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 02/19/08 and covered Chapters 7, 8 & 9.  Mr. Russell Bonds, the author of "Stealing the General" joined the group for the chat.

2/10/2008 9:02 pm (et) Basecat: Welcome to the Sunday Night Book Chat. Tonight we continue our book chat on Russ Bond's book Stealing The General: The Great Locomotive Chase and the First Medal of Honor Tonight the author of the book has joined us, and am very glad he has accepted the invitation to do so. He gave a fine talk on the book at the CWRT of NY a few months ago, and was a pleasure to finally meet him. Remember, no PMs during the chat. OK Blue...Fire away?

2/10/2008 9:02 pm (et) bluelady: Thanks. I made it as far south as Kennesaw and up to Chattanooga but very briefly.

2/10/2008 9:03 pm (et) bluelady: Well backing up to our first discussion, I would like to have your thoughts on Andrews himself, was he truly a union man? or not?

2/10/2008 9:04 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Andrews was tough to get a hold of, even after 4 yrs of research. At the end of the day, I tend to credit his comrade William Knight, who said that he was playing both sides against the middle and was in it for the money.

2/10/2008 9:05 pm (et) bluelady: And why Knight over Pittenger?

2/10/2008 9:05 pm (et) amhistoryguy: ?

2/10/2008 9:05 pm (et) Babs: ?

2/10/2008 9:05 pm (et) Basecat: Dave you are next after Blue.

2/10/2008 9:06 pm (et) Basecat: And Babs you are after Dave.

2/10/2008 9:06 pm (et) bluelady: Sorry I just thought that was a natural leading question

2/10/2008 9:06 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Pittenger loved to cast all as heroes and villains--with Andrews and himself foremost among the heroes. Knight's accounts, overall, seemed to be more balanced. (Pittenger tells a great story, however--and I quoted him extensively).

2/10/2008 9:06 pm (et) amhistoryguy: The book stimulates a lot of hindsight what ifs in my mind, what if they had derailed on of those cars etc - Do you have a favorite what if that bugs you ?

2/10/2008 9:07 pm (et) bluelady: Ok...Thanks..I may have another later.

2/10/2008 9:08 pm (et) Russell Bonds: The what ifs are fun indeed. My favorite what if is--what if General Mitchel had more men (say, 20,000 instead of 8 or 10)? I think the problem with taking advantage of the Andrews Raid was that Mitchel's force was so small and so spread out. Chattanooga was vulnerable, if someone could be persuaded to take a run at it.

2/10/2008 9:09 pm (et) Babs: Did you grow up in the Marietta area? If so did your research dispel any idea you had grown up with?

2/10/2008 9:10 pm (et) Russell Bonds: I grew up in Marietta, almost literally in the shadow of Kennesaw Mountain--bumped across the W&A RR tracks on the way to church every Sunday. The research mainly answered my questions as a kid, mainly--why on earth would a bunch of Yankees come down here to Georgia and steal a train? I tried to explain clearly in the book why that seemed like a good idea at the time.

2/10/2008 9:10 pm (et) amhistoryguy: ?

2/10/2008 9:10 pm (et) Basecat: Go ahead Dave.

2/10/2008 9:11 pm (et) bluelady: ?

2/10/2008 9:12 pm (et) amhistoryguy: How much of a skeptic were you when using the accounts of the participants? Considering that they were writing for public consumption after the fact, and some of them saw things differently than others?

2/10/2008 9:12 pm (et) cwbksell: A pleasure to have Mr. Bonds with us this evening. Welcome aboard! My question about Mitchell not having enough men, is why did General Thomas, who was in the area at the time, not join with Mitchell?

2/10/2008 9:13 pm (et) Basecat: One question at a time please...Thanks. :)

2/10/2008 9:13 pm (et) Russell Bonds: I became more skeptical as I went along. I didn't start out with any intention to be a "revisionist"--just wanted to tell a story that I thought hadn't been told in a long time. But when you dig in the various accounts, the conflicts of memory and the self-serving descriptions are really striking after awhile.

2/10/2008 9:14 pm (et) bluelady: I tend to agree with that which is why I liked how you sought to collaborate statements when you could and explained so when you couldn't.

2/10/2008 9:15 pm (et) Susansweet: I liked too how you said what each person had said . The truth being somewhere maybe in the middle .

2/10/2008 9:15 pm (et) amhistoryguy: You were also up against other more modern accounts in other books and movies - Handled very well in your book - Thank you.

