1. In 1794 George Washington selected the site of Harper's Ferry for the
location of a Federal Arsenal. John H. Hall was contracted to manufacture his
rifle in the town.
2. John Brown arrived in Harpers Ferry on July 3, 1859. A few days later,
under the name Isaac Smith, he rented a farmhouse in nearby Maryland. He awaited
the arrival of his recruits. They never materialized in the numbers he expected.
3. In late August he met with Frederick Douglass in Chambersburg,
Pennsylvania, where he revealed the Harpers Ferry plan. Douglass expressed
severe reservations, rebuffing Brown's pleas to join the mission. Douglass had
actually known about Brown's plans from early in 1859 and had made a number of
efforts to discourage blacks from enlisting.
4. Brown began training a small group of men for military action. His group
included 16 white men, 3 free blacks, 1 freed slave and 1 fugitive slave.
Northern abolitionist groups sent 200 breech loading .52 caliber Sharps carbines
("Beecher's Bibles") and pikes in preparation for the raid. The
arsenal contained 100,000 muskets and rifles. The plan was to seize the weapons
and arm local slaves whom Brown believed would flock to the cause.
5. John Henrie Kagi's draft plan called for a brigade of 4,500 men, but Brown
had only 21 men (16 white and 5 black: three free blacks, one freed slave, and a
fugitive slave). They ranged in age from 21 to 49. Twelve of them had been with
Brown in Kansas raids.
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