James Oakes, The Radical and The Republican: Fredrick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics (New York: W W Norton & Company, 2007), 94-95.
At dusk on the evening of October 16, 1859, acting on direct orders from the Lord God Himself, John Brown led a band of eighteen men on a raid of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry in western Virginia. By midnight Brown's men had cut the telegraph wires and commandeered the railroad bridges leading into town. They had control of the arsenal, the armory, and the rifle factory. Then they sat back and waited for slaves from the surrounding countryside to join their rebellion. But the slaves never came. About twenty were brought into town by Brown's men, but they refused to join the fight, and most of them had the good sense to run for their lives. Little more than a year later slaves across the South began claiming their freedom by running in substantial numbers to armed white northerners invading the South, this time as Union soldiers. But the slaves at Harpers Ferry stayed put; they knew the differences between an army of liberation and a ship of fools. By morning Brown's men had been surrounded. Within thirty-six hours it was all over. A handful of Brown's men escaped. Several were killed, including two of Brown's sons. Brown and two others were captured, tried, and executed.