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"With Legends of the Surrounding' Country 






A resident of the place for half a century 




Copyright, 1903, by 


'"Phe real story of Harper's Ferry is sad, and but little 
less wild and romantic than the old-time legends 
that abound in the long settled country around. The 
facts of the story we give with scrupulous exactness. We, 
ourselves, have witnessed many of the most important 
incidents narrated and, for what happened before our 
time, we have the evidence of old settlers of the highest 
character and veracity. 

The legends are consistent, even though they may have 
no other claim on our consideration. They never have 
more than one version, although one narrator may give 
more facts than another. The narratives never con- 
tradict one another in any material way, which goes to 
show that there was a time when everybody around 

believed the main facts. 

The Author. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services through an Indiana State Library LSTA Grant 

• - 






HARPER'S. FERRY, including Bolivar, is a 
town which, before the war of the late re- 
bellion, contained a population of about 
three thousand — nine-tenths of whom 
were whites. At the breaking out of hostilities 
nearly all the inhabitants left their homes — some 
casting their lots with "the confederacy" and about 
an equal number with the old government. On the 
restoration of peace, comparatively few of them re- 
turned!. A great many colored people, however, 
who came at various times with the armies from 
southern Virginia, have remained, so that the pro- 
portion of the races at the place is materially 
changed. Also, many soldiers of the national army 
who married Virginia ladies, during the war, have 
settled there and, consequently, the town yet con- 
tains a considerable number of inhabitants. The 
present population may be set down at sixteen hun- 
dred whites and seven hundred, blacks. The village 
is situated in Jefferson county, now West Virginia, 
at the confluence of the Potomac and the Shenan- 
doah, at the base and in the very shadow of the 


Blue Ridge Mountain. The distance from, Wash- 
ington City is fifty-five miles, and from Baltimore 
eighty-one miles. The Baltimore and Ohio railroad 
crosses the Potomac, at the place, on a magnificent 
bridge and the Winchester and Potomac railroad, 
now absorbed by the Baltimore and Ohio, has its 
northern terminus in the town. The Chesapeake 
and Ohio' canal, also, is in the immediate neighbor- 
hood. Within the last twelve years, the place has 
become a favorite summer resort for the people of 
Washington City and, from about the first of June 
to> the last of October, it is visited by tourists from 
every part of the northern states and Europe. 

The scenery around the place is celebrated for its 
grandeur, and Thomas Jefferson has immortalized 
it in a fine description composed, it is said, on a re- 
markable rock that commands a magnificent view of 
both rivers and their junction. The rock itself is a 
wonderful freak of Nature and it is regarded by the 
inhabitants with pride for its being a great natural 
curiosity, and with veneration on account of the tra- 
dition among them that, seated on it, Jefferson 
wrote his "Notes on Virginia." It is, therefore, 
called "Jefferson's Rock." It is composed of several 
huge masses of stone, piled on one another 
(although the whole is regarded as one rock) the 
upper piece resting on a foundation, some years 
ago>, so narrow that it might easily be made to sway 
back and forth by a child's hand. It is supported 
now, however, by pillars placed under it, by order 
of one of the old armory superintendents, the original 
foundation having dwindled to very unsafe dimen- 
sions by the action of the weather, and still more, 
by the devastations of tourists and curiosity-hunters. 
It is situated on the south side of "Cemetery Hill," 
behind the Catholic church, the lofty and glittering- 
spire of which can be seen at a great distance, as you 


approach from the East, adding much beauty to the 
scene. The first church building there .was erected 
in 1833 by Father (iildea. In 1896 the old edifice 
was torn down and a beautiful one substituted, un- 
der the supervision of the Rev. Laurence Kelly. 
There can be no doubt that this church, at least, is 
"built on a rock," for there is not soil enough any- 
where near it to plant a few flowers around the 
House of Worship or the parsonage, and the worthy 
Fathers have been obliged to haul a scanty supply 
from a considerable distance to nourish two or three 
rosebushes. If "The Gates of Hell" try to prevail 
against this institution they had better assault from 
'above. There will be no chance for attacking the 
foundation, for it is solid rock, extending, no one 
knows how far, into the bowels of the earth or 
through them, perhaps, all the way to the supposed 
location of those terrible gates themselves. 

On one side, the Maryland Heights, now so 
famous in history and, on the other, the Loudoun 
Heights rise majestically, and imagination might 
easily picture them as guardian giants defending the 
portals of the noble Valley of Virginia. The Mary- 
land Heights ascend in successive plateaus to an 
altitude of thirteen hundred feet above the sur- 
rounding country, and two thousand feet above the 
level of the sea. The Loudoun Heights are not so 
lofty, but the ascent to them is difficult and, conse- 
quently, as the foot of man seldom treads them, they 
present the appearance of a more marked primeval 
wildness than the Maryland mountain— a circum- 
stance which compensates the tourist for their in- 
feriority in height. Between these two ramparts, in 
a gorge of savage grandeur, the lordly Potomac 
takes to his embrace the beautiful Shenandoah — 
'The Daughter of the Stars," as the Indians poetic- 
ally styled this lovely stream. It will be seen, here- 


after, however, that this usually serene and amiable 
damsel, like the daughters of men, is subject to oc- 
casional "spells" of perversity, and that, when she 
does take a tantrum she makes things lively around 
her. The former river rises in western Virginia 
and, tumbling from the Alleghany Mountains in an 
impetuous volume, traverses the northern extremity 
of the Valley of Virginia, forming the boundary be- 
tween "The Old Dominion" and the State of Mary- 
land. At Harper's Ferry it encounters the Blue 
Ridge, at right angles, and receives the tributary 
Shenandoah which, rising in the upper part of the 
great valley, flows in a northerly course, at the base 
of the same mountain, and unites its strength with 
the Potomac to cut a passage to the Ocean. This 
is the scenery of which Jefferson said that a sight of 
it was worth a voyage across the Atlantic, and no 
person with the least poetry in his soul will consider 
the praise extravagant. It is, truly, a sublime spec- 
tacle and imagination, when allowed to do so, lends 
its aid to the really wonderful sublimity of the scene. 
On the rugged cliffs, on both the Maryland and 
Loudoun sides are supposed to be seen, sculptured 
by the hand of Nature, various shapes and faces, the 
appearance of which changes with the seasons and 
as they are concealed more or less by the verdure of 
the trees. The giant, dwarf, centaur and almost 
every other animal of Nature or of Fable are here 
portrayed to the eye of Faith. On one rock, on the 
Maryland side, is a tolerably well defined face with 
an expression of gravity which, with some other 
points of resemblance, will remind one of George 
Washington, and, at almost any hour of any day, 
may be seen strangers gazing intently on the moun- 
tain in search of this likeness. Frequently, the 
Bald Eagle wheels in majestic circles immediately 
above this rock and, then, indeed, the illusion is too 


agreeable to be rejected by the most prosaic spec- 
tator. George Washington, chiseled by the hand of 
Nature in the living rock, on the summit of the Blue 
Ridge, with the Bird of Victory fanning his brow, is 
too much poetry to be thrown away and common 
sense matter of fact is out of the question. Of late 
years, a new feature has been added to the scene 
which gives it quite an alpine appearanre. Shortly 
after our civil war, a man named Reid, who then lived 
at the foot of the Maryland Heights, procured a few 
goats for the amusement of his children. The goats 
multiplied rapidly and gradually spread up the side 
of the mountain, where their opportunities for mis- 
chief in gnawing the bark of trees and for avoiding 
the attacks of dogs were practically unlimited. Their 
number is now Legion and they frequently gather in 
great crowds on the overhanging rocks, always in 
charge of a dignified old buck, with a patriarchal 
beard, and look down placidly and, may be, with con- 
tempt on the busy hive of men below. Perhaps, the 
old buck often thinks, " 'What fools those two leg- 
ged mortals be.' They call themselves Lords of the 
creation and claim to own us, free sons of the moun- 
tain, and even our neighbor, the eagle, but I would 
like to see one of them climb up the face of this 
cliff and jump from crag to crag as the feblest of my 
clan can do. There they go crawling along, and 
when one of them wants to travel a few miles he 
must purchase a railroad ticket for a point to which 
my friefld, the eagle, could arrive in a few dozen 
flaps of his wings without the care and trouble of 
baggage or the fear of a run-in or a collision." Such 
may be and such, it is to be feared, ought to be, the 
reflections of that old buck. 

Before the war, the Loudoun Heights used to be 
the favorite roosting place of immense numbers of 
crows that, during the autumn and winter, foraged 


all over the Shenandoah Valley and all the rich grain 
lands east of the Blue Ridge, as, also, Middletown 
Valley and the proverbially fertile region between 
the Catoctin and the Patapsco. About an hour be- 
fore sunset, advance bodies of the vast army would 
appear from every direction and, before daylight 
had died out, it is no exaggeration to say, the whole 
sky was obliterated from view by myriads upon myri- 
ads of the sable freebooters. For some reason best 
known to themselves, these birds do not, at once, 
settle down to' rest, on arriving at their encamp- 
ments, but wheel and circle 'round, as if none of 
them had a fixed perch, and, from their deafening 
and angry cawing, it may be inferred that, every 
night, they have to contend for a convenient sleeping- 
place. Sometimes, it would appear as if they were 
holding a court, for, bodies of them are seen, fre- 
quently, to separate themselves from the main crowd 
and, after conferring, as it were, beat and banish a 
member — presumably a criminal — and then returnto 
the rookery. During the war, they disappeared and, 
no doubt, sought a more peaceful home. Besides, in 
those sad years agriculture was neglected in this 
region and it may be supposed that these sagacious 
birds sought for plenty as well as peace. Even after 
the war, they no longer frequented the Loudoun 
Mountain, but took to< the Maryland Heights, where 
they may be seen every morning and evening in the 
autumn and winter, starting out on their forays or 
returning to their inaccessible resting plac£. Their 
numbers vary very much, however, for, during sev- 
eral consecutive years, tlTey will be comparatively 
few, while for another period, they will appear in 
countless thousands. They always disappear in the 
spring to fulfill the great law of increase and multi- 
plication, but, strange to say, a crow's nest is a com- 
paratively rare sight in the Virginia or Maryland 


woods, and, as far as the writer is advised, it is the 
same in the neighboring states. The farmers are 
unrelenting enemies of the crows, and they never 
neglect an opportunity for their destruction, and the 
sagacious birds, knowing this by instinct and experi- 
ence, no doubt, take special pains 'to* protect their 
young by rearing them in the least accessible places. 
Some day, perhaps, we will know what useiul part 
the crow takes in the economy of Mother Nature. 
That he does something to compensate for the corn 
he consumes, no reflecting man will be disposed to 
deny, but what that service is, certainly, no Virginia 
or Maryland grain producer appears to> have dis- 
covered, if we are to judge from the amount of pro- 
fanity heard from those hard-fisted tillers of the soil, 
when the subject of crows is mentioned. 

At a point unapproachable from any quarter by 
man and not far from Washington's profile, is a 
crevice in the rock which has been ever the home 
of a family of hawks that, like the robber knights of 
old, issue from their impregnable fortress and levy 
tribute from all that are too' weak to resist them. 
They prey on the beautiful and useful little birds that 
are indigenous, often extending their ravages to> 
poultry yards. The only way to destroy them is by 
shooting them with single bullets, while they are on 
the wing, for they fly too high for shot. Their 
screams are peculiarly harsh and cruel, and they 
often mar the peaceful serenity of a summer evening. 
The people would compromise with them gladly, if 
they would war on the English sparrow, but as far as 
the author knows they never Aolhat recognizing, no 
doubt, and respecting a kindred depravity. May the 
shadows of both nuisances grow rapidly less ! But, 
hold ; not so fast. They too, perhaps, have their 
uses in the nice balance of Nature, and their annihi- 
lation might cause an injurious excess somewhere. 


How inconsistent, even a philosopher can sometimes 

Near the hawks' fortress there is a traditional bee- 
hive of immense proportions. No one has seen it, 
for, like the hawks' nest, it is inaccessible to man, but 
wild bees are seen, in the season of flowers, flying to 
and from the place where the hive is supposed to be, 
arid it is believed that there is a very great stock of 
honey stored away, somewhere near, by many gen- 
erations of these industrious and sagacious creat- 
ures. They, too, and the hawks and crows, as well 
as the goats and eagles may have their own opinion 
of the would-be Lords of creation, and it may be well 
for us of the genus homo that we do not know what 
that opinion is. 

It is supposed by many that the whole Valley of 
Virginia was, at one time, the bed of a vast sea and 
that, during some convulsion of Nature, the im- 
prisoned waters found an outlet at this place. There 
are many circumstances to give an appearance of 
truth to this theory, especially the fact that complete 
sea shells, or exact likenesses of them, are found at 
various points in the Alleghany and Blue Ridge 
^Mountains. Be this as it may, the passage of the 
rivers through the mighty barrier is a spectacle of 
awful sublimity and it well deserves the many pane- 
gyrics it has received from orator and poet. A good 
deal depends on the point from which, and the time 
when, the scene is viewed. The writer would rec- 
ommend the old cemetery and 10 o'clock, on a moon- 
light night, especially if the moon should happen to 
be directly over the gorge where the rivers meet. 
Then the savage wildness of the prospect is tem- 
pered agreeably by the mild moonbeams, and the 
prevailing silence adds to the impression of mingled 
sublimity, and weird loveliness. Let no one fear 
the companionship of the still inhabitants of "the 


City of the Dead." They are quiet, inoffensive neigh- 
bors and they, no doubt, many a time in their lives, 
admired the same scene and, like the men of to-day, 
wondered what this whole thing of creation and hu- 
man existence means. Perhaps they know it all 
now and, perhaps, they do not. Any way, their 
tongues will not disturb one's meditations, and it 
may be that their silence will furnish a wholesome 
homily on the nothingness of this life and the vanity 
of all earthly pursuits. 

Robert Harper, from whom the place gets its 
name, was a native of Oxford in England. He was 
born about the year 1703 and, at the age of twenty 
years, he emigrated to Philadelphia where he prose- 
cuted the business of architecture and millwright- 
ing. He erected a church for the Protestant Epis- 
copalians in Frankfort, which edifice, however, 
through some defect of title, was afterwards lost to 
the congregation for which it was built. In 1747 
he was engaged by some members of the Society 
of "Friends" to erect a meeting-house for that de- 
nomination on the Opequon river, near the site of 
the present city of Winchester, Virginia, and, while 
on his way through the then unbroken wilderness 
to fulfill his contract, he lodged, one night, at a lone- 
ly inn on the site of what is now the city of Fred- 
erick, Maryland. While staying at this hostelry, 
he met a German named Hoffman to whom, in the 
course of conversation, he communicated the busi- 
ness that took him on his journey and, also, his in- 
tention to proceed to his destination by way of An- 
tietam, a name now so famous in our national his- 
tory, for the terrible battle fought there during the 
late rebellion. Hoffman informed him that there 
was a shorter route, by way of what he called "The 
Hole," and, as an additional inducement, he prom- 
ised him a sight of some wonderful scenery. Har- 


per agreed to- go by the way of "The Hole" and, 
next night, he arrived at that point and made the 
acquaintance of a man named Peter Stevens who 
had squatted at the place which was included in the 
great Fairfax estate. Harper was so> much pleased 
with the scenery that he bought out Stevens for the 
sum of fifty British guineas. As, however, he could 
only buy Stevens" good will, the real ownership be- 
ing vested in Lord Fairfax, he, next year, paid a visit 
to Greenway, the residence of that nobleman, and 
from him or his agent he obtained a patent for the 
lands formerly occupied by Stevens on the precari- 
ous tenure of squatter sovereignty. Stevens had 
held the place for thirteen years and the agents of 
Lord Fairfax had experienced great trouble from 
him. They were, therefore, very glad to be rid of 
him. Harper settled down there and established 
a ferry, when the place lost the undignified name of 
"The Hole" and acquired the more euphonious title 
of "Harper's Ferry" by which it has, ever since, been 
known and by which, no doubt, it will be designated 
by the remotest posterity. At that time, there was 
but one dwelling there — the Stevens cabin — which 
was situated on what is now called Shenandoah 
street, on the site of the house at present pwned by 
Mr. William Erwin and used as a drug store, liquor 
saloon, and a boarding house. Harper, lived in this 
house, many years, until about the year 1775, when 
he built one about half a mile farther up the Shenan- 
doah, where he died in 1782. 

Mr. Harper was a man of medium height and con- 
siderable physical strength. He was very energetic 
and well suited for .pioneer life. He left no children, 
and his property descended, by will, to Sarah, only 
child of his brother Joseph, and to some nephews 
of his wife, named Griffith. Sarah Harper was mar- 
ried to a gentleman of Philadelphia, named Wager. 


He was a grandson of a German of the same name 
who, many years before, had emigrated from the 
city of Worms in Hesse Darmstadt. Neither Mr. 
Wager nor his wife ever saw their Harper's Ferry 
property, but many of their descendants were born 
there and some of them are now living in the neigh- 
boring cities, owning still a considerable estate at 
their old home. Of this family was the late vener- 
able Robert Harper Williamson, of Washington 
city, the first person having- the name of Harper who 
was born in the town. The wife of Judge Swain, a 
few years ago of the Supreme Court of the United 
States, was one of the Wager family and their son 
was General Wager Swain, much distinguished in the 
Union army during the late rebellion. Just as this 
goes to press we learn of his death. 

Mr. Harper was interred on his own property and 
his moss-grown grave is yet to be seen in the roman- 
tically situated cemetery that overlooks the town — 
the same heretofore mentioned, as affording the best 
point from which to< view the scenery. By a provi- 
sion of his will, several acres of land were bequeathed 
to the place, as a burial ground — his own grave to 
be in the centre — and now, a very large number 
sleep their dreamless sleep in a beautiful though 
until lately a sadly neglected cemetery around the 
founder of the village. 

Few of the events that transpired in Mr. Harper's 
time are recorded. Shortly after building the house 
on Shenandoah street he erected a large stone dwell- 
ing on what is now called High street. This house 
yet stands and occasionally it is occupied by some 
of his heirs. He experienced great difficulty in fin- 
ishing this building, owing to a scarcity of mechan- 
ics, nearly all the able-bodied men of the place and 
neighborhood having gone to join the army of 
Washington. It is recorded that an intimate friend 


of Mr. Harper, named Hamilton, lost, his life in this 
house, by an accidental fall and this tradition, cou- 
pled with the age of the house, gives a sombre char- 
acter to the building. At the time of Mr. Harper's 
death, therefore, there were but three houses at 
"The Ferry." 

In 1748, there was a great flood in the Potomac, 
which, according to some memoranda left by the 
founder of the place, drove him from the house he 
then occupied — the Stevens cabin — and another, 
though a less freshet, called "The Pumpkin Flood," 
is recorded as having occurred in 1753. The latter 
derived its name from the great numbers of pump- 
kins which it washed away from the gardens of the 
Indians who, then, resided in scattered lodges along 
the two rivers. 

It is said that, at the commencement of the Revo- 
lution Mr. Harper's sympathies were Tory, but that, 
soon, he espoused the cause of his adopted country. 

In 1794, during the administration of General 
Washington, Harper's Ferry was chosen as the site 
of a national armory. It is said that the great 
Father of his Country, himself, suggested it as the 
best location then known for the purpose, having 
visited the place in person. This is a tradition 
among the people and, if it is true, it is characteristic 
of the most sagacious of men. The water-power at 
the place is immense, some people supposing it to 
be the finest in the world. The Valley of Virginia 
and that of Middletown, as well as the fertile plains 
of Loudoun, gave promise of an abundance of the 
necessaries of life and,- perhaps, with the eye of 
prophecy, he saw railroads penetrating the wilder- 
ness of the Allegheny regions and transporting its 
then hidden mineral treasures to aid in the proposed 
manufacture of arms. In the year above men- 
tioned Congress applied to the General Assembly of 


Virginia for permission to purchase the site and, by 
a vote of the latter, leave was granted to buy a tract, 
not exceeding six hundred and forty acres. Accord- 
ingly a body of land containing one hundred and 
twenty-five acres was bought from the heirs of Mr. 
Harper. This tract is contained in a triangle formed 
by the two rivers and a line running from the Poto- 
mac to the Shenandoah along what is now called 
Union Street. Another purchase was made of three 
hundred and ten acres from a Mr. Rutherford. The 
latter tract is that on which the village of Bolivar 
now stands. In some time after, Congress desiring 
to obtain the benefit of the fine timber growing on 
the Loudoun Heights and not deeming it proper to 
ask for any further concessions from the State of 
Virginia, leased in perpetuity of Lord Fairfax, pro- 
prietor of "The Northern Neck," the right to all the 
timber growing and to grow on a tract of thirteen 
hundred and ninety-five acres on the Loudoun 
Heights immediately adjoining Harper's Ferry. 

Thus prepared, the government commenced the 
erection of shops, and in 1796, a Mr. Perkins, an 
English Moravian, was appointed to superintend the 
works. " He is represented as having been an ami- 
able, unsophisticated man, and tradition still tells of 
his simplicity of dress and deportment. During his 
time, nothing of moment occurred at the place. The 
town was yet in its infancy, with very few denizens, 
and, as the period antedates the time of that vener- 
able personage — the oldest inhabitant — very little is 
known of what took place during Mr. Perkins' ad- 
ministration. One or two centenarians, now a few 
years deceased, however retained some faint rem- 
iniscences of him and another Englishman, named 
Cox, who had been for many years employed under 
him as a man of all work, and who had followed him 
to Harper's Ferry from southern Virginia, where 


Mr. Perkins had formerly resided. On one occa- 
sion, Cox was required by his employer to attend to 
his — Perkins' — garden which was overrun with 
weeds. For some reason, Cox did not relish the 
job, but gave, however, a grumbling consent. Next 
morning, Cox commenced weeding and, towards 
evening, he presented himself to Mr. Perkins with 
the information that "he had made a clean sweep of 
it." The master was much gratified and he told 
Mrs. Perkins to give Cox a dram of whiskey for 
which the latter had a good relish. On visiting his 
garden next day, Mr. Perkins discovered that, sure 
enough, Cox had made a clean sweep. The weeds 
were all gone, but so were cabbages, turnips, carrots 
and everything' else of the vegetable kind. In great 
wrath, he sent for Cox, charged him with every 
crime in the calendar and, with a kick on the seat of 
honor, ejected him from the house, at the same time 
forbidding him to show his face again around the 
works. Cox retreated hastily, muttering "the devil 
a step will I go — the devil a step will I go." He 
made his way to the shop where he was usually em- 
ployed and, the good-natured Perkins, soon forget- 
ting his anger towards his old follower, "the devil 
a step,'' sure enough, did Cox go from Harper's 
Ferry. Sir Walter Scott relates that a Scotch noble- 
man once addressed in the following words an old 
and spoiled servant of his family who had given him 
mortal offense. "John, you can no longer serve me. 
Tomorrow morning either you or I must leave this 
house." "Aweel, master," replied John, "if jy're 
determined on ganging - awa, we would like to ken 
what direction ye'll be takin." No doubt, the same 
relations existed between Mr. Perkins and Cox as 
between the nobleman and his servant. 

In 1799, during the administration of John 
Adams, in anticipation of a war with France, the 


government organized a considerable army for de- 
fense. A part of the forces was sent, under General 
Pinkney, into camp at Harper's Ferry, and the ridge 
on which they were stationed has ever since been 
called, "Canity Hill." It runs north and south be- 
tween Harper's Ferry and Bolivar. When the war 
cloud disappeared many of the soldiers settled down 
at the place. A good many had ,died while in the 
service, and their bodies are buried on the western 
slope of Camp Hill. Although the mortal 'portion 
of them has mingled, long since, with Mother earth, 
their spirits are said to hover still around the scene 
of their earthly campaign and "oft in the stilly night" 
are the weird notes of their fifes and the clatter of 
their drums heard by belated Harper's Ferryans. 
The colored people who appear to be especially fav- 
ored with spirit manifestations, bear unanimous tes- 
timony to these facts, and it is well known that some 
fine houses in the neighborhood were, for many years, 
without tenants in consequence of their being sup- 
posed to be places of rendezvous for these errant 
spirits. Once, over forty years ago, the writer spent 
a winter's night in one of these houses, in company 
with a corpse and ±he recollection of th# feelings he 
experienced, on that occasion, still causes the few 
hairs he has retained to stick up "like the quills of 
the fretful porcupine." The deceased was a stranger 
who had taken temporary possession of the house 
and had died there very suddenly. He had been 
keeping bachelor's hall there and, as he had no rela- 
tives at the place, a committee of charitable citizens 
undertook the care of the remains, and the writer, 
then a young man, affecting some courage, was de- 
tailed to watch the corpse for one night. The house 
had an uncanny reputation, any way, and a corpse 
was not exactly the companion a man would choose 
to- stay with, in a haunted house, but the writer was 


then courting and desired to rise in the estimation 
of his girl, and this nerved him to the task. He held 
to it, but, gentle reader, that was a very long night, 
indeed, and even such fame as he acquired on that 
occasion and the approval of his loved one would, 
never again, be inducement enough for him to under- 
go a similar ordeal. But the spirits of the old sol- 
diers behaved with commendable decency on the oc- 
casion and "not a drum, was heard" or fife either. 
The corpse, too, conducted itself discreetly but, dear 
reader, that night was a very long one notwithstand- 
ing, and the daylight, when at last it did appear, was 
enthusiastically welcomed by the quaking watcher. 

At that time — 1799 — a bitter war existed between 
the Federalists and Republicans, and a certain Cap- 
tain Henry, in General Pinkney's army is said to 
have taken his company, one day, to Jefferson's 
Rock and ordered them to overthrow the favorite 
seat of Jefferson, his political enemy. They suc- 
ceeded in detaching a large boulder from the top 
which rolled down hill to Shenandoah street, where 
it lay for many years, a monument of stupid bigotry. 
This action was the occasion for a challenge to 
mortal combat for Captain Henry from an equally 
foolish Republican in the same corps, but the affair 
having come to the ears of General Pinkney, he had 
both of the champions arrested before a duel could 
come off, very much to> the regret of all sensible 
people in the town who expected that, if the meeting 
was allowed to take place, there would be, probably 
at least, one fool the less at Harper's Ferry. 

Opposite to Jefferson's Rock and on the Loudoun 
side of the Shenandoah, there grew, at that time a 
gigantic oak which had been, from time immemorial, 
the eyrie of a family of eagles. Jefferson, while at 
the place, had been much interested in these birds 
{Hid, after his election to the presidency, he sent a 


request to Mr. Perkins that he would try to secure 
for him some of their young - . At Mr. Perkins' in- 
stance, therefore, three young men named Perkins — 
the superintendent's son — Dowler and Hume as- 
cended the tree by means of strips nailed to it, and, 
after a terrible fight with the parent birds, they suc- 
ceeded in securing three eaglets. They were for- 
warded to the president and, by him, one of them 
was sent as a present to the King of Spain who, 
in return, sent a noble Andalusian ram to Mr. Jeffer- 
son. Being forbidden by law to receive presents 
from foreign potentates, the president kept the ani- 
mal in the grounds around the White House, as a 
curiosity, but the ram being very vicious, and the 
boys of the city delighting to tease him, he, one day, 
rushed into the streets in pursuit of some of his tor- 
menters and killed a young man, named Carr, whom 
he unfortunately encountered. Mr. Jefferson, there- 
fore, advertised him for sale, and thus was the first 
of that breed of sheep introduced into America. 

Some time during Mr. Perkins' administration, a 
singular character came to reside at Harper's Ferry. 
His name was Brown and he was supposed toi be a 
native of Scotland. He had served as a surgeon in 
the American army, during the Revolution. He was 
a bachelor and as, in addition to the profits of his 
profession, he drew a pension from the government, 
he was in good circumstances and able to indulge in 
many costly eccentricities. He lived alone on what 
is now called High street, and his cabin was situated 
on the lot opposite to the present residence of Mrs. 
Ellen O'Byrne. A cave, partly natural and partly 
artificial, near his cabin, was used as his store-house 
and dispensary. His eccentricities were numerous, 
but the principal one was an inordinate love for the 
canine and feline races. No less than fifty dogs fol- 
lowed him in his daily rambles and made the night 


hideous in the town with their howlings. His cats 
were as numerous as his dogs and they mingled their 
melodies with those of their canine companions to 
the delectation of his neighbors. A favorite amuse- 
ment with the young men of the place, was to watch 
for the doctor, when he walked abroad, and shoot 
some of his dogs — an offense that was sure to earn 
his bitter hatred. He had many good qualities and 
he made it a point never to charge an armorer for 
medical advice. He died about the year 1824, and 
on his death-bed, he ordered that his coffin should be 
made with a window in the lid and that it should be 
placed in an erect position, in a brick vault which he 
had erected in the cemetery, and that it should be 
left so for nine days after his burial, when, he said, 
he would return to life. A person was employed to 
visit the vault every day, until the promised ressur- 
rection which did not take place, however, and prob- 
ably will not, until the Archangel's trump wakes him 
up like other people. In time the vault crumbled to 
pieces, and, for years, a skull, supposed to be that of 
the doctor, lay exposed on the hillside near the site 
of the vault and children used it for a play-thing. 
Alas ! poor Yorick ! 

With Mr. Perkins came, from eastern Virginia, 
the ancestors of the Stipes and Mallory families, as 
well as others who were regarded as being among 
the best citizens at the place. In Mr. Perkins' time 
a shocking accident occurred in the armory. Michael 
McCabe, an employe was caught in the machinery of 
one of the shops and, as he was drawn through a 
space not exceeding eight inches in breadth, of 
course, he was crushed to- a jelly. 

Mr. Perkins died at Harper's Ferry and was in- 
terred in Maryland. He was succeeded, in 18 10, by 
James Stubblefield, a Virginian, and a gentleman of 
the true Virginia stamp. At that time, it was 


deemed absolutely necessary that the superintendent 
of a national armory should be, himself, a practical 
gun-maker. Mr. Stubblefield, therefore, in order to 
satisfy the ordnance department of his fitness for the 
position, was obliged to manufacture a gun, he, him- 
self, making all the component parts. The speci- 
men giving satisfaction, he got his appointment, 
after a considerable interregnum. His superintend- 
ency was the longest of any in the history of the 
armory. It continued from 1810 to 1829, a period 
of nineteen years. In 1824, some discontented 
spirits among the armorers brought charges against 
Mr. Stubblefield which occasioned the convening of 
a court martial for their investigation. The court 
acquitted Mr. Stubblefield and, as he was generally 
popular, his friends among the employes gave him 
a public dinner which was served in the arsenal yard, 
in honor of his victory. While the trial was yet 
pending-, a Mr. Lee was appointed to the superin- 
tendency. pro tern, but, on the termination of the 
court martial, Mr. Stubblefield was reinstated. Dur- 
ing this superintendency — August 29th. 182 1, an 
armorer named Jacob Carman lost his life by the 
bursting of a grinding-stone in one of the shops. A 
fragment struck him and, such was the force of the 
blow, that he was driven through the brick wall of 
the shop and his mangled remains were found sev- 
eral steps from the building. 

