On April 12, 1862 one of the most daring exploits of the Civil War involved a young man by the name of James Reed Porter. The plan was for a group of Union soldiers to dress in regular clothing, board a train at Big Shanty, TN, then use it to destroy communication lines between Atlanta and Chattanooga, That would help Union forces take over the eastern part of Tennessee.
James J. Andrews, of the Secret Service, was given the assignment. After boarding, the men uncoupled the engine, along with three boxcars, from the rest of the train. Confederates caught up with the stolen train near Ringgold, Georgia. The frustrated Unionists stopped the engine and headed for the surrounding woods, but were soon captured. Andrews and several others were hanged as spies. The rest were given a stay of execution.
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