2/10/2008 9:15 pm (et) bluelady: That's the way it usually is! :)

2/10/2008 9:16 pm (et) Russell Bonds: cwbksell--Thomas as I recall was northeast beyond the (formidable) Cumberland Gap and was (to quote the later stereotype) rather slow to move. As far as I could tell, despite Lincoln's dearest wishes, there was nothing to suggest a two-pronged assault on Chattanooga at that point.

2/10/2008 9:16 pm (et) Basecat: Blue ...you are next.

2/10/2008 9:16 pm (et) Susansweet: ?

2/10/2008 9:17 pm (et) bluelady: Well actually Dave sort of asked the same thing but mine, as I look back might give away something we hadn't read as a group yet.

2/10/2008 9:17 pm (et) bluelady: So I will pass.

2/10/2008 9:17 pm (et) Basecat: Ok...Susan...Your are next...followed by me..:)

2/10/2008 9:18 pm (et) Susansweet: Russell , in doing your research did you visit all the sites or the graves of any of the raiders? Pittinger is buried just down the road from me about 80 miles.

2/10/2008 9:20 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Susansweet--I visited the pursuers' graves, here in Atlanta, and the raiders in Chattanooga, but didn't see the ones in Ohio (though I've seen photos of all their graves thanks to the magic of the Internet). I'll be in Ohio this fall for a speaking engagement and hope to do some visiting then!

2/10/2008 9:20 pm (et) bluelady: lol susan.. I like your version of "down the road"

2/10/2008 9:20 pm (et) Susansweet: Hey it's California , it is just down the road

2/10/2008 9:21 pm (et) bluelady: Our own Marie who is a daytimer here lives near Knight's grave.

2/10/2008 9:21 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Hey--but Pittenger's buried in California, right?

2/10/2008 9:21 pm (et) Susansweet: Well if you come to California Russell I know the guy with the key to the grave yard where Pittenger is.

2/10/2008 9:21 pm (et) Basecat: Russ. I hate the term "revisionist" history. It's a bad word, and know authors today have opportunities to research stuff that was not available or even found many years before. Your thoughts on that?

2/10/2008 9:21 pm (et) Susansweet: Right

2/10/2008 9:22 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Thanks--SS--slow to remember--Pittenger's in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Fallbrook!

2/10/2008 9:22 pm (et) Susansweet: Right , and a friend of mine / Sons of Union vets Pittenger Chapter , Jerry Sayre's is the care taker.

2/10/2008 9:24 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Basecat--I agree. I hate it when historians write with an agenda--to elevate Thomas, or to discredit Sherman or Lee (or whoever), or simply to debunk what they regard as conventional wisdom. I did my best here to present the story as I saw it, and to leave to the reader to decide those conflicts I couldn't resolve (some of these are in the text, and some in the footnotes to reward those who like to dig deeper).

2/10/2008 9:24 pm (et) Babs: jbuck is too shy to say so, but she is related to John Wollum.

2/10/2008 9:24 pm (et) amhistoryguy: ?

2/10/2008 9:25 pm (et) bluelady: And done very well.

2/10/2008 9:25 pm (et) Basecat: Go ahead Dave.

2/10/2008 9:25 pm (et) mobile_96: I always find a lot of info in the footnotes

2/10/2008 9:25 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Wollam is a terrific character--one of my favorite scenes (later) is when he is recaptured after escaping from prison, shirtless, sunburned, and chewing tobacco!

2/10/2008 9:26 pm (et) jbuck: True Babs, but i only found that out while researching the family.

2/10/2008 9:26 pm (et) amhistoryguy: It always surprised me that Andrews didn't set off a trend that the Confederates couldn't turn around and do the same thing - any evidence that any thought was given to this?

2/10/2008 9:27 pm (et) Russell Bonds: No evidence that I've seen. The Confederate efforts at a "secret service" were mixed, as you know, limited to spies passing along information here and there. The Confederate forays behind enemy lines seemed limited to cavalry operations.

2/10/2008 9:28 pm (et) bluelady: Dave I think they were thinking about how to get to Vermont! ;)

2/10/2008 9:28 pm (et) mobile_96: Except for the St. Albany bank robbery.

2/10/2008 9:29 pm (et) bluelady: And IIRC, southerners didn't have a lot of experience with the rails...maybe they just didn't think a chance like that was worth the manpower.

2/10/2008 9:29 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Did the raid have anything to do with the implementing of the confederate passport system?

2/10/2008 9:30 pm (et) bluelady: Mobile.. St Albans!

2/10/2008 9:30 pm (et) mobile_96: Right, thanks blue.

2/10/2008 9:31 pm (et) Russell Bonds: The raid led to improved RR security in the South (or at least in Georgia) for a time, though the passport system was regarded as a joke, even later in the war. Too many travelers, refugees, etc.--many poor and without any kind of identification--to do much good, I suspect.

