The Great Locomotive Chase (1956) Movie Script

My name is William Pienger.
I never intended to write this book,
but after our raid into Georgia was over,
Something happened
to make me change my mind.
Along with a group of men
who had shared so much with me,
I was summoned to
the War Department in Washington.
We expected nothing more
than routine questioning,
But were surprised to be invited
into Secretary Sta-union's office,
And dumbfounded as we took in
the meaning of his words.
It is a tribute to your valor
that the boldest exploit of this war
Bringing consternation upon the
Confederacy and glory to our Union arms,
Was led by a civilian, and carried out
by private soldiers.
Volunteers, to a man.
You've won for us a new respect,
and we are grateful.
Congress has, by recent law,
Prepared a medal to be awarded
for conspicuous bravery:
"The Congressional Medal of Honor."
You gentlemen are to have
the first ever given.
Corporal William Pittenger.
Congratulations, Mr. Pittenger.
[ Pittenger] I tried to thank him
but I felt too unworthy,
Remembering our missing comrades
and our brave leader Andrews
Who had gained us this honor.
[Pittenger] James J. Andrews was a man
of mystery, as befitted his vocation.
Though in reality a Union spy,
He was trusted throughout the South
as a blockade runner.
It was typical that even now
as he neared our fines,
He was riding a horse he had borrowed
from the Confederates.
On that eventful day in 1862,
I was in charge of a picket detail,
Guarding the approach to our
headquarters camp, south of Nashville.
Pittenger, why don't you hire a substitute,
So the war won't interfere
with your reading?
This concerns the war.
Bringing out a new medal.
"The Congressional Medal of Honor."
This ain't for you and me.
That's for generals.
Not our generals.
They won't even let us fight.
Mitchell would,
if they'd give him a chance.
All I know is I joined this army
to kill Johnny Rebs,
And so far, I ain't even seen one.
You've been lucky.
It's all right, Bill.
I know him.
Glad to see you, Mr. Andrews.
What's your regiment doing
this far south of Nashville?
General Buell moved outwith most of
the army to reinforce Grant.
There's a big fight shaping up
around Corinth.
I probably don't have to tell you.
I didn't know Buell was gone.
Who's in command here now?
General Mitchell. He's madder than
a wet hen to be left behind.
So were we.
- Why are you left behind?
- To guard Nashville.
It's nice to talk with you again, Corporal.
Mr. Andrews...
If you ever want help
on a Secret Service mission,
Don't forget the name Pittenger.
William Pittenger.
In all of East Tennessee,
there's no concentration
Of Confederate forces worth the mention.
The Southern army at Knoxville
is barely able to defend the city
- From Union General Morgan.
- What about Chattanooga?
Buell was certain a great army
was gathering there.
General Mitchell, there are only
2,000 raw recruits in Chattanooga,
And another 2,000 that aren't even armed!
Here we wait with 10,000 choice troops
under strict orders to guard Nashville.
If only I'd been given some latitude,
I'd march right into Chattanooga.
- Wouldn't that be defending Nashville?
- Yes, by George!
As long as I keep the enemy in front
of me, Nashville will be fully protected.
But I don't want Chattanooga
unless I can hold it.
It might be two weeks
before Buell could reinforce me.
Have you any idea how many men
The Confederates could bring
out of Atlanta against me?
15,000 at least.
That many?
Suppose we have a look, Andrews,
and see how matters stand.
Here's Lee, who has his hands full
in Virginia.
And here's Beauregard, who's bringing up
everything he's got to fight Grant at Shiloh.
And here's their east-west rail road,
All the way from Alexandria to Memphis,
With Chattanooga right
in the strategic center.
Here we are. So, if I moved
down here to Huntsville,
Captured the locomotives and flat cars,
and rode into Chattanooga,
All I'd have to fear would be
these forces out of Atlanta.
That's true, sir, but we're right back
where we started from.
They can move their soldiers
up the rail road from Atlanta
And drive you out of Chattanooga
in two days.
There are 11 rail road bridges
over the Chicamagua.
A man like you could lead a raiding party
and burn those bridges for me.
Why not?
I had a deal with General Buell
that when I brought this information,
I wouldn't go South anymore.
Soon as I complete this report,
I aim to enlist in the 21st Ohio.
You'd leave the Secret Service
to become a foot soldier?
Yes, sir. Maybe I won't be
any great shakes in the infantry,
But at least it wouldn't be
hiding under a cloak.
After just so long,
a man has to come out in the open.
Mr. Andrews, I wouldn't detail any man
on a duty of this kind against his will.
But consider what it might mean
to the Union.
Cut the Confederacy in two.
We could shorten the war by half,
maybe end it.
[Pittenger] I'd heard from Mr. Andrews
sooner than I expected.
[Pittenger] I'd heard from Mr. Andrews
sooner than I expected.
That night a score of adventurous men,
most from the 21st and 33rd Ohio Infantry,
Followed me to a meeting place
on a hillside.
[coyote howls]
- Good evening, gentlemen.
- [all] Good evening.
All here, Mr. Andrews.
Which are Brown and Knight?
Private Wilson Brown, Company F.
Private William Knight, Company E.
Not any longer, gentlemen.
Forget that you've ever been soldiers.
