went along.

1/27/2008 9:26 pm (et) Gus: I thought it would have been harder to move about.

1/27/2008 9:26 pm (et) amhistoryguy: 6' plus and 250 pounds doesn't "blend in" IMO.

1/27/2008 9:26 pm (et) Gus: Undetected that is.

1/27/2008 9:27 pm (et) mobile_96: Maybe AMGH, some of them southern boys were a bit on the hefty side also.

1/27/2008 9:27 pm (et) bluelady: One thing I want you all to remember...the descriptions of the personalitied of Campbell and especially Schadrack..when we get to the end of the book

1/27/2008 9:27 pm (et) mobile_96: Especially that early in the war.

1/27/2008 9:28 pm (et) bluelady: And some were happy to see boys from KY...that early in the war.

1/27/2008 9:29 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I think that it is a good point to make, that the type of movement these men made would likely not have been possible later in the war.

1/27/2008 9:30 pm (et) Babs: Campbell was rough and ran a "sporting house", right?

1/27/2008 9:30 pm (et) bluelady: Even with that Lewellen and Hawkins had to join up in Jasper

1/27/2008 9:30 pm (et) Susansweet: What about Llewellyn and Smith? Wonder how Smith felt when Llewllyn took off with out him after they both enlisted?

1/27/2008 9:30 pm (et) mobile_96: Correct Babs.

1/27/2008 9:30 pm (et) bluelady: Campbell was a "ner do well".

1/27/2008 9:31 pm (et) Gus: Schadrack...was he the one with a "sprinkle of horse thief"?

1/27/2008 9:32 pm (et) bluelady: Sounds like a prankster that had no use for anything useful...including an education.

1/27/2008 9:33 pm (et) mobile_96: Thought the story of Cambell and his brother drinking the keg of whisky before taking care of burying his dad.

1/27/2008 9:34 pm (et) mobile_96: Sorry, beer.

1/27/2008 9:34 pm (et) Babs: Mobile, They couldn't just leave it in the street. That would be rude.

1/27/2008 9:35 pm (et) bluelady: Definitely a thought type.

1/27/2008 9:35 pm (et) mobile_96: Especially if the horses got hold of it.

1/27/2008 9:36 pm (et) bluelady: At the end of the chapter some of the men's spine must have felt like ice water when the ferry operator says Hello Yanks.

1/27/2008 9:37 pm (et) Susansweet: I know I would have turned to jelly if it had been me.

1/27/2008 9:38 pm (et) bluelady: Well we get an idea of what they had to go through to get to Chattanooga and across the river and a bit of a description of some of the men, Anything else?

1/27/2008 9:39 pm (et) mobile_96: That was the guy that passed them on the road, but came back and promised to help them get across without being discovered.

1/27/2008 9:39 pm (et) bluelady: Yes.

1/27/2008 9:40 pm (et) mobile_96: Wonder who he was.

1/27/2008 9:41 pm (et) bluelady: Just a ferry operator.

1/27/2008 9:41 pm (et) Babs: hmm. Good point. Maybe Andrews had his own underground railroad operation.

1/27/2008 9:42 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Andrews does seem to grease some wheels behind the scenes.

1/27/2008 9:43 pm (et) Susansweet: Makes you wonder what he would have written if he had survived .

1/27/2008 9:44 pm (et) Babs: Susan, true, we only have the viewpoints of guys who probably didn't have all of the info.

1/27/2008 9:47 pm (et) bluelady: And Andrews kept to himself a lot.

1/27/2008 9:47 pm (et) bluelady: Anything else?

1/27/2008 9:47 pm (et) Babs: Not on that chapter.

1/27/2008 9:48 pm (et) bluelady: Ok then let's go to chapter 4 An uncompromising and Violent Union Man

1/27/2008 9:49 pm (et) bluelady: Here we see what kind of a General "Old Stars" was.

1/27/2008 9:51 pm (et) Babs: No dawdler was he.

1/27/2008 9:52 pm (et) mobile_96: And all that bad weather helped cover his movement.

1/27/2008 9:52 pm (et) Gus: I hadn't know anything much about him before these 4 chapters.

1/27/2008 9:52 pm (et) mobile_96: No dawdler or shirker.