2/10/2008 9:31 pm (et) Basecat: Seeing as we have Russ here, might be best to post some questions, thoughts etc. on Chapter 7 The Crookedest Road Under the Sun

2/10/2008 9:32 pm (et) Susansweet: Russell do you think the Museum in Kennesaw does a good job of presenting the story?

2/10/2008 9:34 pm (et) Russell Bonds: The museum is much improved. When I was a kid, it was essentially a barn with the General inside, along with some Gone With the Wind dolls, etc. They renovated a few years ago and affiliated with the Smithsonian, which greatly improved the facilities and the collection (firearms, etc.). The story is well presented overall, though they adhere a bit too much to the swashbuckling Disney version!

2/10/2008 9:36 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...if you have a question...go ahead.

2/10/2008 9:37 pm (et) bluelady: I am amazed at the technology involved at making the RR back then.

2/10/2008 9:37 pm (et) bluelady: And at how loopy it was!

2/10/2008 9:37 pm (et) Susansweet: Is it still that loopy?

2/10/2008 9:38 pm (et) bluelady: ?

2/10/2008 9:38 pm (et) mobile_96: Even surprised anyone would even attempt to push a RR thru there.

2/10/2008 9:39 pm (et) Russell Bonds: The RR is smoother but basically runs along the same route. It's great fun to go and see the ruins of the Etowah River Bridge, the RR yard at Kingston (a tiny ghost town at this point), the tunnel at Tunnel Hill, etc. And of course the five surviving depots along the line.

2/10/2008 9:39 pm (et) Basecat: Go ahead Blue.

2/10/2008 9:40 pm (et) Susansweet: Saw the tunnel at Tunnel Hill and some of the stations.

2/10/2008 9:40 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I think the importance of that RR line is demonstrated by the fact that well after the CW, improvements to the line included a larger tunnel right next to the original at Tunnel Hill. IIRC, it is still in use today.

2/10/2008 9:40 pm (et) bluelady: About the Yonah..since Andrews was still acting as thought he might be chased...why didn't they over power that group in your opinion?

2/10/2008 9:41 pm (et) Russell Bonds: It is still in use today--the old tunnel remains open with a visitor's center. You can walk all the way through it.

2/10/2008 9:41 pm (et) Babs: I am pleasantly surprised there is still so much left to see today.

2/10/2008 9:41 pm (et) Susansweet: Was closed the day I was there.

2/10/2008 9:41 pm (et) bluelady: That was cool to look through the old tunnel.. CW Gal and I did it about a year ago.

2/10/2008 9:42 pm (et) bluelady: If you can get by the gate in front.

2/10/2008 9:42 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Andrews knew that he was deep in enemy territory and that he had left behind Confederate soldiers at Big Shanty, suspicious RR men at Etowah, and both at Kingston. He assumed that any pursuing force would be a formidable one, so he was inclined to run rather than fight.

2/10/2008 9:42 pm (et) bluelady: Oh ok we went on a Monday...must be they were closed.

2/10/2008 9:43 pm (et) bluelady: Now may I indulge on another question?

2/10/2008 9:43 pm (et) Basecat: Yes.

2/10/2008 9:43 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Fire away.

2/10/2008 9:45 pm (et) bluelady: It almost sounds as if they were playing ripping up tracks as hindsight...why did they not bring materials with them? Any speculation on your part?

2/10/2008 9:46 pm (et) Russell Bonds: My only thought is that Andrews didn't figure how they could carry railroad tools with them and still look like ordinary passengers. I think he was primarily focused on bridge burning farther up the road, and thought he would have plenty of time. But--man proposes, God disposes.

2/10/2008 9:47 pm (et) bluelady: Amen to that.

2/10/2008 9:47 pm (et) Susansweet: Thanks blue I was wondering that too.

2/10/2008 9:48 pm (et) Basecat: Will just add, tools like that should have been hidden a few miles away after they took the train, but then again with the weather of the previous days, hard to think they could have burned anything with that much rain in the area.

2/10/2008 9:48 pm (et) bluelady: The rest of this chapter was basically telling the story to me...except that you add the details of the towns... Cassville...it reminds the readers how important railroads became to towns and their futures.

2/10/2008 9:49 pm (et) amhistoryguy: ?

2/10/2008 9:49 pm (et) bluelady: Not only that...how would they have gotten there ahead to hide anything! ? Especially with a Reb training camp nearby.

2/10/2008 9:50 pm (et) jbuck: ?

