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John Brown's Raid (October 16, 17, and 18, 1959) - Day 1

John Brown's Raid - Do You Know About the Civil WarOn Sunday night, October 16, 1859, Brown left 3 of his men behind as a rear-guard and led the rest into the town. Brown's men captured several watchmen, townspeople and Colonel Lewis Washington, the great grand nephew of George Washington.

What do you know about Day 1 of John Brown's Raid?

1. What supplies had abolitionist societies in preparation for the raid supplied John Brown.

2. What did Brown plan for the Armory's muskets and rifles?

3. In the initial fighting what had Brown and his men able to accomplish?

4. Who was the first killed during the raid?

5. What did the train conductor do after leaving Harper's Ferry?

6. What was Brown's key to success?

7. When were they able to capture the armory?


1. Brown had received 200 Beecher's Bibles -- breechloading .52 caliber Sharps carbines -- and pikes from northern abolitionist societies in preparation for the raid.

2. The armory was a large complex of buildings that contained 100,000 muskets and rifles, which Brown planned to seize and use to arm local slaves. They would then head south, drawing off more and more slaves from plantations, and fighting only in self-defense. As Frederick Douglass and Brown's family testified, his strategy was essentially to deplete Virginia of its slaves, causing the institution to collapse in one county after another, until the movement spread into the South, essentially wreaking havoc on the economic viability of the pro-slavery states.

3. Brown's men needed to capture the weapons and escape before word could be sent to Washington, D.C. The raid was going well for Brown's men. They cut the telegraph wire and seized a Baltimore & Ohio train passing through.

4. An African-American baggage handler on the train named Hayward Shepherd, confronted the raiders and was subsequently shot and killed, ironically becoming the first casualty of the raid. Then for unknown reasons, Brown let the train continue unimpeded.

5. The train reached Washington the next day and the conductor alerted the authorities.

6. One of the keys to success was the support of the local slave population. The slaves never rebelled and instead the townspeople began to fight back against the raiders.

7. Brown's men captured the armory that evening.

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