Mr. Brown and Mr. Knight
have been informed
By their company commanders
about our venture.
They know what they have to do.
We can't get along without them.
All I can tell the rest of you is that
while Mitchell moves toward Chattanooga,
We must penetrate more than 100 miles
behind the Confederate lines in Georgia
To destroy the rail road.
If we fail, every one of us may be hanged
or torn in pieces by an angry mob.
You have no experience
playing the part of spies.
Some of you are pretty young.
Since we're asking you to volunteer blindly,
it won't be dishonorable to back out now.
If you had any sense, you'd return to camp
and get into uniform again.
[coyote howls]
Good. You're the men for me.
Now then, you're to travel southeast
through the Cumberland Mountains,
Cross the Tennessee River,
And be ready to catch the 5:00 train south
out of Chattanooga Thursday afternoon.
Your destination is the Railroad Hotel
at Marietta, Georgia.
If anyone fails to meet me there
before sun up Friday morning,
The attempt will be made without him.
Any questions?
I'm Bill Campbell.
What'll we tell the Johnny Rebs
About who we are
and where we're from?
Tell them you're Kentuckians, escaping
Yankee rule to join a Southern regiment.
If they press you, tell them you hail
from Fleming County, Kentucky.
I'm from Flemingsburg, and no man from
that county ever joined the Southern army.
- What if they have us cornered?
- Don't hesitate to join their army.
You can escape back to your own lines
some dark night on picket duty.
I'm Bob Buff um. Would you care to tell us
how you intend to reach Marietta?
I'll travel on the same road,
sometimes before you, sometimes behind.
- We allowed to talk to you?
- Treat me as you would a stranger.
As for you, Mr. Buff um, it might be wiser
if you didn't speak at all.
I never met a Kentuckian
so plainly from Massachusetts.
Do you have your pistols?
Keep them hidden.
In this business, you never fight
unless you've failed, and we won't fail.
Nothing can stop us.
[Pittenger] Andrews gave us 3 days for
our journey through the Cumberlands.
Traveling by twos and threes,
we were strung out miles apart
In a desolate country.
We'd been supplied with Confederate
money, but food and lodging were scarce,
And transportation out of the question.
My companion was the Giant,
Bill Campbell.
As I came to know him, I felt a growing
concern over his quick, violent temper.
One such powder keg could blow
our whole expedition sky-high.
We reached the Tennessee River on time,
Only to find it impassable.
Pardon me, ma'am. Do you know
the whereabouts of the ferryman?
Home, like enough. But he won't
chance it across before morning.
River's swole up mighty angry.
- Could you put us up for the night?
- Where you from?
[Pittenger] Flemingsburg, Kentucky.
Inn's pretty full.
We can pay double.
They're from Flemingsburg, too.
There's a score of us in all.
We couldn't abide the Yankees anymore
so we pulled up stakes.
Gonna throw in our lot
with the Southern army.
Come in, all of ya.
It won't cost you a cent.
Flemingsburg? I can't rightly say
I've ever been to Flemingsburg.
Unless you wanna be under the thumb of the
abolitionists, you better not go now.
I never thought Kentucky would be run
by clay-eaters and poor white trash!
There's some mighty fine folks
in Kentucky.
Yes, and more of them
are coming south every day.
Isn't that just giving up
your state to the Yankees?
They've got it already.
They're so strong in the legislature,
they passed a law
That any man fighting for the South
forfeits his state's rights
- To citizenship, land and holdings.
- Has it come to that?
Yes, sir. I know that to be true.
The governor of Kentucky has four sons.
Two are fighting for the Yankees,
and two are in my regiment.
They told me that unless we won,
they could never go home again.
Damn Yankees!
Jess, you're at table.
Quit your swearing.
"Damn Yankee" ain't swearing, Mother,
and you know it.
Jem, maybe the brave Kentuckians
would like to join your regiment.
I'd be mighty proud to have them,
if you can wait till this comes off.
I'd take you to Chattanooga with me,
introduce you to General Ledbetter.
We're honored, but we had our hearts set
on enlisting in the 1st Georgia regiment.
Some of our friends have already joined it,
and we're anxious to push on.
1st Georgia!
Did you hear that, Mother?
No river's gonna hold you back.
That ferryman doesn't like flood water,
But he'll take you over first thing in the
morning or find himself out of a job.
[Innkeeper] I knew it. I knew Jess Mclntyre
would help you.
- They're helping us, ain't they?
- Yes, sir!
- Retha, give them boys more chicken.
- Yes, ma'am.
You're all very kind,
kinder than we deserve.
That's right.
[Innkeeper] You won't have no trouble at
all. Once folks find out what you're up to,
They'll put the big pot in the little one.
[Innkeeper] Well, look who's here!
[Retha] Land sakes, but you're wet!
You need some of Retha's cooking,
Mr. Andrews.
Sounds mighty good.
Smells even better.
I think I'll get warm first.
[Innkeeper] Retha, fetch Mr. Andrews
that peach brandy, you hear?
Yes, ma'am.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have great news.
On the strength of it, I'd ask you all
to have a glass with me...
If I knew the color of your politics.
You needn't worry about these boys.
They've been living amongst Yankees,
but they're coming out on the right side.
We won a great victory at Shiloh.
- Did Beauregard lick that buzzard Grant?