While Mr. Stubblefield was superintendent, about 
the year 1818, a gentleman named John H. Hall, of 
the State of Maine, invented a breech-loading gun — 
probably the first of the kind manufactured. He 
obtained a patent for his invention and, the govern- 
ment having concluded to adopt the gun into its ser- 
vice, Mr. Hall was sent to Harper's Ferry to super- 
intend its manufacture. Two buildings on "The 
Island" were set apart for him. and he continued to 

U tkfc fetRANkfe stOrY Of harper's ferry. 

make his guns in those shops until 1840, when he 
moved to Missouri. After this period, other build- 
ings were erected oil the same island, for the manu- 
facture of the minie rifle, but the place retained the 
name of "Hall's Works" by which it was known hi 
Mr. Hall's time. It was, sometimes, called "the Rifle 
Factory." The reader will understand by the term 
"armory," used in this book, the main buildings on 
the Potomac. Although both ranges of shops were 
Uied for the manufacture of arms, custom designated 
the one, "The Armory" and the other — the less im- 
portant— "the Rifle Factory" or "Hall's Works." 
Mr. Hall was the father of the Hon. Willard Hall, at 
one time a member of Congress from Missouri and, 
during the war, Governor of that state. He was a 
high-toned gentleman and a man of great ability. 
His daughter, Lydia, was married to Dr. Nicholas 
Marmion, an eminent physician who resided at Har- 
per's Ferry from 1827 until his death in 1882. Their 
sons, William V., and George H., are physicians of 
Washington, D. C., and are ranked among the first, 
as specialists, in diseases of the eye and ear. An- 
other son, Robert, is a surgeon in the United States 
Navy. It may be remarked here, that Harper's 
Ferry has contributed more than any other place of 
the same size to the prosperity of other parts of our 
country, especially the West and Southwest, by send- 
ing them many distinguished people. Here, some 
eighty-five years ago was born, in an old house, now 
in ruins, on the bank of the Shenandoah, General Jeff 
Thompson. "Jeff" was but a nickname, his proper 
name being Merriweather Thompson. His father 
was, at one time, paymaster's clerk in the armory 
and was very highly respected. 

Besides the parties above named, Harper's Ferry 
has furnished many other eminent men to the West. 
Some sixty-fie years ago. Captain Jacamiah Sea- 


man, who had resigned his position as captain in the 
company stationed at Harper's Ferry, moved to Sul- 
livan county, Missouri. He took with him a youth 
to whom he had taken a fancy. The young man was 
named Robert W. Daugherty and he had been left 
by his dying parents in care of Mr. Martin Grace 
and his wife, nee O'Byrne. This lady's brother, Mr. 
Terence O'Byrne. will figure further on in this his- 
tory as one of John Brown's prisoners at the time of 
that fanatic's famous raid. Young Daugherty had 
the consent of his guardians to accompany Captain 
Seaman, who was a man of very hight standing at 
the place, and whose family — originally of Welsh 
descent — were always held in the greatest esteem in 
Virginia. Young Daugherty was a scion of the very 
warlike and singularly successful clan of O'Daugh- 
erty, who, from time immemorial, dwelt in the val- 
leys of romantic Inishowen, in the county of Done- 
gal, Ireland, and who distinguished themselves par- 
ticularly, in the sanguinary battles of Benburb and 
Yellow Ford, fought in the 16th century, to the utter 
destruction, by the Irish clans of two powerful Eng- 
lish armies. The name still flourishes in their native 
country, but alas, like many others, they will drop 
the O before their name, regardless of the loss of 
euphony, and the memory of the many glories their 
fathers achieved under the venerable old name. 
Robert's father was James Daugherty, a man of 
great force of character and executive ability. He 
\va? born in Donegal about the end of the 18th cen- 
tury and died young, of the cholera epidemic at Har- 
per's Ferry, in 1831-1832. leaving several children. 
He and his wife who. also, died young, are buried, 
side by side, in the cemetery attached to Saint John's 
Catholic church. Frederick, Maryland, of which they 
were devoted members. Their children were put 
under strict Christian guardianship, and those of 


them who lived to maturity married into some of the 
best families of Virginia and Maryland. Mary Jane, 
a highly educated lady, married Hugh Gifford, of 
Baltimore, John died, we believe, unmarried, at 
Memphis, Tennessee, aged 22 years. Catherine 
Anne, the third child, died in the Orphans' House of 
the Catholic church in Baltimore, aged 14 years. 
Elizabeth Ellen, the youngest child, married James 
Wall Keenan, of Winchester, Virginia, a brave con- 
federate soldier, whose sister, Catherine, married 
Charles B. Rouse, the Merchant Prince and gallant 
soldier of New York. 

Robert W. Daugherty, the second son, accom- 
panied Captain Seaman to the West, as before 
stated, and, afterwards, married Lydia E. Seaman, 
sister of Captain Jacamiah Seaman and Richard S. 
Seaman who, in the civil war, served prominently un- 
der General T. J. Jackson. Robert W. Daugherty 
was the first man in Sullivan county, Mis- 
souri, to answer the call of Governor Jackson 
for volunteers, when- the civil war broke out. 
He entered as a private and was elected cap- 
tain, but refused further promotion. He served 
with distinction in the 3rd Missouri Infantry 
of the Confederate army. At the close of the war, 
he surrendered at Hempstead, Arkansas, and en- 
gaged in planting on Red River, Bosier Parish, 
Louisiana. He died there, on his plantation, June 
2nd, 1877, leaving a son, Jacamiah Seaman Daugh- 
erty, now of Houston, Texas, who married Maggie 
C. Bryan, of Lexington, Kentucky, daughter of 
Daniel Bryan and sister of Joseph Bryan, M. D., 
who, while in charge of some hospital in New York' 
first applied plaster of paris in the treatment of 
sprains and fractures. The Bryans are of the old 
family who accompanied Boone to Kentucky. A 
daughter of Roherj: W. Daugherty— Miss May Ellen 


— married Col. Caleb J. Perkins, who distinguished 
himself as a fearless fighter under General Sterling 
Price of the Confederate army. Col. Perkins is now 
dead. His widow survives him in Carroll county, 
Missouri, with an only son, a .young man of great 
promise, as befits his gallant father's son and one 
with the mingled blood of the Seamans of Virginia 
and the O'Daughertys of Inishowen, so many of 
whom fought and bled for their beloved native land 
on the gory fields of Benburb, Yellow Ford and 
many other famous battles. 

Nancy Augusta Jane Daugherty married Wesley 
Arnold, of Bosier 'Parjish, 'Louisiana. He was a 
member of the old Arnold family of Georgia. Her 
husband is now dead and she lives with her two 
promising children — Hugh and Genevieve Arnold in 
Terrel, Kaufman county, Texas. Robert Richard 
Daugherty disappeared from Daugherty, Kaufman 
county, Texas, in the fall of 1889. He left his store 
locked and his safe had a considerable amount of 
cash in it. That was the last thing known of him, 
except that his hat was found in a creek bottom, a 
mile from his store. It is supposed that he was mur- 
dered by a band of thieves, because of his having 
aided in the arrest of some of their companions. 
John Edward, the youngest child of Robert W. 
Daugherty, married a Miss Scott in Kaufman 
county, Texas. He is now a prominent farmer of 
Denton county, in that state. 

The parties who were instrumental in bringing 
charges against Mr. Stubblefield were not yet satis- 
field and, in 1829, he was subjected to another trial 
by court martial. He was again acquitted, after a 
protracted hearing - and the general sympathy of the 
community was more than ever before in his favor. 
While the second trial was progressing, his accusers 
were very active in hunting up evidence against him. 


They learned that Mr. Stubblefield had obligingly 
given to a man named McNulty the temporary use of 
some tools belonging to the government. They 
sought this man and they were much gratified to find 
that he spoke very^disparagingly of the superinten- 
dent. Expecting great things from his evidence, 
they had him summoned, next day, before the court 
martial. On his being questioned by the prosecut- 
ing lawyer, however, he gave the most glowing ac- 
count of Mr. Stubble-field's goodness and efficiency. 
Much disappointed, the counsel for the complainants 
exclaimed : "Sir, this is not what you said last night." 
"No," replied McNulty, "but what I said then was 
nothing but street talk. I am now on my oath and I 
am determined to tell the truth." The court and a 
great majority of the people were satisfied, before, 
of Mr. Stubblefield's innocence and his acquittal was 
long deemed certain, but McNulty's testimony tend- 
ed to throw contempt on the whole prosecution and 
ridicule is often a more powerful weapon than reason 
or logic. 

During the second trial, Lieutenant Symington 
was appointed to the temporary superintendency, 
but, as in the case of Lee, at the first trial, he was im- 
mediately withdrawn on the second acquittal of Mr. 
Stubblefield, and the latter was again reinstated. 
The proud Virginian, however, refused to continue 
in the office. He had been a benefactor to the people 
and had been treated with ingratitude by many. 
Twice he had been honorably acquitted by a military 
tribunal— always the most rigorous of courts— and, 
his honor being satisfied, he voluntarily vacated the 

In Mr. Stubblefield's time— 1824— the "bell shop" 
of the armory was destroyed by fire. It got its name 
from its having the armory bell suspended in a tur- 
ret which overtopped the roof. The origin of the 



fire was unknown, but it was supposed that some 
sparks from a- fire made in the yard for culinary pur- 
poses, occasioned the accident. 

Mr. Stubblefield was succeeded, in 1829, by Col- 
onel Dunn. This gentleman had been connected 
with a manufacturing establishment, at the mouth 
of Antietam Creek. His was a melancholy history. 
He was a strict disciplinarian and, indeed, he is rep- 
resented as having been a martinet. The severity 
of his rules offended several of the workmen, and he 
paid with his life a heavy penalty for his harshness. 
A young man named Ebenezer Cox, an armorer, had 
given offense to Lieutenant Symington, while the 
latter temporarily filled the office of superintendent, 
during the second court martial on Mr. Stubble- 
field, and, therefore, he was dismissed by that officer. 
When Colonel Dunn succeeded to the office, Cox 
applied to him for a reinstatement. It is said that 
the latter expressed contrition and made submission 
to Colonel Dunn who, with violent language, refused 
to be appeased and displayed great vindictiveness by 
threatening with expulsion from the armory works 
any employe who should shelter the offender in his 
house. Cox's brother-in-law, with whom he boarded, 
was obliged to refuse him entertainment, and it ap- 
peared as if Colonel Dunn was determined by all 
means to force Cox to leave his native town. Thus 
"driven to the wall" the desperate man armed him- 
self with a carbine and presented himself at the office 
of the superintendent, about noon, on the 30th day 
of January. 1830. What conversation took place 
is unknown, but in a few minutes, a report of fire 
arms was heard. People rushed to Colonel Dunn's 
office and were met by his wife who, with loud lamen- 
tations, informed them that her husband was mur- 
dered. The colonel was found with a ghastly wound 
in the stomach, through which protruded portions 


of the dinner he had eaten a few minutes before. 
Being a very delicate, dyspeptic man, he generally 
used rice at his meals and a considerable quantity of 
this food was found on the floor near him, having 
been ejected through the wound, but, strange to say, 
it was unstained with blood. When found the Col- 
onel was expiring and no information could be got 
from him. Mrs. Dunn was in her own house, oppo- 
site to the office, within the armory enclosure, when 
the crime was committed, and knew nothing, except 
the fact of the murder. She had heard the shot and, 
suspecting something wrong, had entered the 
office and found her husband as above described, but 
the murderer had escaped. Suspicion, however, at 
once rested on Cox and diligent search was made for 
him. He was discovered in the "wheelhouse" 
and taken prisoner. The arrest was made by Reuben 
Stipes. Cox made no resistance and he was immedi- 
ately committed to Charlestown jail. The body of 
Colonel Dunn was buried in Sharpsburg, Maryland, 
near the spot where, many years afterwards, General 
Robert E. Lee of the Confederate army, stood while 
directing the movements of his troops at the battle 
of Antietam. There is a tradition that the day of his 
funeral was the coldest ever experienced in this lati- 
tude. So severe, indeed, was the weather that the 
fact is thought to be of sufficient interest to be men- 
tioned in the chronicles of the place. In the course 
of the following summer — August 27th — Cox was 
executed publicly, near Charlestown, confessing his 
guilt and hinting strongly at complicity in the crime, 
on the part of some others. His words, however, 
were not considered to be of sufficient importance 
to> form grounds for indictment against those to 
whom he alluded, and there were no more prosecu- 
tions. This murder marks an era in the history of 
Harper's Ferry and, although many more important 


and thrilling events have occurred there, since that 
time, this unfortunate tragedy still furnishes material 
for many a fireside tale, and the site of the building 
*in which the murder was perpetrated is yet pointed 
out, as unhallowed ground. 

Cox is said to have been a remarkably handsome 
young man of about twenty-four years of age. He 
was a grandson of Cox who, in Mr. Perkins' time, 
figured in various capacities around the armory and 
who particularly distinguished himself at gardening, 
as before related. 

General George Rust succeeded Colonel Dunn in 
1830. For the seven years during which he superin- 
tended the armory, nothing of any interest is re- 
corded. He was rather popular with the employes, 
and survivors of his time speak well of his adminis- 
tration. It may be that the melancholy death of his 
immediate predecessor had cast a gloom on the place 
which operated to prevent the occurrence of any 
stirring events. It is said that General Rust spent 
very little of his time at Harper's Ferry. He was a 
wealthy man, owning a good deal of property in 
Loudoun county, Virginia, where he lived much of 
his time, delegating the duties of his office in the ar- 
mory to trusty assistants who managed its affairs so 
as to give satisfaction to> the government. Had he 
been a poor man his long stays at home, no doubt, 
would have excited comment and some busy-body 
would have reported the facts to his detriment. As 
it was, the General was independent and he enjoyed 
his otium cum dignitate without any attempt at in- 
terruption or annoyance from tale-bearers. 

General Rust was succeeded, in 1837, by Colonel 
Edward Lucas, a Virginian of Jefferson county. He 
was an exceedingly amiable and generous man, al- 
though fiery and pugnacious when he deemed him- 
self insulted. He was extremely popular and the 


writer well remembers his bent form, while he walk- 
ed, or rode his mule along the streets of Harper's 
Ferry, lavishing kind expressions on old and young 
and receiving in return the hearty good wishes of' 
every one he met. The name of "Colonel Ed" was 
familiar as a household word at the place, and, as he 
was honored and respected in life, so was he 
lamented at his death, which occurred in 1858, while 
he occupied the position of paymaster at the armory. 
While Colonel Lucas was superintendent, the 
armory canal was much improved by the building of 
a permanent rock forebay. A stone wall also was 
built, extending from the front gate of the armory 
to the "tilt hammer shop" — the whole river front of 
the grounds — protecting the yard and shops from 
high waters and, indeed, reclaiming from the Poto- 
mac, several feet of land and adding that much to the 
government property. Twelve good dwellings, also, 
were built for the use of the families of the employes, 
and the place was much improved in every respect. 
During the exciting presidential contest in 1840, Col- 
onel Lucas was a strong Van Buren man but, to his 
honor, he never oppressed any of the men under him, 
on account of politics nor was he charged with hav- 
ing done so. In 1847, he was appointed paymaster, 
an office which he filled until his death, eleven years 

It is said of Colonel Lucas that, if any of the me- 
chanics or laborers employed under him did wrong, 
he was not inclined to discharge them, preferring to 
punish them by administering a sound thrashing. 
He had several fist-fights with his men and, although 
he was a small man, it is said that he always deported 
himself well in his combats and generally came off 
winner. In any case, he was never known to use his 
authority as superintendent to punish any one who 
had spirit enough to stand up for what he considered 


his rights, even if it involved a personal quarrel with 
himself. The Colonel owned a good many slaves, 
nearly all of whom were of the most worthless de- 
scription. It was said, indeed, with some show of 
reason, that he was virtually owned by his servants. 
Whenever a negro, anywhere near Harper's Ferry, 
had become so unprofitable that his master deter- 
mined to sell him to a trader, the slave would appeal 
to Colonel Lucas to save him from the slave-drivers 
and servitude in ''Georgia," which was regarded, 
justly perhaps, by the negroes as a fate worse than 
death. With them "Georgia" was a synonym for 
all the South. The good-natured Colonel would pur- 
chase the slave, if possible, and, consequently, he 
always had the most useless lot of servants in Vir- 
ginia. His favorite slave was a diminutive old negro 
named "Tanner," who hardly weighed one hundred 
pounds, but who, nevertheless, prided himself on his 
muscle and was as fiery as his master. One day, 
Tanner had a fight with another negro and, while 
they were belaboring one another, the Colonel hap- 
pened to come up, and, seeing his servant in a tight 
place, he called out, "Pitch in, Tanner! Pitch in, 
Tanner!" The street arabs took up the cry, and it 
has been used ever since, -at Harpers Ferry, in cases 
where great exertion of muscle or energy is recom- 
mended. Colonel Lucas was truly a chivalrous man 
and we will not see his "like again," very soon. 

It is to be noted that Colonel Lucas and his prede- 
cessors, with military titles, were, in reality, civilians, 
being merely militia officers or getting the prefix to 
their names by courtesy. This explanation is neces- 
sary for an understanding of the following: 



Colonel Lucas was succeeded in the superintend- 
ency by Major Henry K. Craig in 1841. The Major 
was an ordnance officer and, of course, his education 
having- been military, he was inclined somewhat to 
that strictness of discipline which the most amiable 
of men, in military command, soon learn to exact 
from their inferiors, having been taught to observe 
it, themselves, towards their superiors. There were 
two classes of employes in the armory — the day 
workers and the piece workers. By an order of 
Major Craig, the latter were obliged to work the 
same number of hours as the former. This edict was 
deemed unjust by the piece workers, as they consid- 
ered themselves entitled to the privilege of working 
for whatever time they chose. They claimed remun- 
eration, only, for the work done, and, in their opin- 
ion, it mattered little to the government how many 
hours they were employed. The superintendent 
thought otherwise, however, and hence arose a 
"causa tetterrima belli." Besides, everything around 
the armory grounds assumed a military air, and a 
guard, at the gate, regulated the ingress and egress 
of armorers and casual visitors. Drunkenness was 
positively forbidden. These restrictions were not 
relished at all by the armorers and the older men re- 
membered with regret the good old days of Perkins 
and Stubblefield, when the workmen used to have 


hung up in the shops buckets of whiskey from which 
it was their custom to regale themselves at short 
intervals. It is said, indeed, that this license was 
carried to such excess in the time of Mr. Stubble- 
field that an order was issued, prohibiting the men 
from, drinking spirituous liquors in the shops — a 
command which, at the time, was deemed arbi- 
trary and which was evaded through the ingenious 
plan of the men's putting their heads outside of the 
windows, while they were taking their "nips." These 
grievances rendered the men rebellious and, for 
some years a bitter feud existed between the parties 
favoring the military system and those who were op- 
posed to it. In 1842, a large number of the men 
chartered a boat on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal 
and proceeded to Washington City to see the presi- 
dent, John Tyler, and state to him their grievances. 
At that time, little of an exciting nature had taken 
place at Harper's Ferry. The Dunn murder, alone, 
furnished the whole history of the town, up to the 
period of which we are treating, and that trip to 
Washington, therefore, assumed an undue import- 
ance which it has retained ever since, in the minds of 
the survivors of the voyage, notwithstanding the 
fearful ordeals to which they were afterwards sub- 
jected. Neither Jason and his Argonauts when they 
went in search of the Golden Fleece nor Ulysses in 
his protracted return home from Troy encountered 
as many vicissitudes of fortune as those hardy mari- 
ners of the canal boat. The writer has been listening 
to stories of this expedition for more than forty 
years, but as they never had any interest for him and 
as he does not suppose his readers would care to 
hear them, he leaves them to be collected by some 
future poet, able and willing to do them justice. The 
octogenarian participants in this voyage deem them 
of surpassing interest, but they were young when 


those events took place and, now, they are old and 
that accounts for their fond recollection. Having 
reached Washington they obtained an audience of 
the president who received them in a style worthy 
of the head of a great nation and, what is more in 
the estimation of some people, a Virginia gentle- 
man. Compliments were exchanged and the presi- 
dent gave each of them a cordial shake of the hand, 
an honor which was duly appreciated, for it is re- 
lated that one of the delegation, in a burst of enthusi- 
asm, reached out a hand of enormous proportions 
and dubious color to meet that of the president, at 
the same time exclaiming, "Hullo, old fellow, give us 
your corn stealer." This handsome compliment, no 
doubt, was very gratifying to the president, for he 
made them a speech in which he declared in the most 
emphatic manner, that he considered the working 
men as the bone and sinew of the land and its main 
dependence in war and in peace ; that he loved them 
as such and that their interests should be his care. 
In this strain he continued for some time, but, sud- 
denly, he threw cold water on the hopes he had cre- 
ated by telling them that "they must go home and 
hammer out their own salvation." This figurative 
expression and the allusion to that emblem of vul- 
canic labor — the hammer — were not received with 
the admiration which their wit deserved, and it is 
said that many loud and deep curses were uttered by 
some sensitive and indiscreet piece workers, and that 
the august presence of "Tyler too" had not the effect 
of awing the bold navigators into suitable respect for 
the head of the nation. They returned home wiser 
but hardly better men and, from that period dates 
the bitter opposition of many Harper's Ferry people 
to the military system of superintendency which con- 
tinued until the final overthrow of that order of 


things in 1854. This contest is the chief event of the 
time of Colonel Craig's command. 

The Colonel was a veteran of the war of 181 2. He 
had served on the Canadian frontier with General 
Scott and had received a severe wound in the leg*, 
the effects of which were, ever after, apparent in his 
walk. ' He was not, however, a graduate of West 

He was succeeded in 1844 by Major John Syming- 
ton, another military officer and the same who, with 
an inferior rank, had superintended the armory, pro 
tern, during the second trial of Mr. Stubblefield. 
Major Symington was an exceedingly eccentric man. 
His talents were undoubted and he got credit for 
many virtues, but his oddities detracted much from 
his usefulness. His voice was of a peculiar intona- 
tion and his gestures were odd, but withal, he had 
a clear head and a good heart and, during his admin- 
istration, many improvements were made at his sug- 
gestion, and the people were generally prosperous. 
The shops were remodeled, and may believe that he 
did more for the prosperity of the place than any 
other superintendent. Those who knew him best 
asserted that his eccentricities were mere pretense 
and assumed for the gratification of a latent vein of 
humor. On the whole, he is remembered with very 
kind feelings. Like other superintendents, he was 
much annoyed with applications for employment. 
People of every trade and calling, when out of work, 
thought they had a right to a part of the govern- 
ment patronage, no matter how unsuited they were, 
from their former occupations, to serve as armorers. 
One day the Major was troubled by more than the 
usual number of applicants and his temper was sore- 
ly tried. Towards evening a stranger presented 
himself and made the sterreotyped request for work. 
"Well," said the Major, rubbing his hands in a man- 


ner peculiar to himself, "What is your trade ?" "I 
am a saddler and harnessmaker," replied the stran- 
ger. "Oh," said the Major, "we do> not make leather 
guns here. When we do we will send for you." 

He made it a point to exact from all his subordi- 
nates the most literal obedience to his orders and, 
while he must have often regretted his having issued 
absurd commands while in his pets, he always g"ave 
credit to those who carried them out fully. He had 
a colored servant on whom he could always rely for 
the exact performance of his most unreasonable or- 
ders. One day, this servant carried to the dinner 
table a magnificent turkey, cooked in the most ap- 
proved fashion, but the Major was in one of his tan- 
trums and would not endure the sight of the sumptu- 
ous feast. "Take it to> the window and throw it out," 
said he, in the querulous tone peculiar to him and,, 
perhaps, to his surprise, the command was instantly 
obeyed. The servant raised the window and pitched 
out into the lawn, turkey, dish and all. The Major 
commended his servant's obedience and was instant- 
ly appeased and induced to settle down to his dinner. 

In his time, one of those exhibitions then rare, but 
unfortunately too common now — a prize fight — 
took place at, or very near Harper's Ferry. The 
then notorious Yankee Sullivan and an English 
bruiser named Ben, Caunt met by appointment there 
in 1846, and treated the people to< one of those brutal 
shows. Caunt came to Harper's Ferry several weeks 
before the fight and there he went through his course 
of training. He was the favorite with the people, 
no doubt, because of his nationality — most of the 
armorers being descended from Birmingham gun- 
smiths. Sullivan arrived on the night before the en- 
counter and with him came a crowd of shoulder-hit- 
ters, pickpockets, et hoc genus omne. They took 
possession of the town and, until the fight was de- 


cided, the utmost terror prevailed among the peace- 
able inhabitants. The battle ground was outside the 
town limits, east of the Shenandoah, in a meadow 
near what is called "the old stillhouse," on the line 
of Jefferson and Loudoun counties. Sullivan won 
the fight, but the exhibition broke up in a general 

In the summer of 1850, that fearful scourge — the 
Asiatic cholera again made its appearance at the 
place and decimated the people. Although it is said 
that the ravages of this pestilence are mostly con- 
fined to people of disolute habits, it was not so 
in this case, for it visited the homes of rich and poor 
indiscriminately, and all classes suffered equally, 
It is estimated that over one hundred people at the 
place perished by this epidemic and, the town having 
been deserted by all who could leave it, business, too, 
suffered severely- 
Major Symington was succeeded, in 185 1, by Col- 
onel Benjamin Huger. He was of Huguenot extrac- 
tion and a native of South Carolina. His administra- 
tion was not marked by any very important events. 
The excitement against the military system that 
arose in the time of Colonel Craig continued un- 
abated. During Colonel Huger's superintendency 
in 1 85 1, a sad accident occurred at Harper's Ferry. 
On the opening of the Baltimore and Ohio* railroad 
from Cumberland to Fairmont, an excursion train 
containing the principal officers of the road pro- 
ceeded from Baltimore to what was then the western 
terminus of that great channel of commerce. A 
number of Harper's Ferry people determined to give 
them a salute, as they passed that station, and, with 
this purpose, they loaded an old twelve-pounder con- 
non which was kept at the armory for such occa- 
sions. Through some mismanagement, there was a 
premature explosion which caused the death of two 


colored men. One of them, named John Butler, was 
a veteran of the war of 1812 and had been long a 
resident of the town. The other, named Seipio, was, 
too*, like Butler, well known and respected at the 
place . A third party, a white man, named James 
O'Laughlin, to> whose want of forethought the acci- 
dent was attributed, lost his life shortly afterwards 
by being run over by the railway cars, in front of the 
ticket office. 

In 1852, on an order from, the Secretary of War, 
the government disposed of a considerable portion 
of its property at Harper's Ferry to employes at the 
armory. Many of those people desired to purchase 
houses and the government deemed it politic to en- 
courage them in so doing. The plan insured a num- 
ber of prudent, sober and steady mechanics for em- 
ployment in the government works — men who, hav- 
ing a deep interest in the place, would consult the 
well-being of society there and would feel the more 
attached toi the public service. Therefore, many 
houses and lots were disposed of at public sale and, 
at the san>e time, many donations of land were made 
by the government for religious, educational and 
town purposes. 

In 1852 there was a remarkable inundation at Har- 
per's Ferry — the greatest that, up to> that time, had 
occurred there — at least since the settlement of the 
place by white people. The winter of 1851-1852 was 
exceedingly severe. From November until April, 
the snow lay deep upon the ground, and when, about 
the middle of the latter month, there was a heavy 
and warm rain for several days, the snow melted 
rapidly and an unprecedented flood was the conse- 
quence. The Potomac, swollen by a thousand tribu- 
taries, the smallest of which might aspire, at the 
time, to the dignity of a river, rolled in an irresistible 
tide and was met by the Shenandoah with the accu- 


mulated waters of the whole upper Valley of Virginia 
The town was literally submerged and large boats 
were propelled with oar and pole along the principal 
streets. Of course, much damage was done to prop- 
erty, but no loss of life on that occasion is recorded. 
Similar inundations we have mentioned as having 
occurred there in Mr. Harper's time, and in 1832 a 
very remarkable one took place which is fresh in the 
memories of a few of the citizens. Indeed, there is 
a belief that at least once in every twenty years the 
town is partially submerged. Since the war these in- 
undations are more frequent and far more injurious 
than they were before, because of the wholesale 
destruction of the forests for the use of the armies 
during the civil war. and the increased demand 
for timber for mercantile purposes. The day will 
come when legislation must step in to prevent this 
evil and when the American people must take a les- 
son from certain European governments in which 
the state takes charge of the forests and regulates 
the cutting down and planting of trees. The sug- 
gestion is, perhaps, an unpopular one, but it may be 
right nevertheless. 

It may be observed that Colonel Huger after- 
wards became a general in the service of the Confed- 
eracy and obtained some fame in the seven days' 
fighting before Richmond. 

Colonel Huger was succeeded, in 1854, by Major 
Bell, who was the last of the military superintendents 
He "reigned" but a few months, the government 
having decided about the end of that year to change 
the system of armory superintendence back from the 
military to the civil order. There was great rejoic- 
ing among the anti-military men and a correspond- 
ing depression among those of the opposite party, 
for the military system had many friends at the place, 
although they were in a minority . 



Major Bell was succeeded, early in 1855, by Henry 
W. Clowe, a native of Prince William county, Vir- 
ginia, a very worthy mechanic who had been em- 
ployed, for many years before, as a master mill- 
wright in the armory. He was a man of a very im- 
pulsive nature with all the virtues and many of the 
faults of men with that temperament. He was high- 
strung, as the saying is, but he was generous to a 
fault and never did the place enjoy greater pros-' 
perity than under his administration. Whether this 
was owing to his good management or not was a 
question which every man at the place decided ac- 
cording to* his partialities, perhaps, but the fact of 
the ..great prosperity of Harper's Ferry at that time, 
is undoubted. Having been associated a long time 
with the workmen as an equal, he had many difficul- 
ties to encounter to which a stranger would not be 
exposed. It is probable, however, that his greatest 
troubles arose from the intrigues of politicians. He 
had a quarrel with the representative in Congress 
from the district to which Harper's Ferry then be- 
longed, and by the influence of the latter or of some 
other party, Mr. Clowe was removed from the super- 
intendency about the close of 1858. 

