Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Swaim's Jail - Confining Andrew's Raiders

Marker ID:  
Location: 450 Lookout Street, Chattanooga, TN
County: Hamilton
Coordinates: N 35° 3.099    W 085° 18.381
  35.05165    -85.30635
Waymark: None


Swaim's Jail
Confining Andrew's Raiders

Swaim’s Jail, a small two-story brick building set into the side of the slope and surrounded by a high board fence, stood across the street. Confederate authorities held Andrew’s Raiders there after their capture in April 1862. James J. Andrews, 22 soldiers from three Ohio infantry regiments, and a civilian names William Gunter Campbell stole a locomotive called The General of Big Shanty (present day Kennesaw), Georgia and traveled toward Chattanooga. They planned to disrupt Confederate communications by destroying Western and Atlantic Railroad bridges and cutting telegraph wires. Conductor William Allen Fuller led a close pursuit, and the raiders could not carry out their plan. They ran out of fuel north of Ringgold, Georgia, abandoned the engine, fled into the countryside around Chattanooga, and were soon captured.

The raiders were confined in the jail’s basement, only 13 square feet and accessed through a trap door and down a ladder. A raider wrote, “Though the night was cool outside, the heat here was more than that of a tropic noon and the perspiration soon oozed from every pore. The fetid air and the stench made me for a time deadly sick, and worst of all, there was an almost unbearable sense of suffocation.”

A Confederate court found Andrews guilty of spying and hanged him in Atlanta on June 7, 1862. On June 18, seven other raiders were also hanged. Eight others later escaped to the North. The last six raiders were exchanged as prisoners of war on March 17, 1863. Chattanooga National Cemetery contains the 1890 Ohio memorial to Andrew’s Raiders.

Erected by the Tennessee Civil War Trails.