2/10/2008 9:50 pm (et) Russell Bonds: During the chase itself, I felt like the plot was pretty well laid out, so I wanted to focus on character (even the minor characters) and setting. I enjoyed learning about and telling about these little towns in north Georgia, and hope I didn't overdo it! (e.g., the couple of paragraphs on the life and death of Cassville)

2/10/2008 9:51 pm (et) Basecat: Plus they had the bad luck of dealing with a man like Fuller...I love his quote on the bottom of the first page of Chapter 7. "As I ran, I thought, and I thought as fast as I ran and I ran as fast as I could" :)

2/10/2008 9:51 pm (et) Basecat: Go ahead jbuck.

2/10/2008 9:51 pm (et) Susansweet: You did not over do it

2/10/2008 9:51 pm (et) jbuck: Russell, in your opinion, what was the most important impact of the day's delay on the success of the Raiders?

2/10/2008 9:51 pm (et) Basecat: Sorry Dave...you are next..

2/10/2008 9:52 pm (et) bluelady: That certainly didn't overdo it for me... I mean...so much of what was able to be accomplished was because of how things were then...hard to compare to if you didn't know what it was like then.

2/10/2008 9:52 pm (et) cwbksell: I got the impression while Fuller was running and thinking as fast as he could, he was also writing his first book. :o)

2/10/2008 9:53 pm (et) Basecat: Same here cwbksell.:)

2/10/2008 9:53 pm (et) Russell Bonds: The delay had two main impacts, to me--first, the pursuers got closer, and the weather got worse. As a result, the raiders lost what time they would have had to destroy the RR and more importantly refuel, and bridge burning became a difficult task due to the hardening rainfall.

2/10/2008 9:53 pm (et) Basecat: Dave ..you are up.

2/10/2008 9:54 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Fuller was the main reason the raid failed, but he was far from the only reason. And reading his accounts and letters, I must say that his ego was formidable indeed.

2/10/2008 9:54 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Hope I'm not getting ahead, but at what point do you think the raid was doomed to fail? What was the decisive moment?

2/10/2008 9:55 pm (et) Susansweet: ?

2/10/2008 9:55 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Once the telegraph was sent from Dalton to Chattanooga informing Col. Leadbetter (another fun character!) of the raid, Andrews had no chance.

2/10/2008 9:56 pm (et) bluelady: Me? I think Knight said it when he said the Yonah made all the difference in the world.

2/10/2008 9:56 pm (et) cwbksell: I thought from the first week, that all the rain that falls in the spring, would be a large problem for a group of men who intend to do some bridge burning. Wouldn't one consider that possibility and maybe plan a raid like that in the summer months?

2/10/2008 9:56 pm (et) Babs: The Weather Channel should do an episode of their "How Weather Changed History" about the raid.

2/10/2008 9:56 pm (et) Basecat: Susan...Fire away.

2/10/2008 9:57 pm (et) Susansweet: You mention that Pittenger wrote to some of the railroad men later on. Was a great deal of this done? I have also seen pictures of men from both sides together at reunions. Was this something that happened?

2/10/2008 9:57 pm (et) bluelady: lol agreed babs...and Russell lives near Atlanta.. maybe he can get them to do an episode! hehe

2/10/2008 9:57 pm (et) jbuck: That's a great idea Babs - wonder if they have considered that?!

2/10/2008 9:59 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Pittenger exchanged extensive letters with Fuller and Murphy--these are archived here at the Atlanta History Center, and they are fascinating. Pittenger also came down and visited Georgia many years after the war in the course of his research. And yes, the raiders and pursuers, all old and gray, joined together at various reunions (see pictures later in the book). As Sam Watkins said, at that point, there was no North, no South, no East, no West. . . .

2/10/2008 9:59 pm (et) bluelady: I read somewhere else that Pittenger, Fuller and others did some exchange of notes.

2/10/2008 10:00 pm (et) bluelady: We are one and undivided.

2/10/2008 10:01 pm (et) bluelady: To finish Watkins.

2/10/2008 10:01 pm (et) Susansweet: Interesting they could do this.

2/10/2008 10:01 pm (et) Susansweet: Love Sam.

2/10/2008 10:01 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Folks, if I can offer one thing that I would emphasize about these chapters, it is the speed of the locomotives. The average speed on the road was 16 mph. Imagine being on a 50,000 pound locomotive, running backwards, in the rain, on a twisting, rickety railroad, with no brakes. These men had never been that fast before and would never go that fast again.

2/10/2008 10:01 pm (et) Basecat: Reposting cwbksell's question...cwbksell: I thought from the first week, that all the rain that falls in the spring, would be a large problem for a group of men who intend to do some bridge burning. Wouldn't one consider that possibility and maybe plan a raid like that in the summer months?

