President Lincoln is on his way to commemorate the fallen on the battlefield of Gettysburg. In Richmond, William Norris, head of the Confederate Secret Service, gets wind of the train the enemy commander-in-chief will take to avoid threats to his life – a change that opens the way for a daring band of maverick rebels to kidnap him and turn the tide of the war. Led by dashing Colonel Percy, in trouble for seducing a general’s wife, and a rogue Irishman, Flynn, the band sets out to perform the impossible. Once the heist is underway, the engineer and fireman of the stolen train set off in pursuit, sometimes only on foot and completely unarmed, but with plenty of determination. The engineer and fireman are ignorant of the more precious cargo. Isn’t it enough that there are hundreds of thousands of dollars, payroll for the federal army in the baggage car? A pair of thieves, a Baltimore dandy and his whore, among the kidnapped passengers adds another layer of scheming action.
The plot takes inspiration from the Andrews Raid in Georgia of 1862, a real train heist, and, no doubt, from Lincoln’s train shuffle that brought him safely to Washington for his first inauguration. That Gettysburg was free of such a raid hardly matters, nor do the minor glitches in the narrative. Once we’re on board, we hang on for one terrific ride.