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Harpers Ferry Raid (Divine, 2007)

Robert A. Divine et al., eds., The American Story, 3rd ed. (2 vols., New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007), 1: 371.
A chain of events in late 1859 and early 1860 turned southern anxiety about northern attitudes and policies into a 'crisis of fear.'  The first of these incidents was John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in October 1859.  Brown, who had the appearance and manner of an Old Testament prophet, thought of himself as God's chosen instrument 'to purge this land with blood' and eradicate the sin of slaveholding.  On October 16, he led a small band of men, including five free blacks, across the Potomac River from his base in Maryland and seized the federal arsenal and armory in Harpers Ferry.  Brown's aim was to launch a guerilla war from havens in the Appalachians that would eventually extend to the plantation regions of the lower South.  But the neighboring slaves did not rise up to join him, and Brown's raiders were driven out of the armory and arsenal by the local militia and forced to take refuge in a fire-engine house.  There they held out until a force of U.S. marines commanded by Colonel Robert E. Lee stormed their bastion.  In the course of the fighting, ten of Brown's men were killed or mortally wounded, along with seven of the townspeople and soldiers who opposed them.
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