In this administration, in the spring of 1856, a 
tragical occurrence took place in the town. Two 
men named Engle and Alison had a quarrel origi- 


naling' iii drunkenness, when the latter struck the 
former on the head with a four-pound weight, break- 
ing his skull in several places. The wounded man 
lay in a comatose state for some hours before his in- 
evitable death. Alison was arrested immediately 
and conveyed to Charlestown jail {o await trial. 
Having concealed on his person a small pistol he 
blew out his own brains in a few minutes after his 
lodgment in prison, and his spirit arrived at the 
great judgment seat almost as soon as that of his 

In the summer of 1858 — June 10th — a melancholy 
accident occurred in the armory yard, whereby Mr. 
Thomas Cunningham, a most worthy man, lost his 
life. A very curious circumstance is connected with 
this accident. The mishap took place about 9 o'clock 
a. m. A few minutes before that hour the writer 
of these pages was passing the armory gate, when 
he encountered a very respectable citizen of the 
place, who, in an excited manner asked him if he 
had heard of any accident in the shops or the armory 
yard. Having heard of none the writer inquired 
what grounds the other had for the question. The 
reply was, that he had heard of no- accident, but that 
he was certain that somebody was or would be hurt 
that day at the place, for he had seen in his dreams 
that morning several men at work in a deep excava- 
tion in the armory grounds and noticed particles of 
gravel falling from the sides of the pit and a big 
rock starting to fall on the men. In his endeavor 
to give notice to the parties in danger he awoke and 
this was his reason for believing that somebodv 
would be injured that day at the place. Politeness 
alone prevented the writer from laughing outright at 
what he considered foolish superstition in his friend. 
He reasoned with him on the absurdity of a belief 
in dreams which, instead of being prophetic, can 


always be traced to some impression; made on the 
mind during waking hours. While they were yet 
conversing, a man ran out from the armory in 
breathless haste and inquired for a physician. On 
being questioned, he replied that Mr. Cunningham 
had been crushed by a rock falling on him; in an ex- 
cavation he was making and that Mr. Edward Savin, 
also, had been badly hurt. Mr. Cunningham died 
in a few minutes after his being injured and thus was 
the dream literally verified, even to the exact place, 
foreshadowed — the armory yard — for there it was 
the excavation was being made. Mr. Savin re- 
covered from his hurts and afterwards served with 
great credit in the 69th regiment of New York Vol- 
unteers. At the first battle of Bull Run he had, it 
is said> his clothing perforated in more than a dozen 
places by bullets, but he escaped without a wound. 
It is reported that his preservation in this battle 
was among the most extraordinary of the war of 
the rebellion, considering the very shower of bullets 
that must have poured on him to SO' riddle Ms 
clothes. Whether the dream was a mere coincidence 
or a psychological phenomenon let every reader 
judge for himself. There is high authority for be- 
lieving that "coming events cast their shadows be- 
fore" and the above, for which the writer can vouch, 
would appear to confirm the truth of what every 
one is inclined, in his heart, to believe, though but 
few dare to own it, for fear of incurring ridicule. The 
occurrence convinced the writer of what he more 
than suspected before and fully believes now, that 
verily, there are many things transpiring daily which 
do not enter into anybody's philosophy and which 
can not be explained by intellect clothed in flesh. 
Perhaps, we will understand it all when we enter 
some other sphere of existence and, perhaps, again, 
we will not. 


Apropos of the foregoing, the reader may feel in- 
terested in the following which, although it did not 
occur at Harper's Ferry, took place so near to it, 
that it will not be considered much out of place in 
our chronicles. Besides, it was proposed at the start 
that the author should give strange incidents of the 
neighborhood of Harper's Ferry, especially when 
the actors in the scenes, as in this case, were identi- 
fied closely with that place and had daily business 
relations with its people. Some sixty years ago, 
there lived near Kabletown in the upper part of Jef- 
ferson county, a Scotchman, named McFillan, who 
was overseer on a plantation belonging to a Mrs. 
Hunter. He was a man of dissipated habits, and 
some person whom he had offended imformed his 
employer in an anonymous note that he was neglect- 
ing his duties. On being taken to 1 task by Mrs. Hun- 
ter, McFillan at once concluded that the author of 
the note was a neighbor named Chamberlain with 
whom he had had some quarrel. In a short time 
after McFillan and his supposed enemy encountered 
one another at a blacksmith's shop in Kabletown 
and, the former charging the latter with the author- 
ship of the letter, a fight took place between them, 
when Chamberlain struck McFillan on the head 
with a stone, injuring him severely. Before any 
great length of time the wounded man died and, it 
being supposed that his death was caused by the 
injury received from Chamberlain, a coroner's in- 
quest was held over the remains and a post-mortem 
examination was made by Dr. Creamer, a physician 
of local celebrity in those days. Chamberlain was 
put on trial in Charlestown and, as the fact of his 
having struck the deceased was notorious, he based 
his defense on the probability that McFillan had 
come to his death by dissipation. Dr. Creamer's 
evidence favored the prisoner's theory, and, as the 



utmost confidence was felt generally in the doctor's 
ability and integrity, the accused was- acquitted. 
Why the doctor did not so> testify before the cor- 
oner's jury, the tradition does not tell. 

In some time after the trial a man named Jenkins 
moved into the neighborhood of Kabletown and 
took up his residence in the house formerly occu- 
pied by McFillan and in which he had died. Jenkins 
was a bachelor and he lived without any company, 
except that of some slaves whom he had brought 
with him. Feeling lonely, he extended an invita- 
tion to the young men of the vicinity to visit him and 
assist him 1 to pass away the long winter evenings in 
a social game of "old sledge" or "three-trick loo." 
One night Chamberlain visited him and engaged at 
a game. Their conversation was cheerful and not, 
at all, calculated to excite their imaginations dis- 
agreeably. While they were playing, a shuffling of 
feet was heard in the hall and, presently, a knock was 
given at the room door. Jenkins said, "walk in," 
when the door was opened and in came two men 
who were strangers to the proprietor. Chamber- 
lain instantly fell to the floor in a swoon and Jenkins 
jumped up to assist him. While stooping to help 
his friend, the host, of course, took his eyes from 
the strangers and when he had succeeded in lifting 
Chamberlain to a seat, they had vanished unseen 
and unheard by any other person about the house. 
The negroes, on being questioned, denied positively 
their having heard or seen them arrive or depart, 
and it was impossible that any one in the flesh could 
enter the house and proceed to the room occupied 
l by Jenkins and Chamberlain, without being" dis- 
covered by the servants. Chamberlain exhibited 
signs of the most abject terror and his host was 
obliged to send some five or six of his slaves to ac- 
company him to his home. Of course, the matter 



got noised abroad and the neighbors eagerly ques- 
tioned Jenkins about it, but he coult give no expla- 
nation of it, beyond describing the appearance of the 
strangers. The description of one of them answered 
exactly to that of McFillan. The height, make, com- 
plexion and dress of the supposed spectre corre- 
sponded closely with those of the deceased overseer 
and the other equally resembled Chamberlain's 
father who* had been dead some years. The latter 
apparition were the peculiar dress of the Society of 
Friends of which the old gentleman had been a 
member and, in other respects, its description coin- 
cided exactly with that of the deceased Quaker, Of 
course, no one ventured to question Chamberlain 
on the subject, but it is religiously believed in the 
neighborhood that the apparitions were the ghosts 
of the men whom they so much resembled, but why 
they should travel in company or what the object 
of their visit was is as much of a mystery as the 
dream which suggested this episode. Jenkins had 
never before seen either of them, being as before 
noted, a stranger in the neighborhood and, certainly 
there was no reason why his imagination should con- 
jure up those appartitions. Whatever skepticism 
may be entertained about the matter, it is certain 
that Jenkins, to the day of his death, persisted is his 
statement, and there was no man in the county of 
a higher character than he for veracity. It is said 
that never after that night did Chamberlain sleep in 
a dark room, but that he always kept a light burning 
in his bed chamber, from the time he retired to rest 
until daylight. He met his death many years after- 
wards in a singular manner. He was riding one day 
in a wagon over a rough road. In the bed of the 
wagon was a loaded musket with the muzzle of the 
barrel pointing towards him. In some way the 
musket was discharged and the bullet killed Cham- 


berlain. It was claimed by some who, perhaps, were 
interested in having it appear so, that the jolting of 
the wagon caused the discharge of the gun, but no 
one attempted to explain how the weapon was 
cocked or why the bullet did not pass under the 
driver's seat, instead of through his body. Many 
ugly rumors floated around for some time in con- 
nection with the affair, but the writer does not feel 
at liberty* to> give them further currency. All the 
parties concerned are now dead, and let no one dis- 
turb their repose by rehashing what may have been 
mere slander or idle gossip. During Mr. Clowe's 
time as superintendent — in 1857 — died at Harper's 
Ferry, John, commonly known as "Lawyer" Bar- 
nett, who was in his way, quite a celebrity. He was 
by trade a carpenter and he had the reputation of 
being an excellent mechanic. Like many other de- 
luded visionaries, he conceived that he had discov- 
' ered a principle on which perpetual motion could be 
produced and, for many years, he devoted his ener- 
gies, spent his earnings and tried the patience of his 
friends, in the construction of a machine illustrative 
of his idea, and explaining his theory to any per- 
son willing to listen. His device was certainly very 
ingenious but marvelously complicated and when set 
in motion, it terrified, with its unearthly noises, his 
timid neighbors, many of whom looked with superstL 
tious awe on the mysterious fabric and its uncanny 
inventor. The poor "Lawyer," however, was the 
most harmless of mankind and the last man that his 
friends should suspect of being in league with the 
powers of darkness. If any compact existed the 
poor fellow's appearance certainly did not indicate 
any accession of wealth, as he always went about 
dressed like a scare-crow, his rags fluttering in the 
breeze, betokening the most abject poverty. He 
always carried a thick cudgel and was accompanied 


by a ferocious looking bull dog. The latter was, 
however, as harmless as his master and, for all that 
any one knew, as much abstracted in the contempla- 
tion of some problem of interest to his canine 
friends. Barnett, like many other great men, would 
take sprees occasionally, and the poor felow died 
one night in one of his drinking bouts, at his soli- 
tary bachelor home, and his face was devoured by 
rats before his death was discovered by his neigh- 
bors.' It need not be said that he did not accomplish 
the impossibility he had proposed to himself, and his 
machine now lies in a garret almost forgotten. Had 
the "Lawyer" been a married man he would not 
have met so appalling a fate and, besides, if we may 
rehash a stale joke on the ladies, he might have got 
some valuable hints from his wife's tongue and ac- 
complished something for science. 

Mr. Clowe was succeeded in January, 1859, by 
Alfred M. Barbour, a young lawyer from western 
Virginia, whose administration was the most event- 
ful in the history of the place, as it was during that 
period that the great civil war broke out which, as 
is well known, caused the total destruction of the 
armory works. Other remarkable events, however, 
occurred in Mr. Barbour's time which were pre- 
cursors of the subsequent great evils and foreshad- 
owed the final catastrophe. These will be narrated 
in the next chapter, 

On the 28th day of June, 1859, a memorable tor- 
nado swept over the place. About 3 o'clock in the 
afternoon a thunder storm came up and two clouds 
were noticed approaching each other, driven by cur- 
rents of wind from opposite directions. When they 
encountered one another, a fierce flash of lightning 
followed by an appalling thunder peal, lit up the 
heavens. Rain poured down in cataracts and, as if 
Aeolus had suddenly released all his boisterous sub- 


jects, the winds rushed from all quarters and came 
in conflict in the gap through which the Potomac 
finds its way to the Ocean. In the war of winds 
a fine covered bridge that crossed the Shenandoah 
about three hundred yards above the mouth of that 
river was lifted from its piers and completely over- 
turned into the bed of the stream. Mrs. Sloan, a 
respectable old lady, happened to be on the bridge 
at the time and, of course, was carried 'with it. into 
the river. She was found shortly after, standing up 
in a shallow place, and completely covered over with 
the debris of the wrecked bridge, but fortunately, 
and almost miraculously, she received very little in- 

Having given a sketch of each of the superintend- 
ents, the writer thinks a notice due to the master- 
armorers, also. Originally, the superintendents 
were styled master-armorers, and Messrs. Perkins 
and Stubblefield went by this appellation officially. 
In 1815, however, the latter 1 gentleman was allowed 
an assistant to- whom that ^tle was transferred, and 
that of superintendent was given to the principal 
officer. In the above mentioned year, Armistead 
Beckham was appointed to the second office in the 
armory. He was a high-minded gentleman who- did 
his duty regardless of the clamor of factions and with 
a stern resolve to- do justice — a difficult task during 
a portion of his time, as the administration at Wash- 
ington was democratic and Mr. Beckham was 
always much opposed to President Jackson. The 
latter, however, could not be induced to dismiss the 
honest master-armorer— such was the respect enter- 
tained for the character of that gentleman. In 1830 
Mr. Beckham, exchanged with Benjamin Moore, 
who occupied a similar position in Pittsburg, each 
taking the place of the other. In some time after, 
Mr. Beckham was appointed superintendent of the 


Western Penitentiary of Pennsylvania, in Allegheny 
City, which position he held until his death, many 
years after. 

Benjamin Moore was a remarkable person. He 
was a fine specimen of the physical man and his mind 
was on the same scale as his body. He occupied the 
position of master-armorer at Harper's Ferry for 
nineteen years and, during that time, he introduced 
an improvement into the manufacture of arms which 
is universally admitted tobe of the utmost advantage, 
but for which neither he nor his heirs ever received 
compensation, although a claim for it has been pend- 
ing for many years. His invention was that of the in- 
terchange of the component parts of a gun, which 
means that any particular part will suit sny gun. Th 
advantage of this plan in field operations must be at 
once apparent as, from piles composed of the vari- 
ous parts of a rifle or musket, a gun can be extem- 
porized to replace one rendered useless by accident. 
It is to be hoped that his descendants may yet reap 
the benefit of his ingenuity and that justice may at 
length be done to the heirs of a man who did so 
much for the efficiency of our armies. 

Like many 'other men of studious minds, Mr. 
Moore had, in many things, a child-like simplicity. 
His son, Thomas, was a man of great talent and, in 
almost every field of art, his ability wa apparent. 
Among other agreeable gifts, he possessed that of 
consummate mimicry. Sometimes he would disguise 
himself in the garb of a beggar and meet his father 
with the most piteous tale of distress, which never 
failed to work on the old gentleman's sympathies to 
the opening of his purse. Many a dollar did the son 
thus obtain from the benevolent father and, when 
the young man would throw off his disguise and 
make himself known, nobody enjoyed the deception 
better than the victim. Next day, however, the 


father was just as liable to be taken in as before, 
such was his abstraction of mind, caused by intense 
thought on the subject of his invention. He died 
some forty years ago, at a ripe old age, covered 
with honors and with the happy assurance of the 
rewards promised for a well-spent life. 

Mr. Moore was succeeded in 1849 by James Bur- 
ton, a young man whose whole previous life had 
been devoted to the service of the government at 
Harper's Ferry. He was a fine musician and a man 
of varied accomplishments. In 1853, he was ap- 
pointed by the British government to superintend 
the manufacture of their Enfield rifle. Shortly be- 
fore our civil war, he returned to his native country, 
and, while the struggle was in progress, he superin- 
tended the manufacture of arms in Richmond. Mr. 
Burton died a few years ago' in Winchester, Virginia. 

He was succeeded in 1853 by Samuel- Byington, 
a good-natured, easy-going man, who was much 
respected by all at Harper's Ferry. He died, during 
the civil war, at Washington City, to which place he 
had moved in 1858. 

Mr. Byington was succeeded in the year last men- 
tioned, by Benjamin Mills, a practical gunsmith, of 
Harrodsburg, Kentucky. Mr. Mills did not reside 
very long at Harper's Ferry, returning, in the 
autumn of 1859, to his former residence. During 
his stay, however, he met with an adventure which 
will be related in the next chapter, and it can be 
safely said that, in his experience in the west, he 
scarcely met with anything that made a deeper im- 
pression on him than what -he encountered on this 
occasion, or which will bide longer in his memory. 

Mr. Mills was succeeded, in 1859, by Armistead 
M. Ball, a man of remarkable powers as a machinist. 
He participated in Mr. Mills' adventure and, like 


the latter, no doubt, had a lively recollection of the 
affair until his death, which occurred in 1861. 

The capacity of the Harper's Ferry armory was 
from fifteen hundred to two thousand guns a month, 
and the muskets and rifles manufactured there were, 
generally, considered the best in the world. A good 
deal has been heard of the needle-gun, the Chassepot 
and other guns used by various nations, which may 
be all that is claimed for them, but the Harper's 
Ferry Rifle Yerger enjoyed in its day a reputation 
second to no weapon of the small arms kind under 
the sun, and it is very doubtful if it will be much ex- 
celled hereafter, notwithstanding the many improve- 
ments we hear of year after year. In the war of the 
rebellion it went by the name of the Mississippi Rifle 
because the troops of that state were the first of the 
Confederates to be armed with it, 



In the summer of 1859, a party of strangers made 
their appearance at Sandy Hook, a small village of 
Washington county, Maryland, in the immediate 
vicinity of Harper's Ferry. With them was an old 
man of venerable appearance and austere demeanor 
who called himself Isaac Smith. They represented 
themselves as being prospecting for minerals, and 
they took frequent and long - rambles, with this os- 
tensible purpose, over the various peaks of the Blue 
Ridge Mountains. Since the fi'rlst settlement of 
Harper's Ferry, it has been believed that, in the 
earth beneath the wild crags of the Maryland and 
Loudoun Heights, mines of different metals and of 
fabulous value are hidden, awaiting the eye of 
science and the hand of industry to discover and de- 
velop them. Many of the citizens of the place, from 
time to time, have supposed that they'' had found 
them and no small excitement has been aroused on 
this account by sanguine explorers. Specimens of 
different kinds of valuable ore or what was supposed 
to be such, were sent to Boston and subjected to 
chemical analysis and very favorable reports were 
returned by the most eminent chemists and geolo- 
gists of the Athens of America. No wonder was 
felt, therefore, at the appearance of the party, and 
their expeditions over the tortuous and difficult 
paths of the mountains excited no suspicion, At 


first, they boarded at the house of Mr. Ormohd 
Butler, where their conduct was unexceptionable. 
They paid in gold for whatever they purchased and, 
as their manners were courteous to> all, they were, 
on the whole, very much liked by Mr. Butler's family 
and his guests. After a week's stay at Sandy Hook, 
they removed to what is known as "the Kennedy 
Farm" about five miles from Harper's Ferry, on the 
Maryland side of the Potomac, where they estab- 
lished their headquarters. While at this place, 
Smith and his party, of whom three were his sons, 
made themselves very agreeable to their neighbors 
and they were as popular there as they had been at 
Sandy Hook. The father was regarded as a man 
of stern morality, devoted to church exercises, and 
the sons, with the others of the party, as good-na- 
turecl, amiable, young men. Thus things continued 
'till the night of Sunday, October 16th, 1859. On 
that night about 10 o'clock, Mr. William Williams, 
one of the watchmen on the railroad bridge, was 
surprised to find himself taken prisoner by an armed 
party, consisting of about twenty men, who sudden- 
ly made their appearance from the Maryland side of 
the river. Most of the party then proceeded to the 
armory enclosure, taking with them their prisoner, 
and leaving two men to guard the bridge. They 
next captured Daniel Whelan, one of the watchmen 
at the armory, who was posted at the front, gate, 
and they took possession of that establishment. The 
party then separated into two bodies — one remain- 
ing in the armory and the other proceeding to the 
rifle factory, half a mile up the Shenandoah, where 
they captured Mr. Samuel Williams — father of Wil- 
liam Williams before mentioned — an old and highly 
respected man, who was in charge of that place as 
night watchman. He, too, was conducted to the 
armory where the other prisoners were confined, and 


a detachment of the strangers was left to supply 
his place. About 12 o'clock— midnight— Mr. Pat- 
rick Higgins, of Sandy Hook, arrived on the bridge 
for the purpose of relieving Mr. William Williams' 
They were both in the employment of the Baltimore 
and Ohio railroad company as watchmen, and each 
used to serve twelve hours of the twenty-four on 
duty. Higgins found all in darkness on the bridge 
and, suspecting that something had gone wrong 
with Williams, he called loudly for him. To his as- 
tonishment he was ordered to halt and two men 
presented guns at his breast, at the same time tell- 
ing him that he was their prisoner. One of them 
undertook to conduct him to the armory, but, on 
their arriving at a point near the Virginia end of 
the bridge, the hot-blooded Celt struck his captor 
a stunning blow with his fist, and, before the stran- 
ger could recover from its effects, Higgins had suc- 
ceeded in escaping to Fouke's hotel, where he eluded 
pursuit. Several shots were fired after him, without 
effect, and he attributes his safety to the fact that his 
pursuers, while in the act of firing, stumbled in the 
darkness over some cross pieces in the bridge, and 
had their aim disconcerted. About this time a party 
of the invaders went to the houses of Messrs. Lewis 
Washington and John Alstadt, living a few miles 
from Harper's Ferry, and took them and some of 
their slaves prisoners, conducting them to the gen- 
eral rendezvous for themselves and their captives— 
the armory enclosure. From the house of the former 
they took some relics of the great Washington and 
the Revolution, which the proprietor, of course, very 
highly prized. Among them was a sword, said to 
be the same that was sent to the "Father of his 
Country" by Frederick the Great, King of Prussia — 
a present, as a legend inscribed on it said, "from the 
oldest General of the time to the best." All through 


the night, great excitement existed among such of 
the citizens as became cognizant of these facts. 
There happened to be, at the time, protracted meet- 
ings at nearly all of the Methodist churches in the 
town and neighborhood, and the members, returning 
home late, were taken prisoners in detail, until the 
armory enclosure contained a great many captives, 
who w r ere unable to communicate to their friends 
an account of their situation. 

About one o'clock a. m., Monday, the east bound 
express train, on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, 
arrived in charge of Conductor Phelps. The train 
, was detained by order of the leader of the band, 
and the telegraph wires were cut. The object of 
these orders was, of course, to prevent news of the 
invasion from being spread. The train was allowed 
to proceed, however, after a considerable delay. 
While the train was at Harper's Ferry, great alarm 
naturally existed among the passengers who could 
not understand these movements. Several shots 
were exchanged between the attacking force and a 
Mr. Throckmorton, clerk at Fouke's hotel, and some 
other parties unknown, but no person was injured. 
Some time in the course of the night, Heywood 
Shepherd, a colored porter at the railroad office, 
walked to the bridge, impelled, no doubt, by curi- 
osity to understand the enigma. He was ordered to 
halt by the guards at the bridge and being seized 
with a panic and running back, he was shot through 
the body. He succeeded in reaching the railroad 
office, where he died next day at 3 o'clock, in great 

A little before daylight, some early risers were 
surprised to find themselves taken prisoners, as soon 
as they appeared on the streets. Among them was 
James Darrell, aged about sixty-five years, the bell- 
ringer at the,armory, whose duties, of course, com- 


pelled him to be the first of the hands at his post. 
It being yet dark, he carried a lantern. When near 
the gate, he was halted by an armed negro*, one of 
the invading party, and, Darrell, not dreaming of 
what was transpiring and mistaking his challenger 
for one of Mr. Fouke's slaves on a "drunk," struck 
the negro with his lantern and consigned his "black 
soul" to a climate of much higher temperature than 
that of Virginia. . The negro presented a Sharp's 
rifle at Darrell and, no doubt, the situation of bell- 
ringer at Harper's Ferry armory would have been 
very soon vacant, had not a white man of the stran- 
ger party who appeared to relish very highly the 
joke of the mistake, caught the gun and prevented 
the negro from carrying out His intention. Another 
white man of the party, however, came up and struck 
Darrell on the side with the butt of his gun, injuring 
him severely. Darrell was then dragged before "the 
captain" who, pitying his age and his bodily suffer- 
ings, dismissed him on a sort of parole. Mr. Walter 
Kemp, an ag^ed, infirm man, bartender at Fouke's 
hotel, was taken prisoner about this time and con- 
signed to Limbo with the others. 

It was, now, daylight and the armorers proceeded 
singly or in parties of two. or three from their vari- 
ous homes to work at the shops. They were gob- 
bled up in detail and marched to prison, lost in as- 
tonishment at the strange doings and many, per- 
haps, doubting if they were not yet asleep and 
dreaming. Several of the officers of the armory 
were captured, but the superintendent not being in 
the town at the time, the invaders missed what, no 
doubt, would have been to them a rich prize. About 
this time, Mr. George W. Cutshaw, an old and esti- 
mable citizen of the place, proceeded from his house 
on High street, towards the Potomac bridge, in com- 
pany with a lady who was on her her way to Wash- 


ington City and whom Mr. Cutshaw was escorting 
across the river, to the place where the canal packet- 
boat on which she intended to travel was tied up. 
He passed along- unmolested until he disposed of his 
charge, but, on his return, he encountered on the 
bridge several armed apparitions — one of them, an 
old man of commanding presence, appearing to be 
the leader. Mr. Cutshaw, who was "a man of infi- 
nite jest," used to relate in the humorous manner 
peculiar to himself, how he, on first seeing them, 
took up the thought that a great robbery had been 
committed somewhere and that the tall, stern figure 
before him was some famous detective, employed to 
discover and arrest the perpetrators, while the minor 
personages were his assistants. He was halted, but, 
being in a hurry for his breakfast, he was moving 
on, when he received another and peremptory chal- 
lenge. At last he said impatiently, "let me go on! 
What do / know about your robberies?" These 
were unfortunate words for Cutshaw, as they gave 
the chief to understand that his party were suspected 
of an intention to plunder — an imputation which the 
old warrior very highly resented. Mr. Cutshaw was, 
therefore, immediately marched off to the armory 
and placed among the. other prisoners, where "the 
Captain" kept a- close eye on him until his attention 
was engrossed by the subsequent skirmish. 

A little before 7 o'clock, a. m.. Mr. Alexander 
Kelly approached the corner of High and Shenan- 
doah streets, armed with a shotgun, for the purpose 
of discharging it at the invaders. No sooner did he 
turn the corner than two shots were fired at him 
and a bullet was sent through his ha«t. Immediately 
afterwards, Mr. Thomas Boerlv approached the 
same corner with the same purpose. He was a man 
of herculean strength and great personal courage. 
He discharged his gun at some of the enemy who 


were standing at the arsenal gate, when a shot was 
fired at him by one of the party who' was prouching 
behind the arsenal fence. The bullet penetrated his 
groin, inflicting a ghastly wound, of which he died 
in a few hours. 

The writer of these annals met with an adventure 
on this occasion which, though it partook largely 
of romance to> which he is much addicted, was any- 
thing but agreeable. Sharing in the general curi- 
osity to know what it was all about, he imprudently 
walked down High street to Shenandoah street. 
At the arsenal gate he encountered four armed men 
— two white and two black. Not being conscious 
of guilt he thought he had no' reason to fear any- 
body. The four guards saluted him civilly and one 
of the white men asked him if he owned any slaves. 
On his answering in the negative, the strangers told 
him that there was a movement on foot that would 
benefit him and all persons who did not own such 
property. The writer passed on strongly impressed 
with the thought that, sure enough, there was some- 
thing in the wind. He then looked in at the prison- 
ers, among whom was Mr. Thomas Gallaher,to whom 
he spoke. The invaders had ceased some time be- 
fore from making prisoners, as they thought they 
now had as many as they could well manage. This 
accounts for the writer's escape from arrest when he 
first exposed himself to capture. The leader of the 
party approached the writer on his speaking to Gal- 
laher, and ordered him off the street, telling him, 
that it was against military law to talk with prison- 
ers. Not conceiving that this stranger had a right 
to order him off so unceremoniously and not being 
at the best of times of a very patient temper, the 
historian refused to comply, when a pistol was pre- 
sented at his breast by the captain, which obliged 
him to duck a little and take shelter behind a brick 


pillar in the wall that enclosed the armory grounds. 
The commander then called nut to the same men 
whom the writer had encountered at the arsenal 
gate, on the opposite side of the street, and who 
were not thirty yards off when the eneounter with 
the chief took place. He ordered them to shoot or 
to arrest the historian and they at once prepared to 
obey the order. Not relishing either alternative of 
death or imprisonment, the writer dodged up the 
alleyway that ran along the side wall of the armory 
yard, and, in order to> disconcert their aim, he took 
a zigzag course which probably would not have been 
enough to save him from four bullets shot after him 
in a narrow alley by experienced marksmen, had not 
aid come from an unexpected source. And, now, 
for the romance. A colored woman, who' was 
crouching in a doorway in the alley, rushed out be- 
tween him and the guns, and, extending her arms, 
begged of the men not to shoot. They did not shoot 
and the present generation has not lost and posterity 
will not be deprived of this history, a calamity which, 
without the intervention of a miracle, their shooting- 
would have % entailed. Ever since, the writer has 
claimed great credit to himself for presence of mind 
in thinking of the "zigzag," under these trying cir- 
cumstances, but his friends maliciously insinuate 
that absence of body did more to save him than 
presence of mind. He takes consolation, however, 
by comparing himself to the great John Smith, the 
first white explorer of Virginia, who was once in an 
equally bad fix and was saved by the timely interven- 
tion of another dusky maiden. The heroine who, in 
the present case, conferred so great a blessing on 
posterity, was Hannah, a slave belonging to Mrs. 
Margaret Carroll, of Harper's Ferry, and her name 
will be embalmed in history, like that of Pocohontas, 
and it will be more gratefully remembered than that 


of the Indian maiden, by future readers of this vera- 
cious story, who will consider themselves — partly at 
least — indebted to her for an unparalleled intellectu- 
al treat. 

It was now breakfast time and "the captain" sent 
an order to Fouke's hotel for refreshments for his 
men. The state of his exchequer is not known, but 
he did not pay for the meals in any usual species of 
currency. He released Walter, familiarly called 
"Watty" Kemp, the bartender at Fouke's and he 
announced this as the equivalent he was willing to 
pay. It is to be feared that the landlord did not duly 
appreciate the advantages he gained by this profit- 
able bargain, and it may be that "Uncle Watty" him- 
self did not feel much flattered at the estimate put 
on him in the -terms of the ransom and his being 
valued at the price of twenty breakfasts. Be this 
as it may, the bargain was struck and the meals 
furnished. The leader of the raiders invited his 
prisoners to* partake of the provisions as^far as they 
would go 'round, but only a few accepted the hospit- 
able offer for fear of the food's being drugged. 

