Locomotive Wiki
The General
W&ARR No3.jpg
The General as it appears on static display




Rogers, Ketchum & Grosvenor Company




5ft (as built), Standard (1886)


39, renumbered 3 in 1880



Empty Weight


Weight on Drivers


Driver Diameter


Tractive Effort


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Static Display

V - E - T - D

Western & Atlantic Railroad No. 3, named The General, is a type of 4-4-0 "American Standard" steam locomotive that was built in 1855 by The Rogers, Ketchum & Grosvenor Company of Paterson, New Jersey for the Western and Atlantic Railroad, and was involved in the "Great Locomotive Chase" of the American Civil War. (To whom it was owned by the Confederacy of the United States during the Civil War)

During the Civil War, the "General" was designed to haul freight and passenger trains between Atlanta, GA, and Chattanooga, TN.

It often transported Confederate soldiers as well as numerous officers, including the famous Robert E. Lee.

After the war, the "General" continued on the Western & Atlantic. When the railroad began numbering engines, as it was the 39th acquired, the "General" was numbered #39.

In 1880, it was renumbered #3. Then in 1891, The General retired from service and it was stored on a siding in Vinings, GA, until it was restored for display at the 1899 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, IL.

In 1890, the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway overhauled the General and provided the locomotive for public events and to promote the line's Civil War history (to drum up the tourism trade) up through the 1930's.

From 1901-1959 the locomotive used to be on static display at Chattanooga Union Depot in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The locomotive is now preserved on static display at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Georgia, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


  • The "Great Locomotive Chase" was an event which occurred April 12, 1862, in northern Georgia when the General was hijacked by a group of Union spies led by James J. Andrews while the train was stopped for breakfast at Big Shanty (now Kennesaw, Georgia). Their goal was burn bridges, destroy telegraph lines, and railroad tracks between Atlanta, GA, and Chattanooga, TN. The train's conductor, William A. Fuller, pursued the train, first on foot, then on a push-cart, and later on other locomotives encountered, one of which being the Texas. After an eight hour pursuit, just two miles north of Ringgold, GA the General had run out of fuel and the spies abandoned it.
  • When The General of The Great Locomotive Chase fame was undergoing restoration in 1962 by the L&N, the "Jim Crow Car" which is Combine Car No. 665 was hooked up to The General to test how well the engine was repaired. During the trips the Combine Car held several different artifacts related to the Chase, for its passengers to admire.
  • The General has also operated several steam excursions, and has also participated in many special events. Two of which, were used to commemorate the 2,500th diesel locomotive produced by EMD, and celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • The General is considered to be among one of the most famous and iconic steam locomotives in the US.
  • The General and The Texas are both remaining 4-4-0's from the Western & Atlantic Railroad and they are both on static displays and they also broke some Speed Records during the chase.
  • In 1948, The General was invited to the 1948 Railroad Fair in Chicago, Illinois.
  • In 1964, The General was on display at the Better Living Center during the 1964 Season of the New York World's Fair.
  • This is the Robert E. Lee memorialized in The Band's song The Night They Drove Ole Dixie Down. Many people think it was a steamboat, but Virgil Cane (sp?) in the song is a Confederate railroad soldier.
  • The General went through several "mishaps" during the war, being severely damaged in one raid in 1864 and rebuilt in 1871.
  • The General was built, expressed interest, since many engines had been built by Rogers and other firms in the city, but had none to display.
  • The General used to have three-dome configuration and ankle-rails instead of running boards during the war from 1855 To 1864 cause today it was closely resembles the real one's post-1890's appearance.
  • The General is the most famous locomotive in American history and it's also the most popular locomotive in Georgia.
  • The General has been on display at the museum since 1972, the same year when it was retired from excursion service.
  • When the locomotive is on display at the museum she was restored to her 1962 appearance which is the appearance she wore on the same year when it was restored to operating condition and has stayed that way ever since.
  • The locomotive was featured in GeoTrax as Steamer.
  • Model Train Manufacturer Lionel offers a model based off on "The General" in many of their starter sets.
  • After the L&N won the legal dispute concerning the engine's custody in 1970, they brought the engine to Atlanta via the former Atlanta, Knoxville and Northern Railway line from Knoxville through Etowah, to Marietta, by passing Chattanooga.

See also[]