Wednesday, August 20, 2008

#54 Mosteller Plantation--pt. 2. Civil War Connections.

Back for a little while longer to that little village in north Georgia (made all the more notable lately by dint of the Russian invasion) where my father and his considerable number of ancestors were born and buried. Adairsville lies about halfway between Chattanooga and Atlanta, and the transportation/supply corridor connecting the two was strategically important for both sides all through the war. Two notable events involved the town and nearby Plantation:
  • Let's "cut to the chase," The Great Locomotive Chase, that is. It was at the Adairsville train depot that the intrepid Confederate conductor, played by Jeffery Hunter in the 1954 Disney movie, commandeered the steam locomotive "Texas" and continued his epic pursuit of the "General," previously purloined by Fess Parker and his band of Yankee spy/saboteurs. (Great family movie by the way; saw the "annotated" version with my father when it first came out.) What is also called "Andrew's Raid" took place in April 1862 when Union spies attempted to disrupt the vital GA-TN rail-link by hijacking a train just north of Atlanta. It would have succeeded, too, but for the brave and indefatigable conductor who pursued "his" train on foot and side-car, and eventually backwards on the Texas till the Andrews gang scattered and ran just south of Chattanooga. Exciting stuff, and Buster Keaton recognized just that (for you film-buff Myriad Readers) when he produced the silent version, 'The General," starring as the conductor Robert Fuller in a film general-ly considered the first coherent, full-length action movie of the silver screen. Anyway, the little town of Adairsville has capitalized, restoring the depot (seen briefly in the Disney film) and organizing an annual spring festival around it.
  • Closer to home, literally, was the "Battle of Adairsville," two years later. Surely the Mosteller homesteaders were terrified by the earlier Union incursion in the nearby town-center, but little did they know that on May 17-18 of 1864 virtually the whole Civil War would plop down on their door step. Sherman was on his way to incinerate Atlanta. Joe Johnston was continuing his delaying tactics to prevent/prolong that unfortunate inevitability. Not much of a battle: it was a brief skirmish instigated by the rebel rear-guard and designed to allow time for setting up a grand ambuscade of the Union army further south. (Johnston, of course, lost that one too, and eventually all was Gone with the Wind.) The important fact for your blogman and his kin was that Sherman's army actually BIVOUACKED on the Mosteller Plantation, and the General himself and his staff STAYED THE NIGHT in the plantation house. Hope he enjoyed it. Didn't burn it. That evidently wasn't his thing till after Atlanta. So it's still standing; its significance duly noted on one of those green historical markers standing in the town square. No Hollywood movie of this event, however. Maybe some day.

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