- [Andrews] Cut him to ribbons.
What about the Yankee gunboats
at Pittsburgh Landing?
100 of them sunk,
and thousands of prisoners taken.
The whole Yankee force,
gone up the spout.
Isn't that wonderful?
Ladies and gentlemen...
I give you a toast.
The Confederacy.
You don't seem very happy
over our victory, Mr. Campbell.
He's not. He wants to kill
all the Yankees himself.
- Sounds like a Kentuckian.
- We're all from Kentucky.
You'll find plenty of action later on, sir.
But before you go any further South,
there's one thing we must teach you.
What's that?
- Sing it.
- May I?
[Innkeeper] Go right ahead.
Come on, boys, gather 'round.
Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton
Old times there are not forgotten I
Look away, look away
Look away, Dixie Land I
In Dixie Land where I was born
In early on one frosty morn I
Look away, look away
Look away, Dixie Land I
Then I wish I was in Dixie
Away, away
In Dixie Land I'll take my stand
To live and die in Dixie I
Away, away
Away down south in Dixie I
Away, away
Away down south in Dixie I
Away, away... I
IAway down south in Dixie I
Mr. Campbell, do you have
something on your mind?
I wanna know just one thing.
Do we have to be better Southerners
than the Johnny Rebs themselves?
I went pretty far tonight.
But let me tell you this:
If you can't drink their toasts
and sing their songs,
Love Jeff Davis and hate Abe Lincoln
until next Friday,
You'll never reach Marietta.
I'm sorry.
Then you were exaggerating about Shiloh?
When I bring them good news, I'm doubly
welcome. The truth is bad enough.
Bad enough to stop
General Mitchell's advance?
No. Shiloh can't stop him,
but the devilish rains may.
The trouble is, our movements and his
have to dovetail.
[Andrews] He has an army
and cannon to move.
It's taking a chance, but we'll have
to postpone our plans for one day.
I'll wait here for the rest of the men.
You go into Chattanooga,
And if you see any of the boys who didn't
come this way, pass the word along.
What'd you do before the war?
Taught school a while.
How do you like this business?
There's one side of it I can't get used to.
Mr. Mclntyre...
And the widow woman
who fed us and gave us her bed...
When I deceive 'em, I feel like
the lowest snake that crawls.
I know.
That soldier,
he's supposed to be my enemy.
I'm supposed to hate him
the way Campbell does.
But I don't think I can.
It's worse when a Southerner's
your best friend.
Like old Jim Lindsay.
Even picked out the girl I'm going to
marry, 'cause she's Yankee-minded like me.
Now that I've turned spy
and have to fool him,
I can hardly look him in the eye anymore.
How do you stand it?
I believe in a federal union.
So do I.
I hope we can preserve it
without any more Shilohs.
They say the slaughter was so fierce
on both sides,
You could walk across the field
on dead bodies like stepping stones.
How would you like to put a stop
to that, Pittenger?
Could we, with what we're doing?
Maybe we can.
[Pittenger] We managed to be on the
Friday train, headed south.
So far, we were lucky.
So far, we were lucky.
[standing soldier] A rebel I will be
A rebel fill I die
I would not give a fig
To live under a Yankee sky I
We are sons of holy Dinah
And we go where we've a mind to I
And we stay where we're inclined to
As long as we have fun I
Oh, we licked the Yanks at Shiloh
Oh-my, oh-my, oh-my-oh I
Yes, we licked the Yanks at Shiloh
Just to see how they would run I
We are sons of holy Dinah
And we'll go where we've a mind to I
But right now we're inclined to
Go home and rest a spell I
But when we're tired of eatin'
We will give them Yanks a beatin' I
And they'll all be retreatln'
When we give the rebel yell I
How many Yankees
can one Southerner whup?
[all soldiers] Five!
- [standing soldier] How many?
- [all soldiers] Ten!
[standing soldier] That's more like it!
One company of Southerners
armed with popguns
Could run a whole regiment of Yankees
clean out of the country!
[standing soldier] - Am I right?
[all soldiers] - Right!
- Gettin' off?
- No.
- Thought maybe I'd get your seat.
- No, just stretching.
Look at that cannon!
Would you mind?
Don't be ornery, Bill.
Let him see it.
Yankee army issue!
Where'd you get it?
I say, where'd you get it?
Took it off a dead Yank.
Which battle?
Battle for our hen coop!
That's all any of them Yankees are,
chicken stealers.
You hear that?
Chicken stealers!
[conductor] Station-stop,
Kingston, Kingston.
What do you think you're doing?
He didn't mean any harm.
He just can't help playing jokes on people.
I wasn't speaking to you. Why'd you go
and play a cheap Yankee trick like that?
You're right welcome to the seat.
I was just havin' a little fun.
I'll be dogged if he can't
even talk like a Yankee.
Sit down here, pint-pot,
and see if you can teach me.
[Pittenger] In spite of Campbell and
Buff um, we all reached Marietta in safety
And spent a restless night
in the Railroad Hotel.
With the dawn, we were
ready for the big day.
Two fair days in a row.
You don't know what that sun means to us.
What are the fine clothes for, Mr. Andrews?
Today I'm an official
of the Western and Atlantic Railroad.
- A very high official, I hope.