Up to this time no person in the town, except the 
prisoners, could tell who the- strange party were. 
To the captives, as was ascertained afterwards, the 
strangers confessed their purpose of liberating the 
slaves of Virginia, and freedom was offered to any 
one in durance who would furnish a negro man as 
a recruit for the "army of the Lord." However, as 
there was -little or no communication allowed be- 
tween the prisoners and their friends outside, the 
people, generally, were yet ignorant of the names 
and purposes of the invaders and, as may be be- 
lieved, Madam Rumor had plenty of employment for 
her hundred tongues. Soon, however, they were 
recognized by some as the explorers for minerals 
and then suspicion at once rested on a young man 


named John E. Cook, who had been sojourning at 
Harper's Ferry for some years, in the various capaci- 
ties of schoolmaster, book agent and lock-keeper 
on the Chesapeake and Ohio canal and who had mar- 
ried into a reputable family at the place. He had 
been seen associating with the Smith party and, as he 
had been often heard to boast of his exploits in "the 
Kansas war," on the Free Soil side, it was instinc- 
tively guessed *that he and the Smiths were con- 
nected in some project for freeing the slaves and 
this opinion was confirmed by the fact of there being 
negroes in the party. Shortly after, a new light 
broke on the people and it was ascertained, in some 
way, that "the captain" was no other than the re- 
doubtable John Brown, of Kansas fame, who had 
earned the. title of "Ossawattomie Brown" from his 
exploits in the portion of Kansas along the banks of 
Ossawattomie river. The information came from 
one of the prisoners— Mr. Mills — who was allowed 
to communicate with his family. 

At the regular hour for commencing work in the 
morning, Mr. Daniel J. Young, master machinist 
at the rifle factory, approached the gate to these 
shops, expecting to find Mr. Samuel Williams at his 
post, as watchman, and little anticipating to find the 
place in possession of an enemy. He was met at the 
gate by a fierce-looking man, fully armed, who. re-^ 
fused him admittance, claiming that he and his com- 
panions — four or five of: whom appeared at the 
watch house door, on hearing the conversation — 
had got possession by authority from the Great Je- 
hovah. Mr. Young, being naturally astonished at 
hearing this, asked what the^object of the strangers 
was and learned that they had come to 1 give freedom 
to the slaves of Virginia ; that the friends of liberty 
had tried all constitutional and peaceable means to 
accomplish this end and had failed signally, but that, 


now the great evil of slavery must be eradicated at 
any risk and that there were resources enough ready 
for the accomplishment of this purpose. Mr. Young 
said in reply: "If you derive your authority from 
the Almighty I must yield as I get my right to enter 
only from an earthly power — the government of the 
United States. I warn you, however, that, before 
this day's sun shall have set, you and your compan- 
ions will be corpses." Mr. Young then went back to 
stop the mechanics and laborers who were on their 
way to go* to work and warn them of their danger. It 
appeared to be no> part of the policy of the strangers 
to keep prisoners at the rifle works, as no attempt 
was made to arrest Mr. Young. This gentleman, it 
may be remarked, became conspicuous afterwards 
for his adhesion to the cause of the Union. During 
the war, he was in charge of the ordnance at Har- 
per's Ferry, with the rank of captain. Soon after the 
close of hostilities he received a commission in the 
regular army with the same rank, and, after having 
served the government for a long time, at -various 
points, -he was retired some years ago, and took up 
his residence at Troy, New York, where he died in 

About 9 o'clock, a. m., the people had recovered 
from their amazement and sought for arms wherever 
4ij^they thought they could find any. It was no easy 
matter to find effective weapons, as the arsenal and 
nearly all the storehouses were in possession of the 
enemy. It was remembered, however, that, some 
time before, a lot of guns had been removed from 
the place where they were usually stored, in order to 
protect them from the driver which, at the time, had 
overflowed its banks and encroached on the armory 
grounds and buildings. The arms were put away in 
a building situated far above high water mark and 
the strangers knew not of their existence. Enough 


was procured from this lot to equip a few small com- 
panies of citizens and a desultory skirmish com- 
menced around the armory buildings and the adja- 
cent streets which continued all day. A company 
under Captain Henry Medler crossed the Shenan- 
doah on the bridge and took post on the Loudoun 
side of the river, opposite the rifle works. Another 
company under Captain Hezekiah Roderick, took 
position on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, north- 
west of the armory, and a third body, under Captain 
William H.Moore, crossed the Potomac about a mile 
above Harper's Ferry and marched down on the 
Maryland side to take possession of the railroad 
bridge. Thus Brown's party were hemmed in and all 
the citizens who were no.t enrolled in any of these 
companies engaged the invaders wherever they could 
meet them. The rifle factory was attacked and the 
strangers there posted were' soon driven into the 
Shenandoah where they were met by the fire of Cap- 
tain Medler's men who had crossed the river on the 
bridge, and, between the two fires, they all perished, 
except one — a negro named Copeland, who was 
taken prisoner. It is said that one* of the citizens 
named James Holt, waded into the river after one of 
the enemy who had reached a rock in the stream, 
knocked" him down with his fist and disarmed him. 
Whether it was Copeland or one of those who were 
afterwards killed that was thus knocked down the 
writer is not informed, but that Holt performed this 
feat is undoubted. 

At the armory proper, however, where Brown 
commanded in person, a more determined resistance 
was made. Brown had told several of his prisoners 
in the course of the morning that he expected large 
re-inforcements and when, about noon, the company 
of citizens under Captain Moore, that had crossed 
into Maryland, was seen marching down the river 


road great excitement prevailed, it being supposed 
by theprisoners and such of the other citizens as were 
not aware of Captain Moore's movements and, per- 
haps, by Brown's party, that these were, sure 
enough, allies of the invaders. Soon, however, it 
was ascertained who they were and Brown now see- 
ing that the fortune of the day was against him, sent 
two of his prisoners, Archibald M. Kitzmiller and 
Rezin Cross, under guard of two of his men, to nego- 
tiate in his name with Captain Moore for permission 
to vacate the place with his surviving men without 
molestation. The two ambassadors proceeded with 
their guards towards the bridge, but when they came 
near the "Gault House" several shots were fired 
from that building by which both of the guards were 
wounded severely and put hors de combat. One of 
them contrived to make his way back to the armory, 
but the other was unable to move without assistance 
and Messrs. Kitzmiller and Cross helped him into 
Fouke's hotel, where his wounds were dressed. It 
will be believed that neither of the envoys was fool- 
ish enough, like Regulus of old, to return to cap- 
tivity. Brown v finding that his doves did not come 
back with the olive branch and now despairing of 
success, called in from the streets the survivors of 
his party and, picking out nine Of the most promi- 
nent of his prisoners as hostages, he retreated into 
a small brick building near the armory gate, called 
"the engine house," taking with him the nine citizens. 
This little building was afterwards famous under the 
name of "John Brown's Fort," and, from the time 
of the invasion until the spring of 1892, it was an ob- 
ject of great curiosity to strangers visiting the place. 
It was sold at the time last mentioned to a company 
of speculators for exhibition at the World's Fair in 
Chicago, and with it much of the glory of Harper's 
Ferry departed forever. About the year 1895, it was 


repurchased and reshipped to Harper's Ferry by the 
late Miss Kate Fields, and it is now to be seen about' 
two miles from its original site on the farm of Mr. 
Alexander Murphy. Of course, the bricks are not 
relaid in their original order and the death of Miss 
Fields makes its restoration to anything 1 like its old 
self very improbable. About the time when Brown 
immured himself, a company of Berkeley county 
militia arrived from Martinsburg' who, with some 
citizens of Harper's Ferry and the surrounding coun- 
try made a rush on the armory and released the 
great mass of the prisoners outside of the engine 
house, not, however, without suffering some loss 
from a galling fire kept up by the enemy from "the 
fort." Brown's men had pierced the walls for mus- 
ketry and through the holes kept up a brisk fusilade 
by which they wounded many of the Martinsburg 
and Harpers Ferry people and some Charlestown 
men who, too, had come to take part in the fray. 
The sufferers were Messrs. Murphy, Richardson, 
Hammond, Dorsey, Hooper and Wollett, of Mar- 
tinsburg; Mr. Young, of Charlestown, and Mr. Ed- 
ward M.cCabe, of Harper's Ferry. Mr. Dorsey was 
wounded very dangerously and several of the others 
were injured severely. All got well again, however, 
except one, whose hand was disabled permanently. 

Before Brown's retreat to* the fort, two of his men 
approached the corner of High and Shenandoah 
streets, where Mr. Boerley had been shot in the 
morning. It was then about 2 o'clock, p. m., and 
Mr. George Turner, a very respectable gentleman of 
Jefferson county, who had come to town on private 
v business, was standing at the door of Captain 
Moore's house on High street, about seventy-five 
yards from the corner above mentioned. He had 
armed himself with a musket and was in the act of 
resting it on a board fence near the door, to take 


aim at one of those men, when a bullet from a 
Sharp's rifle struck him in the shoulder — the only 
part of him that was exposed. The ball, after taking 
an eccentric course, entered his neck and killed him 
almost instantly. A physician who examined his 
body described the wound as having been of the 
strangest kind, the bullet having taken a course en- 
tirely at variance with the laws supposed to prevail 
with such projectiles. It was thought by many that 
the shot was not aimed at Mr. Turner and that the 
man who fired it was not aware of that gentleman's 
being near. There were two citizens named 
McClenan and Stedman in the middle of the street 
opposite to Captain Moore's house. They had guns 
in their hands and at one of them it is supposed was 
aimed the shot that proved fatal to Mr. Turner. 

After this shooting the two strangers immediately 
retreated and a ludicrous occurrence took place, if, 
indeed, any event of that ill-omened day can be sup- 
posed to be calculated to excite merriment. Mr. 
John McClenan — above mentioned — shot after them 
and his bullet striking the cartridge box of one of 
them, as he was approaching the armory gate, an 
explosion of his ammunition took place and he en- 
tered the gate amid a display of fireworks of a novel 
description. Apparently, he did not relish the 
honors paid him and, with accelerated pace, he took 
refuge with his companions in the engine house. 

The strangers continued to- fire from their fortress 
and they now killed another very valuable citizen- 
Fountain Beckham, for many years agent of the 
Baltimore and Ohio railroad company at Harper's 
Ferry, and long a magistrate of Jefferson county. 
Being a man of nervous temperament he was nat- 
urally much excited by the occurrences of the day. 
Moreover, Heywood Shepherd, the negro shot on 
the railroad bridge on the previous night, had been 


his faithful servant and he was much grieved and 
very indignant at his death. Against the remon- 
strances of several friends he determined to- take a 
close look at the enemy. He crept along the rail- 
road, under shelter of a watering station, which 
then stood there and peeped 'round the corner of 
the building at the engine house opposite, when a 
bullet from one of Brown's men penetrated his heart 
and he died instantly. A man named Thompson, 
said to be Brown's son-in-law, had been taken pris- 
oner a short time before by the citizens and confined 
in Fouke's hotel under a guard. At first it was the 
intention of the people to hand him over to the 
regular authorities for trial, but the killing of Mr. 
Beckham so exasperated them that the current of 
their feelings was changed. They rushed into the 
hotel, seized Thompson and were dragging- him out 
of the house to put hiim to death, when Miss Chris- 
tina Fouke, a sister of the proprietor, with true fem- 
inine instinct, ran into the crowd and besought the 
infuriated multitude to spare the prisoner's life. 
This noble act has elicited the warmest commenda- 
tions from every party and it may be considered the 
one redeeming incident in the gloomy history of 
that unfortunate day. Miss Fouke's entreaties were 
unheeded, however, and Thompson was hurried to 
the railroad bridge, where he was riddled with bul- 
lets. He tried to escape by letting himself drop 
through the bridge into the river. He had been left 
for dead, but he had vitality enough remaining to 
accomplish this feat. He was discovered and another 
shower of bullets was discharged at him. He was 
either killed by the shots or drowned and, for a day 
or two, his body could be seen lying at the bottom 
of the river, with his ghastly face still showing what 
a fearful death agony he had experienced. 

Another of the invaders, named Lehman, at- 


tempted to escape from the upper end of the armory 
grounds by swimming or wading the Potomac. He 
had been seen shortly before conducting one of the 
armory watchmen, named Edward Murphy, towards 
the engine house. He kept his prisoner between 
himself and an armed party of citizens who were 
stationed on a hill near the government works. 
More than a dozen guns were raised to shoot him 
by the excited crowd and, no doubt, he and Murphy 
would have been killed had not Mr. Zedoc Butt, an 
old citizen, induced the party not to< fire, in consid- 
eration of the danger to> the innocent watchman. 
Immediately afterwards, Lehman disappeared for a 
while, but soon he was seen endeavoring to escape 
as above mentioned. A volley was fired after him 
and he must have been wounded, as he lay down and 
threw up both his arms, as if surrendering. A tem- 
porary resident of Harper's Ferry waded through 
the river to a rock on which Lehman lay, apparently 
disabled, and deliberately shot him through the head, 
killing him instantly. His body, too, lay for a con- 
siderable time where he fell, and it could be seen 
plainly from the high ground west of the armory. 
The slayer now asserts that Lehman first drew his 
pistol to shoot at him. 

A little before night Brown asked if any of 
his captives would volunteer to go out among the 
citizens and induce them to cease firing on the fort, 
as they were endangering the lives of their friends — 
the prisoners. He promised on, his part that, if 
there was no more firing on his men, there should 
be none by them on the beseigers. Mr. Israel Rus- 
sel undertook the dangerous duty — the risk arose 
from the excited state of the people who' would be 
likely to fire on anything seen stirring around the 
prison house — and the citizens were persuaded to 
stop firing in consideration of the danger incurred of 


injuring the prisoners. Like Messrs. Kitzmiller and 
Cross, Mr. Russel, it will be readily supposed, did 
not return to captivity. It is certain that the people 
of the place would have disposed of Brown and his 
party in a very shoit time, had they not been pre- 
vented all along from pushing the siege vigorously, 
by a regard for the lives of their fellow townsmen, 
who were prisoners. As it was. they had killed, 
wounded or dispersed more than three-fourths of the 
raiders and, consequently, the sneers that were after- 
wards thrown out against their bravery, were en- 
tirely uncalled for and were by parties who, in the 
subsequent war, did not exhibit much of the reckless 
courage which they expected from peaceful citizens, 
taken by surprise and totally at a loss for informa- 
tion as to the numbers and resources of their ene- 

It was now dark and the wildest excitement ex- 
isted in the town, especially among the friends of the 
killed, wounded and prisoners of the citizens' party. 
It had rained some little all day and the atmosphere 
was raw and cold. Now, a cloudy and moonless sky 
hung like a pall over the scene of war and, on the 
whole, a more dismal night cannot be imagined. 
Guards were stationed 'round the engine house to 
prevent Brown's escape and, as forces were con- 
stantly arriving from Winchester, Frederick City, 
Baltimore and other places to help the Harper's 
Ferry people, the town soon assumed quite a military 
appearance. The United Stats' authorities in 
Washington had been notified in the meantime, and. 
in the course of the night, Colonel Robert E. Lee, 
afterwards the famous General Lee of the Southern 
Confederacy, arrived with a force of United States' 
marines, to protect the interests of the government, 
and kill or capture the invaders. About n o'clock 
at night Brown again endeavored to open negotia- 


tions for a safe conduct for himself and his men out 
of the place. Colonel Shriver and Captain Sinn, of 
the Frederick troops, had a conference with him 
which, however, did not result in anything satisfac- 
tory. About 7 o'clock on Tuesday morning — Oc- 
tober 1 8th — Colonel Lee sent, under a flag of truce, 
Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart, of the ist Cavalry regi- 
ment — afterwards so famous for his exploits in the 
service of the confederacy — who had accompanied 
Colonel Lee from Washington, to summon the gar- 
rison to surrender. Knowing the character of 
Brown, Colonel Lee did not hope for any success in 
trying to induce him to lay down his arms, and he 
sent Lieutenant Stuart merely through solicitude 
for the prisoners and a desire to use every expedient 
in his power before ordering an assault and subject- 
ing them to the danger of being injured by mistake 
in the melee. As anticipated, Brown stubbornly re- 
fused to surrender and, therefore, about 8 o'clock, 
an attack was made by the marines under Lieutenant 
Greene. At first, they tried to break open the door 
with sledge hammers, but failing in this they picked 
up a large ladder that lay near and with that used as 
a battering ram they succeeded in making a breach. 
Through a narrow opening thus made, Lieutenant 
Greene squeezed himself, but he found that the in- 
surgents had barricaded the door With a fire engine 
and hose that were in the building. Over these ob- 
structions Lieutenant Greene scrambled, followed by 
his men and attacked Brown who, with his party, 
was fortified behind the engine. It is said that one 
of Brown's men offered to surrender and that Brown 
announced the man's willingness to do so, but, for 
some reason, the offer was not accepted. While the 
marines were effecting* a breach and when they com- 
menced to rush in, the enemy fired on them and one 
of the soldiers — Luke Quinn — Was mortally wound- 


ecLand another, named Rupert, had his upper lip 
badly lacerated. The former was shot through the 
body and, if the latter is still alive, he certainly has 
an ugly scar to remind him. and others of John 
Brown's raid. The insurgents were all bayoneted 
or captured, but fortunately none of the citizen pris- 
oners received any injury. Their escape, indeed, 
was almost miraculous, as it was difficult for the 
marines to distinguish them from the enemy. Brown 
himself was wounded severely by Lieutenant Greene 
and he was taken to another building where his in- 
juries were examined by a physician and his wounds 
dressed. He received a cut on the head and a sword 
thrust in the shoulder. Two or three survivors of 
his men were kept in the engine house, Under a 
guard of marines. The bodies of the slain raiders 
were collected soon after from the streets and rivers 
and, with one exception, buried in a deep pit on the 
southern bank of the Shenandoah, about half a mile 
above Harper's Ferry, and the prisoners — Brown in- 
cluded — were lodged in Charlestown jail. One body 
was taken away by some physicians for dissection, 
and, no doubt, the skeleton is now in some doctor's 
closet. After having lain just forty years in this 
rude grave by the Shenandoah, the bodies of the 
slain raiders were_disinterred about three years ago 
(1899) and taken to North Elba, New York, where 
they now rest close to the grave of their famous lead- 
er. This removal and reinterrment were accom- 
plished through the efforts and under the auspices of 
Professor Featherstonhaugh, of Washington, D. 
C, who has ever taken a deep interest in everything 
appertaining to John Brown and his famous raid. 
Can fiction imagine anything more weird than the 
reality of the sad fate of those men ? 

Some of Brown's men had escaped, 
however, from the place, in the course 
of the skirmish, and Cook had not been 


noticed at all in the fray or in the town since an early 
hour on Monday morning, when he was seen to cross 
the Potomac on the bridge into Maryland with a few 
others, taking with him two- horses and a wagon 
captured at Colonel Washington's place on the pre- 
vious night, and two or three slaves belonging to 
that gentleman. There was satisfactory evidence, 
however, of his being fully implicated in the outrage 
and it was ascertained that he, Owen Brown — one of 
old John's sons — and others had been detailed to 
operate on the Maryland shore and that they had 
seized a schoolhouse, taken the Domine — McCurrie 
— prisoner and driven away the pupils, for the pur- 
pose of establishing at the place a depot for arms 
convenient to Harper's Ferry. It was learned, also, 
that all the day of the 1 7th, they had kept up a mus- 
ketry fire from the Maryland mountain on the people 
of the town, and that late in the evening Cook had 
got supper at the canal lockhouse, on the Maryland 
side of the river. Moreover, it was supposed that, 
finding the fate of war against them, they had fled 
towards Pennsylvania. A large body of men, under 
Captain Edmund H. Chambers, an old citizen and 
a man of well known courage, marched towards the 
schoolhouse and the Kennedy farm and, at each 
place they found a large number of Sharp's rifles, 
pistols, swords, &c, with a corresponding quantity 
of powder, percussion caps and equipments of vari- 
ous kinds. A swivel cannon carrying a one pound 
ball was discovered, also, in a position to' command 
the town, although it is not known that it was used 
during the skirmish. A large number of pikes of a 
peculiar form, and intended for the hands of the 
negroes, was also found. The blacks were expected 
to turn out at the first signal, and this weapon was 
considered to be better suited to them than firearms, 
especially at the commencement of the campaign. 


It should have been, mentioned before that Brown 
had put into the hands of his negro prisoners some 
of these pikes, but, up to the time of the discovery 
of the magaine at the Kennedy farm, the object of 
this novel weapon was not fully understood. Cap- 
tain Chambers' party found, also, a great number of 
papers which tended to throw light on the con- 
spiracy and several hundred copies of a form of pro- 
visional government to be set up by Brown as soon 
as he had got a footing in the south. 

The Governor of Virginia, Henry A. Wise, had 
arrived in the meantime. He immediately took 
every precaution to secure the prisoners and guard 
the state against any attempt from the many allies 
Brown was thought to have in the north. Governor 
Wise indulged in many uncalled for strictures on the 
people of Harper's Ferry, for their supposed inef- 
ficiency as soldiers on this occasion, boasting that he 
could have taken Brown with a penknife. This 
he might have done if the handle was long enough 
to allow him to keep beyond rifle range while he was 
punching the old man through the key hole, but 
with an ordinary penknife or even with a minnie 
musket and bayonet, it is doubtful if the governor 
could have done more than was perfomed by many 
a mechanic of Harper's Ferry in the skirmish of 
Monday. In the subsequent war Governor Wise 
held quite an important command and history does 
not record of him any of the wonderful feats of skill 
or courage that might be expected from a man so 
confident of his own prowess as the governor was 
when sneering at a brave people taken by surprise 
and unarmed, when an unexpected attack was made 
on them. To Governor Wise Brown confessed the 
whole plan for liberating the slaves and, indeed, he 
had, all along, communicated to his prisoners his 
intentions, but, as before noted, he kept his captives 


isolated as much as possible and, in consequence, the 
people generally had but a vague suspicion of his 
purposes. It is true that the party at the rifle fac- 
tory had informed Mr. Young of their object, but so 
many wild rumors had been started before his inter- 
view with them, and there was so> much general con- 
fusion that "neither head nor tail" could be found 
for the strange occurrences of the day. The gov- 
ernor who, although he exhibited a great deal of 
petulance on this occasion, was certainly a gallant 
man himself, could not refraim from expressing ad- 
miration for Brown's undaunted courage, and it is 
said that he pronounced the old man honest, truth- 
ful and brave. 

The interview between these two ! men of some- 
what similar character, though of diametrically op- 
posite views on politics, is said to have been very 
impressive. It lasted two hours and those who were 
present reported that Brown exhibited a high order 
of uncultivated intellect in his conversation with the 
highly educated and polished governor of Virginia. 
It is said, also, that in the course of this interview, 
Brown foretold the utter destruction of Harper's 
Ferry to take place in a very short time — a prophecy 
which, if uttered at all, has met with a terrible and 
literal fulfillment. Brown, Wise and the group sur- 
sounding them while this conversation was in pro- 
gress, would furnish a fine theme for a picture. The 
stern, old Puritan with his bleeding wounds and dis- 
ordered dress, his long, gray beard and wild gleam- 
ing eyes, like some prophet of old, threatening the 
wrath of Heaven on a sinful generation, and the 
stately governor of Virginia reminding one of some 
cavalier of Naseby or Worcester — each firm and true 
as the blade he carried and each a type of the noble 
though fanatical race fronn which he sprang, would 
make an impressive picture and, perhaps, the scene 


will exercise, some day, the genius of a future painter. 

On Wednesday night, October 19th, while the 
fever of excitement was yet at its height, a gentle- 
man residing in Pleasant Valley, Maryland, about 
three miles from Harper's Ferry, heard a rumor that 
the "abolitionists" and the slaves were butchering 
the people around Rohrsville, a few miles farther 
up the same valley, and very properly gave notice of 
what he had heard, riding furiously through Sandy 
Hook, towards the centre of the trouble, the govern- 
ment armory. The people of Sandy Hook, men, 
women and children rushed wildly towards the same 
point for protection at the hands of the troops there 
assembled, while the people of Harper's Ferry were 
equally wild with .this new excitement. The marines 
who were yet at the place turned out and marched to 
the point designated, where their appearance caused 
another and more reasonable alarm among the peo- 
ple there, who had not been disturbed by Brownites, 
white or black and who, for a long time, could not be 
convinced that the soldiers had come to protect and 
not to molest them. Sandy Hook was totally de- 
serted by its people on this occasion, and many of 
them hurried away whatever of their portable prop- 
erty they deemed most valuable. It is said that one 
man shouldered a half-grown hog of a favorite breed 
and made tracks to Harper's Ferry, and, as he and 
his neighbors scoured along the road, the squeals of 
the indignant pig blended harmoniously with the 
multifarious noises of the flying column. The ma- 
rines, finding no enemy, returned to Harper's Ferry, 
but, for many weeks afterwards, similar alarms were 
started by nervous or mischievous people with near- 
ly the same results. 

Harper's Ferry was now patrolled every night 
by details of citizens until the execution of Brown, 
which took place near Charlestown, December 2d, 


1859. Many a midnight tramp did the author take 
along the muddy streets that winter with an old 
Hall's rifle on his shoulder when his turn came to 
watch out for prowling abolitionists. The compan- 
ion of his watch was a worthy Milesian gentleman 
named Dan. O'Keefe, from "the beautiful city called 
Cork." They made it a point to watch Dan's house 
particularly, through a very natural and praise- 
worthy anxiety on the part of that gentleman for the 
safety of his beter half and several pledges of love 
presented from time to time by that excellent lady 
to her lord and master, as well as for the sake of a 
corpulent flask which the hospitable Hibernian never 
failed to produce from a cupboard, near the dc*or, 
when in their rodnds, they came to his house. As the 
night and the contents of the flask waned, the cour- 
age of the brothers-in-arms arose and it is fortunate, 
perhaps, for the fame of Horatius Codes, Leonidas 
and other celebrated defenders of bridges or passes 
that no' abolitionists attempted to cross to "the 
sacred soil of Virginia" while those 'worthies were 
on guard and full of patriotic enthusiasm and 
whiskey punch. No doubt, their exploits would' 
have eclipsed those of the above mentioned Roman 
and Greek and of anybody else who> has gained 
celebrity by blocking the passage of an enemy. 
Several companies of armorers were organized for 
the defense of the place and, once a week did they 
display all "the pride, pomp and circumstance of 
glorious war" marching and countermarching along 
the streets, to the delight of the ladies, the children 
and, no doubt, of themselves, as well as to the terror 
of any book peddler from the north who might be 
in the neighborhood and who might reasonably be 
suspected of being opposed to slavery. A force of 
United States troops under Captain Seth Barton, 
afterwards prominent in the service of the confed- 


eracy, was stationed at Harper's Ferrv and, gradu- 
ally, quiet was restored. A Milesian warrior, named 
Sergeant McGrath of the above troop was detailed 
to instruct the awkward squad of citizens in the 
manual of arms and his deep Munster Doric could 
be heard on parade evenings thundering his com- 
mands to refractory recruits. 

Cook and another of Brown's party, named ^Albert 
Hazlett, were arrested in Pennsylvania and brought 
back to Virginia on requisitions. This circumstance 
furnished a lesson to the fanatics who> unhappily 
abounded on both sides of Mason and Dixon's line. 
To the southern men it ought to have proved that 
the people of the north did not sympathize to any 
great extent with the invaders of Virginia and to the 
northern people who expressed themselves as being- 
shocked at the want of clemency exhibited by the 
state of Virginia on this occasion, it showed that 
among themselves were men who were ready to de- 
liver over Brown's party to the tender mercies of 
the slave holders for the sake of a few hundred dol- 
lars offered as a reward for this service. 

Cook and another white man, named Edwin Cop- 
pic, with two negroes, named Green and Copeland, 
were executed on the 16th of December, in the same 
year and Hazlett and Aaron D. Stevens — both white 
— met the same fate on the 16th of March, i860. 

Brown's trial was, of course, a mere mater of form. 
He took no pains to extenuate his guilt and openly 
avowed that he desired no favors from the state of 
Virginia. Two young lawyers of Boston, named 
Hoyt and Sennott, volunteered to defend him and 
they, acquitted themselves creditably. The Honor- 
able Samuel Chilton, of Washington City, was em- 
ployed for the defense by John A. Andrew, of Massa- 
chusetts, afterwards governor of that state, but, of 


course, nothing could save the prisoner and he was 
executed as before stated. 

Brown died with unshaken fortitude and, bitter as 
the animosity against him was, his courage or rather 
his stoical indifference elicited the admiration of 
even his unrelenting enemies. Indeed it is diffi- 
cult at the present time to do justice to the character 
of this remarkable man, but, no doubt, the future his- 
torian of this country who will write when the pas- 
sions that excite us have subsided or, perhaps, are 
forgotten will class him. with the Scotch Covenanters 
of the 17th century. It appears to> the writer that in 
many respects John Brown very closely resembled 
John Balfour, of Burly, whose character is so finely 
portrayed in Scott's "Old Mortality." The same 
strong will and iron nerve and the same fanaticism 
characterized these two men and it must be said of 
both, for Burly's character is taken from, life — that, 
while no sane person can wholly approve of their 
actions, their most implacable opponents cannot deny 
a tribute of respect to their unflinching courage. The 
other prisoners, also, died bravely and, indeed, it was 
a melancholy thing to see men of soi much strength 
of character lose their lives in such a foolish under- 
taking — foolish, as far as the limited faculties of 
man can reach — but wise, perhaps, could men under- 
stand the workings of Him "whose thoughts are not 
our thoughts and whose ways are not our ways." 
In judging of this invasion it is well to remember 
that everything which John Brown proposed to do 
was successfully accomplished within five years from 
the day of his execution, and who can tell how much 
active providential interference there was in this 
apparently wild and lawless enterprise? 

An attempt to escape was made by Cook and 
Coppic on the night before their execution. By 
some means they succeeded in eluding the vigilance 


of the cell watch and in climbing the outer wall of 
the prison, when they were challenged by a citizen 
guard who was posted outside and their further 
progress was prevented. The name of the sentinel 
who discovered them in their flight was Thomas 
Guard and many jokes and puns were perpetrated 
for months afterwards on the coincidence. They 
were taken back immediately to their cell and closely 
guarded 'till morning. 

A characteristic anecdote was told by the late Mr. 
James Campbell, who was sheriff of Jefferson county 
at the time of the Brown troubles. It will be remem- 
bered that, on the morning of the raid. Brown got 
breakfast for his men at Fouke's hotel and that, in 
liquidation, he restored to liberty Walter Kemp, the 
bartender, whom he had taken prisoner. A short 
time before Brown's execution Sheriff Campbell sold 
some property belonging to Brown which was found 
at the Kennedy farm and was accounting to< him for 
it, and* naming some claims presented against him 
by various parties with whom Brown had had deal- 
ings. Among these claims was one of "Mr. Fouke 
for the refreshments mentioned. Brown was reclin- 
ing on his bed, not having yet recovered from his 
wounds, and, no doubt, with his spirit darkened by 
the shadow of his impending fate. He listened 
apathetically to the list of debits, until that of Mr. 
Fouke was mentioned when he suddenly rose up and 
protested .against this demand. "Why, Mr. Camp- 
bell," said he, "I made a fair exchange- with Mr. 
Fouke ; I restored to him his bartender as pay for 
the meals referred to, and I do not think it honorable 
in him to violate the contract." Mr. Campbell re- 
plied : "Why, Mr. Brown, I wonder at you. I 
thought yolu were opposed to trading in human 
flesh, but, now, I find that even you will do it, like 
other people, when it suits your convenience." A 


grim smile played for a moment' round the old Puri- 
tan's firmly compressed mouth. He lay down again 
quietly and remarked "Well, there may be some- 
thing in that) too." He made no further opposition 
to the claim. A part of the property disposed of by 
Sheriff Campbell was a horse which Brown had 
bought from a Harper's Ferry horse trader. In the 
transaction Brown had been badly bitten, as the 
animal was nearly valueless and, on the day of the 
raid the old man made particular inquiries about the 
tricky trader. The latter was warned of his danger 
and took care not to encounter his victim', who, with 
all the solemn thoughts of a great national uprising, 
and the fearful risk of* his undertaking, was yet 
smarting from the petty deception put on him in the 
sale and eager to> take vengeance for it. 

