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The Insurrection at Harper's Ferry

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


12 midnight, October 18th.


Town taken possession of by companies from Charlestown, Shepherdstown, Va., and from Frederick; riotors are intrenched in Armory; hold Mr. Washington and Mr. Dangerfield as prisoners ; insurgents are commanded by Capt. Brown of Kansas notoriety, numbered originally 17 white men, 5 negroes. Several have been shot, 2 Martinsburg company shot dead, whilst charging in Armory. A portion of insurgents have left under command of Cook with large party slaves supposed to be moving toward Pennsylvania. Allen Stevens, one insurgent, is lying dying here, shot through the breast; he is from Connecticut, but has been in Kansas. Says whole scheme was got up by Brown who represented that negroes would rise by thousands, and Maryland and Virginia be made free States. Col. Shriver, Frederick, just had interview with Brown in Armory. He asked to be allowed to march out with his men and armed; states his intention to defend himself to the last —they are very strongly posted in the Engine House, and firearms cannot be used against them, for fear of injuring prisoners, they still hold. Sixteen persons are known to have been killed. Fountain Beckham, railroad agent, was shot dead by Armory murderers, 3 rioters lying dead under bridge, shot by Shepherdstown troops in charge on the bridge. Capt. Cook, who is second in command rioters, is said to be posted in school house, 4 miles distant, with large body runaway slaves. Armory taken possession of about 9 last night; and was so quietly done, citizens knew nothing of it till train was stopped. Col. Lee has arrived; there are abundant troops here to capture rioters. It seems perfectly certain that original party consisted of not more than 20 white men, and 5 free negroes. Capt. Brown has been about here and rented a farm 4 miles off which was the rendezvous of rioters. Capt. Cook has also lived about here and at one time taught school; all the other white men are unknown, supposed however to be men who have been connected with Brown in Kansas. Reported that certain rioters have carried off considerable amount Government funds. No attempt made to pillage town or insult females. Capt. Brown claims easy terms, on account of his moderation.


Page #:

B. H. Richardson, Annapolis


Collection Location:
Western Maryland Room, WCFL

Original Size:
22 x 14 cms

Maryland. General Assembly. Senate, 1860.

Harpers Ferry (W. Va.), History; John Brown's Raid, 1859.

Harpers Ferry (WV), Washington County (Md.), 1859

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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