John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

James N.

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#81
Forgive me for trying to make sure that the soldiers that fought and died here were not forgtten.

I read your link and I do appreciate the fact that you brought their efforts to the fore a month ago and prior to your post about JB's actions here. If you will excuse me now my axe is getting dull and I think I should go sharpen it.
I will add that what is rather ignored is the occupation of HF by Virginia forces commanded first by Jackson and then by Joe Johnston; and the 1864 threat by Jubal Early against Franz Sigel. Those were relatively minor actions, especially by comparison with the 1862 battle, and I don't recall any specific mention of them anywhere there, though it's likely I could've overlooked a passing reference in the museum displays, scattered as they are in various buildings in the NPS holdings in the lower town.
 

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Specster

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#82
I will add that what is rather ignored is the occupation of HF by Virginia forces commanded first by Jackson and then by Joe Johnston; and the 1864 threat by Jubal Early against Franz Sigel. Those were relatively minor actions, especially by comparison with the 1862 battle, and I don't recall any specific mention of them anywhere there, though it's likely I could've overlooked a passing reference in the museum displays, scattered as they are in various buildings in the NPS holdings in the lower town.
During the war HF changed hands 8 times. We know of some of these battles, and there were occasions when it was abandoned. Yet, minor as some of these exchanges may have been, its hard to imagine that these exchanges were bloodless. I was thinking, if I were a Union soldier when HF was surrendered to Jackson - he took over 10,000 prisoners- if I knew I was going to Andersonville - and Im not saying those soldiers were, but if I thought that I might be going there, im not sure that escape by all means, even with the likelihood of instant death, would have been a worse fate.

I think both sides paroled prisoners very quickly up to 1862. I always wondered if this is why Union soldiers surrendered so quickly during this period....it seems like a pretty good deal. u get you enlistment bonus, which was substantial, u go to a battle front, surrender and get released with the provision that you will fight no more - u r home and safe. I believe the south was so low of resources, to house and feed prisoners - was a burden. I know I am simplfying this issue but just a thought I had. I am aware the topic is much more complex than I am making it out to be.
 

Northern Light

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#83
During the war HF changed hands 8 times. We know of some of these battles, and there were occasions when it was abandoned. Yet, minor as some of these exchanges may have been, its hard to imagine that these exchanges were bloodless. I was thinking, if I were a Union soldier when HF was surrendered to Jackson - he took over 10,000 prisoners- if I knew I was going to Andersonville - and Im not saying those soldiers were, but if I thought that I might be going there, im not sure that escape by all means, even with the likelihood of instant death, would have been a worse fate.

I think both sides paroled prisoners very quickly up to 1862. I always wondered if this is why Union soldiers surrendered so quickly during this period....it seems like a pretty good deal. u get you enlistment bonus, which was substantial, u go to a battle front, surrender and get released with the provision that you will fight no more - u r home and safe. I believe the south was so low of resources, to house and feed prisoners - was a burden. I know I am simplfying this issue but just a thought I had. I am aware the topic is much more complex than I am making it out to be.
Since Andersonville wasn't built until 1864, I doubt that this was a consideration, as prisoners were still being exchanged when Jackson was alive.
 

James N.

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I think both sides paroled prisoners very quickly up to 1862. I always wondered if this is why Union soldiers surrendered so quickly during this period....it seems like a pretty good deal. u get you enlistment bonus, which was substantial, u go to a battle front, surrender and get released with the provision that you will fight no more - u r home and safe. I believe the south was so low of resources, to house and feed prisoners - was a burden. I know I am simplfying this issue but just a thought I had. I am aware the topic is much more complex than I am making it out to be.
One aspect I was unaware of until fairly recently ( or didn't remember, if I had encountered it before ) was that until properly exchanged and therefore returned to their regiments for further active service, paroled POW's were themselves incarcerated in their home states! Many resented being restrained and confined to the likes of Camp Douglas ( the barracks and NOT the prison ) rather than furloughed to their homes where they might disappear back into the population and therefore be unavailable once the paperwork was finalized. Of course, they were "home" - back in their native states - "and safe", and certainly better off than in a Rebel prison pen like Libby or Belle Isle, but unhappy nevertheless. As you say, the thousands taken by Jackson at HF were paroled immediately by A.P. Hill before his division moved on to rescue Lee's army at Sharpsburg.
 

