Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Repelling Train Robbers


A New Plan of Defense Outlined by an Army Officer.

It may safely be assumed that the "point of attack" is the engine and then the express car, writes Lieutenant Wright in The North American Review. Why, then, not separate them as much as possible by putting the express car the last in the train? Have alarm bells on each coach and sleeper, which can be rung by the express messenger when he is directed or requested at this unusual time and place to open the door of his car. In each coach and sleeper have, in a glass front case similar to those now in use for the ax and saw, two repeating shotguns, each magazine containing live buckshot cartridges, thus giving from 6 to 12 most effective weapons in the hands of the train crew and passengers. The alarm bells should be electric, though it is believed that the ordinary bellcord could be made to serve the purpose. When the messenger sounds his tocsin of war, there would soon be a sufficient force of brave men at the express car to give the robbers a warm welcome. For the latter to cover the engine cab and each door and side of each coach or sleeper would require a force of men too great in numbers to make "the divide" profitable. Besides the greater number of accomplices or principals the greater the chances of a capture and the possibility of some one turning "state's evidence."

Under such an arrangement in the makeup of a train, should the rear or express car be the sole point of attack, then the first step would be to cut this car loose from the train and then loot it. The automatic airbrake would give the alarm to the engineer, and he, in turn, to the coaches, or, better still, the concealed electric wire could be so arranged as to sound the alarm when the car parted from the train. Should the engine, as in the past, be the first point of attack, then the crew and passengers (armed) have the advantage of being between the forces of robbers, and with every probability can throw the greater number in the fight, and, Napoleonlike, repulse or defeat in detail.

Under the present order of things the crime of "holding up" trains has become one of almost daily occurrence. And why? Because two, three or four men can successfully effect it, and the ill gotten gains are large. Render the act one more difficult and dangerous of accomplishment, and the attempts will be less frequent. It matters not how invulnerable the car, so long as it remains in the train near the engine it will offer but slight resistance to the robber and his stick of dynamite.

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