Coppoc, Edwin

Life Span
    Full name
    Edwin Coppoc
    Place of Birth
    Birth Date Certainty
    Death Date Certainty
    Free State
    Relation to Slavery
    White non-slaveholder
    Other Affiliations
    Abolitionists (Anti-Slavery Society)

    Edwin Coppoc (Gue, 1899)

    We hear of Edwin Coppoc standing at his post at the armory gates, while balls rained around him like hailstones. Soon after he joined Brown at the engine house and the siege began. Watson and Oliver, eons of the leader, were mortally wounded, but the heroic Watson fought on to the last. John Brown, his son Watson, Jerry Anderson, Edwin Coppoc, Dauphin A. Thompson, Steward Taylor and Shields Green were now the only survivors left on the Virginia side. Escape was impossible, and they determined to die fighting, knowing that no mercy would be shown them as prisoners. Col. Robert E. Lee, who was now in command of their assailants, sent a message to Brown demanding his surrender.

    "No!" said Brown, "we prefer to die here."

    Firing began again on both sides, while Lee formed a column for assault.
    When the shock of the final charge came, Brown, Anderson and Thompson went down beneath the savage thrusts of sabres and bayonets. Edwin Coppoc fired the last shot, and he and Green alone were left unhurt to surrender. The fight was ended. Ten of the little band were slain. Brown and Stevens were desperately wounded, and, with Coppoc, Green and Copeland, were prisoners.

    B. F. Gue, Progressive Men of Iowa: Leaders in Business, Politics, and the Professions (Des Moines: Conway & Shaw, 1899), 80.

    Edwin Coppoc (Ohio State Historical and Archaeological Society)


    At last on Sunday night, October 16, nineteen men fully armed marched from the Kennedy Farm. Edwin Coppoc was among the number. Barclay remained behind with Merriam and Owen Brown to guard arms and stores.

    Onward in silence under the shades of night the resolute little band marched into Harper's Ferry. In accordance with previous plans, carefully laid, Albert Hazlett and Edwin Coppoc took charge of the United States armory as soon as the guards there were overpowered and made prisoners. Long before dawn of the next day Harper's Ferry, the United States arsenal, the rifle works, the engine house and the approaches to the town were in the hands of the invaders. As the startled inhabitants awoke they realized that they were captives in the hands of an unknown military force.

    The Ohio State Historical and Archaeological Society, Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications, vol. 30 (Columbus: Fred J. Herr, 1921), 412.

    Edwin Coppoc (Villard, 1910)

    Edwin Coppoc, brother of Barclay, was captured with Brown in the engine house, tried immediately after him, sentenced on November 2, and hung with Cook on December 16, 1859. The father of the Coppocs died when Edwin was six, the latter having been born June 30, 1835. For nine years thereafter Edwin lived with John Butler, a farmer, near Salem, Ohio, removing then with his mother to Springdale, Iowa. This place he left in the spring of 1858, to become a settler in Kansas. He took no part in the Territorial troubles, and returned to Springdale in the autumn of 1858, when he became acquainted with Brown. He always bore an excellent reputation as an honest, brave, straightforward, well-behaved man, and his death was particularly lamented by many friends. An exemplary prisoner, there were many Southerners who hoped for his pardon. He was buried first in Winona [later in Salem, Ohio], after a public funeral, attended by the entire town. In jail he regretted his situation, wrote his mother of his sorrow that he must die a dishonorable death, and explained that he had not understood what the full consequences of the raid would be. He died with absolute fortitude.
    Oswald Garrison Villard, John Brown, 1800-1859: A Biography Fifty Years After (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1910), 682.
    Chicago Style Entry Link
    Acton, Richard. "The Story of Ann Raley: Mother of the Coppoc Boys." Palimpsest 72, no. 1 (1991): 20-33. view record
    How to Cite This Page: "Coppoc, Edwin," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,