Symbol of Marietta's History
— Atlanta Campaign Heritage Trail - Historic Driving Route —
Also known as the "Fletcher House," this building was originally built in 1845 as a cotton warehouse by Marietta's first mayor, John H. Glover. Dix Fletcher purchased it in 1855, and after remodeling he opened it as a hotel. Located next to train tracks of the historic Western and Atlantic Railroad (W&A), in its antebellum years the hotel was a popular summer resort for low country planters.
On the night of April 11, 1862, Federal agent James J. Andrews of Kentucky, civilian William H. Campbell of Ohio, and eighteen Ohio Federal soldiers dressed as civilians slept here (two others stayed nearby, but oversleep the next morning). Andrews' second floor hotel room overlooked the tracks. Their goal was to disrupt the flow of men and supplies on the W&A between Atlanta and Confederate forces defending Chattanooga.
During a pre-dawn meeting held in Andrews' room he instructed his men to, "Get seats near each other in the same car,"
and to "say nothing of our business."
After a brief debate concerning whether to call off their plan and make way back to Federal lines, Andrews ended all discussion by declaring, "I will succeed or leave my bones in Dixie."
An hour later, Andrews and his "raiders" boarded a northbound train during its brief stop at Marietta's depot, located then directly across the tracks. The train's locomotive was named the "General."
At Big Shanty (known today as Kennesaw), located eight miles north on the W&A, the train's crew and passengers disembarked for breakfast at a local hotel. While they were eating, Andrews' Raiders stole the General, its wood tender and three boxcars. Thus began the "Great Locomotive Chase," which ended later that day north of Ringgold following a 90-mile pursuit.
Beginning in 1863 portions of the hotel was used as a Confederate hospital and morgue. Civilian refugees also often roomed here. Mrs. Julia Morgan, from Nashville, Tennessee, was among exiled ladies who rendered aid. "I went from room to roomome terribly woundedhot in the legs and arms, and one had his eye put out?I felt sick at heart but went to work?The wounded men were all dirty, hungry, and bloody. My heart would give a big bound as I looked eagerly into each face."
In July 1864, Federals gained possession of the hotel. It briefly became Major General William T. Sherman's headquarters on July 3rd as his armies pressed the Confederate army toward Atlanta. In November, Federal troops set fire to much of Marietta before beginning their "March to the Sea." Sherman reportedly spared the hotel because Dix Fletcher was a Mason. Fletcher's son-in-law, Henry Cole, was also a Federal spy. However the hotel's fourth floor did catch fire as ashes from other burning buildings blew onto the roof. The fourth floor was never rebuilt.
After Dix Fletcher completed repairs in 1867 he reopened the Kennesaw House. It remained a hotel well into the 20th century.
(upper left) Dix Fletcher Courtesy of the Marietta Museum of History
(lower left) James J. Andrews
(upper center) Pre-dawn meeting in Andrews' room
(lower center) The locomotive "General" (Courtesy of the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History)
(lower right) Map of the Great Locomotive Chase (by William G. Kurtz, Sr., Courtesy of the Atlanta History Center)