On the morning of his execution he bade an af- 
fectionate farewell to his fellow captives with the ex- 
ception of Cook whom he charged with having de- 
ceived him, and Hazlett of whom he denied any 
knowledge. It is said that he gave to each of them, 
with the exceptions noted, a silver quarter of a dol- 
lar, as a memento 1 and told them to meet their fate 
courageously. His pretense not to know Hazlett 
was understood to be for the benefit of the latter 
whose trial had not yet come off. Hazlett stoutly 
denied that he knew anything of Brown or that he 
was connected in any way with the raid on Harper's 
Ferry. It will be remembered that he was arrested 
in Pennsylvania, some time after the invasion, and, 
of course, his defense, if he had any, was an alibi. 
A very absurd story was published about Brown's 
\ taking a colored baby from its mother's arms at the 
■ scaffold and kissing-it. No colored person of either 
\ sex would dare to approach the scene of the execu- 
tion. The slaves were frightened and bewildered so 
\thoroughly at the time that their sole aim was to 


avoid the public eye as much as possible, but the 
paragraph promised to take well and the reporter 
was not disappointed. 

Brown's wife arrived at Harper's Ferry shortly be- 
fore his execution and, to her his body was delivered 
for burial. He was interred at North Elba, in the 
State of New York, where he had resided for some 
years. His wife was a rather intelligent woman and 
she did not appear to sympathize with her husband's 
wild notions on the subject of slavery. In conversa- 
tion with a citizen of Harper's Ferry she expressed 
an opinion that Brown had contemplated this or a 
similar attack for thirty years, although he had never 
mentioned the subject to her. The bodies of Cook, 
Coppic, Hazlett and Stevens, also, were delivered 
to friends, and it is said that the last named two are 
buried near the residence of a benevolent lady of the 
Society of Friends in New Jersey. She had always 
sympathized with their cause and sire provided their 
remains with the only thing now needed — a decent 

Many anecdotes of John Brown are told in the 
neighborhood of the Kennedy farm where he and his 
party resided during- the greater part of the summer 
previous to the attack, and they serve to illustrate 
the character of this extraordinary man. Whenever 
he killed an animal for his own use and that of his 
men he invariably sent a portion of it to some of his 
neighbors, many of whom were poor and sorely in 
need of such attentions. In other respects, also, 
especially in his love for children, he exhibited a kind- 
ness of heart which made him to be much liked by 
all who knew him. He was very regular in his at- 
tendance at church exercises and his piety was un- 
doubtedly genuine, as will appear from the follow- 
ing: Once, a large crowd had assembled in a log 
schoolhouse to listen to an itinerant preacher. The 


minister made but a very poor show and his sermon 
was considered, even in that unsophisticated region, 
as far below mediocrity. John Brown or Isaac Smith, 
as he was then called, was 'one of the audience and, 
all through the sermon he kept his eyes riveted on 
the preacher and appeared to> be totally absorbed in 
attention, as much so, indeed, as if the pulpit was oc- 
cupied by Henry Ward Beecher or some other far 
famed divine. When the sermon was concluded one 
of Brown's neighbors in the audience made some 
jocular remark about the preacher and the discourse 
and asked Brown if, ever before, he had heard such 
trash from a pulpit. "Sir," said the stern old man, 
"When I come to hear the word of God, I do nqt 
propose to criticise the preaching of His minister. I 
recognize the Master, humble as the servant may be, 
and I respect His word, though coming from the 
mouth of an obscure and illiterate man." 

On the other hand he sometimes savored strongly 
of blasphemy, whenever religious dogmas or tenets 
appeared to> clash in any way with his favorite hobby. 
After his conviction many preachers of various de- 
nominations offered him. the consolations of religion 
according to their particular rites. At their intro- 
duction to him Brown always asked these genrje- 
men : "Do you approve of slavery?" As the answer 
at that time was sure to be in the affirmative— for not 
even a minister of the Gospel dared then to' hint at 
any sin in "the institution" — lie refused to receive 
their services, preferring to go* before his God un- 
sh riven to accepting the ministrations of slavery- 
loving preachers. One reverend gentleman re- 
marked to him that Saint Paul himself had sent back 
a fugitive slave to* his master, when Brown, with his 
dark eye ablaze said : "Then Saint Paul was no bet- 
ter than you are." And in this spirit he entered the 
great unknow, where it is to' be hoped that honest 


convictions receive at least as much honor as well 
conned creeds, learned by rote, and often wanting in 
the great essential — an active charity. 

The gallows on which Brown was hung must have 
been a A'ast fabric and the rope used must have been 
as long as the Equinoctial Line, or, else, both had 
some miraculous powers of reproduction. Of the 
many thousands of soldiers who were stationed from 
{time to time in Jefferson county, from the day of 
Brown's execution till the last regiment disappeared, 
more than a year after the war, almost every other 
man had a portion of either as a souvenir of his so- 
journ in Virginia. The writer saw pieces of wood 
and fragments of rope purporting to* have formed 
parts of them — enough to build and rig a large man- 
of-war. If the soldiers believed they had genuine 
relics they were as well contented, as they would be 
if they had the reality and it would be cruel to un- 
deceive them. The true history of that scaffold is as 
follows : It was built by a carpenter of Charlestown, 
named David Cockerell, expressly for the execution 
of Brown. When this purpose was accomplished the 
builder took it to his home and put it away as a 
curiosity. When the war broke out Cockerell joined 
the confederate army and acted as engineer on the 
staff of Stonewall Jackson. Fearing that in his ab- 
sence from home his family might be annoyed by sol- 
diers coming to see the relic or. if possible, to steal it, 
he ordered it to be built into a porch attached to the 
house and the whole structure to be painted in the 
same color so that no stranger could guess at any- 
thing beyond the common in the ordinary looking 
porch. Cockerell died some years after the war, and 
it is said that his heirs disposed of the famous scaf- 
fold to some Washington City speculators, who pro- 
posed to exhibit it at the World's Fair in Chicago 
in 1893. The writer gives this history of the scaffold 



as he has received it from trustworthy sources. For 
several months after the raid a brisk trade was prose- 
cuted by the boys of Harper's Ferry selling "John 
Brown pikes" to railroad passengers who, everyday 
now stopped at the station from curiosity and, as the 
number of genuine pikes was not very large, the 
stock must have been exhausted in a very short 
time. It is said, however, that some ingenious and 
enterprising blacksmiths in the neighborhood de~ 
voted much of their time and capital to the manufac- 
ture of imitations, and it is certain that the number 
of pikes sold to strangers exceeded, by a great many, 
the number supposed to have been captured at 
Brown's headquarters. 

The names of the invaders, as well as could be as- 
certained, were as follows: John Brown, Watson 
Brown, Oliver Brown, Owen Brown, Aaron D. 
Stevens, Edwin Coppic, Barclay Coppic, Albert Haz- 
lett, John E. Cook, Stuart Taylor, William Lehman, 
William Thompson, John Henrie Kagi, Charles P. 
Tydd, Oliver Anderson, Jeremiah Anderson, 'Dolph 
Thompson, Dangerfield Newby, Shields Greene alias 
"Emperor," John Copelamd and Lewis Leary, of 
whom the last four were negroes or Mulattoes. 

John Brown was, at the time of the raid, fifty-nine 
years old. He was about five feet and eleven inches 
in height, large boned and muscular, but not fleshy, 
and he gave indications of having possessed in his 
youth great physical strength. His hair had been 
a dark brown, but at this period it was gray. His 
beard was very long and, on the day of the raid, it 
hung in snowy waves to his breast and helped to 
give to his aquiline features a singularly wild appear- 
ance. His eyes were of a dark hazel and burned with 
a peculiar light that gave promise of a quick temper 
and a daring courage. His head, as it appeared to 
the writer, was of a conical shape, and, on the whole, 


tis physique well corresponded with the traits of his 
:haracter. The portrait of him in this book is an 
.dmirable likeness. He was a native of Connecticut, 
>ut he had resided for many years in the states of 
\Iew York and Ohio where, it is said, he was a rather 
extensive and successful wool-grower. He was 
wice married and he had a very large family of sons 
ind daughters, the most of whom were married. He 
emigrated to Kansas at an early period in the history 
>f that territory and he was an acknowledged leader 
n the civil broils which distracted that region for 
leveral years. Of course, various opinions were en- 
ertained concerning him — the Free Soil men con- 
iidering him a hero, and the pro-slavery people re- 
garding or affecting to regard him as a demon mcar- 
late. It is said that, in 185 1, he visited Europe with 
:he ostensible purpose of exhibiting samples of wool, 
)ut in reality to study the science of earth fortifica- 
:ions and gain military knowledge to be made avail- 
able in a servile war which he designed to excite at 
1 suitable opportunity. He certainly suffered a great 
leal in Kansas— losing one of his sons, Frederick, 
md a considerable amount of property in fighting 
the southern settlers, and it is probable that a bitter- 
ness of feeling on this account mingled with his 
natural hatred of slavery. 

There was confusion respecting the identity of his 
two sons — Watson and Oliver. They were .both 
mortally wounded on the 17th. One of them, sup- 
posedly, a young man apparently about twenty- 
three years of age, of low stature, with fair hair and 
blue eyes, was shot in the stomach and died in the 
course of the night in the engine house, while the 
party had still possession of it. It is said that he 
suffered terrible agony and that he called on his com- 
panions to put him out of pain by shooting him. 
His father, however, manifested no feeling on the oc- 


casion beyond remarking to his boy that "he must 
have patience ; that he was dying in a good cause, and 
that he should meet his fate like a brave man." The 
other was a tall man, about six feet in height, with 
very black hair. He, also, as before stated, was 
wounded in the skirmish of 'the 17th, and he died 
next morning, after the marines got possession of 
the engine house. He was one of the two men who 
were wounded from "the Gault house." When he 
died his father was a prisoner and badly wounded. 
On learning that one of his men had died a few 
minutes before, he sent out to inquire if it was his 
son and, on being informed that it was, he mani- 
fested the same stoicism and made a remark similar 
to the one of the previous night, when the other son 
was dying — that the cause was good and that it was 
glorious to die for its sake. When the news reached 
him he was engaged in the interview with Governor 
Wise. After satisfying himself as to the identity of 
the man just deceased, he resumed his conversation 
with the governor, as if nothing had happened which 
was calculated in the least to discompose him. As 
before noted, there is a doubt with the people of 
Harper's Ferry as to which of these two men was 
Oliver and which was Watson, and, indeed, whether 
or not the fair-haired youth was his son at all. 

Owen Brown was one of those detailed to operate 
in Maryland. He was not in the skirmish, and he 
made his escape and was not seen again in Virginia 
or Maryland. The writer has no knowledge of his 
appearance or age. 

Aaron D. Stevens was a remarkably fine looking 
young man of about thirty years of age. He was 
about five feet and ten inches in height, heavily 
built and of great symmetry of form. His hair was 
£>lack and his eyes of dark hazel had a very pene- 
trating glance. He was said to be a desperate char- 


acter and, as it was reported that he had suggested to 
J3rown the murder of the prisoners and the firing of 
the village, there was greater animosity felt towards 
him than any of the others, except, perhaps, Captain 
Brown himself and Cook. # He received several 
wounds in the skirmish and it was thought he could 
not survive them. In consequence of these injuries 
he was one of the last put on trial and executed. He 
was said to be a believer in spiritualism or spiritism 
which is, perhaps, the proper term. He was the one 
who was so badly wounded from "the Gault house" 
and who was taken to Fouke's hotel. Had he not 
been disabled, it is to be feared, from what is reported 
of him, that a massacre of the prisoners would have 
been perpetrated on his recommedation. Whatever 
his crimes may have been it is certain that he was a 
man of undaunted courage and iron nerve. While 
he lay at Fouke's hotel helpless from his wounds, a 
crowd of armed and frenzied citizens gathered 'round 
him,, and it was with the utmost difficulty that a few 
of the less excited people succeeded in saving his 
life for the present. One man put the muzzle of his 
loaded gun to Stevens' head with the expressed 
determination to kill him instantly. Stevens was 
then unable to move a limb, but he fixed his terrible 
eyes on the would-be murderer and bv the sheer 
force of the mysterious influence they possessed, he 
compelled the man to lower the weapon and refrain 
from carrying out his purpose. To this day the 
magnetized man avers that he cannot account for the 
irresistible fascination that bound him as with a 

Edwin Coppic or Coppie was a young man aged 
about twenty-four years, about five feet and six 
inches in height, compactly built and of a florid com- 
plexion. He was a very handsome youth, and for 
various reasons, great sympathy was felt for him by 


many. He was not wounded in the skirmish, but he 
was taken prisoner by the marines in the engine 
house. He had come from Iowa where resided his 
widowed mother, a pious old lady of the Society of 
Friends. He had been f(*r a long time in the employ 
of a Mr. Thomas Gwynn, living near Tipton, Cedar 
county, in the above mentioned state. Mr. Gwynn 
was a farmer and merchant and Coppic assisted him 
as a farm laborer and "help" around his store. His 
employer was much attached to him and came to 
Charlestown for his remains, which he took with him 
to Iowa. After Coppic's conviction a petition was 
forwarded to the governor of Virginia, requesting 
executive clemency in his case. It was not success- 
ful, however, and he was executed as before stated. 
In conversation with a citizen of Harper's Ferry who 
interviewed him in his cell, Coppic said that, when 
he left his home in Iowa, he had no intention to 
enter on any expedition like the one against Vir- 
ginia, but he confessed that his object was to induce 
slaves to leave their masters, and to aid them to 

Of Barclay Coppic little is known in Virginia be- 
yond the fact that he was Edwin's brother and that 
he was with Brown's party in the raid. He was 
with Owen Brown and Cook on the Maryland side 
of the Potomac while the skirmish was in progress 
and he was not captured. It is said that he was killed 
some years ago in a railroad accident in Missouri. 

Albert Hazlett, of Pennsylvania, was a man of 
about five feet and eleven inches in height, raw- 
boned and muscular. His hair was red and his eyes 
were of a muddy brown color and of a very unpleas- 
ant expression. He was very roughly dressed on the 
day of the raid, and in every sense of the word he 
looked like an "ugly customer." He made his es- 
cape from Harper's Ferry on the evening of the 17th, 


about the time when Brown withdrew his force into 
the engine house, but he was afterwards captured in 
Pennsylvania .and executed with Stevens. His age 
was about thirty-three years. 

John E. Cook was a native of Connecticut and he 
was a young man of about twenty-eight years — five 
feet and eight inches in height, though, as he stooped 
a good deal, he did not appear to be so tall. He had 
fair hair and bright blue eyes and he was, on the 
whole, quite an intelligent looking man. As before 
stated, he had resided several years at Harper's 
Ferry, and he had become acquainted with all the 
young men of the place, by whom he was regarded 
as a pleasant companion. He had married a re- 
spectable young lady of the place, who knew nothing 
of his former life or of his plans against the peace of 
Virginia. He was highly connected and the govern- 
or of Indiana at that time — Willard — was his broth- 
er-in-law, being' the husband of Cook's sister. At 
his trial Daniel Voorhees, afterwards so famous as 
a politician and criminal lawyer, made a speech for 
the defense which is regarded as one of his best ef- 

Little is known of Stuart Taylor. Some contend 
that he was a man of medium size and very dark 
complexion, while others believe that he was a red- 
haired young man who was bayoneted by the 
marines in the engine house and drageed dead from 
that building at the same time that Brown was re- 
moved. The writer is inclined to the latter opinion 
and he thinks that those who favor the former con- 
found him with a man named Anderson of whom 
mention will soon be made at some length. 

William Lehman, who was killed on a rock in the 
Potomac while endeavoring to escape, was quite a 
young man, with jet black hair and a very florid com- 
plexion. The killing of this young man was, under 


all the circumstances of the case, an act of great 
barbarity, as he had made signs of a desire to sur- 
render. The man who shot him was, as before stated, 
but a temporary resident of Harper's Ferry and, in 
reality, belonged to a neighboring county. Nothing 
can be gained by giving his name and the concealing 
of it may save people yet unborn from unmerited 
shame. In justice it must be said that he now claims 
that Lehman drew a pistol to shoot him, but we did 
not hear of this until very lately. 

William Thompson, who was shot on the bridge, 
was a man apparently of about thirty years of age, 
of medium size, but of a symmetrical and compact 
form. His complexion was fair, and he gave indica- 
tions of being a man of a pleasant disposition. He 
was well known to many in the neighborhood of the 
Kennedy farm and he was very popular with all his 
acquaintances there. The killing of this man was 
unnecessary', also, but some palliation for it may be 
found in the excitement caused by Mr. Beckham's 

John or, as he was sometimes called, Henrie Kagi, 
is said to have been a remarkably fine looking man, 
with a profusion of black hair and a flowing beard of 
the same color. He was about thirty years of age, 
tall and portly, and he did not display the same 
ferocity that many of the others exhibited. He was 
"secretary of war" under Brown's provisional gov- 
ernment and he held the rank of captain. He is 
supposed to have been a native of Ohio. He was 
killed in the Shenandoah near the rifle factory. 

Of Charles P. Tydd little is known. It is said 
that, before the raid, he used to peddle books 
through the neighborhood of Harper's Ferry. As 
far as ascertained, he did not appear in the fight, but 
escaped from Maryland to parts unknown. It is 
said that he was a native of Maine, 


Respecting the identity of Oliver and Jeremiah 
Anderson there is a doubt, as in the case of the 
young Browns. One of them was killed by the 
marines, but what became of the other is unknown. 
The man who was killed was about thirty years of 
age, of middle stature, very black hair and swarthy 
complexion. He was supposed by some to be a 
Canadian mulatto. As before noted, he is con- 
founded by many with Stuart Taylor. He received 
three or four bayonet stabs in the breast and stomach 
and, when he was dragged out of the engine house 
to the flagged walk in front of that building, he was 
yet alive and vomiting gore from internal hemorrh- 
age. While he was in this condition a farmer from 
some part of the surrounding country came up and 
viewed him in silence, but with a look of concentrated 
bitterness. Not a word did the countryman utter, 
as he thought, no doubt, that no amount of cursing- 
could do justice to his feelings. He passed on to 
another part of the armory yard and did not return 
for a considerable time. When he ca%e back Ander- 
son was yet breathing and the farmer thus addressed 
him : "Well, it takes you a h — of a long time to 
die." If Anderson had vitality enough left in him 
to hear the words this soothing remark must have 
contributed greatly to smooth his way to the un- 
known land of disembodied spirits. The writer heard 
from very good authority that another and still 
greater barbarity was practised towards this helpless 
man while he was in the death agony. Some brute 
in human shape, it is said, squirted tobacco juice and 
dropped his quid into the dying man's eye. The 
writer did not seen the latter occurrence, but it was 
related by witnesses of undoubted veracity. After 
death, also, this man — Anderson — was picked out 
for special attentions. Some physicians of Win- 
chester, Virginia, fancied him as a subject for dis- 

94 . .xfi BROWN RAID. 

section and nem. con. they got possession of his body. 
In order to take him away handily they procured a 
barrel and tried to pack him into' it. Head foremost, 
they rammed him in, but they could not bend his 
leg's so as to get them into, the barrel with the rest 
of the body. In their endeavors to> accomplish this 
feat they strained so hard that the man's bones or 
sinews fairly cracked. These praiseworthy exertions 
of those sons of Galen in the cause of science and 
humanity elicited the warmest expressions of ap : 
proval from the spectators. The writer does not 
know, certainly, what final disposition they made of 
the subject which the Fates provided for them, with- 
out the expense or risk of robbing a grave. 

'Dolph Thompson was quite a boy and he ap- 
peared to be an unwilling participator in the trans- 
action. He was seen by not more than two or three 
of the citizens, and it is supposed that he escaped 
early on the 17th. He had fair hair and a florid 

Dangerfield Newby was a tall and well built 
mulatto, aged about thirty years. He had a rather 
pleasant face and address. He was shot and killed 
at the Arsenal gate by somebody in Mrs. Butler's 
house opposite, about 11 o'clock, a. m., on Monday, 
and his body lay where it fell until the afternoon of 
Tuesday. The bullet struck him in the lower part of 
the neck and went down into his body, the person 
who shot him being in a position more elevated than 
the place where Newby was standing. Mr. Jacob 
Bajeant, of Harper's Ferry, used to claim the credit 
of having fired the fatal shot, and the people general- 
ly accorded him' the honor. A near relative and 
namesake of George Washington disputes Bajeant's 
claim and is confident that it was a shot from his rifle 
that put an end to Newby's "career. Mr. Bajeant is 
now dead and it is not likely that the question will 


be brought up again. From the relative positions of 
the parties, the size of the bullet or some other cir- 
cumstance, the hole in Newby's neck was very large, 
and the writer heard a wag remark that he believed a 
smoothing iron had been shot into him. The writer 
has no intention to make light, as might appear from 
the following, of what was a fearful occurrence. He 
relates the simple truth, as many can attest. Some 
fastidious critics have objected to the details of this 
tragedy in former editions of this book, but Truth 
is mighty and ought to prevail. That Newby's body 
was torn by hogs at Harper's Ferry is too well 
known to require an apology for a relation of the 
facts, although the details are undoubtedly disgust- 
ing. Shortly after Newby's death a hog came up, 
rooted around the spot where the body lay and, at 
first appeared to be unconscious that anything ex- 
traordinary was in its way. After a while, the hog 
paused and looked attentively at the body, then 
snuffed around it and put its snout to the dead man's 
face. .Suddenly, the brute was apparently seized 
with a panic and, with bristles erect and drooping 
tail, it scampered away, as if for dear life. This dis- 
play of sensibility did not, however, deter others of 
the same species from crowding around the corpse 
and almost literally devouring it. The writer saw all 
this with his own eyes, as the saying is, and, at the 
risk of further criticism, he will remark that none 
of the good people of Harper's Ferry appeared to 
be at all squeamish, about the quality or flavor of 
their pork that winter. Nobody thought on the sub- 
ject or, if anybody did recall the episode, it was, no 
doubt, to give credit to the hogs for their rough 
treatment of the invaders. 

On Tuesday evening, after Brown's capture, 
and when the people were somewhat relieved 
from the terror of a more extensive and dangerous 


invasion, a citizen of Harper's Ferry, who had not 
had a chance to distinguish himself in the skirmish 
of Monday, fired a shot into what was left of Newby's 
body, a feat which, it must be supposed, tended to 
exalt him, at least, in his own estimation. Like 
Kirkpatrick at the murder of the Red Comyn, he 
thought he would "make sicker" and guard against 
any possibility of the dead man's reviving. The 
citizen referred to was somewhat under the influence 
of whiskey when he fired the superfluous shot, but 
the writer saw another man who was apparently 
sober and who was certainly a person of excellent 
standing in the community, kick the dead man in the 
face and, on the whole, great a crime as the invasion 
of the place was and natural as the animosity towards 
the raiders should be considered, it must be con- 
fessed that the treatment the lifeless bodies of those 
wretched men received from some of the infuriated 
populace was far from being creditable to the actors 
or to human nature in general. 

Shields Greene alias "Emperor" was a negro of 
the blackest hue, small in stature and very active in 
his movements. He seemed to be very officious in 
the early part of Monday, flitting about from place 
to place, and he was evidently conscious of his own 
great importance in the enterprise. It is supposed 
that it was he that killed Mr. Boerly. He is said 
to have been a resident of the State of New York, 
but little is known with certainty about him. He 
was very insulting to Brown's prisoners, constantly 
presenting his rifle and threatening to shoot some of 
them. He was aged about thirty years. 

John Copeland was a mulatto of medium size, and 
about twenty-five years of age. He was a resident 
of Oberlin, Ohio, where he carried on the carpenter 
business for some years. 

Lewis Leary, a mulatto, was mortally wounded 


at the rifle factory in Monday's skirmish and died in 
a carpenter's shop on the island. He was a young 
man, but his personal appearance cannot be de- 
scribed minutely 1 by any person not acquainted with 
him before the raid, as he was suffering a great 
deal from wounds when he was captured and, of 
course, his looks were not those that were natural 
to him. He, too, had resided in Oberlin, and his 
trade was that of harness making. 

A negro man whom Colonel Washington had hired 
from a neighbor and who had been taken prisoner 
with his employer on the previous night was drowned 
while endeavoring to escape from his captors. He 
was an unwilling participant in the transactions of 
the day, and no blame was attached to> him by the 

Heywood Shepherd, the first man killed by 
Brown's party, was a very black negro aged about 
forty-four years. He was uncommonly tall, measur- 
ing six feet and five inches, and he was a man of 
great physical strength. He was a free man, but, 
in order to comply with a law then existing in Vir- 
ginia, he acknowledged 'Squire Beckham as his mas- 
ter. The relations of master and slave, however, 
existed only in name 'between them and "Heywood" 
accumulated a good deal of money and owned some 
property in Winchester. He was a married man 
and he left a wife and several children. It 
is supposed by many that the killing of this man was 
the only thing that prevented a general insurrection 
of the negroes, for some of the farmers of the neigh- 
borhood said that they noticed an unusual excite- 
ment among the slaves on the Sunday before the 
raid. If it is true that the negroes knew anything 
of the intended attack, it is probable that they were 
deterred from taking a part in it by seeing one of 
their own race the first person sacrificed. 


Thomas Boerly, thle second man. killed, was a 
native of the 3 County of Roscommon, in Ireland. As; 
before noticed, he was a man of great physical' 
strength and he was noted for courage. He meas-i 
ured about six feet in height and weighed about two 
hundred pounds. He was a blunt, straight-forward 
man in his dealing and he was very popular on ac-s 
count of his love for fun and from that unreasonable 
tendency of human nature to pay respect to the 
purely accidental quality of personal prowess. Many 
years before he encountered at fisticuffs an equally 
powerful man named Joseph Graff, who, at that time, 
resided at Harper's Ferry. The fight was conducted I 
in the old border style of "rough and tumble," in- 
cluding biting and gouging. Night alone terminated 
the encounter and the combatants parted with their 
mutual respect greatly augmented and with a great 
accession of glory to both. The admirers of each 
party claimed a victory for their champion, but the 
principals themselves wisely divided the laurels and 
never again jeopardized their reputation by renewing ! 
the contest. Mr. Boerly's age was about forty-three i 
years. He was married and he left three children. ! 
His youngest child, Thomas, junior, still resides at 
Harper's Ferry and is quite a prominent citizen. He 
has inherited the great bodily powers and the many 
genial characteristics of his father. The State of 
Virginia granted a small pension to the widow but, 
the war breaking out shortly afterwards, she re- 
ceived no benefit from, the annuity until at the res- 
toration of peace, her claim was brought to the no- 
tice of the state authorities. From that time, until 
her death a few years ago, she was paid punctually. 
Mr. Boerly kept a grocery store and was in very ' 
comfortable circumstances. 

Thomas Boerly, junior, was the mayor of Harper's 
Ferry who arrested and brought to justice Erwin 


Ford, the brutal murderer of Elsie Kreglow, of the 
District of Columbia, in 1896. 

George Turner, the third man killed (of the citi- 
zens)\was a very fine looking man, aged about forty 
years. It is said that he was educated at West Point 
and that he was distinguished for great polish and 
refinement of manners. He was unmarried and he 
left a good deal of property. He was a native of Jef- 
ferson county, Virginia — now West' Virginia. 

Fountain Beckham, the fourth and last of the 
citizen's party killed, was like the others, a tall, 
powerfully built man. His age was about sixty years. 
He was a native of Culpeper county, Virginia, and a 
brother of Armistead Beckham, heretofore men- 
tioned as master-armorer. As before stated, he had 
been for many years a magistrate of the County of 
Jefferson and the agent of the Baltimore and Ohio 
railroad company at Harper's Ferry. At the time 
of his death he was mayor of the town. He was a 
widower and two sons and a daughter survived him. 
Mr. Beckham was in many respects a remarkable 
man. It wa,s said that he was the best magistrate 
that Jefferson county ever had, his decisions being 
always given with a view rather to the justice than 
to the law of the cases and, in many instances, being 
marked with great shrewdness and soundness of 
judgment. On the other hand he was sometimes 
very whimsical, and some amusing scenes used to 
be enacted between him and "Haywood" — his fac- 
totum. Frequently, the squire would give unreason- 
able or contradictory orders to his servant who 
never hestitated on such occasions to refuse obedi- 
ence, and it was no uncommon thing to* see Hay- 
wood starting out from the railroad office with a 
bundle on his back en route for Winchester, and 
swearing that he would not serve the squire another 
day for any consideration. He never proceeded very 


far, however, before he was overtaken by a message 
from his master conveying proposals for peace and 
Haywood never failed to return. Notwithstanding 
their frequent rows, a strong attachment existed be- 
tween these two men through life ; and in death they 
were not parted. Mr. Beckham was very respectably 
connected. His sister was the wife of Mr. Stubble- 
field, so long superintendent of the armory, and his 
niece, Miss Stubblefield, was married to> Andrew 
Hunter, of Charlestown, one of the most eminent 
lawyers of Virginia. Mr. Beckham's wife was the 
daughter of Colonel Stevenson, of Harper's Ferry, 
and, thus, it will be seen that he was connected with 
many of the most influential families of the Northern 
Neck. Mr. Beckham's d;eath was mournedj as a 
public loss for, with many oddities of manner, he had 
all the qualities that go to make a lovable man and 
a good citizen. 

The nine citzens who were confined as hostages 
in the engine house were as follows : Colonel Lewis 
W. Washing-ton and John Alstadt, planters; John 
E. P. Dangerfield, paymaster's clerk; Armistead M. 
Ball, master-machinist; Benjamin Mills, master- 
armorer; John DonohoO', assistant agent of the 
Baltimore and Ohio railroad at Harper's Ferry; 
Terence O'Byrne, a farmer residing in Washington 
county, Maryland ; Israel Russell, a merchant of 
Harper's Ferry, and a Mr. Schoppe, of Frederick 
City, Maryland, who< happened to be on a business 
visit that day at the scene of the trouble. 

