Stryker Honors Civil War Hero William Knight On Centennial Of His Death


The life of Stryker’s most famous resident was celebrated Sept. 24 with a daylong recognition of the centennial of his death.

William Knight, a Civil War soldier who was part of a raid that attempted to steal a Confederate locomotive, “The General,” was remembered for his heroism during that war with re-enactors, talks and a showing of a movie of the mission.

Knight died Sept. 26, 1916 at the age of 79. He is one of the nation’s first Congressional Medal of Honor recipients.

The Stryker Heritage Council and the American Legion hosted the events around town. Jonathan Scott of the Southern Museum in Georgia, which houses The General, gave a talk on the mission Knight and several others went on and his escape from a Confederate prison back to Union lines.

Scott gave a second talk in the afternoon about the story of The General and its fate. About 60 people attended the talk.

Scott shared some facts about the locomotive:

It was built in 1855 at a cost of $9,000.

Almost half of the locomotive is still original, this after a violent explosion in 1864 shredded it.

It continued to be a working engine for decades after the war, before being restored and going on tour across the nation in the 1930s through 1950s and again in the 1960s for the Civil War Centennial.

There was a ceremony at Oakwood Cemetery where Knight is buried to commemorate his life.

Civil War re-enactors portrayed veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic as well as Knight’s unit.

The day concluded with a showing of the Disney movie “The Great Locomotive Chase” about the mission.

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