1/27/2008 9:53 pm (et) bluelady: He takes off from Shelbyville with his division and in al that muck keeps to his timetable..no dawdler and IMHO not equaled by the Union army until 1865 when Sherman turned north from the coast.

1/27/2008 9:53 pm (et) Susansweet: Interesting that Buell thought Mitchel exaggerated his reports.

1/27/2008 9:53 pm (et) Babs: Must have been a different kind of mud that Burnside ran into later.

1/27/2008 9:53 pm (et) bluelady: Cover yes but here again, early in the war...might not have happened later.

1/27/2008 9:53 pm (et) mobile_96: At least his Mud March was completed.

1/27/2008 9:54 pm (et) bluelady: Buell wanted to distance himself from the raid ..remember when it had a chance to succeed...he supported it.

1/27/2008 9:55 pm (et) Gus: I didn't think the report too exaggerated. I think Buell didn't like his activeness.

1/27/2008 9:55 pm (et) mobile_96: That's much closer to the truth Gus, IMHO.

1/27/2008 9:56 pm (et) Susansweet: Right Mobile and Gus.

1/27/2008 9:57 pm (et) Gus: But he did forward a copy to Washington.

1/27/2008 9:57 pm (et) bluelady: The report wasn't that exaggerated.  He just one upped his commander like Gus said.

1/27/2008 9:58 pm (et) mobile_96: Yes he did Gus.

1/27/2008 9:59 pm (et) Susansweet: Don't think he trusted Buell.

1/27/2008 9:59 pm (et) bluelady: So Mitchel bags Huntsville..in the meantime back to our band of raiders.

1/27/2008 9:59 pm (et) Gus: 15 locomotives and 170 captured rebels without a loss, was a great haul.

1/27/2008 9:59 pm (et) bluelady: Right Susan.

1/27/2008 10:00 pm (et) bluelady: Neat and clean for sure.

1/27/2008 10:00 pm (et) mobile_96: Didn't he think Buell was wasting too much time?

1/27/2008 10:01 pm (et) Babs: For a bunch of misfits they were a persistent bunch too. I think I would have just said, "Oh well, the river is too high and fast. We have to abort the plan."

1/27/2008 10:01 pm (et) bluelady: Yes he did...and Mitchel was chaffing at the bit to get going...When Buell was sent to Shiloh and letf him alone to his own course of action Mitchel took good advantage.

1/27/2008 10:02 pm (et) bluelady: Very persistent...all but 2 made it to the other side on time to find out that Andrews gave then an extra day due to the weather.

1/27/2008 10:02 pm (et) Gus: At the train station...I thought the quote by Knight " I could have picked them out of the whole southern army" was interesting. but they just hopped right on no paper check.

1/27/2008 10:03 pm (et) bluelady: Now here is the difference between Military and civilian thinking.

1/27/2008 10:03 pm (et) Gus: they were persistent. that generation on the whole always struck me as persistent.

1/27/2008 10:03 pm (et) bluelady: Somehow I think Knight was saying that with the advantage of hindsight

1/27/2008 10:05 pm (et) bluelady: He was one of the ones who traveled about telling the story...might as well make it sound daring all the way...by noting a difference in the civilians.

1/27/2008 10:06 pm (et) bluelady: Sounds like the description of Chattanooga...was meant to be a railroad city from the start.

1/27/2008 10:07 pm (et) bluelady: Or at least an important link to other areas.

1/27/2008 10:07 pm (et) mobile_96: I don't think that passports were required everywhere at that time, especially at the time of the war.

1/27/2008 10:07 pm (et) Susansweet: That was a good description of Chattanooga..

1/27/2008 10:07 pm (et) amhistoryguy: That's right mobile, passports in the Confederacy didn't come into use until later in the war.

1/27/2008 10:09 pm (et) mobile_96: Their exploits might have helped forward the idea of passports LOL.

1/27/2008 10:09 pm (et) Gus: So 22 of 24 made it to the station right?

1/27/2008 10:09 pm (et) bluelady: Most likely mobile.

1/27/2008 10:10 pm (et) bluelady: Correct Gus.   Llewellen and Hawkins entered the confederate service in Jasper.

1/27/2008 10:11 pm (et) Babs: Wonder if they could collect pensions from both sides.