2/10/2008 10:02 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Sorry--at 60-70 mph!!

2/10/2008 10:02 pm (et) bluelady: I think by doing that they developed a mutual respect for each other.

2/10/2008 10:03 pm (et) Susansweet: It has always amazed me that the chase was backwards.

2/10/2008 10:03 pm (et) bluelady: Russell.. That makes Pete Bracken a super hero...for the South!

2/10/2008 10:04 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Sorry if I missed a question--one could try for the summer, though North Georgia has its summer rains as well. In the Atlanta Campaign in 1864, it rained two weeks straight in early June. The raid here fell in April to coordinate with Mitchel's southward movement, not with an ideal campaign calendar.

2/10/2008 10:05 pm (et) bluelady: And from watching the famed weather channel with the exception of this past year...GA seems to be wet a lot in the summer

2/10/2008 10:05 pm (et) Russell Bonds: ?

2/10/2008 10:05 pm (et) Basecat: LOL..Russ has a question...Go ahead Russ.:)

2/10/2008 10:06 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Thought I'd ask one. I'm curious as to how many were familiar with O.M. Mitchel.

2/10/2008 10:07 pm (et) Susansweet: I have read a little about him the past year, but not before that

2/10/2008 10:07 pm (et) bluelady: Not before reading this book. I just knew from my reading before that he commanded the men taken along on the raid.

2/10/2008 10:07 pm (et) Basecat: Vaguely here Russ...Knew the name, but not much else, and had no idea he was that involved.

2/10/2008 10:07 pm (et) bluelady: He seems to be a genius of sorts...and his pictures remind me of Beethoven!

2/10/2008 10:08 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I knew the name, but nothing more than that before reading your book.

2/10/2008 10:08 pm (et) mobile_96: Only vaguely here.

2/10/2008 10:08 pm (et) Susansweet: Too bad he and Andrews both died so soon after the raid. Would be interesting to have heard what they had to say.

2/10/2008 10:08 pm (et) Babs: I knew that the raiders were sometimes called Mitchell's Raiders. The little I had read before made me think there was no reason for that. Your introductory chapters explained how that is justified.

2/10/2008 10:08 pm (et) Susansweet: Especially about that first meeting .

2/10/2008 10:09 pm (et) Basecat: I plead Eastern bias here...I spend to much time at Gettysburg. :)

2/10/2008 10:09 pm (et) bluelady: Absolutely then there would have been a record of the exchange of money...and more on the truth of Andrew's allegiance.

2/10/2008 10:09 pm (et) Susansweet: I have to admit I learned about him because he was a trivia question on Joe's website CWi.

2/10/2008 10:10 pm (et) bluelady: lol Basecat...same here until my first muster and being at the chatt. cemetery.

2/10/2008 10:10 pm (et) Susansweet: That's okay Base some of us have Western Bias,

2/10/2008 10:10 pm (et) Babs: I also did not know about the previous coordinating bridge burnings. Now I see the raid as part of a larger picture.

2/10/2008 10:11 pm (et) Susansweet: Way way western bias.

2/10/2008 10:11 pm (et) Babs: Susan, That is my source of Mitchell info too. :^)

2/10/2008 10:11 pm (et) Susansweet: Babs That was new to me too.

2/10/2008 10:11 pm (et) Susansweet: What I want to know is does anyone have a picture of those striped pants ?

2/10/2008 10:11 pm (et) bluelady: Nor did I know that Mitchel went beyond Huntsville...now I really understand why the trains were coming north and Not because of Shiloh.

2/10/2008 10:12 pm (et) bluelady:That must have been a sight...and how anyone could not wonder about them is beyond me! hehe

2/10/2008 10:13 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Bluelady--pull out your atlas and take a look at just how close Mitchel got to Chattanooga (Stevenson, AL) and how close Andrews came (north of Ringgold, GA). If Fuller hadn't taken off running after them, they just might have pulled this thing off.

2/10/2008 10:14 pm (et) Babs: BTW. Thank you for having clear maps in the book.

2/10/2008 10:14 pm (et) Susansweet: There is a marker where they were stopped isn't there?

2/10/2008 10:15 pm (et) Susansweet: I didn't see it but have I think seen it in a book I got at the museum.

2/10/2008 10:15 pm (et) bluelady: Stevensville is about 16 miles and Ringgold...maybe less than 10?

2/10/2008 10:15 pm (et) Basecat: Russ, I always find it ironic that the raid occurred one year to the day of the firing on Fort Sumter. So many ironies in the Civil war.

2/10/2008 10:15 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Thanks on the maps. I just wish they were larger! (esp. the campaign map p. 31)

2/10/2008 10:15 pm (et) Susansweet: Blue we need a Great Locomotive Muster.