- You are the president, at least!
It's 15 minutes till train time.
You know what you have to do.
Let's have a final check.
Which of you are buying tickets
to Allatoona?
Kingston? Calhoun?
And Chattanooga?
Good. That way it won't appear
we're traveling together.
Knight, Brown and Alf Wilson,
sit close to me.
One last thing: When the train stops
at Big Shanty for breakfast,
Keep your seats till I give you the signal.
Good luck, gentlemen.
- Mr. Andrews?
- Mr. Ross?
After you outlined the plan last night,
Bill Campbell and I got to talking it over.
Tearing up the track behind us
and burning the bridges all makes sense,
But why steal the train at Big Shanty?
It's a breakfast stop for the crew
as well as the passengers.
There's no telegraph there, either.
There's a Confederate camp
with 4,000 men.
Must we steal an engine
in full view of the Southern army?
Know any place they won't suspect it?
Yes. Any deserted part of the track
north of this town.
- [Andrews] That'd mean a fight.
- What's the matter with a fight?
- You never know how it'll come out.
- I know how I'm coming out.
I've had a bellyful
of this bowin' and scrapin'
And sweet-talking every
loudmouth Sesech in the state of Georgia.
If you want to capture this train
in a fair fight, you can count on me.
If you don't, I ain't going.
Mr. Campbell, your company commander
said you'd be worth ten in a fight.
That's why I brought you along,
just in case.
But we didn't come to fight.
We came to burn rail road bridges.
If you don't like the plan,
you're free to drop out now.
If you come, you'll do it my way.
[train bell]
[train bell]
- Cloudin' over.
- Yeah. Is it gonna rain?
Might could. It rains one minute,
shines the next.
[conductor] All aboard!
[train whistle]
- Good morning, conductor.
- Morning.
Didn't you get on at Marietta?
You mind if we have a word?
What do you know about those men?
Is there anything remarkable about them?
It's the first time that many passengers
ever got on at Marietta.
And all together, too. Now they're making
out like they don't even know each other.
If they're deserters, I've got orders to turn
them over to the authorities at Big Shanty.
Why are you telling me this?
Because you seem to be with 'em.
- You don't miss much, do you?
- Not much, Mr. Andrews.
- You know my name?
- You've ridden the train before.
All right. In a way you're an official,
so I can tell you this.
Those men are on government business,
bound for Yankee land, and so am I.
Blockade running?
Maybe that. Maybe something more.
You don't get a letter like that
from Brigadier General Beauregard
- Just for running quinine.
- No, I reckon you don't.
I'd give my right arm
to serve under that man.
You are.
This rail road is the artery
that pumps fresh blood
In the army of the Mississippi
on the left hand,
And the army of Northern Virginia
on the right.
Beauregard and Robert E. Lee
would perish without men like you.
Well, thank you.
[train whistle]
Station stop. Big Shanty.
Twenty minutes for breakfast.
Our inspector, Mr. Murphy,
is on board today.
He'd be mighty proud to have you
take breakfast with us.
Thank you, but I've already eaten.
My name's William Fuller.
Have a good meal, Mr. Fuller,
and don't worry about deserters.
I'll take care of your train.
[train bell]
- Work up an appetite?
- Mr. Murphy did. He brought her in.
Keeping your hand in?
Come on, boys.
It's time to go now.
Uncouple here.
Get in.
Come on, boys.
When it's orders from Beauregard,
we can't keep the General waiting.
Let her roll.
Thank you, Dixie.
What's been happening in Big Shanty?
Right smart nothing.
- Who did it? Did you see 'em?
- Deserters from the camp, most likely.
They won't go far.
We're through playing Rebs!
We're Yankees again!
I can talk! I can open my mouth!
Go ahead!
Repairmen. Andrews is talking to them.
He borrowed their tools.
I don't know why
we have to take the South.
If Andrews asked for it,
they'd give it to him.
If we'd taken all their tools
instead of asking "pretty please,"
We might've got a handspike
with a claw on it.
Let a real man handle it, Bill.
Put half of them in the car
nearest the tender.
- It's all we could find in the toolbox.
- We'll have to make 'em do.
Think we're being followed?
Can't be. There's no train
south of us short of Atlanta,
And they'll have to go to Marietta
before they can send out a telegram.
The only train we've got to worry about is
that freight we're due to pass at Kingston.
That torn track'll block everything below
us, and once we get that wire cut,
They can't send warning to those above.
Tighter yet.
A little more. There.
Now cut it at the next pole and take a
length with us. Nobody'll catch us then.
Did you get a look at 'em?
The men who stole my train?
- Stole, is it?
- Yeah. Did they stop?
- They did.
- What for?
The official stepped down
and borrowed some tools.
- A Mr. Andrews?
- I didn't ask. He came from Beauregard.
That's the one.
- Who were they? Conscripts?
- No, a Mr. Andrews.
He got on at Marietta
with some Secret Service men.
- He showed me a letter from Beauregard.
- An authorization?
No. It was right much an order
to help out any way we could.
I'll help him when I get
to that telegraph in Allatoona.
Maybe next time you'll stop and ask
if he is an army man.
We'll need that push car.
Take it and welcome, Mr. Murphy.
Hoist it up, boys.