Colonel Lewis W. Washington was at the time a 
very fine looking man of about fifty years of age, 
with that unmistakable air that always accompanies 
a man of true patrician birth and education. He 
was the soul of hospitality and Cook used to visit 
him at his home for the ostensible purpose of con- 
tending with him in pistol shooting, an art in which 



both were famous adepts. On these occasions Col- 
onel WdS.hington used <o exiiibit the sword and 
some other relics of his great namesake and grand- 
uncle, and, thus it was that Cook and his companions 
in the conspiracy gained so intimate a knowledge 
of Colonel Washington's household arrangements 
and were enabled to find at once the place in which 
the relics were stored and to capture the owner 
without difficulty. Cook was entertained hospitably 
whenever he visited the generous Virginian, and the 
ingratitude manifested towards Colonel Washington 
was, perhaps, the worst feature of the whole trans- 
action, and it is not to be excused for the moral ef- 
fect that the capture might be expected to- secure. 
The grand-nephew r of the founder of our nation, it 
is said, exhibited on this occasion a great deal of the 
dignity and calmness which characterized his illus- 
trious kinsman and his fellow captives used to speak 
of his great coolness under the trying- circumstances 
of his situation. 

Colonel Washington, in his testimony before the 
select committee of the United States Senate, ap- 
pointed to inquire into the outrage, gave a graphic 
description of his capture by the party. He described 
them as having- consisted of Stevens, Tydd, Taylor 
and the negro, Shields Greene. Another, named 
Merriam, was supposed to be about the premises, but 
he was not seen by Colonel Washington. In his 
recital no mention is made of Cook's presence at the 
capture, but it was ascertained afterwards that 
though he was not there in person, the captors had 
got from him all necessary information and that they 
acted under his instructions. It may be remarked 
that Merriam, although he is known to have been 
connected with the enterprise, was not seen in the 
skirmish at Harper's Ferry, and what became of him 
afterwards is unknown to the writer. It was under- 


stood that he was an Englishman by birth and that, 
in early life, he was a protege of Lady Byron, widow 
of the celebrated poet. Colonel Washington was 
one of those who disagreed with the author as to 
the idenity of Stuart Taylor. In the writer's opinion 
Anderson and not Taylor accompanied the party to 
make the seizure. The colonel had several narrow 
escapes from death while in the hands of "the Philis- 
tines." About the time when Mr. Beckham was 
killed, Brown was sitting on the fire engine near the 
engine house door, rifle in hand, apparently watching 
an opportunity to make a good shot. Colonel Wash- 
ington noticed him fingering his gun abstractedly, 
and like a person touching- the strings of a violin and, 
being somewhat struck with the oddity of the idea, 
he approached Brown, for the purpose of inquiring 
if he had learned to play the fiddle. It is easy to 
imagine the answer the stern, old Puritan would have 
returned, had there been time enoug-h to propound 
the question. As Colonel Washington came near 
Brown, a bullet from the outside whistled immecfi- 
ately over the head of the latter, penetrated the 
handle of an axe that was suspended on the engine 
and passed through Colonel Washington's heard, 
striking the wall near him and sprinkling brick dust 
all over him. Brown coolly remarked, "that was 
near," and Colonel Washington postponed his in- 
quiry, thereby consigning posterity" to ignorance on 
the momentous question as to whether John Brown 
played the fiddle or not. The colonel deeming it 
prudent to< leave that neighborhood, moved a little 
to one side, when he entered into conversation with 
Mr. Mills, another of the prisoners. Their faces were 
not four inches apart, yet through this narrow pas- 
sage, another bullett sped and the friends finding 
one place as safe as another continued their conver- 


Colonel Washington at that time owned a dog 
of very eccentric appearance and habits and appar- 
ently of a most unamiable disposition. His name was 
"Bob" and he was of the common bull species. With 
other peculiarities, he was remarkable for having 
been born without a tail. Nature, however, with 
that tendency to compensation which our common 
Mother exhibits in awarding gifts to her children, 
gave him more than an equivalent for the caudal 
deficiency by providing him with an extra allowance 
of brains. He made it a point to visit several times 
every day the laborers on the plantation and, if there 
were more than one party of them, he would inspect 
each in turn, and eye the negroes suspiciously, after 
which he would return to his bed which was in front 
of the main entrance to the house. He never made 
free with any person, not even with his master, who 
tried frequently, but in vain, to induce his surly de- 
pendant to follow him 'round the farm. His morose 
disposition and the jealous eye with which he always 
regarded the negroes gave rise to a superstitious 
dread of the animal among the servants and a 
belief that in him was the soul of some defunct plan- 
tation overseer who, with the ruling passion strong 
after death, continued to exercise his favorite avoca- 
tion. Pythagoras himself would, no doubt, have 
agreed with the negroes, had he known "Bob" and 
his peculiarities, and it may be supposed that the 
philosopher would have pointed triumphantly to this 
overwhelming proof of the Metempsychosis. On the 
night of Colonel Washington's capture, however, 
Bob's whole nature appeared to undergo' a change. 
He accompanied his master to Harper's Ferry, stuck 
by him all day on Monday and, when Colonel Wash- 
ington was confined in the engine house as a host- 
age, his faithful though hitherto undemonstrative 
dog followed him into close captivity. Brown and 


his men tried to eject him and even his master en- 
deavored to induce him to go out, but in vain. When 
Colonel Washington was released, he lost him in the 
dense crowd, but, on reaching home on Tuesday 
night, he found the metamorphosed overseer wait- 
ing for him at the gate and exhibiting signs of the 
most extravagant joy at his return. After this, the 
dog was regarded with more favor and many of the 
negroes from that time rejected the former theory 
of transmigration as a slander on the faithful animal. 
Many years ago, at a ripe canine age, poor Bob was 
gathered to his fathers, and he sleeps in an honored 
grave in the plantation garden, but, as slavery has 
been abolished in the United States and bids fairly 
to disappear from the whole earth, it might puzzle 
even Pythagoras himself to> find a suitable tenement 
for the now unhappy shade of the overseer. Colonel 
Washington died at his residence near . Harper's 
Ferry October .ist, 1871, much regretted by all who 
had the pleasure of his acquaintance. 

Mr. Alstadt was a gentleman then about sixty 
years of age, of very unassuming - manners and ami- 
able disposition. He, too', was examined before the 
Senate committee and gave a lively nicture of his 
adventures while a prisoner. His son, Thomas, then 
a little boy, was taken prisoner with his father or 
voluntarily accompanied the party to* Harper's Ferry 
to watch for the old gentleman's safety. Mr. 
Alstadt, senior, has been dead for some years, but 
Thomas yet survives, now a well-matured man, and 
he is probably the only one of the prisoners who 
were confined in the engine house who survives, with 
the possible exception of Messrs. Mills and Schoppe, 
of whom nothing has been heard at Harper's Ferry 
for the last forty years. 

John E. P. Dangerfield was then a man of about 
forty years of age and of a very delicate constitution. 


He bore up very well, however, and when he was 
released by the marines his physical strength had not 
given way, as his friends feared it would. At the 
breaking out of the war he moved to North Carolina 
and there he died suddenly a few years ago 1 while on 
a hunt in the woods. It is supposed that his death 
was caused by too severe exertion while he was 
prosecuting a favorite sport. 

Armistead M. Ball was at that time a man of about 
forty-six years of age. He was very corpulent but, 
notwithstanding his great bulk, his health was deli- 
cate. He died in June, 1861, of apoplexy. As be- 
fore said, he was a man of great mechanical ingenu- 
ity. He invented a rifling machine which was used 
for several years in the armory, an<^was regarded as 
an excellent piece of mechanism. Many people, how- 
ever, believed that Mr. Ball owed much of his repu- 
tation to ideas borrowed from a man named John 
Wernwag who, at that time and for many years be- 
fore and afterwards, lived at Harper's Ferry and 
whose name will hereafter appear in this history in 
connection with a thrilling adventure in the great 
flood of 1870. Mr. Wernwag was, confessedly, a 
great genius in mechanics, but, as he was a man of 
very retiring habits and taciturn disposition, he never 
made any show of his ability and, consequently, only 
a few were aware of the wealth of mechanical genius 
that was this unassuming man, but was 
lost to the world through his unfortunate bashful- 
ness. He and Mr. Ball used to take long and fre- 
quent rambles over the neighboring heights, and it 
was supposed that in their conversation on those ex- 
cursions the latter got many hints which he improved 
and practically elucidated in his mechanical devices. 

Benjamin Mills was a man of about fifty years of 
age at the time of the Brown raid, low in stature but 
muscular and active. As before stated, he soon after 


returned to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, from which 
place he had come to Harper's Ferry. The writer 
knows not whether he yet survives or not. 

John Donohooi was at the time quite a good look- 
ing" young man of about thirty-five years of age. He 
was a native of Ireland, but a resident of this country 
from his childhood. For many years his home was 
at ( Harper's Ferry, where he was highly respected for 
his integrity and business qualifications. His life was 
one of many vicissitudes and he died in the spring of 
1892 at Hagerstown, Maryland. 

Terence O'Byrne was at the time of the raid about 
forty-eight years of age. He was, as far as is known 
here, the last survivor of the hostages, except young 
Alstadt. As his name indicates, he was of Irish ex- 
traction. He was in comfortable circumstances and 
resided near the Kennedy farm where, unfortunately 
for him, he became well known to Brown and his 
men. Mr. O'Byrne was examined before the Senate 
committee and testified that the party who captured 
him was composed of Cook, Tydd and Lehman. 
They visited his house early on Monday morning and 
conducted him a prisoner to Harper's Ferry. Mr. 
O'Byrne died about the year 1898. 

Israel Russell was then about fifty years of age. 
He was for many years a magistrate of Jefferson 
county, and was very much respected. He died a 
few years ago from a disease of the jaw, caused by 
the extraction of a defective tooth. It. is strange that 
men will often escape unhurt from the most appall- 
ing dangers to succumb to apparently trivial ailments 
or casualties. 

Of Mr. Schoppe little is known at Harper's Ferry. 
As before stated, he was a resident of Frederick City, 
Maryland, and his conection with the raid was due 
entirely to> his acidental presence at the scene of dis- 
turbance on the memorable 17th of October. 


Of the Grand Jury that indicted Brown and the 
Petit Jury that tried and condemned him there is but 
one survivor, as far as the writer knows, Mr. Martin, 
now of Virginia. Judge Parker, who presided at the 
trial, and the lawyers — Hunter and Harding — who 
prosecuted, have all "crossed the bar" as have, prob- 
ably, the strangers who defended. The sheriff — 
Campbell — who officiated at the execution, and all 
his deputies, have passed away. Lee and Stuart are 
dead, and it is believed that of all who figured promi- 
nently in this remarkable tragedy the juror above 
referred to is the only survivor, with the exceptions 
before named and possibly that of Lieutenant 
Greene of the marines ; but John Brown's fame is on 
the increase and time enhances it, call him what you 
will. It is remarkable that the gentlemen who were 
Brown's prisoners displayed little or no vindictive- 
ness towards the mart who had subjected them to so 
much clanger. The writer frequently noticed in con- 
versation with them that they invariably dwelt on 
his extraordinary courage and that the animosity, 
which it was natural they should feel on account of 
his treatment of them, was lost in their admiration 
for his daring, though misguided bravery. Mr. Don- 
ohoo visited him in prison and, very much to* his 
credit, exhibited towards his fallen foe a generosity 
characteristic of the man himself and the gallant na- 
tion of his birth. 

The story of the Brown raid should not close with- 
out notice of another party wiio figured rather curi- 
ously in that memorable transaction. At that time 
there lived at Harper's Ferry a half-witted fellow, 
named John Malloy, who managed to gain a precari- 
ous living by getting scraps of broken bread and 
meat from the kitchens of the people, in return for 
services rendered in carying water from the town 
pump and the river. He was never known to sleep 


in a house — a door step answering all the purposes 
of a bed, and a store box being regarded by him as 
a positive luxury. When drunk — which was as often 
as he could get whiskey enough — he had a particular 
fancy for a sleep on the railroad track and, in con- 
sequence, he was run over several times by the trains, 
but it appeared as if nothing could kill him. On one 
-occasion the point of a "cow catcher" entered his 
neck and he was pushed by the engine a considerable 
distance. Even this did not terminate his charmed 
life, but several ugly scars remained as mementoes 
of the adventure. Like others, he was taken prisoner 
by Brown and confined in the armory yard. About 
3 o'clock in the afternoon of Monday when the alarm 
had spread a long way and people had crowded in 
from the surrounding country, armed with every 
species of weapon they could lay hands on, John 
managed to> escape by climbing the armory wall. 
When he was seen g*etting over, the country people 
to whom he was unknown supposed that he was one 
of Brown's men, and scores of them blazed away at 
him with their guns. A shower of bullets whistled 
'round him and his clothes, never in the best of re- 
pair, were almost shot off his body. No less than 
twenty balls perforated his coat, but, strange to> say, 
he escaped without a scratch and succeded in regain- 
ing his liberty. When, after the raiid, strangers 
visited the scene, John always made it a point to be 
about, exhibiting the scars which he had received 
from the cowcatcher and attributing them to wounds 
inflicted by Brown's party. Many a dollar did John 
receive on the strength of those scars and, no doubt, 
he has figured in many a tourist's book as a hero 
and a martyr to the cause of the "Divine Institution." 
His escape from the bullets of his neighbors was cer- 
tainly remarkable, and it goes to prove the truth 
of the old proverb : "A fool for luck,&c." Notwith- 
standing his many close calls and his persistent good 


fortune, poor John finally succumbed to a combined 
assault of smallpox and bad whiskey. He was at- 
tacked by the former disease in the war — the other 
he was never without and in a delirium, he wandered 
away and was found dead in a fence corner. 

The foregoing is a succinct account of the so-called 
"Brown Raid," an invasion which may be considered 
as the commencement of our unhappy civil war. Of 
course, it created intense excitement all over the 
land and the feeling then aroused had not subsided 
when the election of Mr. Lincoln in November, i860, 
renewed the quarrel on a greater scale. As before 
noticed, a select committee of the United States 
Senate was appointed to investigate the occurrence, 
and the following gentlemen testified before it : John 
Alstadt, A. M. Ball, George W. Chambers, Lynd F. 
Currie, Andrew Hunter, A. M. Kitzmiller, Dr. John 
D. Starry, John C. Unseld, Lewis W. Washington 
and Daniel Whelan, all of Harper's Ferry or its 
neighborhood. Many gentlemen from the northern 
and western states, also, who were supposed to> be 
sympathizers with Brown were called on to give 
testimony. Prominent among these were John A. 
Andrew, a lawyer of Boston, afterwards governor of 
Massachusetts, and Joshua R. Giddings, a leading 
anti-slavery man of Ohio and for many years a mem- 
ber of Congress from that state. Nothing, however, 
was elicited to* prove that any considerable number 
of the people of the Free States knew of the con- 
templated invasion and unprejudiced minds were 
convinced that the knowledge of it was confined 
mostly to John Brown and the party that accom- 
panied him on the expedition. 

Thus Harper's Ferry "enjoys the distinction of 
having been the scene of the first act in our fearful 
drama of civil war, and as will be seen hereafter, it 
was the theatre of many another part of the awful 



In the following we sometimes, indifferently use 
the words "rebel," "insurgent" and "confederate," 
"federal," "union men," "northern men" &c. These 
different epithets are used only to' avoid disagreeable 
repetitions of the same words. There is no< offense 
intended, and it is hoped that none will be taken. 
George Washington was a rebel and he was proud 
to be considered one. We have noticed lately that 
some people are sensitive on this subject, and hence 
our explanation. Personally, we owe too* little to 
either party to take sides very decidedly. 

When, on the election of Mr. Lincoln, the Gulf 
states seceded and the Legislature of Virginia called 
a convention of the people to consider what course 
was best to be pursued under the circumstances, Mr. 
A. M. Barbour, superintendent of the Harper's 
Ferry armory, and Mr. Logan Osborne, both now 
dead, were elected to the convention to represent 
the union sentiment of the county of Jefferson over 
Andrew Hunter and William Lucas, eminent law- 
yers, both of whom, also, are now deceased, who 
were nominated on the secession ticket. While in 
Richmond, however, attending the convention, Mr. 
Barbour is said to have been drawn into* the vortex 
of rebellion through the powerful influences brought 
to bear by the secessionists on the members of that 
body. Mr. Barbour's family is one of the oldest and 


most aristicratic in Virginia, and many of his relatives 
had seats in the convention and were ultra-southern 
in their views. These, no doubt, had great influence 
over him, and, anyway he was finally induced to vote 
for a separation of his native state from the union. 
Indeed, many at Harper's Ferry who voted for him 
at the election, did so with strong - misgivings respect- 
ing his sincerity, but, as there was no. better choice 
under the circumstances, they gave him their sup- 
port. Some who enjoyed his confidence said that 
he afterwards bitterly regretted his course, and the 
writer is convinced that Mr. Barbour acted from 
sheer compulsion. The author of these pages was 
then a young man — poor and without weight in the 
community, but Mr. Barbour appeared to have some 
confidence in his judgment, for he. sought an inter- 
view with him and asked him his advice as to the 
proper course to pursue in the convention. The 
author told him that he had a fine chance to immor- 
talize himself by holding out for the Union of the 
States ; that he was of a prominent southern family 
and that, if he proved faithful, his loyalty under the 
circumstances would give him such a national repu- 
tation as he could not hope for from the opposite 
course. They parted to> meet but once again, and 
that for only a minute. After the fatal vote of the 
convention, Mr. Barbour called on business at the 
place where the author was employed and said just 
three words to him — "You were right." These words 
told the tale of compulsion or, perhaps, of contri- 
tion. The ordinance of secession was passed by the 
Virginia convention on the 17th of April, 1861, and, 
on the following day Mr. Barbour made his appear- 
ance at Harper's Ferry in company with Mr. Seddon. 
afterwards prominent in the confederate govern- 
ment. He made a speech to bis old employes advis- 
ing them to co-operate with their native state and 


give in their allegiance to the new order of things. 
He appeared to be laboring under great excitement 
caused, perhaps, by his consciousness of having done 
wrong and unwisely. This speech excited the anger 
of the unionists to> a high pitch, as he had received 
their suffrages on the understanding that he was 
for the old government unconditionally. A partial 
riot took place and the appearance soon after of a 
southern soldier, a young man named John Burk, 
on guard over the telegraph office, aroused the loyal- 
ists to frenzy. Lieutenant Roger Jones, with forty- 
two regular United States soldiers, was then sta- 
tioned at Harper's Ferry, a company of military hav- 
ing been kept there by the government for the pro- 
tection of the place since the Brown raid. Hearing 
that a large force was marching from the south to 
take possession of the armory, he made some prep- 
arations to defend the post and called on the citizens 
for volunteers. Many responded, prominent among 
whom, was a gigantic Irishman named Jeremiah 
Donovan, who immediately shouldered a musket and 
stood guard at the armory gate. This man was the 
first — at least in that region — who took up arms in 
defense of the government and, as will be seen short- 
ly, he was very near paying a heavy penalty for his 
patriotism. As before mentioned, a southern soldier 
was on guard at the telegraph office and he and Don- 
ovan were not fifty yards apart at their posts. To 
use a homely phrase, Harper's Ferry was "between 
hawk and buzzard," a condition in which it remained 
'till the war was ended four years afterwards. 
All * day the wildest excitement prevailed in 
the town. All business was suspended except in 
the- barrooms, and many fist fights came off 
between the adherents of the adverse factions. 
Mr. William F. Wilson, an Englishman by birth, 
but long a resident of the place, attempted to ad- 


dress the people in favor of the Union, but he 
was hustled about so that his words could 
not be heard distinctly. Mr. Wilson continued all 
through the war to be an ardent supporter of the 
Federal government. Mr. George Koonce, a man 
of great activity and personal courage, and Mr. Wil- 
son, above mentioned, who is also_a man of great 
nerve, were very prompt in volunteering their aid 
to Lieutenant Jones, and the latter put great confi- 
dence in them. With a few young men they ad- 
vanced a little before midnight to meet the Virginia 
•militia, about two thousand in number, who were 
marching towards Harper's Ferry from Charlestown. 
They encountered and, it is said, actually halted 
themon Smallwood's Ridge, near Bolivar. At thismo^ 
ment, however, news reached them that Lieutenant 
Jones, acting on orders from Washington City or 
under directions from Captain Kingsbury, who had 
been sent from the capital the day before to take 
charge of the armory, had set fire to the government 
buildings and, with his men, retreated towards the 
north. This left the volunteers in a very awkward 
position, but they succeeded in escaping in the dark- 
ness from the host of enemies that confronted them." 
Mr. Koonce was obliged to leave the place immedi- 
ately artd remain away until the town again fell 
into the hands of the United States troops. A loud 
explosion and a thick column of fire and smoke aris- 
ing in the direction of Harper's Ferry, gave to* the 
confederate force information of the burning, and 
they proceeded at double quick to save the machin- 
ery in the shops and the arms in the arsenal for the 
use of the revolutionary government. Before they 
had time to reach Harper's Ferry the citizens of that 
place had extinguished the fire in the -shops and 
saved them and the machinery. The arsenal, how- 
ever, was totally consumed with about fifteen thou- 


sand stand of arms there stored — a very serious loss 
to the confederates, who had made calculations to< get 
possession of them. Lieutenant Jones had put pow- 
der in the latter building- and hence the explosion 
which had given notice to the; confederates and, 
hence, also, the impossibility of" saving the arsenal 
or its contents. Just at 12 o'clock on the night of 
April 1 8th, 1861, the southern forces marched into 
Harper's Ferry. Poor Donovan was seized and it 
is said that a rope was put 'round his neck by some 
citizens of the place who held secession views, and 
who threatened to hang him instanter. A better 
feeling, however, prevailed and Donovan was per- 
mitted to- move north and seek employment under 
the government of his choice. The forces that first 
took possession of Harper's Ferry were all of Vir- 
ginia and this was lucky for Donovan, for the soldiers 
of that state were the most tolerant of the confed- 
erates, which is not giving them extravagant praise. 
Had he fallen into the hands of the men from the 
Gulf states who came on in a few days, he would 
not have escaped so easily. These latter were near 
lynching- Dr. Joseph E. Clegg-ett and Mr. Solomon 
V. Yantis, citizens of the town, for their union opin- 
ions. The Virginia militia were commanded by 
Turner Ashby, afterwards so famous for his exploits 
in the Valley of Virginia. His career was short but 
glorious from a mere soldier's view. He was killed 
near Port Republic June 6th, 1862, by a shot fired, it 
is said, by one of the Bucktail — Pennsylvania — regi- 
ment, and he and his equally gallant brother, Richard, 
who was killed in the summer of 1861 at Kelly's 
Island, near Cumberland, Maryland, now sleep in 
one grave at Winchester, Virginia. It may be noted 
that Donovan met with no valuable recognition of 
his gallantry. He worked all the rest of his days as 
p, helper in a blacksmith's shop at laborer's wages, 


while many a smooth traitor who secretly favored 
the rebellion and many a weak-kneed patriot who 
was too cowardly to oppose it, while there was any 
danger in doing - so, prospered and grew fat on gov- 
ernment patronage. There are many instances of this 
prudent patriotism not far from Harper's Ferry and 
certain it is that few of the noisy politicians, so loyal 
now, exhibited the courage and disinterested attach- 
ment to our government that was shown by this ob- 
scure laborer. Harper's Ferry now ceased for a 
time to be in the possession of the national govern- 
ment. Next day — April 19th — news arrived of the 
disgraceful riot in Baltimore, when the 6th Massa- 
chusetts regiment was attacked while marching to 
the defense of the national capital. Exaggerated 
reports of -the slaughter of "Yankee" soldiers were 
circulated and Maryland was truly represented as 
ready for revolt. Numbers of volunteers arrived 
froim various parts of that state, especially from 
Baltimore, and many of those who participated in 
the riot came to Harper's Ferry and for a season 
were lionized. In a few days the troops of Mississippi- 
Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and other southern 
states arrived and were greeted with the utmost 
enthusiasm. '^The forces of Kentucky, like those of 
Maryland, were volunteers in the strictest sense. 
Neither of these last two states ever formally seceded 
and therefore their sons were not in any way com- 
pelled to join the confederate army.-yCThe Kentuck- 
ians who came to Harper's Ferry were among the 
worst specimens of the force to which they were 
attached, being romposed mostly of rough. 
Ohio boatsmen and low bummers from the 
purlieus of Louisville and and other river 
towns. Martial law was at once substi- 
tuted for the civil and for the first time — if we ex- 
cept the Brown raid--— the peaceful citizens experi- 


enced the dangers and inconveniences of military 
occupation. General Harper, a militia officer of 
Staunton, Virginia, was put in command, but in a 
few days the confederates Wisely dispensed with 
"feather bed" and "corn stalk" officers and put into 
important commands West Pointers and mien of 
regular military education. In consequence of an 
order to' this effect many a "swell" who had strutted 
about for a few days in g*orgeous uniform was shorn 
of his finery and it was amusing to see the crest-fal- 
len, disappointed appearance of the deposed war- 
riors. General Harper, like many of inferior grade, 
was removed and Colonel Jackson was put in com- 
mand of the place. The latter officer was at this 
time quite obscure. He was known to few outside 
of the walls of the Virginia military academy at Lex- 
ington, but he afterwards gained a world-wide repu- 
tation under the name of "Stonewall Jackson." All 
the government property at the place was seized 
and many families who were renting houses from the 
government were oblig-ed to vacate their homes at 
great inconvenience and procure shelter wherever 
they could. Guards were posted along the streets 
at very short intervals and these, like all young sol- 
diers, were extremely zealous and exacting. Of 
course, reg-ular business was entirely destroyed, but 
new branches of industry of the humblest and, in 
some cases, of the most disreputable kind sprang in- 
to existence. The baking of pies and the smuggling 
of whiskey were the principal employments of those 
who felt the need of some kind of work, and these 
trades continued to flourish at the place all through 
the war to the probable detriment toi the stomachs 
and the certain damage to the morals of the con- 
sumers. The whiskey business was exceedingly 
profitable and it was embraced by all who were will- 
ing to run the risks attending it (for it was strictly 


interdicted by the military commanders of both 
sides) and who were regardless of the disgraceful na- 
ture of the employment. 

Another trade soon sprang up — that of the spy. 
Malicious and officious people — many of whom are 
tO' be found in all communities — stuffed the ears of 
the hot-headed southern men with tales about 
sneaking abolitionists, black republicans, uncondi- 
tional union men, &c, and private enmity had an 
excellent opportunity for gratification, of which vil- 
lains did not hesitate to avail themselves. Many 
quiet, inoffensive citizens were dragged from their 
homes and confined in filthy guard houses, a prey to 
vermin and objects of insult to the rabble that 
guarded them. Large histories could ,be written on 
the sufferings of individuals during this period and 
our proposed limits would not contain the hundredth 
part of them. 

Sometimes a false alarm about advancing 
"Yankees" would set the soldiers on the qui vive 
and, of course, the citizens were on such occasions 
thrown into a state of the utmost terror. Sometimes, 
also, the officers would start or encourage the circu- 
lation of these reports in order to test the mettle of 
their men and several times were lines of battle 
formed in and around the town. On one occasion 
a terrible hail storm came up which, of itself, is 
worthy of a place in the annals of the town. In the 
midst of descending cakes of ice the 2nd Virginia 
regiment — raised mostly in Jefferson county — was 
ordered to march to Shepherdstown to repel an 
imaginary invasion. They obeyed with alacrity and 
returned, if not war-worn, certainly storm-pelted and 
weather-beaten, as their bleeding faces and torn and 
soaked uniforms amply proved. 

The confederates exercised control over the Balti- 
more and Ohio railroad and also the Winchester and 


Potomac railroad, the latter being- entirely within 
the territory of Virginia, and, whenever a passenger 
train stopped at the station, the travelers were scruti- 
nized and, if a man of any prominence who' was at- 
tached to the old government was recognized among 
them, he was greeted with groans, hisses and threats 
of lynching. On one occasion the Hon. Henry Hoff- 
man, of Cumberland, who, even then, was regarded 
as an ultra-Republican, was a passenger and, when 
the train stopped at Harper's Ferry, the fact of his 
presence was made known to the crowds of soldiers 
on the platform of the depot by a fellow passenger 
who evidently entertained some private malice 
against Mr. Hoffman. The informer stood on the 
platform of one of the cars and, with wild gestures 
and foaming mouth, denounced Mr. Hoffman in the 
fiercest manner and, no doubt, the life of the latter 
would have been sacrificed had not some of the 
more cool-headed among the confederate officers 
present poured oil on the troubled waters until the 
starting of the train. One evening the mail train 
was detained and the mail bags were taken away 
from the government agent by an armed posse. The 
letters were sent to headquarters and many of the 
townspeople to whom friends in the north and west 
had written freely denouncing secession, were put 
under arrest and some were in imminent danger of 
being subjected to> the utmost rigor of military law. 
Mr. William McCoy, of Bolivar, an aged, infirm man 
and one of irreproachable character, was handled 
very roughly on this occasion. He was arrested on 
some charge founded on evidence obtained from the 
plundered mail bags and he was kept for several days 
in close confinement. The military authorities in the 
meantime expressed their intention of making him 
a signal example of vengeance. Whether they really 
meant to go to extremes with him or not is uncer- 


tain, but there is no doubt that the ill usage he re- 
ceived from them hastened his death. With the ut- 
most difficulty some powerful friends succeeded in 
obtaining for him a commutation of the proposed 
punishment, and he was allowed very grudingly to 
move with his family to Ohio, on condition that he 
should never return. Hastily picking up a few neces- 
saries, he started on the first train going west for the 
place of his exile, glad enough to escape with his life, 
even at the sacrifice of his valuable property in Boli- 
var. The confederate soldiers immediately destroy- 
ed the neat fence around his residence and filled up 
the post holes, in order, as they said, to. g-ive him as 
much trouble as possible in case he was enabled at 
any time to return. The house itself being necessary 
to them as barracks, was spared unwillingly. The 
poor old man died in a short time after and, no 
doubt, he now enjoys all the happiness promised to 
those, who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. 
It is true that, even in the peaceful realms to which 
poor "Uncle Billy" has ascended there was once a 
rebellion, but there never will be another in that hap- 
py land and, if there should be, he need not fear any 
worse treatment than he received on earth from the 
chivalry of his native south. 

Mr. Abraham H. Herr, proprietor of the Island of 
Virginius, was arrested, like Mr. McCoy, on some 
charge founded on his intercepted correspondence. 
He was taken to Richmond, but was released soon 
after on parole, as is supposed. He w r as a native of 
Pennsylvania and, although he had voted with the 
south to ratify the ordinance of secession passed by 
the Virginia convention, he lay under suspicion of 
unfriendly thoughts towards the south, and it will 
appear hereafter that he suffered for his supposed at- 
tachment to the union, a heavy loss in property, be- 
sides the deprivation of liberty above noted. 