1/27/2008 10:11 pm (et) bluelady: Somehow I doubt it babs.

1/27/2008 10:11 pm (et) mobile_96: Then 2 fail to wakeup and get left.

1/27/2008 10:11 pm (et) bluelady: lol

1/27/2008 10:12 pm (et) bluelady: Right mobile.

1/27/2008 10:12 pm (et) mobile_96: Confederate pensions were paid by the respective states, not sure what KY did.

1/27/2008 10:12 pm (et) bluelady: Now to that trip south...the men were very observant as much as they could be on the way down.

1/27/2008 10:12 pm (et) Gus: Can't blame em after that long trek.

1/27/2008 10:12 pm (et) Babs: Mobile, I was being a smart butt.

1/27/2008 10:13 pm (et) Susansweet: Isn't it Llewyellen and Smith?

1/27/2008 10:13 pm (et) Susansweet: Who joined the confederacy?

1/27/2008 10:13 pm (et) mobile_96: No.  Hawkens and Porter get left.

1/27/2008 10:14 pm (et) bluelady: Yes Susan, you are right.. Smith and not Hawkins.

1/27/2008 10:14 pm (et) bluelady: And what Mobile says.

1/27/2008 10:15 pm (et) Susansweet: Thanks I was confused as usual.

1/27/2008 10:15 pm (et) bluelady: On the way south the men see that the railroad is starting to get crowded...and news about Huntsville as well as Shiloh is starting to make its way east.

1/27/2008 10:16 pm (et) Susansweet: That train ride south must have been the hardest part knowing what they were going to have to do and how crowded the train was .

1/27/2008 10:16 pm (et) bluelady: Doesn't help when I confuse the point! 

1/27/2008 10:17 pm (et) bluelady: I wonder what Andrews thought when Mitchel made it to Huntsville on time and he went ahead and changed the day of the raid?

1/27/2008 10:18 pm (et) bluelady: He did show a bit of ability to sort of change his plan but not the goal as the situation fit up to this point.

1/27/2008 10:18 pm (et) Gus: Or what the men thought when they saw the Confederate camp at Big Shanty.

1/27/2008 10:19 pm (et) bluelady: When the raiders passed by Big Shanty...I am amazed that none of them quit when it was offered up again.

1/27/2008 10:19 pm (et) bluelady: Well near the end of the chapter some of the men were trying to convince Andrews to bag the whole idea...partly because of that camp.

1/27/2008 10:20 pm (et) Susansweet: Guess they figured the best way to get back was to go forward.

1/27/2008 10:20 pm (et) Babs: I have not read ahead so I don't know if Hawkens and Porter were caught. I wonder how they felt went they woke up and found they had missed the train and the boat.

1/27/2008 10:21 pm (et) bluelady: Babs..we will learn that in a later chapter.

1/27/2008 10:21 pm (et) Gus: I wonder at that as well Babs. and I would have liked to have seen Marietta then. it sounds very nice..

1/27/2008 10:22 pm (et) mobile_96: Same here Gus, on seeing Marietta.

1/27/2008 10:23 pm (et) bluelady: I have a cousin that lives in Marietta..

1/27/2008 10:23 pm (et) Babs: Pretty amazing those two Yankee hotel operators carrying on business.

1/27/2008 10:23 pm (et) Susansweet: And Cole was so outspoken too.

1/27/2008 10:23 pm (et) bluelady: They missed the train because they forgot to tip the bellman and he didn't give them a wakeup call.

1/27/2008 10:24 pm (et) bluelady: Amazing to me as to how many of the railroad men were transplanted northerners.

1/27/2008 10:25 pm (et) Babs: They went where the work was and then got caught in the war.

1/27/2008 10:25 pm (et) bluelady: Exactly.

1/27/2008 10:25 pm (et) bluelady: Any other thoughts?

1/27/2008 10:25 pm (et) Susansweet: My great grandfather Morgan was one of those northerners who worked in the south as an engineer right before the war .

1/27/2008 10:26 pm (et) Gus: Did he stay in the south Susan?

1/27/2008 10:27 pm (et) Susansweet: Yes and no.