Blow the whistle, clear the track
When I'm gone I won't be back I
My pappy was a railroadin' man I
Well, I stole a locomotive
Just to take a ride I
Be quiet!
We're coming to a station.
What station?
- Allatoona.
- Just a crossroads.
I stole a locomotive
Just to take a ride I
'Cause my pappy
was a railroadin' man I
Brown, you wanna take her?
Keep her down.
We gotta run on schedule.
You all right?
Those scoundrels are spies,
but not for Beauregard.
Only damn Yankees would do
a trick like that.
Whatever they're up to,
they mean business.
Sit on the front facing forward, Jeff.
You're an old hand at watching the tracks.
Mr. Andrews!
There's an iron works four miles east.
That must be her yard engine.
Hadn't we better destroy her?
Not worth the risk.
We're too close to Kingston.
Ease on through the
station, but don't stop.
Let 'em hear the bell.
[bell rings]
- We're slowing down.
- Get ready.
There's a locomotive back there
and he ran right on by it.
- I thought we were wrecking this rail
road. - Give him a chance, will ya?
- Can you get a message to Kingston?
- No, the line's gone dead.
- They're cutting the wire
between stations. - Who is?
The Yankees that stole my train!
Hey, Reid! They've taken up a rail
two miles south.
Get a flagman down there to stop
any train from Atlanta.
[train bell]
All right, boys. I'm gonna wait here
for the southbound train.
There's a train on the sidetrack.
Goes between here and Rome.
Waiting for Atlanta passengers.
Pull past the switch,
then back in ahead of her.
Couldn't we make it into Adairsville?
No, we might run head-on
into that southbound freight.
We've gotta wait.
You boys oil up the engine.
You're too busy to bother with anybody.
I'll do the talking.
Looks like I'll have to do plenty.
Hand me that wrench.
I reckon I don't know you.
It's their engine, all right.
But there ain't none of their men aboard.
Gentlemen, I've taken this train
by government authority
And I'm running it through to Beauregard.
Where's Jeff Cain and Fuller?
They were fitting out another train
when we left Atlanta.
I got a dispatch for Fuller to wait here
until the southbound freight passes.
He'll be along. The southbound freight
may have to wait for him.
What you got in them boxcars?
Enough ammunition to blow this depot
to kingdom come.
One of them was pointing toward us.
They all look mighty suspicious.
From the north.
All right, boys. Here we go.
[Andrews] Engineer!
I'm running an ammunition train
down to Beauregard.
- Will you pull down and clear the tracks?
- You can't take no train north. Not yet.
- [engineer] There's another behind me.
- Pete Bracken's express freight?
[engineer] No, one that ain't scheduled.
- Can't be.
- Maybe there can't be but there is.
Ain't you heard the news?
A Yankee general named Mitchell marched
down and captured Huntsville yesterday.
[train yard worker] I'll be darned!
[engineer] Took every train
on the Memphis and Charleston road.
We're hauling bacon out of Chattanooga
before the Yankees get there.
If you tried to get through to Beauregard
now, you'd run right smack into old Mitch.
Didn't Ledbetter go
to defend Chattanooga?
He'll try.
Then he'll need ammunition
even more than Beauregard.
Will you pull your train way down
so that other freight can clear?
[steam puffing]
- It's Knight. Can you hear me?
- Go ahead.
- We'll have to wait longer than planned.
- [Pittenger] What's up?
Mitchell got through yesterday.
Captured Huntsville.
The enemy is running extra freight trains
and clogging up the road.
He got through. We're too late!
I'm getting out of here!
Shut up and listen.
Andrews says to lie low and wait.
If these folks get too suspicious, be ready
to jump out and give it to 'em hot and fast.
- What'll be our signal?
- A pistol shot.
If the station master tries to send a
message up the line, we might shoot him.
That's more like it.
[Murphy and Fuller] Yonah! Wait for us!
- Uncouple your cars, Hilly!
- We gotta borrow your engine.
Get on the tender, boys. We're chasing
down Yankees, and we need your guns.
We've got orders
to report to Camp MacDonald.
Can't get through today.
The track's out below.
What do you want to do,
drill or shoot Yankees? Come on!
Open her up, Hilly!
Let's stoke that peanut burner.
Something's wrong.
Something's bad wrong, I tell you.
- How long?
- 45 minutes.
Burn their bridges, will we?
Looks like we burned our own!
You'll wait here, like the rest.
That's an order.
We ain't in uniform now.
- We're still soldiers.
- No, we ain't.
We're Yankee contraband
smuggled into a boxcar
By a slick-talking blockade runner.
He hasn't failed us yet.
All right.
I'll give him five more minutes.
I tell you, I know Bill Fuller.
Ain't a better man on the state road.
He wouldn't be this late
without letting us know.
Why don't you telegraph Atlanta
and find out?
The line to the south's gone dead!
Maybe our friend here can tell us why.
I don't know why.
There are many things about how this road
is run I wouldn't attempt to explain.
But I can tell you this: If Beauregard could
get his orders filled by regular channels
Without these ruinous delays, he wouldn't
have sent me to bring his powder through.
It's a shame you folks
have to wait for the train.
But it's more of a shame to block
the road with ordinary travel
When the fate of brave soldiers
hangs in the balance.
Mr. Andrews? I'll get you through.