2/10/2008 10:15 pm (et) bluelady: Yes Susan I got a picture of it on my Raid muster.

2/10/2008 10:16 pm (et) bluelady: Susan, I sort of did a little one with CWgal.

2/10/2008 10:16 pm (et) Susansweet: I couldn't get a picture of Ringgold station as they were working on it.

2/10/2008 10:16 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Susansweet--there is a marker, and trust me if you track it down, you'll be the only one there. It's on a roadside north of Ringgold in the middle of nowhere--mostly fields now, though heavily wooded then.

2/10/2008 10:16 pm (et) Susansweet: I did one by myself but know so much more now.

2/10/2008 10:17 pm (et) mobile_96: Lot better maps than many we've seen over the years.

2/10/2008 10:17 pm (et) bluelady: Agreed. a very not well traveled road next to it.

2/10/2008 10:17 pm (et) Susansweet: Russell wouldn't be the first time I was the only one someplace.

2/10/2008 10:17 pm (et) cwbksell: The map on 115 was the most useful.

2/10/2008 10:18 pm (et) Basecat: Anymore questions on the homework for this evening?? Chapters 8 or 9?

2/10/2008 10:18 pm (et) bluelady: I got a map online form a site exclusively about the raid.

2/10/2008 10:18 pm (et) Babs: Mobile is right. We have read several books with poor or non-existent maps.

2/10/2008 10:20 pm (et) Susansweet: Russell having grown up watching the Disney movie is any of it accurate?

2/10/2008 10:21 pm (et) bluelady: I am just happy that I was able to read a book about a familiar subject and still find more meat to get off it

2/10/2008 10:22 pm (et) Basecat: And Russ, maybe you could tell folks about plans for a movie on your book.

2/10/2008 10:22 pm (et) Russell Bonds: The Disney movie is good to me in two respects: first, it does show the progression of locomotives, from the Yonah and ultimately to the Texas. Second, it is a great opportunity to see these magnificent steam locomotives in action (you will definitely understand what "reversing the engine" means!) But for the details, it's not very good. Enjoy it, but don't rely on it.

2/10/2008 10:23 pm (et) mobile_96: Russell, did many trains of that period carry equipment for track /roadbed repair??

2/10/2008 10:23 pm (et) bluelady: Disney in the Fifties tells me just that..

2/10/2008 10:23 pm (et) Susansweet: Thanks.

2/10/2008 10:24 pm (et) bluelady: Entertainment purposes only.

2/10/2008 10:24 pm (et) Russell Bonds: The rights to Stealing the General were optioned by Paramount last year. The producer was very enthusiastic about the project, but warned me that it would be a very slow process (no doubt slower with the recent Hollywood strike). I'll let you know if we have any news, but we're far from any green light for production at this point.

2/10/2008 10:24 pm (et) mobile_96: Also, think The General, with Buster K as better than the Disney ;-)

2/10/2008 10:24 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Trains would carry very basic equipment--basically a toolbox. Nothing like extra rails, etc.

2/10/2008 10:25 pm (et) Russell Bonds: The Keaton movie is not accurate at all, but it is hilarious.

2/10/2008 10:25 pm (et) Babs: What is a "down" freight train?

2/10/2008 10:25 pm (et) Susansweet: Classic Keaton.

2/10/2008 10:26 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Down just refers to southbound on the W&A. Railroaders would have called a northbound train the "up" train.

2/10/2008 10:26 pm (et) mobile_96: Understand not having extra rails, but have read accounts of tracks being offset because of weather, etc, and the men having to help reset the tracks.

2/10/2008 10:26 pm (et) Basecat: Will just add, when Russ spoke here, he showed scenes of the Keaton movie as we mingled..

2/10/2008 10:26 pm (et) Babs: Thanks. I was looking for something more complicated.

2/10/2008 10:27 pm (et) cwbksell: Did they creosote the ties back then? Would that have made them more or less likely to fire?

2/10/2008 10:27 pm (et) amhistoryguy: In that time period about how many men worked for the W & A ?

2/10/2008 10:27 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Right, mobile. They might have carried extra spikes, etc. for resetting rails, along with the occasional crowbar and hammer, but not much more than that.

2/10/2008 10:27 pm (et) Susansweet: I can't imagine how Andrews stayed calm as the trains came though with the red flags attached.

2/10/2008 10:27 pm (et) bluelady: Icewater of a spy.

2/10/2008 10:28 pm (et) Susansweet: Must have been for sure Blue.

2/10/2008 10:28 pm (et) bluelady: To save your skin.