1/27/2008 10:27 pm (et) Susansweet: He went home then came back as to Tennessee as a quartermaster in the transportation department.

1/27/2008 10:27 pm (et) bluelady: Anything else?

1/27/2008 10:28 pm (et) Susansweet: But back to the book. Don't you wonder what they were thinking when the boarded the train?

1/27/2008 10:28 pm (et) bluelady: Absolutely...I wonder how many of the surprised themselves by making it that far.

1/27/2008 10:29 pm (et) Babs: Holy crap! What have we gotten ourselves into!?!?

1/27/2008 10:29 pm (et) Susansweet: I'm with you Babs.

1/27/2008 10:30 pm (et) Susansweet: You want us to do what????

1/27/2008 10:30 pm (et) bluelady: Lol or I can't believe we got this far.

1/27/2008 10:30 pm (et) mobile_96: Probably scared they'd be stopped before they started, and excited by the chance to strike behind the lines as they were about to do.

1/27/2008 10:30 pm (et) bluelady: Susan, I think they said that in Shelbyville.

1/27/2008 10:30 pm (et) mobile_96: So I'd think Very mixed feelings.

1/27/2008 10:31 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Of course we can't really know, but I think that one of the things they had in common, was confidence - They KNEW they could do what they were sent to do - Confidence got them this far, and would take them to the end, IMO.

1/27/2008 10:31 pm (et) bluelady: Leave it to mobile to get us seropus again! I agree with that assessment totally.

1/27/2008 10:31 pm (et) Susansweet: I bet they thought it again on seeing all the grey uniforms.

1/27/2008 10:31 pm (et) bluelady: Good point AMHG.

1/27/2008 10:32 pm (et) bluelady: The trip south was a confidence builder.

1/27/2008 10:32 pm (et) mobile_96: Good point again AMHG.

1/27/2008 10:32 pm (et) bluelady: Folks it is after 10:30 EST.. I must be off shortly...any last thoughts?

1/27/2008 10:32 pm (et) Susansweet: Good Job Blue

1/27/2008 10:33 pm (et) mobile_96: Good show Blue, thanks.

1/27/2008 10:33 pm (et) Gus: Good story so far.

1/27/2008 10:33 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Thanks Blue.

1/27/2008 10:33 pm (et) Babs: Well done.

1/27/2008 10:33 pm (et) Susansweet: And next week the next two chapters?

1/27/2008 10:33 pm (et) Babs: Homework?

1/27/2008 10:33 pm (et) Susansweet: And meet on Saturday?

1/27/2008 10:34 pm (et) bluelady: Ok well with that, I do not know what the HW for next week will be but we will be up again for chat on Saturday at 9:00 PM EST.

1/27/2008 10:34 pm (et) mobile_96: Saturday??

1/27/2008 10:35 pm (et) Susansweet: Yeah Sunday is super bowl.

1/27/2008 10:35 pm (et) bluelady: 2 chapters would be under 40 pages

1/27/2008 10:35 pm (et) bluelady: And the Giants are playing..no Basecat or Bulelady.

1/27/2008 10:35 pm (et) Babs: How many is three?

1/27/2008 10:36 pm (et) bluelady: But 3 chapters would be almost 60+

1/27/2008 10:36 pm (et) Gus: I can't bear to watch it...but i will.

1/27/2008 10:36 pm (et) mobile_96: Then I'll probably miss the chat, making a trip to Ky, and don't know when I'm getting home.

1/27/2008 10:36 pm (et) bluelady: So with the short week I would suggest just doing 2 this week.

1/27/2008 10:36 pm (et) Susansweet: I agree.

1/27/2008 10:36 pm (et) bluelady: But that is not my call to make.

1/27/2008 10:37 pm (et) mobile_96: Unless I can get in on someone else's system down there.

1/27/2008 10:37 pm (et) Susansweet: So two chapters next week.

1/27/2008 10:37 pm (et) bluelady: But I will suggest it so here it is for all to see in the log.

1/27/2008 10:37 pm (et) mobile_96: And no idea at this time if my friend can make Sat.

1/27/2008 10:37 pm (et) bluelady: Thanks for putting up with me :) and Ks and Base..GET BETTER!!!!

1/27/2008 10:38 pm (et) bluelady: Good night all.

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