I'll get an authorization
to clear that track for you
- If I have to go all the way to Richmond.
- No! You needn't do that.
Why not?
[train whistle]
That freight's coming in now.
- You can throw that switch now.
- Don't reckon I will.
If you was all you claimed to be, we'd have
heard from the road superintendent of you,
- I ain't throwing no switch until we do.
- I'm not above doing it.
- Sorry, Pops.
- Who do you think you are?
Think you own the whole rail road?
Take your hat off to Andrews.
He got us past the big one.
You don't seem very happy about it.
When I was a little boy, my father
locked me in a closet for 14 hours.
I always obeyed him after that,
but I never liked him much.
You're not going to side with him?
No, it's like Pittenger said.
I'm still a soldier.
General Mitchell should've
put someone in command.
- He put Andrews.
- I mean, a soldier to give proper orders.
Like Ross here, or Pittenger, or Knight.
I got so used to taking orders,
I feel kinda lost without 'em.
Andrews said to forget
we'd ever been soldiers.
He'd better pray we don't.
Pull around that bend and stop.
We've gotta cut the wire again.
[train whistle]
They've gone! They got away!
Come on, men!
- Why'd you let those Yankees get away?
- Yankees?
- I thought they was Beauregard's men.
- I told you!
- They're Yankee spies. How many?
- Four.
Try to get a message
to every station up the line, quick.
They're probably
cutting wires right now.
Stephens! Did Pete Bracken
bring in his express freight?
Not yet. They're both extras.
- The Yankees may run into them.
- They know the schedule.
Come on, boys!
Pile on!
[train whistle]
Bracken's freight!
- Here's your coffee, Mr. Bracken.
- Thank you, Henry.
Put it in reverse, Pete.
What you men doing here?
Where's your train, Mr. Fuller?
Yankees got it. Back into Adairsville.
We'll drop these cars off at a sidin'.
- Bring her back, we'll explain later.
- Watch my signals, now.
[train whistle]
Yankees stole our train.
Come on!
- My name is Cox.
- I'm Alonso Martin.
- How can we help?
- Pass wood to the fireman.
- We can do that.
- There may be fighting later on.
I reckon we can do that, too.
Those Yankees still have to pass
the Morning Express from Chattanooga.
If she's running on time,
she should be in Calhoun now.
She won't stop Andrews. He talked his way
past three trains at Kingston.
He talked me onto a sidin'.
He'll try to persuade them they've got a
clear track below, and we'll run into her.
What do you want me to do,
run her at half speed?
No. Open her up.
I'll watch the track for you.
Keep that whistle going! Let 'em know we're
on their tail so they won't rip up track!
[train whistle]
- When did those Yankees pull outta here?
- Yankees? What Yankees?
Powder-train Yankees. They stole
the General at Big Shanty.
- When'd they leave?
- Ten minutes ago.
Grab all the men and guns you can find
and follow us. We're gonna run 'em down.
- Your telegraph working?
- No, but there's the operator from Dalton.
Come on here, slim.
- Why aren't you up at Dalton's?
- Got a dispatch saying the wire was dead,
So I rode the express down
to find the break and fix it.
Yankees have been cutting the wire.
Come on.
I want you to take down a telegram
to General Ledbetter in Chattanooga.
When we get to Dalton,
we'll drop you off so you can send it.
"My train was captured by Federal spies
making for Chattanooga,"
"Possibly hoping to burn
bridges behind them."
"If I do not capture them,"
"Try to head them off."
"Signed, William A. Fuller."
It's the last time we're
gonna have to do this, boys.
- Get one end free, we'll do the rest.
- Now you're using your head.
Shimmy up there, monkey boy.
When we get this one up, we'll have left
broken track for every train south of us,
And clear road ahead
all the way into Chattanooga.
- No more Kingston, sir?
- What was the matter with Kingston?
I've been in tight places, but that's the first
time I've been a live corpse in a coffin!
That's all behind us now.
[train whistle]
- Who are they?
- Must be that express train.
- Shall we wreck her?
- They might wreck us.
They wouldn't be coming like that
without a force on board.
Knight, how about it?
We've got as good a locomotive
as ever need to be.
With clear track ahead, it'll outrun
anything we've passed yet.
Then let her go.
Give her every ounce of steam she's got.
Put that rail on board!
[train whistle]
Knock the ends out of all the cars, boys.
Make a walkway all the way through.
[train whistle]
[train whistle]
[train whistle]
[train whistle]
Stop her when we're well past the trestle,
Then reverse and run at half speed
as soon as I give you the signal.
Boys! Bring your coats!
We're gonna drop that car.
- Buff um?
- Yes?
Pull the pin.
[Andrews] Push her back!
[Andrews] Push her back!
Aren't we gonna stop and see the fun, sir?
All I want to see is the first bridge over
the Chicamauga going up in flames.
Reverse! Reverse!
Come on!
Tell Pete Bracken we'll do another
flying switch at the first siding.
[train bells]
Dalton. Way ahead of time.
We gotta take on wood and water.
Not here.
Stop at the first tank beyond town.
- Watch my Sunday suit!
- Been raining up here.
Might've been, but it's cleared up nice.
- Shall we rip up track?
- Nope.
Let's get a wood line going.
Mr. Scott?