2/10/2008 10:29 pm (et) mobile_96: Earlier we were wondering if the General had any of the equipment (usually that is) but was stored in the cars left behind.

2/10/2008 10:29 pm (et) Susansweet: Russell even though I know the story I am hanging on every page . You are a good story teller.

2/10/2008 10:29 pm (et) Russell Bonds: amhistory--I couldn't tell you. Next time I'm at the library I'll peek at the W&A annual report (sadly, I know right where it is on the shelf!). I would guess they had many dozens of RR workers--engineer, fireman, brakeman, and conductor for each train, plus station men, ticket sellers, track workers, etc. for 138 miles.

2/10/2008 10:29 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Unsure about creosote in that era either--stumped 2 questions in a row.

2/10/2008 10:29 pm (et) mobile_96: Agree with Susan, the book has been both great history, and a fun read.

2/10/2008 10:30 pm (et) bluelady: And Fuller was familiar with everyone of them!

2/10/2008 10:30 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Thank you for the kind words. I knew I had a good story if I didn't mishandle it!

2/10/2008 10:30 pm (et) Babs: These chapters were particularly exciting.

2/10/2008 10:31 pm (et) bluelady: This is the second time through this book for me. And you did not mishandle it! IMHO

2/10/2008 10:31 pm (et) Susansweet: I know I was in both cabs. This is a story I cheer for both sides.

2/10/2008 10:31 pm (et) mobile_96: Your telling of how the men felt, and saw, as they tore down the track was a nail biter.

2/10/2008 10:31 pm (et) bluelady: Every time I read this part I never knew WHO to root for! hehe and I'm BLUElady.

2/10/2008 10:32 pm (et) Susansweet: And seeing the smoke of the engines.

2/10/2008 10:32 pm (et) mobile_96: Agree with you Susan, on cheering both sides.

2/10/2008 10:32 pm (et) Basecat: Looking at the clock, I want to thank Russ for spending 90 plus minutes with us tonight, and hope he can find time as we continue to read his far from humble book. :) Am sure I speak for all in here Russ that all are overjoyed you could join us tonight, and hope you can do so in the upcoming weeks. :)

2/10/2008 10:32 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Thanks--I tried to make it suspenseful (with the chapter-ending cliffhangers, etc.--I grew up reading Hardy Boys) but sometimes foreshadowed what was to come--e.g. mentioning at the time of the Andrews-Mitchel meeting that both would soon be dead.

2/10/2008 10:33 pm (et) bluelady: you think Andrews had ice water... Bracken had to of as well to run 60m - 70 mph backwards.

2/10/2008 10:33 pm (et) mobile_96: And the fire on the Wheels

2/10/2008 10:33 pm (et) amhistoryguy: I am often quite critical of the books we read here in chat - so it is only fair to say well done and thanks when it is a winner. Well done and thanks !

2/10/2008 10:33 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Basecat--Thanks so much for inviting me. All, please forgive a quick plug if I could. First, Stealing the General will be out in paperback this fall--so it'll be a good stocking stuffer this Christmas! Second, keep an eye out down the road (probably 2010) for my book on the battle for and the burning of Atlanta.

2/10/2008 10:33 pm (et) Susansweet: Yes Thank you so much Russell.

2/10/2008 10:33 pm (et) bluelady: yep..

2/10/2008 10:33 pm (et) Basecat: Plug away Russ..:)

2/10/2008 10:34 pm (et) bluelady: Russ, before you leave us this evening I have a completely off topic question of personal preference to ask.

2/10/2008 10:34 pm (et) Susansweet: Oh good will look forward to the Atlanta book.

2/10/2008 10:34 pm (et) bluelady: NICE!!!

2/10/2008 10:34 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Bluelady, ask away

2/10/2008 10:35 pm (et) mobile_96: Another book for the Must buy List.

2/10/2008 10:35 pm (et) Susansweet: Wish you were closer to California. I am program chair for a local round table

2/10/2008 10:35 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Russell, please include the "contribution" of the 11th Indiana Battery in the destruction of Atlanta - The battery came under the direct authority of Gen. Thomas, so the Chief of Artillery made no mention of them in his after action report to Thomas.

2/10/2008 10:36 pm (et) Russell Bonds: amhistory--thanks for the tip--I'll look out for them.

2/10/2008 10:36 pm (et) bluelady: I tend to find small world type thing and this question is one of them. I had mentioned a cousin that lives in Marietta and I know it is a big town but their son is attending the Air Force Academy...wondering if you know a Milhaus there?

2/10/2008 10:37 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Milhaus doesn't ring a bell for me--sorry.

