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John Brown, Harpers Ferry Attack (Freehling, 2007)

Scholarship
William W. Freehling, Secessionists Triumphant, 1854-1861, vol. 2 of The Road to Disunion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 211-212.
On the evening of October 16, 1859, the liberator led fourteen other whites and four blacks from his rented Kennedy Farm in Maryland to Harpers Ferry, those six miles distant. There the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers unite to heave against a jagged semimountain, before flowing on to the sea….There transpired one of the most stupendous scenes in American history. In the dark night, Brown's freedom fighters easily captured Harpers Ferry's federal armory, arsenal, and engine house…No other first strike has ever been better planned or carried out (which is only to say that John Brown here perfected his lifelong specialty). No other following tactics have ever been botched so badly (which is only to say that John Brown here succumbed to his lifelong flaw). Where these raiders meant to kill whites, in order to free blacks, they first killed a free black, Shepard Hayward, as he walked harmlessly away from them.
How to Cite This Page: "John Brown, Harpers Ferry Attack (Freehling, 2007)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/14696.