[telegraph operator] "My train was captured
by Federal spies making for Chattanooga",
"Possibly hoping to burn
the bridges behind them."
"If I do not capture them, try to head
them off. Signed, William A. Fuller."
So that's why Mitchell hasn't attacked me!
He wants to be sure those bridges are out.
Acknowledge and send this message back.
"Direct to Dalton operator to call Colonel
Allen's regiment to engage the Yankees."
The line to Dalton's gone dead!
Then call Ringgold, and tell him to send
cavalry down the track to cut them off.
They're more than half water-logged.
Probably those bridges are, too.
[train whistle]
Back on board, boys!
Uncouple that last car.
- Think it'll stop 'em?
- No, but it'll slow 'em down.
We'll stop them further up the track.
[Andrews] Wilson! Hop on.
This is no time to think about food!
I'm not! I'm thinking of a hot, quick fire
to help that wet wood!
[Andrews] Bring it around.
This oughta be a good place.
Watch your fingers.
Dig it out a little bit in here.
[train whistle]
Run at half speed.
This time, we're gonna see what happens.
- Reverse!
- Reverse!
Won't anything stop that train?
We will.
How long is that tunnel?
Through the top of the hill.
Mr. Andrews, we want to stop
and have it outwith them.
That's right.
- We can ambush them inside that tunnel.
- How?
- Send this boxcar back to smash into 'em.
- They might just push it out again.
Then reverse our engine
and send it back, too. How about it?
Well, how about it?
- What are we slowing for?
- I ordered them to stop.
We don't want to go in there blind.
And give the Yankees time
to burn a bridge?
They're not burning any bridge,
they're tearing up track.
- They won't have time if we crowd 'em.
- Throwing our lives away won't help.
You boys jump off.
Get down, Pete, I'll take her.
I'll fire for you, Mr. Fuller.
Open her up, Pete. If we're going to glory,
we may as well go a'kiting.
It's time the army showed
the Secret Service how to fight.
I'm gonna stop this train.
Nobody stops this train until we reach
the first Chicamagua bridge.
I know it's hard on you men.
I've been tempted to stop, too.
But we can't risk any encounter
that might lose us our engine.
Even after we burn the bridges, we've got to
get through to Mitchell and let him know.
You needn't worry about us, Mr. Andrews.
Any of us.
If we don't wood up soon,
we won't go much farther.
Once we set the first bridge afire,
we'll have plenty of time to hunt for wood.
Any of that coal-oil left?
Just a slosh.
Take it back to the boxcar.
Back in the tender, men.
Go ahead!
[train whistle]
Back up! Try her again!
They set the brake!
Push her out!
There's gotta be wood somewhere.
There's a wood station just
this side of Ringgold.
- Can you get another mile out of her?
- I don't know.
She's all right.
Hey, Bracken!
Come on, Pete!
Let's go!
There's only one thing for it.
We'll have to get out and push.
I'm so used to seeing train smoke behind,
I thought she was chasing us again!
That's just the smoke from the bridge.
I know, but I thought I saw it move.
It is moving! Pittenger, look!
It is moving!
Yeah, you're very funny, you two.
It's no joke.
All right, you've been spoiling
for a fight.
You might as well have it now.
Jump down and get a barricade
across the track.
Try to coax her around the bend.
It'll look better if they don't see her.
[train whistle]
[whoops and hoof beats]
That settles it.
Scatter and make for the woods, boys.
Get home the best way you can.
[Pittenger] So, we left the field to the
victors, whoever they might be.
We couldn't have guessed all our plans
were wrecked by the fantastic courage
And determination of one man:
The mild-mannered conductor,
William A. Fuller.
The great locomotive chase was over,
but our troubles were just beginning.
For a week, the country below
Chattanooga was in an uproar,
With soldiers and citizens beating the
backwoods to find the "engine thieves."
I was taken, along with many other
suspicious characters,
To Chattanooga to be questioned at the
headquarters of General Ledbetter.
When it came my turn, I represented
myself as a Southern sympathizer,
Ready to join their army.
Another recruit, General.
A Mr. Pittenger
from Flemingsburg, Kentucky.
- Where'd they find him?
- Wandering the hills above Lafayette.
What were you doing there?
I was on my way to Camp MacDonald.
- Oh, a conscript?
- No, sir, a volunteer.
Why don't you join us?
- I'd be proud to, sir.
- Good.
I think we have just the place
for a smart young lad like you.
- Take care of him, Fletcher.
- Yes, sir.
Did you ever see any of these men before?
That's strange, mighty strange.
Every last one of them's
from Flemingsburg, Kentucky.
Pmengefi Our suffering in prison
would've been easier to bear
Had we not thought our raid a failure.
We could not know that the Southern
newspapers, praising Fuller's bravery,
Were amazed and alarmed that
a handful of Yankee soldiers
Had almost wrecked the Confederacy.
Full 50 times our number
had to be diverted
From Confederate battle lines
for guarding their rail roads and bridges.
AH we knew was that official orders
transferred us from jail to jail...
Chattanooga, Madison, Knoxville.
Now we were being moved again.
Where are you taking 'em, Major?
Why not just hang 'em up in Chattanooga?
Gotta have a court-martial trial
for them first.
Ain't there no lawyers in Chattanooga?