2/10/2008 10:38 pm (et) Susansweet: But bet you do know the Big Chicken.

2/10/2008 10:38 pm (et) bluelady: Ok no small world then here...thanks.

2/10/2008 10:38 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Sutermiester and his battery manned four 4.5 inch seige rifles besides their 20 lb Parrott rifles. Fired over 3000 rounds from the siege rifles alone.

2/10/2008 10:38 pm (et) cwbksell: Question last week asked average age of raiders. Ans. = 24 years and 8 months. Info found in The General & The Texas by Stan Cohan. BTW, cwbksell stands for Civil War Bookseller. I have Cohen in stock. It is a 15 page large size soft cover book with much info including photos and profiles of the raiders and pursuers. $17.95 plus $3.00 S&H. If interested, send e-mail to cwbksell@juno.com Mr. Bonds used this book for reference. :o)

2/10/2008 10:39 pm (et) bluelady: lol as in Chick Felet?

2/10/2008 10:39 pm (et) Susansweet: Nope.

2/10/2008 10:39 pm (et) cwbksell: Sorry that's 154 pages. (I don't type that well with my thumbs. :o(

2/10/2008 10:39 pm (et) bluelady: I have that book already too! hehe

2/10/2008 10:40 pm (et) Basecat: Only Milhaus I know is on the Simpsons, but I digress.:)

2/10/2008 10:40 pm (et) Susansweet: I have it too.

2/10/2008 10:40 pm (et) Russell Bonds: cwbksell--thanks. That's a great book to have if you are interested in the Andrews Raid. Its authors are Stan Cohen and Col. James Bogle, who is responsible for the renovation of the Texas and the placement of the Andrews Marker here in Atlanta. (He's also a terrific fellow, 91 years young.)

2/10/2008 10:41 pm (et) bluelady: LOL Nope..the wife of the family is my cousin.

2/10/2008 10:41 pm (et) cwbksell: (1? Stan or Col James? (I order the book from Stan)

2/10/2008 10:41 pm (et) Susansweet: I got that book and Pittenger's book and the three trains at the museum

2/10/2008 10:42 pm (et) bluelady: Didn't he have something to do with a grave marker for Bracken as well?

2/10/2008 10:42 pm (et) cwbksell: There it is again. That should be 91?

2/10/2008 10:42 pm (et) Susansweet: Big Chicken is a Big red chicken with eyes that roll in Marietta, all directions I am told are given from the chicken

2/10/2008 10:42 pm (et) Russell Bonds: They're coauthors. I think Col. Bogle did the writing and Mr. Cohen did the publishing. Bluelady, Col. Bogle also did see to the placement of the Bracken marker.

2/10/2008 10:43 pm (et) Susansweet: It is at this time a KFC.

2/10/2008 10:43 pm (et) Russell Bonds: 91.

2/10/2008 10:44 pm (et) bluelady: Wasn't one of them related to Fuller's family or something?

2/10/2008 10:44 pm (et) Russell Bonds: The late Wilbur Kurtz, another Andrews Raid historian, married Wm. Fuller's daughter.

2/10/2008 10:45 pm (et) Susansweet: of course

2/10/2008 10:45 pm (et) bluelady: Ok that's right

2/10/2008 10:45 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Anything else for me? Gotta walk the dogs and check on the little ones upstairs . . . thanks again. RSB

2/10/2008 10:45 pm (et) bluelady: Applause for Russell and a big thanks!!!!

2/10/2008 10:46 pm (et) mobile_96: No, thank You Russell, been a great treat tonight.

2/10/2008 10:46 pm (et) Susansweet: Yipeee thanks Russell.

2/10/2008 10:46 pm (et) amhistoryguy: Thanks and good night Russell.

2/10/2008 10:46 pm (et) Basecat: Thanks Russ...You made a lot of folks happy in here by joining us.

2/10/2008 10:46 pm (et) Babs: Thank so much.

2/10/2008 10:46 pm (et) Russell Bonds: Bye all. Hope to join you again later, when all the bad stuff starts happening to Andrews and company.

2/10/2008 10:48 pm (et) cwbksell: One last question Mr Bonds. I display my books at various CW Symposium programs here in Illinois. Would you interested in giving a talk at one of the programs? If you would send me a reply via e-mail, I could pass your e-mail address to those who do the shows and they may well invite you to their program.

2/10/2008 10:49 pm (et) Susansweet: Thanks Base for contacting Russell to join us

2/10/2008 10:49 pm (et) Russell Bonds: cwbksell--I'll be at a military history conf. in Illinois this summer-- would be glad to e-mail you.

2/10/2008 10:49 pm (et) Russell Bonds: logs off.

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