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JOHN BROWN HOLDING HARPER'S FERRY.

291

to their friends to send a negro apiece | guarded them, one of whom fell as ransom. At daylight, the train dead, and another-Brown's son proceeded, Brown walking over the Watson-was mortally wounded. bridge with the conductor. When- Still, throughout the forenoon, the ever any one asked the object of their liberators remained masters of the captors, the uniform answer was, "To town. There were shots fired from free the slaves;" and when one of the one side or the other at intervals, but workmen, seeing an armed guard at no more casualties reported. The the Arsenal gate, asked by what au- prisoners were by turns permitted to thority they had taken possession of visit their families under guard, to the public property, he was answered, give assurance that they still lived "By the authority of God Almighty!" and were kindly treated. Had The passenger train that sped east- Brown chosen to fly to the mounward from Harper's Ferry, by Brown's tains with his few followers, he might permission, in the early morning of still have done so, though with a Monday, October 17th, left that place much slenderer chance of impunity completely in the military possession than if he had, according to his oriof the insurrectionists. They held, ginal plan, decamped at midnight, without dispute, the Arsenal, with with such arms and ammunition as its offices, workshops, and grounds. he could bear away. Why he linTheir sentinels stood on guard at the gered, to brave inevitable destrucbridges and principal corners, and tion, is not certain; but it may fairly were seen walking up and down the be presumed that he had private asstreets. Every workman, who igno-surances that the negroes of the surrantly approached the Armory, as day dawned, was seized and imprisoned, with all other white males who seemed capable of making any trouble. By eight o'clock, the number of prisoners had been swelled to sixty-odd, and the work was still proceeding. But it was no longer entirely one-dy, either on or about his premises; sided. The white Virginians, who but, if so, why seize Harper's Ferry had arms, and who remained unmo- at all? lested in their houses, prepared to use them. Soon after daybreak, as Brown's guards were bringing two citizens to a halt, they were fired on by a man named Turner, and, directly afterward, by a grocer named Boerly, who was instantly killed by the return fire. Several Virginians soon obtained possession of a room overlooking the Armory gates, and fired thence at the sentinels who

rounding country would rise at the first tidings of his movement, and come flocking to his standard; and he chose to court the desperate chances of remaining where arms and ammunition for all could abundantly be had. True, he afterward said that he had arms enough alrea

At all events, if his doom was already sealed, his delay at least hastened it. Half an hour after noon, a militia.force, one hundred strong, arrived from Charlestown, the county seat, and were rapidly disposed so as to command every available exit from the place. In taking the Shenandoah bridge, they killed one of the insurgents, and captured William Thompson, a neighbor of Brown at Elba,

unwounded. The rifle-works were next attacked, and speedily carried, being defended by five insurgents only. These attempted to cross the river, and four of them succeeded in reaching a rock in the middle of it, whence they fought with two hundred Virginians, who lined either bank, until two of them were dead, and a third mortally wounded, when the fourth surrendered. Kagi, Brown's Secretary of War, was one of the killed. William H. Leeman, one of Brown's captains, being pursued by scores, plunged into the river, a Virginian wading after him. Leeman turned round, threw up his empty hands, and cried, "Don't shoot!" The Virginian fired his pistol directly in the youth's face-he was but twenty-two-and shattered his head into fragments.

By this time, all the houses around the Armory buildings were held by the Virginians. Capt. Turner, who had fired the first shot in the morning, was killed by the sentinel at the Arsenal gate, as he was raising his rifle to fire. Here Dangerfield Newby, a Virginia slave, and Jim, one of Col. Washington's negroes, with a free negro, who had lived on Washington's estate, were shot dead; and Oliver Brown, another of the old man's sons, being hit by a ball, came inside of the gate, as his brother Watson had done, lay quietly down without a word, and in a few moments was dead. Mr. Beckham, mayor of the town, who came within range of the insurgents' rifles as they were exchanging volleys with the Virginians, was likewise killed.

At the suggestion of Mr. Kitzmiller, one of Brown's prisoners, Aaron D. Stevens, one of his most trusted

followers from Kansas, was sent out with a flag of truce to call a parley, but was instantly shot down by the Virginians, receiving six balls in his person. Thompson, their prisoner, was attacked by scores of them in the parlor where he was confined, but saved for the moment by a young lady throwing herself between him and their presented rifles, because, as she afterward explained, she "did not want the carpet spoiled." He was dragged out to the bridge, there shot in cold blood, and his body riddled with balls at the base of the pier, whither he had fallen forty feet from the bridge.

By this time, more militia had arrived from every quarter, and a party from Martinsburgh, led by a railroad conductor, attacked the Armory buildings in the rear, while a detachment of the same force assailed them in front. Brown, seeing that his assailants were in overwhelming force, retreated to the engine-house, where he repulsed his assailants, who lost. two killed and six wounded.

Still, militia continued to pour in; the telegraph and railroad having been completely repaired, so that the Government at Washington, Gov. Wise at Richmond, and the authorities at Baltimore, were in immediate communication with Harper's Ferry, and hurrying forward troops from all quarters to overwhelm the remaining handful of insurgents, whom terror and rumor had multiplied to twenty times their actual number. At five, P. M., Capt. Simms arrived, with militia from Maryland, and completed the investment of the Armory buildings, whence eighteen prisoners had already been liberated upon the retreat of Brown to the engine-house.

DEFEAT AND CAPTURE OF BROWN.

cause.