Harper's Ferry was occupied for nearly two 
months by the confederates. The fine machinery at 
the workshops was taken down and transported to 
Fayetteville, North Carolina, where the rebels had 
established an armory. While the place was held 
by the insurgents it presented a scene, novel at the 
time, but very familiar during- the remainder of the 
war. One night great excitement was caused by the 
capture of General Harney of the United States 
army, who was a passenger on board of one of the 
trains en route for Washington City from Saint 
Louis. The general was sent a prisoner to Rich- 
mond, but his advanced years rendering it improb- 
able that he could do much good or harm to either 
side, he was soon released, and he was not again 
heard from 'till the close of the war. While a pris- 
oner on the road from Harper's Ferry to Charles- 
town, he and his guards came up to 1 a squad of 
farmers who, on their plough horses, were learning 
the cavalry drill. The officer who was instructing 
them sat in a buggy, either because he could not 
procure a decent horse or on account of illness. The 
sight furnished the old veteran with infinite amuse- 
ment and, turning to his guards, he said that in all 
his army experience of over half a century and, in all 
he had studied of warfare, he had never before seen 
or heard of a cavalry officer commanding his troop 
from a buggy seat, and his fat sides fairly shook with 
laughter at the oddity of the conceit. The sarcasm 
was felt by the guards, and they were forced to admit 
that this innovation on cavalry methods was hardly 
an improvement. In a short time after his appoint- 
ment General Jackson was succeeded by General Joe 
Johnston, who continued in command of the post 
until the retreat of the confederates from the place 
after an occupancy of it of two months. 

On the 14th of June the insurgents blew up the 


railroad bridge, burned the main armory buildings 
and retreated up the valley, taking with them as 
prisoners, Edmond H. Chambers, Hezekiah Rod- 
erick, Nathaniel O. Allison and Adam Ruhlman, four 
prominent citizens of Harper's Ferry, whom they 
lodged in the jail at Winchester on the charge of 
inveterate unionism. From the first, preparations 
had been made for the destruction of the railroad 
bridge under the superintendence of competent engi- 
neers and, early in the morning of the day above 
named, the town was alarmed at hearing a loud ex- 
plosion and seeing the debris of the destroyed bridge 
flying high in the air. The noise was apparently the 
signal for the march or retreat of the confederates 
up the valley, for instantly their columns set out in 
that direction leaving, however, the most dangerous 
of their forces — that is the most dangerous to civil- 
ians, to loiter in the rear and pick up whatever was 
unprotected and portable. Fortunately, however, 
they soon quarreled among themselves and, as usual, 
when bad people fall out, the honest are the gainers. 
Towards night the marauders were gathered up by a 
guard sent back for them and they vacated the place, 
leaving one of their number murdered by his fellows. 
After the retreat of the confederates a dead calm 
reigned for a few days and the stillness was rendered 
oppressive by contrast with the former bustle and 
confusion. On the 28th of June a force, composed of 
some Baltimoreans and a part of the 2nd Mississippi 
regiment, under the command of Colonel Faulkner 
of the latter, made its appearance in the early morn- 
ing hours and destroyed with fire the rifle factory 
and the Shenandoah bridge, as also engine No. 165 
and some cars of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad 
company which they pushed on the ruins of the 
bridge destroyed on the 14th, until they fell through 
into the Potomac. Again, on the retreat of this 


force, did a silence: deep as that of an Arabian 
desert brood over the place, broken only 
by the stealthily step of some petty thief en- 
gaged in picking up stray articles belonging 
to the army or to the citizens who had fled in 
every direction, and almost completely deserted 
the town as soon as the confederates had pushed far 
enough up the valley to leave the roads compara- 
tively safe. It is to be noted that the confederates 
had outposts in Maryland and that they refused per- 
mission to depart in any direction to any one of 
whose loyalty to- them they had any doubt. On their 
retreat the way to the north was open to all whose 
inclinations led them in that direction and very many 
availed themselves at once of the opportunity to 
escape offered by the retreat of the rebels. 

On the 4th of July a lively skirmish took place 
between Captain John Henderson's company of con- 
federate cavalry and a part of the 9th New York 
regiment of militia, which a few days before: had oc- 
cupied Sandy Hook in Maryland — one mile east of 
Harper's Ferry — the same village in which John 
Brown boarded when he first came to the neighbor- 
hood — the federal soldiers beingon the Maryland side 
and the confederates on the Virginia shore of the 
river, the game was at "long taw" and comparatively 
little damage was done. Two men were killed on. the 
Maryland bank and at least one was wounded on the 
Virginia side. The name of one of the slain New 
Yorkers was Banks and it was said that he was a 
man of high character in his: regiment and at his 
home, but the name of the other is unknown to the 
author. The man wounded on the Virginia shore 
was a shoemaker o<f Harper's Ferry, named Harding, 
who, although not in the army, was a sympathizer 
with the south. On this occasion he was on a spree 
and, having exposed himself recklessly, he received 


a 'dangerous wound. He was- an Irishman by birth, 
and had served many years in the British East India 
Company's forces. The honor of having wounded 
him was claimed by John, better known as "Ginger" 
Chambers, a citizen of Harper's Ferry, who, being 
strongly attached to the Union and, happening to be 
at Sandy Hook at this time, picked up a gun and fell 
into ranks with the New Yorkers. Poor Ginger 
afterwards met his weird not far from the spot where 
he fought on that 4th of July. On the morning of 
October 14th, 1874, he was almost literally cut to 
pieces by an engine of the Baltimore and Ohio rail- 
road while on his way to take charge of a train of 
which he was the conductor. Prominent among the 
confederates in this skirmish was a man named James 
Miller, of Halltown, Jefferson county, and it is 
thought that it was he who killed Banks. In a short 
time after, while he was under the influence of 
whiskey, he, in 'company with a fellow-soldier named 
Kerfott, shot his captain — Henderson — wounding 
him severely, and for this offense he was executed in 
Winchester by order of a court martial. The skir- 
mish, of course, effected little beyond putting the 
few old people who still- clung to their homes at the 
place into a most uncomfortable state of alarm. 

In the evening when the fight was over a sad oc- 
currence took place whereby the community lost one 
of its very best citizens. When the confederates had 
retired Mr. F.'A. Roecler walked towards the rail- 
road office and, while he was sauntering about, a shot 
was fired from the Maryland side of the Potomac, 
which inflicted a mortal wound on him, of which he 
died in half an hour. It is known that the bullet was 
discharged at Mr. Ambrose* Cross who, also, was on 
the railroad at the time. The man who thus deprived 
the place of a valuable citizen was an old bummer 
belonging to a Pennsylvania regiment, who had 


straggled from his command in Pleasant Valley and 
had become drunk, celebrating the "glorious 
Fourth" at Sandy Hook. Hearing of the skirmish at 
Harper's Ferry, he staggered towards that place 
and arrived after the end of the fight, and, when the 
enemy had retired. Seeing Mr. Cross on the rail- 
road he fired off his gun at him, swearing that he 
would kill some d — rebel anyway. The shot missed 
the object at which it was directed and, striking the 
end of Fouke's hotel, it glanced and hit Mr. Roeder, 
who, unfortunately, happened to be then coming 
'round the corner of that building. The bullet tore 
a ghastly hole in his groin through which his intes- 
tines protruded. He managed to reach his home 
unassisted — for there was scarcely an able-bodied 
man then at the place — when death soon released 
him from his sufferings. Little did the slayer know 
and little, perhaps, would he care if he knew — that 
the man he shot at — Mr. Cross — -"Was one of the 
sternest Union men in the whole land and that his 
bullet proved fatal to. one of the first men in the State 
of Virginia who dared to express sympathy with the 
Republican party. Mr. Roeder was a native of Sax- 
ony, but he had resided for many years at Harper's 
Ferry, where he was very much respected and where 
by industry he had accumulated a considerable prop- 
erty. He was very much opposed to slavery and his 
death, especially under the circumstances, was very 
much to- be deplored. f^It is singular that the first 
man killed by John Brown's party was a negro and 
that the first who lost his life at Harper's Ferry at the 
hands of the union army was a warm friend to the 
government and one who would have sacrificed, if 
necessary, all the property he possessed to preserve 
the union of the states.\ Who knows what design 
an all-wise Providence had in permitting these mis- 
takes,, or what good purposes the death of these men 


may have subserved. Mr. Roeder appeared to have 
a presentiment of his fate. On the 14th of June, 
when the confederates retreated, he called the author 
of these pages into his house and invited him to 
partake of a cup of "Schnapps," for a similarity of 
tastes and sentiments on many subjects had bound 
them for several years in the closest friendship. 
When they were seated Mr. Roeder remarked : 
•"Well, we have got rid of that lot and have escaped 
at least with our lives, but what will the next party 
that comes do with us?" He appeared to be in very 
low spirits and to look forward to the next party 
with apprehension. His fears were prophetic for, 
in a few days, he met his fate at the hands of the 
first body of federal troops that made its appearance 
at the place after the evacuation by Lieutenant 

It was sad to see the rapid demoralization of the 
people at this time and the various phases of corrupt 
human nature suddenly brought to' light by the war. 
Not only were the government buildings ransacked 
for plunder, but the abandoned houses of the citizens 
shared the same fate. Even women and children 
could be encountered at all hours of the day and 
night loaded with booty or trundling wheelbarrows 
freighted with all imaginable kinds of portable goods 
and household furniture. In many instances their 
shamelessness was astounding and it appeared as if 
they considered that a state of war gave unlimited 
privilege for plunder. Citizens who recognized their 
property in the hands of those marauders and 
claimed it, were abused, and sometimes beaten and, 
sadder yet to be related, women were in many in- 
stances, most prominent in those disgraceful scenes. 
Spies were constantly crossing and recrossing the 
Potomac to give information to their friends on 
either side, and it frequently happened that the same 


parties were or pretended to be working in the in- 
terests of both armies and, as the phrase goes, "car- 
ried water on both shoulders." In the country horse- 
stealing was prosecuted on a gigantic scale and quite 
a brisk business was carried on by certain parties 
pursuing the theives and capturing runaway negroes, 
for slavery had not yet been abolished by law and 
many slaves were taking- advantage of the unsettled 
state of affairs to make their escape to freedom. 

On the 21st of July General Patterson, who had 
been operating with a large union army watching 
General Joe Johnston's motions around Winchester, 
fell back from Charlestown to Harper's Ferry. This 
was the day on which the first battle of Bull Run was 
fought in which Johnston took an important part, 
having given the slip to> Patterson, who-, no> doubt, 
was much surprised afterwards tot learn thttt his 
antagonist was not still at Winchester on that fatal 
day. Patterson's army occupied Harper's Ferry for 
several days and helped themselves to most of what 
was left by the rebels. Whatever may be said of 
their exploits on the field of battle their achieve- 
ments in the foraging line are certainly worthy of 
mention in this and all other impartial histories of 
that period. The United States army at that time 
was composed mostly of "three month's men" and 
certainly, it must be said that if they were not thieves 
before their enlistment their proficiency in the art 
of stealing was extraordinary, considering the short 
time they were learning this accomplishment so nec- 
cessary or at least so becoming in a thorough cam- 
paigner, esecially while in an enemy's country. 
Hen's teeth are articles the scarcity of which is pro- 
verbial in all countries, but it can be safely averred 
that, when this army left Harper's Ferry, the teeth 
of those useful fowls were as plentiful at that place 
as any other part of them, and Saint Columbkill him- 


self could not desire more utter destruction to the 
race of cocks than was inflicted on them at Harper's 
Ferry by General Patterson's army. Indeed, every 
thing movable disappeared before them and, at the 
risk of not being believed, the author will declare 
that he learned of their carrying off a tombstone 
from the Methodist cemetery. What they wanted 
with it he will not venture to* guess, but a regard for 
the truth of history compels him to relate the fact. 
It may have been that some company cook wanted 
it for a hearth-stone or it may have been that some 
pious warrior desired to set it up in his tent as an aid 
to his devotions, but certain it is that six or eight 
soldiers of this army were seen by many of the citi- 
zens conveying it between them from the cemetery 
to their bivouac in the armory yard. 

When Patterson's men crossed into Maryland on 
their way home — their three month's term of service 
having expired — quiet again, and for a comparatively 
long time, reigned at Harper's Ferry. At Sandy 
Hook, however, there was a lively time during the 
month of August and a part of September. General 
Nathaniel Banks, of Massachusetts, at one time 
speaker of the House of Representatives, was sent 
with a large army to occupy that village and Pleasant 
Valley, and, for six or seven weeks, those places en- 
joyed the felicity that had fallen to* the lot of Har- 
per's Ferry during the spring and early summer. 
General Banks earned for himself the reputation of 
being a thorough gentleman and, although his after 
career in the war was not signalized by much suc- 
cess, no failure on his part has been sufficient to 
erase the respect which he earned from people of 
all shades of political opinion in that region. His 
army occupied the low grounds between the. Blue 
Ridge ;Mid the Ches?peake and Ohio canal, as, also. 
Pleasant Valley, while the General's headquarters 


were at the house of Mr. Jacob Miller, near Sandy 
Hook. The latter place, though a mere hamlet, at 
once acquired a national importance, but, for some 
reason, Harper's Ferry was entirely ignored for the 
time. Indeed it appeared to be an axiom with the 
officers of both armies that the latter place could not 
be defended successfully against any considerable 
force. The first battle of Bull Run or Manasas had 
been fought July 21st — the day on which General 
Patterson's army retreated from Charlestown to 
Harper's Ferry, instead of being engaged with Gen- 
eral Joe Johnston's forces, who were that day aiding 
Beauregard at Manasas, having stolen 'away from 
Patterson. General Banks' as well as other com- 
mands of the union army were being reorganized and 
prepared for future operations, and Sandy 
Hook for some reason, was assigned as 
the temporary position of that General. Early 
in the Fall he moved to Darnestown, twenty miles 
farther down the river and after a short 
stay there he moved to Frederick City, where 
he spent the winter. After the departure of the 
main army for Darnestown the 13th regiment of 
Massachusetts Volunteers was left at Sandy Hook 
as* a corps of observation and a guard for the ford 
at Harper's Ferry. These men were uncommonly 
zealous in shooting at rebels as long as they — the 
13th — were on the Maryland side of the river with the 
broad Potomac between them and the enemy, or 
rather between them and Virginia for, now, it rarely 
happened that a Confederate soldier appeared any- 
where within gun shot of them. Crouching under the 
buttresses of the ruined bridge on the Maryland side 
of the river in the now dry bed of the canal, or among 
the thickets and rocks of the Maryland Heights, the 
gallant 13th kept up a constant fire on the few in- 
habitants of Harper's Ferry, suspecting or affecting 


to suspect them of being rebels. Everything that 
moved about the streets they shot at vindictively. 
The appearance of even a mullein leaf swaying in the 
wind elicited a volley from these ever vigilant guar- 
dians of the nation, and it was lucky for the place 
that they were indifferent marksmen, else it would 
have been wholly depopulated. They had field 
glasses through which they watched the motions 
of the inhabitants and there is no exaggeration in 
saying that they shot at weeds set in motion by the 
wind, for it frequently occurred that volleys were 
fired at bushes which in no 1 way could hide an enemy 
and which were noteworthy only because they were 
set in motion by the breeze. Sometimes the 13th 
would send detachments in skiffs across the river and 
on one or two occasions they were encountered by 
parties of Confederates who. would occasionally lurk 
in the cemetery and behind the fences on Camp Hill 
and keep up a scattering fire on the "Yankees" in 
the town. In one of these skirmishes a rebel soldier 
named Jones was killed near the graveyard, a bullet 
having penetrated through the palm of his hand and 
then into his stomach. In this affair an officer of the 
13th, whose name need not be given, very much dis- 
tinguished himself . At the first fire he jumped into 
the Shenandoah to hide behind a stone wall that 
protects the Winchester and Potomac railroad from 
the strong current of that river. Although he ef- 
fectually shielded himself against fire, he was not 
equally sucessful against the river which at this place 
is both deep and rapid and he had much difficulty in 
saving himself from being drowned. As it was, his 
fine clothes were much damaged and a red sash, 
which he wore around him, left a stain on his uniform 
which could not be removed by any amount of wash- 
ing. It would appear as if a soldier's uniform etern- 
ally blushed for the cowardice of the unworthy 


wearer. This officer was loaded down with medals 
and badges of merit which he said himself he had 
gained in the Crimean campaign, fighting against 
the Russian Bear. After this skirmish he lost caste 
in his regiment and soon after lie was sentenced by 
a court martial to a term in Sing-Sing for embezzle- 
ment. It is told that when he entered the prison and 
the principal keeper, with a view of assigning him 
to some suitable employment, inquired if he had 
learned a trade of any kind, he answered, that he 
never had labored any, but that he was a scholar 
and could talk in seven languages. The keeper on 
this told him that at Sing-Sing there was but one 
language spoken and d — little of that, and he im- 
mediately set the scholar to work in one of the shops. 
This was unkind in the keeper but, no doubt, it 
would be difficult to please all penitentiary prisoners 
in assigning them employment during their terms of 
servitude. An Irishman, under similar circum- 
stances, was. asked what trade he would have and 
answered that he always had a liking for the sea, and 
that he would choose to be a sailor. History does 
not record what success the Irishman met with in 
the assignment to work. 

Our hero was certainly a poor specimen of the 
men who fought at Alma and Sebastopol, if, indeed, 
he ever saw the Crimea, which is very doubtful. In 
justice it ought to be noted that he was not a Massa- 
chusetts man by birth. His men, however, on this 
occasion showed a good deal of gallantry and, under 
Lieutenant Brown, of the same company — his name 
needs no concealment — they stood their ground like 
good soldiers until the enemy retired. The writer 
is not prone to saying harsh things, but he cannot 
forget the many bullets shot at him by the above 
regiment and that a whole platoon of them once 
opened fire on him, and a young lady in whose com- 


pany he was at the time, actually cutting off with their 
halls portions of the lady's headgear. He also- re- 
members a degrading proposition made to him by 
some of them — that he should inform them as to 
what rebels in the neighborhood were in good cir- 
cumstances, with a view of plundering them, the 
rebels, and dividing the proceeds with the informer. 
The officer whose conduct in the skirmish was so 
discreditable would have been left to oblivion, had 
not his behavior to some ladies of the place been as 
disgraceful as his cowardice in battle. But, notwith- 
standing all this, his name is mercifully omitted. 

Early in October Mr, A. H. Herr, proprietor of 
the Island of Yirginius and the large flour mill 
on it, having a large quantity of wheat which he 
could not grind into flour — his mill having been par- 
tially destroyed by some federal troops under Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Andrew, brother of the governor of 
Massachusetts, in order to prevent the confederates 
from using it — and being a union man at heart, in- 
vited the government troops to remove the grain to 
Maryland. There being no bridge across the Poto- 
mac at the time, a large boat was procured and a 
company of the 3rd Wisconsin regiment impressed 
the few able-bodied men then at the place into' the 
service of the government to take the wheat from 
'the mill, to the boat and ferry it across with the aid 
of the soldiers. The citizens were promised a liberal 
per diem, but that, like many other good promises 
and intentions, forms a part of the pavement of a cer- 
tain region where it never freezes. Even the sacred 
person of the future historian of tbe town was not 
spared, and many a heavy sack did he tote during 
several days, under the eye of a grim Wisconsin ser- 
geant who appeared to enjoy immensely the author's 
indignation at his being put to this servile employ- 
ment. Like the recreant soldier at Sing-Sing, the 


historian derived no benefit on this occasion from 
the smattering of different languages with which 
he is credited, while the sergeant was indifferent as 
to the tongue in which the writer chose to swear or 
to the number of anathemas he thought proper to 
vent against the world in general and soldiers in par- 
ticular, he took care that the hapless author did his 
full complement of the work. Suddenly, on the 16th 
of October — the second anniversary of the Brown 
raid — while the citizens and soldiers were busy work- 
ing at the wheat, a report reached them that Colonel 
Ashby, at the head of the Virginia militia, was ap- 
proaching from Charlestown to> put a stop to their 
work. The news turned out to be true and Colonel 
— afterwards General — Geary, at one time governor 
of the territory of Kansas, and, after the war, chief 
executive of the State of Pennsylvania, at the head 
of three companies of the 28th Pennsylvania, three 
companies of the 13th Massachusetts and the same 
of the 3rd Wisconsin regiments, crossed the river 
from Maryland and marched through Harper's 
Ferry to Bolivar Heights, where the enemy were 
posted. A very sharp skirmish took place, 
which is known in history as the battle 
of Bolivar Heights. Both sides claimed the 
victory, though both retreated — Geary to< Mary- 
land and Ashby up the valley towards Charles- 
town. Four or five federal soldiers lost their 
lives in this affair, but the loss of the Confederates 
is unknown to> the writer. It is certain that many 
of them were wounded severely, but they acknow- 
ledg*ed only one death. Many young men of the 
neighborhood of Harper's Ferry, who were serving 
in the confederate army, were wounded in this battle, 
among whom were J. W. Rider and John Yates 
Beall, the latter of whom was afterwards executed 
in New York for being engaged in hostile acts within 


the limits of that state. Colonel Geary succeeded in 
capturing- and taking- to Maryland a large cannon 
belonging to the confederates, but the latter claimed 
that they had abandoned it as being- unserviceable 
and that there was no honor attached to the posses- 
sion of it by the union troops. 

The federal soldiers were very much excited on 
this occasion, in consequence of a malicious report 
spread among them that some citizens of Bolivar 
were harboring the enemy in their houses and giving 
them an opportunity to pick off the unionists from 
the windows. Mr. Patrick Hagan was arrested on 
this charge and hurried away to< Maryland without 
his getting time to put on his coat of which he had 
divested himself for work around his house. This 
gentleman was one of the most peaceable men of the 
place, and no citizen of either party in Harper's Ferry 
or Bolivar believed that he was guilty. Notwith- 
standing his high character, however, he was taken 
a\va\\ in the condition mentioned and kept in con- 
finement for several months in a government fort. 
This is one of many instances where private malice 
got in those unhappy times an opportunity for vent- 
ing- its spite under the cloak of patriotism. In a few 
days after this skirmish a party of confederate cav- 
alry entered the town and burned Mr. Herr's exten- 
sive mill, thereby inflicting an irreparable loss on 
the people of the place. As before noted. Lieutenant 
Colonel Andrew had partially destroyed it — that is — 
he broke up a part of the machinery — just enough to 
render the mill incapable of being 1 worked. This 
damage could have been easily repaired and, if no 
further harm had been done to it, the mill could have 
been put into working order in a few days. The 
confederates, however, destroyed it completely and 
the shattered and toppling- walls are still to be seen, 


a monument of vandalism and a reproach to civilized- 

From this time the town was visited nightly by 
scouts from both sides and the citizens were, as the 
Irishman says, "between the devil and the deep sea." 
As the nights grew longer and lights became neces- 
sary the people felt the inconveniences of their situa- 
tion the more keenly. The sides of the houses front- 
ing the Maryland Heights were, of necessity, kept 
in total darkness, else the fire of the unionists was 
sure to be attracted. The sides fronting the south 
stood in equal danger from the confederates and, 
families were obliged to manage so that no> lights 
could be seen by either of the contending forces. 

On the nth of November a party of union men 
determined to cross the Potomac and throw them- 
selves on the protection of the United States govern- 
ment, as they were threatened with conscription by 
the Virginians as well as exposed to insult for their 
opinions. They were, moreover, men in humble 
circumstances and they wanted employment some- 
where. Their interest as we'll as their sympathies 
were with the north, or rather with the oltl govern- 
ment, and they resolved to make a break from the 
danger and humiliations of a residence in a debat- 
able territory. Six of them, namely: Aelxander 
Kelly, the same who had so narrow an escape from 
Brown's men; John Kelly, J. Miller Brown, G. S. 
Collis, Lafayette Davis, and the author of these an- 
nals, therefore procured a leaky skiff from "Old Tom 
Hunter," the Charon of the Potomac and Shenan- 
doah since the destruction of the bridges. Hunter's 
son ferried them across, just in time to* escape a 
party of confederates then entering the town, to im- 
press them into their service. Joyfully, the refugees 
approached the Maryland shore after the dangers of 
their stay at Harper's Ferry and the no small risk 


they had run of being drowned, as the river was then 
very high and rapid and the skiff unsound and over- 
burdened with passengers and baggage. Their dis- 
appointment and astonishment were great, there- 
fore, on their being informed that they Would not 
be allowed to land ; that their crossing was is viola- 
tion of the rules established by the officer in com- 
mand at the post and that they must return to Vir- 
ginia. This was not to be thought of and, after a 
long parley, they received an ungracious permission 
to disembark, when they were immediately made 
prisoners by order of Major Hector Tyndale, of the 
28th Pennsylvania regiment, in command at the 
place. This potentate was not to be cajoled by their 
protestations of loyalty to the United States govern- 
ment. In every one of them he saw a rebel spy. He 
took them separately into a private room, examined 
their clothes and took possession of every paper 
found on them. Their baggage was searched thor- 
oughly and several poetical effusions of the author 
of these pages, addressed to various Dulcineas of 
Virginia and Maryland on the day of "Good Saint 
Valentine'' some years before — copies of which he 
had unfortunately retained — excited the wrath of 
the puritanical Tyndale to a high pitch and brought 
down on the hapless poet the heaviest denuncia- 
tions. Mr. Collis, also, fell in for a share of the 
Major's displeasure. Being a member in good stand- 
ing of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Mr. 
Collis had obtained a traveling card from Virginia 
Lodge. No. i, of that society at Harper's Ferry, to 
which he belonged. This card he had, or thought he 
ha'd, put away safely in his vest pocket which he 
had pinned securely for the safety of its contents. 
Major Tyndale felt the pocket and demanded to 
know what was in it. Mr. Collis replied that it was 
his "traveling card." The major insisted on seing 


it and, lo, when Mr. Collis showed the package and 
opened it, instead of an Odd Fellow's card, it turned 
out to be a daguerreotype likeness of one of that 
gentleman's lady friends which, through some inad- 
vertence, Mr. Collis had substituted for what he had 
intended to guard with so much care. The major 
taking this mistake for a wilful personal insult, 
stormed wildly and remanded the six prisoners for 
further trial, when they were confined with other 
captives in Eader's hotel at Sandy Hook. It will 
be believed that, under the circumstances, they were 
a gloomy party and, in view of the probability that 
things would grow worse as the night advanced, the 
author uttered a pious ejaculation, expressing a wish 
that he had the freedom of Sandy Hook for half an 
hour to improve the commissariat of the prisoners' 
which was rather scant and entirely wanting in that 
article so indispensable to> people in trouble and to 
many under any circumstances — whiskey. As luck 
would have it, the prayer reached the ear of the 
sentinel at the prison door, who was a six-foot rep- 
resentative of that beautiful island which is so touch- 
ingly described by one of its inspired sons as : 

"Poor, dear, ould Ireland, that illigent place 
Where whiskey's for nothing and a beating for less." 

The word "whiskey" was the sesame to the senti- 
nel's heart. He looked around cautiously to; see if 
the officer of the guard was near and, the coast being- 
clear, he opened the door and, in a confidential way, 
remarked that he supposed the speaker was a dacent 
boy who w r ould do the clane thing and that he — the 
sentinel — would run the risk of letting him out on 
parole of honor for half an hour. The offer was ac- 
cepted joyfully and, in an increditably short time, 
the author, who in those days, "knew all the ropes," 


returned with a load of crackers, cheese and sau- 
sages, pipes and tobacco, and the main desideratum, 
a very corpulent bottle of "tangle foot," a very ap- 
propriate name for for the particular brand of Sandy 
Hook whiskey. Wjith these refreshments and a 
greasy pack of cards, the night wore away pleasantly 
and, before morning, the Irish sentinel was the j oi- 
liest man of the party for, on every passage of the 
bottle, his services were gratefully remembered and 
rewarded with a jorum. When the time came for 
relieving the guard the sentinel was too drunk to 
stand upright and present arms and the sergeant 
who, too, was a good fellow or who was, perhaps, 
himself drunk, did not change the guard. Anyway, 
the jolly Irishman was left at the post 'till morning 
and he did not complain of the hardship of losing- 
,his sleep. The greater number of his prisoners were 
too top-heavy to make their escape, even if they were 
inclined to play false with their indulgent keeper. 
Next day they were examined again and subjected to 
various sentences according to their supposed delin- 
quencies or their ability to* do mischief. The hapless 
author was condemned to banishment to a distance 
of at least ten miles from the lines of the army for his 
unholy poetry and — as Major Tyndale actually ex- 
pressed it — because the expression of his eye was 
unprepossessing. Mr. Collis was permitted to stay 
at Sandy Hook, but he was obliged to> report every 
morning at 10 o'clock at the major's office. Many 
and various were the adventures of this as well as 
of other parties of Harper's Ferry people who were 
scattered about by the chances of the times. A nar- 
rative of them would fill a very large volume, if not 
a fair-sized library, and it may be that some of them 
will appear in future biographical sketches. 

On the 7th of February, 1862, two parties of hos- 
tile scouts encountered each other at Harper's Ferry. 


The federal spies had spent the most of the night of 
the 6th at the place and about dawn on the 7th had 
entered a skiff to return to Maryland, when they 
were fired on by some confederates who were watch- 
ing for them, and one of them, named Rohr, was 
killed. Another, named Rice, threw himself into 
the river and, by his dexterity in swimming and by 
keeping under cover of the skiff, managed to save 
his life and escape to* Maryland. The confederate 
scouts were of Captain Baylor's company, who kept 
Harper's Ferry in a state of terror all the winter, 
entering the town everyTew nights and doing many 
harsh things, without the orders or approval of their 
captain, who, however, was, held responsible for their 
acts and was treated with a great deal of unjust 
severity when in the course of events he became a 
prisoner of war. 