Specster

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#90
During the war HF changed hands 8 times. We know of some of these battles, and there were occasions when it was abandoned. Yet, minor as some of these exchanges may have been, its hard to imagine that these exchanges were bloodless. I was thinking, if I were a Union soldier when HF was surrendered to Jackson - he took over 10,000 prisoners- if I knew I was going to Andersonville - and Im not saying those soldiers were, but if I thought that I might be going there, im not sure that escape by all means, even with the likelihood of instant death, would have been a worse fate.

I think both sides paroled prisoners very quickly up to 1862. I always wondered if this is why Union soldiers surrendered so quickly during this period....it seems like a pretty good deal. u get you enlistment bonus, which was substantial, u go to a battle front, surrender and get released with the provision that you will fight no more - u r home and safe. I believe the south was so low of resources, to house and feed prisoners - was a burden. I know I am simplfying this issue but just a thought I had. I am aware the topic is much more complex than I am making it out to be.

The bit about andersoville and HP is out of line it would be about 2 years after Jackson taking HP before Andersonville would begin to become a prison. IIRC, the men that surrendered so quickly to Jackson were maligned as cowards thru out the North so when they got a chance at redemption at Gettysburg they took pretty full advantage in losing that moniker. Lastly, I know the men didnt surrender, it was the officers
 

James N.

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#92
134-jpg.jpg


I'll add to this thread the two photos below I was able to take this month inside the courthouse in Charles Town where Brown was tried. I found out that around 1900 or so the courthouse was considerably altered: originally, the courtroom was on the ground floor with offices above, but later the roof was raised and the situation was reversed. Extensions were also added to the back to provide additional office space.

dsc05734-jpg.jpg


At the time of Brown's trial the lower floor was one large courtroom, but later during the renovation it was subdivided into a central corridor flanked by offices as seen above. The office below is now used as a family court but was then the back left-hand corner of the original courtroom; judges sat across the back on a raised platform behind a guardrail, similar to now, but then extending across the entire width of the building. The tall windows in this room are original to the period of the trial.

dsc05731-jpg.jpg


In the foreground of the now-central corridor pictured above John Brown lay for most of the proceedings on a cot because of wounds he sustained in his capture; below, a period news illustration from Harper's Weekly showing the courtroom during the trial, with Brown on his cot at left center. The large double window at the rear is where the doorway in my first interior photo is now located, providing access to additional office space in the enlarged building. Historical prints like this one of the trial and Brown's execution now line the walls of the corridor. Following his "showcase" trial and guilty verdict, several other members of his band were also subsequently tried here, found guilty, and likewise were executed.

HW1859P728515.jpg
 
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#96
The Hanging of John Brown
View attachment 49605

The morning of Dec. 2, 1859, John Brown was led from his cell in the jail at Charles Town and seated in the rear of a wagon upon his own coffin and driven to the outskirts of town to a field in which a scaffold had been erected. Crowds of spectators were kept back by units of Virginia militia; in one company from Richmond was actor John Wilkes Booth. At the foot of the scaffold stood two companies from the Virginia Military Institute led by one of their professors, Major Thomas J. Jackson. In the watching crowd was Virginia agriculturist and rabid secessionist Edmund Ruffin, who would later claim to have fired the first shot of the Civil War at Ft. Sumter.

View attachment 49606

Brown mounted the scaffold unassisted and waited while preparations were completed, commenting to the executioner, "Be quick." At 11:30 am, the trap was sprung and Brown seemingly died instantly. A watching colonel of the militia said, "So perish all such enemies of Virginia! All such enemies of the Union! All such enemies of the human race!" Before his death, Brown had left his own postscript on the affair in the form of a letter written to his guards:

Charlestown, Va, 2,d December, 1859

I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty, land: will never be purged away; but with Blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed; it might be done.

View attachment 49607

Now in a pleasant residential area only four blocks from the Jefferson County Courthouse where he had been tried, the site is well-marked and nicely kept.

View attachment 49608
Outstanding thread. can't wait to go to Harpers Ferry again.
 

Potomac Pride

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#97
Harpers Ferry is an interesting place to visit. In addition, it is close to the Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland which is also another good place to visit.
 

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