293

At seven in the morning, after a parley which resulted in nothing, the marines advanced to the assault, broke in the door of the enginehouse by using a ladder as a battering-ram, and rushed into the building. One of the defenders was shot and two marines wounded; but the odds were too great; in an instant, all resistance was over. Brown was struck in the face with a saber and knocked down, after which the blow was several times repeated, while a soldier ran a bayonet twice into the old man's body. All the insurgents, it was said, would have been killed on the spot, had the Virginians been able to distinguish them with certainty from their prisoners.

Col. Baylor commanded in chief. | their loss-they had died in a good The firing ceased at nightfall. Brown offered to liberate his prisoners, upon condition that his men should be permitted to cross the bridge in safety, which was refused. Night found Brown's forces reduced to three unwounded whites beside himself, with perhaps half a dozen negroes from the vicinity. Eight of the insurgents were already dead; another lay dying beside the survivors; two were captives mortally wounded, and one other unhurt. Around the few survivors were fifteen hundred armed, infuriated foes. Half a dozen of the party, who had been sent out at early morning by Brown to capture slaveholders, and liberate slaves, were absent, and unable, even if willing, to rejoin their chief. They fled during the night to Maryland and Pennsylvania; but most of them were ultimately captured. During that night, Col. Lee, with ninety United States marines and two pieces of artillery, arrived, and took possession of the Armory guard, very close to the engine-house.

Brown, of course, remained awake and alert through the night, discomfited and beyond earthly hope, but perfectly cool and calm. Said Gov. Wise, in a speech at Richmond soon

after:

"Col. Washington said that Brown was the coolest man he ever saw in defying death and danger. With one son dead by his side, and another shot through, he felt the pulse of his dying son with one hand, held his rifle with the other, and commanded his men with the utmost composure, encouraging them to be firm, and to sell their lives as dearly as possible."

Conversing with Col. Washington during that solemn night, he said he had not pressed his sons to join him in this expedition, but did not regret

Of course, all Virginia, including her Governor, rushed to Harper's Ferry upon learning that all was over, and the insurrection completely suppressed. The bleeding survivors were subjected to an alternation of queries and execrations, which they met bravely, as they had confronted the bullets of their numerous and ever-increasing foes. They answered frankly, save where their replies might possibly compromise persons still at liberty; and none of them sought to conceal the fact that they had struck for Universal Freedom at all hazards. The bearing of Brown was especially praised by his enemies (many of whom have since won notoriety in the ranks of the Rebellion), as remarkably simple and noble. Among others, Mr. C. L. Vallandigham, of Ohio, hastened to visit and catechise Brown, in the hope of making political capital out of his confessions, and was answered

frankly and fully. On his return to | first news of their attempt, and that Ohio, he said:

"It is in vain to underrate either the man or the conspiracy. Capt. John Brown is as brave and resolute a man as ever headed an insurrection; and, in a good cause, and with a sufficient force, would have been a consummate partisan commander. He has coolness, daring, persistency, the stoic faith and patience, and a firmness of will and purpose unconquerable. He is the farthest possible remove from the ordinary ruffian, fanatic, or madman. Certainly, it was one of the best planned and best executed conspiracies that

ever failed."

On Wednesday evening, October 19th, after thirty hours of this discipline, the four surviving prisoners were conveyed to the jail at Charlestown under an escort of marines. Brown and Stevens, badly wounded, were taken in a wagon; Green and Coppoc, unhurt, walked between files of soldiers, followed by hundreds, who at first cried, "Lynch them!" but were very properly shamed into silence by Gov. Wise.

It is not necessary to linger here over the legal proceedings in this case; nor do the complaints, so freely made at the time, of indecent haste and unfair dealing, on the part of the Virginia authorities, seem fully justified. That the conviction and death of Brown and his associates were predetermined, is quite probable; but the facts and the nature of the case were notorious, beyond dispute; and Virginia had but this alternativeto hang John Brown, or to abolish Slavery. She did not choose to abolish Slavery; and she had no remaining choice but to hang John Brown. And as to trying him and Stevens while still weak and suffering severely from their wounds-neither able at times to stand up-it must be considered that the whole State had been terror-stricken by the

fears of insurrection and of an armed

rescue were still widely prevalent. That the lawyers of the vicinage who were assigned to the defense of the prisoners did their duty timidly and feebly, is certain; but they shared, of course, not only the prejudices but the terrors of their neighbors, and knew that the case, at any rate, was hopeless.

Brown's conduct throughout commanded the admiration of his bitterest enemies. When his papers were brought into court to be identified, he said: "I will identify any of my handwriting, and save all trouble. I am ready to face the music." When a defense of insanity was suggested rather than interposed, he repelled it with indignation. When, after his conviction, he was suddenly brought into court, on the 1st of November, to listen to the judgment, and directed to stand up, and say why sentence should not be passed upon him, though taken by surprise and somewhat confused, he spoke gently and tenderly as follows:

"In the first place, I deny every thing but what I have all along admitted the design certainly to have made a clear thing of that on my part to free the slaves. I intended matter, as I did last winter, when I went into Missouri, and there took slaves without them through the country, and finally left the snapping of a gun on either side, moved them in Canada. I designed to have done the same thing again, on a larger scale.

That was all I intended. I never did intend murder, or treason, or the destruction of property, or to excite or incite slaves to

rebellion, or to make insurrection.

"I have another objection: and that is, it is unjust that I should suffer such a penalty. Had I interfered in the manner which I admit has been fairly proved-(for I admire the truthfulness and candor of the greater portion of the witnesses who have testified in this case)-had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any

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