America in the 1850s

John Brown and Harpers Ferry

When did the raid on Harpers Ferry commence?

At 8 P.M. on October 16, 1859, Brown told his twenty-one accomplices, “Men, get on your arms, we will proceed to the Ferry.”

Minutes later, the little band set out. They went two by two on their march to Harpers Ferry, and on arriving they found the gate guarded by only one man. He was astounded by their demands, and on his refusal, the accomplices simply climbed over the wall and took possession. On their way from the Kennedy farm, the accomplices had cut the telegraph wires; they did this so well that no messages got out for the next twenty-four hours. To this point all was going according to Brown’s plan. He now sent out six men on a very special mission: their task was to capture George Washington’s great-grandnephew.


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