- I have orders from Richmond.
- No offense, Major.
Mr. Fuller?
May I have a word with you?
You had a word with me, going north.
You're going south now.
- No talking in the yard.
- How many Yanks can you lick today?
Any more trouble out of you,
we put you down the hole.
- Captain, assemble your prisoners.
- Line them up, Corporal.
[Corporal] Line 'em up.
Got to read them the sentence
of the court-martial.
- What's the verdict?
- Guilty. All of them.
I heard they were
just hanging the ringleader.
So did I, but the orders
from Richmond said different.
"Hang every last one of them,
on or before the 15th."
[prisoners] Roll, Jordan, roll
Roll, Jordan, roll I
I want to go to heaven
When I die I
For to hear old Jordan roll
Roll, Jordan, roll I
Why not go ask the captain of the guard
to lend you his master key?
Then you'd have something to go by.
I want to go to heaven
When I die I
For to hear old Jordan roll
. Hey, boys!
' Sir?
[guard] Give us Tenting Tonight.
We're tenting tonight
On the old camp ground I
Give us a song to cheer I
Our weary hearts a song of hope I
And friends we love so dear I
Many are the hearts
That are weary tonight
Wishing for the war to cease I
- Many are the hearts...
- Look!
Look what Knight...
What's going on in there?
Why'd you stop singing?
Why don't you give us the rest of it?
Many are the hearts
That are weary tonight
Wishing for the war to cease I
Many are the hearts
Looking for the right I
To see the dawn of peace
Tenting tonight
Tenting tonight I
Tenting on the old camp ground I
[Andrews] So far, so good.
Knight, you give me the key.
Tomorrow when the guards herd us inside
after our breathing time in the yard,
I'll slip under Mr. Turner's bed
and hide there until dark.
When I'm sure he's asleep,
I'll tie him up and gag him,
Steal his cell keys and unlock the doors.
Then we creep past the guards,
climb the wall and run for the woods.
[Pifienger] No.
We won't do it that way.
Mr. Andrews,
you keep forgetting we're soldiers.
We trained together, and we know
how to fight together.
We'd rather fight than scheme.
Now you're talking like a man.
If we try to sneak out one by one,
only the first will get away.
- The rest'll be cornered.
- That's right.
How would you go at it?
I'd wait until around suppertime, when
it's light enough to see what we're doing.
I'd grab Mr. Turner, take his keys,
and rush the guards outside in a body.
It'll be sudden. Bare hands against
muskets, they won't expect.
- Good!
- It's all right!
What do you think, Mr. Andrews?
Yes, it's a good plan.
Go ahead, Pittenger.
Assign us our positions.
I think Buff um and I look the least
dangerous, so we'll take care of Mr. Turner.
We'll want the biggest men
to rush the guards.
Campbell, you're the first.
Then Ross, I guess.
Through with them bread tins, boys?
Boys, I'm sorry about the hangin'.
That's all right, Mr. Turner.
We've all got to go sometime.
Would you be good enough to ask the
captain of the guard to fix my chain?
- Corporal, post your guard.
- MacDonald and Irvine, south post.
Get back!
Get back in!
Try the wall!
Tall ones help the others over the wall.
Outside! They're climbing the walls!
Head 'em off outside!
Around back!
Come on! Get over!
Go on! Go!
- Is that all you caught?
- So far.
I got the two big ones upstairs.
You needn't have come back to help me.
I didn't.
I had to see how many of 'em
it'd take to lay me out.
You mean, you'd hang for that?
Yeah. Any day in the week.
You shouldn't hate them that much.
I don't. Not anymore.
I thought they was a bag of wind,
but they ain't.
They done all right.
You done all right, too.
You really showed 'em.
There's one more thing
we're gonna have to show 'em.
What's that?
That we know how to die.
Mr. Fuller?
Well, Reverend Scott!
'Morning, sir.
You riding with us today?
No, I've been to the jail,
praying with the condemned prisoners.
One of them, a Mr. Andrews,
asked to see you.
I gave him my promise you'd come.
He had a fair trial, and I gave
all my testimony to the court.
Anything further I might have to say to him
would be of small comfort to him now.
Mr. Andrews?
Thank you for coming.
Mr. Fuller, I wanted you to know
I'm sorry I had to deceive you.
I guess you'll be paying for it.
Yes. I'm gonna hang.
I wasn't talking about that.
You whipped me fair and square,
But now that it's all over,
I hoped you wouldn't hold a grudge.
I haven't much use for a man who poses
as a loyal Southerner, and isn't.
I was fighting for my convictions.
My only weapons were the lies
a spy must tell.
You fought in your way;
If ought in mine.
Some day the fighting will be over,
and both sides will have to shake hands.
I won't be alive to see that day.
Couldn't we do it now?
I'd be glad if you would, sir.
Your leader was a most unusual man;
Resourceful, brave and true.
So were your comrades
who perished with him.
As soldiers, they will receive,
The same award you are wearing now.
Though the Congressional order
must exclude Mr. Andrews himself,
As a civilian, he will receive
an even higher decoration;
The commendation of history.
Because you dared and suffered with him,
I know he would be as proud
to have his men receive this honor
As we are to bestow it.
That means a great deal to us, sir.
Thank you.