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Civil War Trust

John Brown's Harpers Ferry Raid

John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry
October 16-18, 1859

On the evening of October 16, 1859 John Brown, a staunch abolitionist, and a group of his supporters left their farmhouse hide-out en route to Harpers Ferry. Descending upon the town in the early hours of October 17th, Brown and his men captured prominent citizens and seized the federal armory and arsenal.  Brown had hopes that the local slave population would join the raid and through the raid’s success weapons would be supplied to slaves and freedom fighters throughout the country; this was not to be. First held down by the local militia in the late morning of the 17th, Brown took refuge in the arsenal’s engine house. However, this sanctuary from the fire storm did not last long, when in the late afternoon US Marines under Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived and stormed the engine house, killing many of...

John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry
October 16-18, 1859

On the evening of October 16, 1859 John Brown, a staunch abolitionist, and a group of his supporters left their farmhouse hide-out en route to Harpers Ferry. Descending upon the town in the early hours of October 17th, Brown and his men captured prominent citizens and seized the federal armory and arsenal.  Brown had hopes that the local slave population would join the raid and through the raid’s success weapons would be supplied to slaves and freedom fighters throughout the country; this was not to be. First held down by the local militia in the late morning of the 17th, Brown took refuge in the arsenal’s engine house. However, this sanctuary from the fire storm did not last long, when in the late afternoon US Marines under Colonel Robert E. Lee arrived and stormed the engine house, killing many of the raiders and capturing Brown. Brown was quickly placed on trial and charged with treason against the state of Virginia, murder, and slave insurrection. Brown was sentenced to death for his crimes and hanged on December 2, 1859.

At a Glance

Location

Dates

  • October 16 - 18, 1859

Chronology

    • July 3: John Brown rents the Kennedy Farmhouse
    • Oct 16: Brown's men capture the armory
    • Oct 17: Brown is discovered and surrounded
    • Oct 18: The engine house is stormed
    • Oct 19: Lee writes his report to Col. Cooper
    • Nov 2: Convicted of treason
    • Dec 2: Brown is hanged

Videos

Related Biographies

John Brown
Robert E. Lee
J. E. B. Stuart

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