The killing of Rohr was the cause of another 
calamity to the hapless town. Colonel Geary, who 
was commanding the federal troops at the Point of 
Rocks, Sandy Hook, and the bank of the Potomac 
to Harper's Ferry ami under whom Major Tyndale 
was acting at Sandy Hook, became highly incensed 
,at the death of Rohr, who was a favorite scout, and 
he immediately sent a detachment to destroy the 
part of Harper's Ferry in which the confederates 
were accustomed to conceal themselves and watch 
and annoy the federal soldier's on the Maryland 
shore. This they accomplished, ruthlessly destroying 
with fire Fouke's hotel and all of the town between 
the armory and the railroad bridge. Certainly, this 
must be considered a wanton destruction of property 
as the trestle butresses or even the ruins of the burnt 
buildings furnished enough of shelter for spies or 
sharpshooters. The demolition of this property was 
accomplished under the immediate supervision of 
Major Tyndale, and here occuf some curious co- 


incidences such as often appear in history and in 
ordinary life. It will be remembered that John 
Brown, on the day of his capture, prophesied the 
destruction of Harper's Ferry, to take place in a 
short time. It will be recollected, too, that his wife 
came to Virginia to> get possession of his body after 
his execution. This same Hector Tyndale accom- 
panied her from Philadelphia as a protector and con- 
ducted the transportation of the remains from Vir- 
ginia to New York. In a little more than two years 
the town, to all intents and purposes, was destroyed 
and the finishing stroke was given to it by this very 
Tyndale. Who will say that these were merely coinci- 
dences and who will not rather suspect that there 
were in these affairs something like a true spirit of 
prophecy and a divine retribution. Major Tyndale 
is now dead and peace to his soul! At the battle 
of Antietam he was shot through the head, but he 
recovered, at least partially, from his wound and 

in some years after he served a term as mayor of 
Philadelphia. He was no friend to the author of 
these pages, but truth compels a rather favorable 
summing up of his character. Like his great name- 
sake of Troy, he was a sincere patriot and, although 
he often descended to the consideration of mere 
trifles and harassed innocent people with groundless 
suspicions, it is believed that he was thoroughly hon- 
est and he certainly had courage enough to> do no 
discredit to his Homeric name. 

All that winter— '61 -'62 — Harper's Ferry pre- 
sented a scene of the utmost desolation. All the in- 
habitants had fled, except a few old people, who 

ventured to remain and protect th'eir homes, or 
who were unable or unwilling- to leave the place and 
seek new associations. This ill-boding lull continued 
— excepting the occasional visits of the Confederates 
and the Rohr tragedy with its consequences — until 


the night of the 22nd of February, 1862, when Gen- 
eral Banks made a forward move in conjunction with 
General Shields, who proceeded up the valley from 
the neighborhood of Paw Paw, on the line of the 
Baltimore and Ohio railroad, between Martinsburg 
and Cumberland. General Banks sent a detachment 
across the Potomac at Harper's Ferry in advance of 
the main body of his troops. They crossed in skiffs 
and their object was to lay a pontoon bridge. With 
them was a man named James Stedman, a native of 
the place, and another named James Rice, who acted 
as guides. The night was stormy, blowing a gale 
down the river through the gorges of the Blue Ridge. 
Stedman, Rice and five soldiers of the 28th Pennsyl- 
vania regiment were in one skiff, when, through the 
severity of the gale or mismanagement, the boat was 
upset and all were cast into- the icy waters. Rice 
escaped by swimming to one of the buttresses of the 
bridge, but Stedman and the five soldiers were 
drowned and their bodies wlere never recovered..- 
This man — Rice — was the same who had so narrow 
an escape a few nights before at the same place, when 
Rohr was killed. He lived many years after these 
two close calls and served as a railroad engineer. 
One day he fell from his engine and was cut to pieces 
by it. It is supposed that his fall was caused by an 
apoplectic fit and that he was dead when his body 
reached the ground. From the time of this crossing 
until the retreat of Banks from Winchester, May 
25th, 1862, the town was held by federal troops. Im- 
mediately after the battle of Kernstown, March 23rd, 
of that year, the Baltimore and Ohio* railroad com- 
pany took possession of the Winchester and Potomac 
railroad and worked it for the government, thus .re- 
lieving in some measure the strict blockade the place 
had endured all the winter. Perhaps, it would be more 
correct to say that the government seized the road 


and employed the Baltimore and Ohio railroad com- 
pany to run it for them. The place, of course, 
now became very important as a base of sup- 
plies for the union troops, and the great num- 
ber of soldiers who were stationed there at 
this time and the many civilian strangers who 
daily arrived to visit friends in the army, threw 
a new life into the town. Besides, many 
of the old citizens returned to their homes, now com- 
paratively safe, and accumulated snug little fortunes 
in providing small luxuries for the wearied soldiers 
and their friends. When General Banks was pur- 
sued to the Potomac at Williamsport a portion of the- 
confederate forces marched towards Harper's Ferry 
and the union garrison there, with all the citizens 
who held to the old government, crossed over to 
Maryland. The rebels, however, approached no 
nearer to the place than Halltown, about four miles 
west, on the Charlestown road and, in a day or two, 
they returned up the valley. All through the spring 
and summer, except the few days noted, the town 
continued to be the base^of supplies for the union 
forces in that region, and it was notably so while 
the armies of Shields, Banks and Freemont were 
operating against Jackson in the campaign of Cross- 
Keys and Port Republic. After the second battle of 
Manassas, General Lee decided to invade Maryland 
and, of course, the capture of Harper's Ferry became 
very desirable if not absolutely necessary to him. It 
was then under the command of General Miles, a 
veteran of the regular United States army. He had 
a force which, including a large number under Col- 
onel Tom Ford, of Ohio, posted on the Maryland 
Heights, amounted to twelve thousand. While Gen- 
eral Lee with the . main body of the confederates 
crossed at the lower fords of the Potomac and 
marched on Frederick City, Generals Jackson and 


A. P. Hill attacked Harper's Ferry with their com- 
mands. The siege commenced on Friday, September 
1 2th, 1862, by the confederates opening fire from the 
Loudoun Heights with several batteries. The fed- 
eral guns on the Maryland Heights replied, but the 
position of the latter was soon atacked in the rear 
by a portion of the rebel army that had got a foot- 
ing in Maryland and, of course, the rebels on the 
Virginia shore profited by the diversion. The ex- 
treme right of the confederates in Maryland and the 
left of the federals who were following them up from 
Washington under McClellan, approached very near 
to the northeastern slope of these heights and Col- 
onel Ford was atacked by a strong body of troops 
detached for that purpose. Lee had marched 
through Frederick City and, thence, westward to- 
wards Hagerstown and Sharp sburg, where he faced 
about and made a stand against his pursuers. This 
placed the confederate right close to the Maryland 
Heights as above stated. A desultory though de- 
structive musketry firie was kept up all through 
Friday and Saturday, September 12th and 13th, and 
thus Colonel Ford was placed, as he thought, in a 
hopeless situation. The forces fighting him in the 
rear were probably of South Carolina, as many head- 
boards long standing at graves on the ground they 
occupied bore the names of soldiers and regiments 
from that state. The bombardment from the Lou- 
doun Heights continued in the meantime until Col- 
onel Ford abandoned his position and shut himself 
up in Harper's Ferry. His conduct on this occasion 
has been severely criticised and, indeed, it is under- 
stood that he was cashiered for misconduct. His 
military judges, no doubt, knew more about the 
merits of the case than any civilian, but it is certain 
that many instances of what appeared to be greater 
mismanagement occurred during the war, when little 


or nothing was said in condemnation of any one and 
nobody was punished. The loss of Harper's Ferry 
was a severe one, and the popular sentiment de- 
manded a scapegoat. The condemnation of Colonel 
Ford was some balm and the unreasoning multitude 
were appeased. The abandonment of the Maryland 
Heights was, of course, a virtual surrender of Har- 
per's Ferry. On Monday, September 15th, there- 
fore, the national flag was lowered and the garrison 
laid down their arms. The confederates, besides cap- 
turing some twelve thojusand men, got possession of 
a large amount of arms and valuable stores. Gen- 
eral Miles was killed by a shell immediately after his 
giving the order to surrender and, in all probability, 
his death saved him from a fate still worse to a sol- 
dier. Great indignation was felt through the loyal 
states and in army circles at what was called his 
treason or cowardice, and, had he lived, his conduct, 
no doubt, would have been the subject of a strict 
investigation, as in the case of Colonel Ford, if, in- 
deed, the supposed misconduct of the latter was not 
forgotten when the principal was under indictment. 
If poor Miles had lived to give his version of the 
matter the public verdict might have been different 
in the course of time. Anyway, he died for his coun- 
try and let no one belittle his memory. 

Before the surrender a small body of federal cav- 
alry made a gallant charge and succeeded in making 
their escape, capturing and destroying an ammuni- 
tion train belonging to Longstreet's corps of con- 
federates, which they overtook near the Antietam 
and effecting a junction with McClellan's army, then 
posted on that river. Full justice has never been 
done in history to this gallant little body of men — 
the 8th New York Cavalry — or to its heroic leader. 
Colonel B. F. Davis. 

After the surrender, General Jackson marched to- 


wards Shepherdstown and arrived at General Lee's 
position in time to take a part in the great battle of 
the 17th of September. He left General A. P. Hill 
in command at Harper's Ferry, but he, too, departed 
next day and, like Jackson, effected a junction with 
Lee's main army in time to aid in the great conflict 
that was impending. 

The direction in which Jackson miarchedi front 
- v/ 1 Harper's Ferry to Antietam — due north — disposesof 
a controversy that for years has exercised the pens 
of many people eminent in letters. The poet Whittier 
. makes Jackson march through Frederick City on his 
way to join Lee, and the fame of Barbara^Kcitehie 
rests on her supposed defying of hinfanH her shak- 
ing the national flag at him, as he passed her house 
at that place. Whittier' s poem is certainly a spirited 
one and it is too good to be without foundation in 
fact, but it is to be feared that so it is. In all prob- 
ability General Jackson never set foot in Frederick 
City. Certainly, he did not do< so< in the Antietam 
campaign, and the flag-shaking that has immor- 
talized Barbara — was done by the small children of 
a Mrs. Quantril, whoi lived near the Fritchies, and the 
rebels paid no heed to what was done by the little 
tots. How many of the heroes and heroines of his- 
tory or song are mythical and how many real deeds 
of gallantry have been consigned to oblivion can any 
/one tell? 

The siege and surrender of Harper's Ferry, though 
Important events of the war were not as disastrous tO' 
its people as other occurrences of less national in- 
terest. There was no' very hard fighting on the oc- 
casion, * considering the numbers engaged and the 
magnitude of the stake and no loss of life or prop- 
erty to the citizens of the place. While the siege 
was in progress, the battle of South Mountain took 
place, September 14th, and on the 17th of the same 


> 11 


month was fought the murderous battle of Antietam. 
Both fields are near Harper's Ferry and the thunders 
of the artillery and the roll of the musketry could 
be heard distinctly at that place from those famous 
battle grounds. At the former engagement the lines 
were very long and the left wing of the Federals un- 
der General Franklin, and the right of the confederates 
under General Howell Cobb, of Georgia, extended 
to the very foot of the Maryland Heights. These 
wings met at "Crampton's Gap" about five miles 
from Harper's Ferry and a very fierce battle was the 
consequence. This engagement, though properly 
a part of that of South Mountain, has "been consid- 
ered a separate affair on account of .the distance 
from the main armies at which it was fought, and its 
extreme severity andit is called the "battle of Cramp- 
ton's Gap." The union troops were victorious and 
they drove the confederates through "the gap" and 
some other \vild passes in the Blue Ridge near the 
place. The battle was fought almost entirely with 
musketry at close range which accounts for the great 
loss of life on both sides'. Had General Miles held 
out a little longer, the advantage gained at Cramp- 
ton's Gap would have enabled General Franklin to 
come to his relief, and the loss and disgrace of the 
surrender might have been prevented. 
^ Both sides claimed a victory at Antietam, but Lee 
retreated and his garrison at Harper's Ferry aban- 
doned that place./ McClellan did not pursue, but he 
concentrated his whole army around Harper's Ferry, 
where he remained apparently inactive for nearly 
two months. The whole peninsula formed by the 
Potomac and the Shenandoah from Smallwood's 
Ridge to* the junction of the rivers, as well as the 
surrounding heights, soon became dotted with tents, 
and at night the two villages and the neighboring 
hills were aglow with hundreds of watchfires. From 


Camp Hill the ridge that separates the towns of Har- 
per's Ferry and Bolivar the spectacle was magnifl-' 
cent, especially at night, and a spectator was forcibly 
reminded of a fine description of a similar scene in 
the eighth book of the Iliad. A hum of voices like 
that of an immense city or the hoarse murmur of the 
great deep arose from the valleys on either side and 
filled the air with a confusion of sounds, while to a 
person of sensibility it was sad to contemplate how 
many of this mighty host may have been fated never 
to> leave the soil of Virginia, but sleep their long, 
last sleep far from home and kindred and in a hostile 
land. The bands of the various regiments frequently 
discoursed their martial strains, and nothing that 
sight or sound could do to stir the imagination was 
wanted. Of course, innumerable instances occurred 
of drunken rioting among the soldiers and of out- 
rage on the citizens. A list of these would fill many 
volumes each much larger than this little book, and 
imagination can picture but faintly the sufferings of 
a people exposed helpless to the mercy of an undis- 
ciplined armed rabble, for candor obliges us to thus 
designate both the armies engaged in this war. Offi- 
cers and men on both sides were brave as soldiers 
can be, but, except the West Pointers and the gradu- 
ates of a few military academies, they knew nothing 
about the science of war, and it was impossible for an 
officer to check the excesses of his command, when 
many of the privates under him were, perhaps, his 
superiors socially in the civil life they had all left so 
lately and where all were volunteers fighting for a 
principle and not for a soldier's pay. General 
McClellan proceeded south in November, leaving a 
strong garrison at Harper's Ferry, and that place was 
occupied by the federals without interruption until 
the second invasion of the north by General Lee in 
June, 1863. All this time, as all through the war, 


the roads leading to Leesburg, Winchester, Martins- 
burg and other places were infested by guerillas in 
the service of the confederates and sometimes by 
deserters from and camp followers of the federals, 
the latter frequently committmg outrages that were 
charged to the southern men. The most noted of 
the guerillas was a youth named John Mobley. He 
was a son of a woman named Polly Mobley, who 
lived on the Loudoun side of the Shenandoah, near 
Harper's Ferry, and his reputed father was a man 
named Sam. Fine, who at one time lived in the neigh- 
borhood, but who moved west long before the war. 
The son took his mother's name and it is one that 
will ever be famous in that region on account of his 
exploits. He and his mother were poor and, when 
a mere boy, he used to drive a team for a free negro 
butcher named Joe Hagan, who lived in Loudoun 
and used to attend the Harper's Ferry market with 
his meat wagon. Mobley was at this time a lubberly, 
simple-looking lad, and the pert youths of the town 
used to> tease him. He gave no indication then of 
the desperate spirit which he aftenvards exhibited. 
On the contrary, he appeared to be rather cowardly. 
When the war broke out, however, he joined a com- 
pany of confederate cavalry raised in Loudoun coun- 
ty, and, although not much above seventeen years of 
age, he was detailed by his captain as a scout to 
watch the federal army around his native place. Un- 
der the circumstances, this was an important and 
delicate duty. With this roving commission he, with 
a few others, ranged the neighborhood of Niersville 
and Hillsborough and sometimes he came to the 
bank of the Shenandoah at Harper's Ferry. He is 
said to have kept, like Dugald Dalgetty, a sharp eye 
on his private interests, while obeying to the letter 
the commands of his superiors. He was a great ter- 
ror of suttlers and wagonmasters and he is sup- 


posed to have captured many rich prizes, displaying 
the most reckless courage and committing some cold 
blooded murders. Like many other gentlemen of 
the road, however, he had his admirers, and many 
anecdotes are told of his forbearance and gener- 
osity. On the 5th of April, 1865 — f°^ r days before 
Lee's surrender — his career ended by his being shot 
to death by a party of three soldiers of the union 
army, who had set a trap for him with the connivance, 
perhaps, of some neighbors and pretended friends. 
His body, with the head perforated in three places 
by bullets, was thrown, like a sack of grain, across a 
horse's back and conveyed in triumnh to Harper's 
Ferry where it was exposed to< public view in front 
of the headquarters. The body was almost denuded 
by relic hunters who*, with their jack knives, cut 
pieces off his clothes as souvenirs of the war and of 
the most noted of the Virginia guerillas. 

For some years before the war there resided in the 
neighborhood of Harper's Ferry a schoolmaster 
named Law. He claimed to be a brother of the 
famous George Law, of New York. He was an ec- 
centric man, but he appeared to have a good deal of 
strength of character, for he always denounced 
slavery and advocated its abolition. • For the expres- 
sion of his sentiments on this subject he was driven 
out of Harper's Ferry, shortly after the Brown raid, 
and narrowly escaped a coat of tar and feathers. On 
the breaking out of the war he attached himself to 
the union army as a spy, and he was murdered, as it 
is supposed, by some of Mob-ley's gang. One of 
them related to a friend of the author the manner of 
Law's death and it was as follows, according to' the 
confession : Having made him a prisoner, they took 
him to a lonely part of the Loudoun Mountain, laid 
him flat on his back and fastened him to the ground 
with withes twisted 'round his limbs and driven into* 


the earth with mauls, and firmly secured. There he 
was left to perish of hunger, thirst, cold or any more 
speedy death from the fangs of wild animals that 
Heaven might mercifully vouchsafe to him. Whether 
all this be true or not, there is no doubt of his having 
been murdered, and considering all the circum- 
stances, there is reason to believe that the poor fel- 
low was treated as stated. 

When General Lee a second time invaded the 
north on his disastrous Gettysburg campaign, again 
did Harper's Ferry change masters, and, when he 
again retreated, the re-occupation of the town by 
the union army was a matter of course, and the place 
then remained in the uninterrupted possession of the 
latter for a year. 

On the 4th of July, 1864. the federal army was 
driven out again by a portion of General Early's 
forces, who penetrated into Maryland and were en- 
countered on the 9th of the same month by General 
Lew Wallace at Monocacy Junction, about- twenty- 
three miles east of Harper's Ferry. Here a very 
sharp engagement took place, when the unionists re- 
treated towards Washington City and were followed 
cautiously by Early. On the 4th of July, while the 
federal troops were evacuating Harper's Ferry and 
some of them, were yet at Sandy Hook preparing to 
retreat farther into Maryland, one of them, partially 
intoxicated, went into the store of Mr. Thomas Egan 
at that place and offered to buy-some tobacco. The 
proprietor handed him a plug. The soldier took it 
but refused .to pay for it and, on Mr. Egan's attempt- 
ing to recover the tobacco, a scuffle ensued. Mr. 
Egan succeeded in ejecting the soldier and he shut 
the door to keep the intruder from re-entering. At 
this moment the proprietor's only child, a very in- 
teresting girl of about thirteen years, noticed that 
the soldier's cap was on the floor of the storeroom, 


it having fallen off the owner's head in the struggle. 
She raised a window, held out the cap and called the 
soldier to take it, when the ruffian shot her dead 
with his carbine, the bullet entering her mouth and 
coining out at the back" of her head. The lamented 
Colonel Mulligan of the 23rd Illinois regiment hap- 
pened to be passing the scene of the murder at the 
time and he ordered the brute to be arrested and 
confined for trial, but, in the confusion of the follow- 
ing night, he escaped and was never seen afterwards 
in that region. It is said that he deserted his regi- 
ment and joined the United States navy. The 
mother of the child — a most estimable lady — soon 
succumbed to her great sorrow and died broken- 
hearted. The father became dissipated and a wan- 
derer until he lost his mind, and it is supposed that 
he ended his days in some asylum for the insane. ' On 
the same day a lady from North Mountain was killed, 
while standing' on High street, Harper's Ferry, at a 
point exposed to the fire which was kept, up from 
the Maryland Heights by the federal troops. A 
colored woman, also, was killed on Shenandoah 
street, of the same place, and a child was mortally 
wounded in Bolivar, and a -young lady — Miss Fitz- 
simmon's — seriously injured at the same time and 
place. The child was a daughter of Mr. Thomas 
Jenkins and Miss Fitzsimmons was his step-daugh- 
ter. A shell struck Mr. Jenkins' house, shattering 
it badly and injuring his family as noted. The author 
of this little volume was seated at the time under the 
gun that discharged the shell. The eannon was on 
the fortifications of the Maryland Heights and the 
writer could see that Mr. Jenkins' house was struck. 
He remonstrated in strong language with the gun- 
ners for doing- wanton mischief to> inoffensive citi- 
zens. They took good-naturedly his indignant pro- 
test and ceased firing, which, no doubt, prevented 


much harm. The lady killed on High street and the 
colored woman received their death wounds from 
Minnie bullets. A shell from some other battery- 
penetrated a government house on High street, Har- 
pers Ferry, occupied by Mr. James McGraw, passed 
directly through it without injuring any one, and then 
penetrated the house of Mr. Alexander Kelly, whet*e 
it fell on a bed without exploding. Miss Margaret 
Kelly, daughter of the proprietor of the house, was in 
the room when the unwelcome visitor intruded and 
settled down on the bed, but, fortunately, she re- 
ceived no injury beyond a bad fright. 

While this skirmish was progressing, a confeder- 
ate officer of high rank sauntered into the armory 
yard, either to watch the enemy on the opposite side 
of the river or to take shelter from the heat which 
was intense that day. He was alone and excited no 
particular attention. On the next day a young girl 
who was searching for a cow that had strayed, found 
his dead body and, as the rebels had retreated on the 
previous night, the task of burying him devolved on 
the citizens. The body was much swollen and de- 
composition had made great headway. So nobody 
knows how he came to his death and, indeed, no ex- 
amination for wounds was made. He was interred 
somewhere under the railroad trestling and it would 
be worth something handsome to discover the exact 
spot. After the war his family offered a large reward 
for the discovery of his resting place, but, in the 
campaign of Sheridan which followed shortly after 
this fight cavalry horses were picketed under this 
trestling and they tramped the ground so hard and 
obliterated so completely all traces of the grave that 
the search for it, which continued some time, was 
finally abandoned. Poor fellow, his fate was a sad 
one. No doubt, he left a happy home and loving 


friends and, now, he moulders in an unknown grave 
without even the companionship of the dead. 

"His sword is rust; 
His bones are dust; 
His soul is with the saints, we trust;" 

At no time during the war was there as deep a 
gloom on Harper's Ferry as on that anniversary of 
the birth of our nation. The people had entertained 
the fond hope that the war was nearly over, or, at 
least, that the theatre of it was to be moved farther 
south. Therefore, when, on the 2nd of July, the 
sound of cannon was heard in the direction of Mar- 
tinsburg, utter despair appeared to take possession 
of all hearts at Harper's Ferry. The battle sounds 
were from a heavy skirmish between a part of Early's 
troops and Colonel Mulligan's Irish regiment — the 
23rd Illinois — at Leetown, about midway between 
Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry. It may interest 
the reader to know that Leetown took its name from 
the famous General Charles Lee of unenviable repu- 
tation in the war of our Revolution. Here it was he 
buried himself in a morose solitude after his quarrel 
with General Washington and the cabin which he 
inhabited, with only his dogs for company, is still 
standing and occupied by a family. The firing was 
the first intimation the people of Harper's Ferry had 
of approaching danger. Mulligan, although g-reatly 
outnumbered by the enemy, succeeded in checking 
their course for a while, and he gave the garrison 
and people of that place time to prepare for defense 
or retreat. However, as the darkest hour comes im- 
mediately before the dawn, so* was this gloomy time 
the precursor of, at least, comparative tranquility. 
Although the people were obliged to fly on this oc- 
casion, as usual, they were not again driven from 


their homes, and, although peace was not restored 
to the whole country for many months after this, 
Harper's Ferry was happily exempted from any 
■more of its accustomed calamitous evacuations. 

The writer has adverted to the want of discipline 
in both the armies that in this war exhibited so much 
gallantry and, as an evidence of this he will relate 
an incident that occurred on Maryland Heights while 
the federal army was yet defending Harper's Ferry 
on that memorable Fourth of July. It will be remem- 
bered that the State of Ohio a short time before had 
furnished to the government a force called "the 
Hundred-Day Men." A portion of these were doing 
duty on the Maryland Heights on this occasion. 
They were brave enough but, as the following will 
show, they had little or no conception of the military 
appliances which they were expected to use with 
some degree of intellingence. A company of them 
were preparing dinner and, not having anything else 
convenient on which to build their fire, they pro- 
cured from an ammunition wagon several large shells 
on which they piled their wood which was soon 
ablaze. "Round the fire they all squatted, each in- 
tent on watching his kettle or saucepan. Soon a ter- 
riffic explosion shook the surrounding hills, sending 
all the culinary utensils flying over the tree tops 
and, unfortunately, killing or wounding nearly every 
man of the group. This is but one of many in- 
stances seen during the war of incredible carelessness 
produced by the excitement of the times and a lack 
of military training in the soldiers. While "the hun- 
dred-day men" were stationed near Harper's Ferry 
many yarns were spun at their expense, such as the 
following: One of them, it is said, presented himself 
on a certain occasion to the commander of the post, 
a grim old warrior, who had seen a hundred battles, 
and who had the reputation of being a martinet. On 


being asked what he wanted, the soldier said that 
he had a complaint to make of the commissary who 
had not yet furnished butter or milk for the com- 
pany mess. The wrath of the old campaigner is 
said to have been appalling when he heard this, 
and it is narrated that about this time a figure was 
seen to retreat with precipitation from the p-eneral's 
tent, with a boot in close proximity to its seat of 

Another party of the same corps was stationed at 
Kerneysville, ten miles west of Harper's Ferry, for 
the protection of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad 
at that point. These hearing of a much superior 
force of the enemy approaching to destroy the road 
and kill or capture them, wisely resolved to retreat 
to Harper's Ferry without awaiting orders from) 
their superiors. A freight car happened to' be at 
the time on the sidetrack near, and the thought 
struck them that they could load all their "traps" 
into> this and push it to their destination. Kerneys- 
ville is situated on the very top of a ridge, halfway 
between Harper's Ferry and Martinsburg, and there 
is a very steep grade of ten miles in length either 
way from these points — the summit being, as noted, 
at Kerneysville. This the Ohio men did not know 
and it is possible that they had never heard of the 
existence of grades on surfaces apparently so level 
as railroads. Having procured a switch key, they 
transferred the car to the main track, and having 
loaded on it all their paraphernalia, they proceeded 
to push the car towards Harper's Ferry. At first it 
was moved with some difficulty, but soon they dis- 
covered that it gradually attained speed and that, 
after a little time, it rolled along without the neces- 
sity for any exertion in pushing. Supposing, per- 
haps, that some kind fairy had greased the track for 
them, they felt overjoyed and, giving the car a few 


vigorous pushes, they all jumped aboard and *let her 
slide." Soon, however, the rate of travel increased, 
so as to give them some uneasiness and, after their 
having accomplished a mile or two, the speed was 
terrific, and increasing every moment. Knowing 
little about railroading they did not understand the 
use of the car-brake, which would have done some- 
thing towards reducing their dangerous rate of lo- 
comotion. On the car shot like-.a 'meteor, and the 
long hair of the western men streamed behind like 
the tail of a comet, as would also< their coat tails, if 
their uniforms had any such appendages. The as- 
tonished track hands along the road fled in dismay 
from the appartion and well might the knowing ones 
among them feel alarm as the westward bound mail 
train was then due on the same track on which the 
car was rushing' in an opposite direction at far more 
than legitimate railroad speed. Onward and faster 
the Ohio men flew 'round the innumerable curves 
of the road in that neighborhood until to the amaze- 
ment of Mr. Donohoo, the railroad agent at Har- 
per's Ferry, the car came in sight of his"" station. 
Fortunately, the mail train had been detained for 
some reason by order of Mr. Donohoo', and thus 
the Ohio men and the passengers on board the train 
were saved from the consequences of a collision 
which, under the circumstances, would have been of 
the most disastrous kind. ^ nen the car came to the 
level a short distance above Harper's Ferry, its rate 
of travel gradually declined and it stopped of itself 
before reaching the passenger train, the engineer of 
which had presence of mind to back his train far 
enough to the east to keep out of the way until the 
momentum of the engineless car had expended 
itself beyond the incline. The soldiers half dead with 
fright, jumped off the car with all possible speed, but 
they were put in irons immediately by order of the 


commander at Harper's Ferry for disobedience of 
orders with the aggravation of the danger to which 
they had exposed the passenger train. The Ohio 
men were very gallant soldiers, however, and that 
more than compensated for their inexperience. 

After the failure of the confederates in their at- 
tempt on Washington City, and their retreat into 
Virginia again and for the last time did the federal 
troops get possession of Harpers Ferry. After the 
battle of Monocacy General Sheridan was appointed 
tO' command in the Valley of Virginia, and his bril- 
liant and successive victories over Early "around Win- 
chester saved the whole of the lower valley, hence- 
forth, from its accustomed alternation of masters. 

There was then residing near Harper's Ferry a 
German known as "Dutch George," his real name 
being George Hartman. He was a bachelor and he 
worked among the farmers of the neighborhood with 
whom he was deservedly popular for his harmless 
simplicity of character and his efficiency as a farm- 
help. During - the severe conscription George en- 
tered the confederate army as a substitute for one 
of his employers and his achievements in the war 
are thus summed up. After the last retreat of Early, 
George and many of the young men of the neighbor- 
hood who were serving in the confederate army, and 
who had taken advantage of the forward movement 
of their troops to- visit their homes, remained on fur- 
lough, trusting for concealment to their knowledge 
of the locality and the sympathy of all their neigh- 
bors with their cause. One day they g'ot informa- 
tion that a force .of their enemies was approaching 
and, fearing that their houses would be searched for 
them, they all assembled in a deserted blacksmith's 
shop where the enemy would not suspect their being 
concealed. As an additional precaution, they threw 
out pickets to watch the motions of the enemy, and 


George was detailed for this duty. He took post 
in a fence corner, but he kept a poor lookout and 
was surprised and taken prisoner by a squad of the 
enemy that had stolen a march on him. "By damn," 
said George to his captors, "you did dat wery vel, 
but you ain't schmart enough to find de boys in de 
blackschmidt shop." Of course, "a nod was as good 
as a wink" to the shrewd "Yankees," and they sur- 
rounded the shop and made prisoners of the whole 
party, greatly to the astonishment of George, who 
never could be made to understand by what intuition 
the "Yankees" discovered "de boys in de black- 
schmidt's shop." Poor George is now dead, and it 
is only fair to his memory to say that he was not 
suspected of cowardice or treachery. He stood well 
with his comrades in regard to courage and loyalty, 
and it is possible that the tale was invented or greatly 
exaggerated by the mischievous youngsters of the 
neighborhood t'o tease the poor fellow. 

During the winter of 1864-65 several military exe- 
cutions took place at Harper's Ferry and, indeed, 
there is no phase of war that w r as not experienced at 
some time by its people. A man known as "Billy, the 
Frenchman" was executed >by hanging on the 2nd 
day of December, the fifth anniversary of John 
Brown's death. His proper name was William 
Loge. He was a native of France and was but a 
short time in this country. He enlisted in a New 
York regiment and, white he was stationed at Ber- 
lin — now Brunswick — on the Maryland side of the 
Potomac, he deserted and, crossing over to> Virginia, 
he attached himself to Mobley's gang- and became a 
terror to the people of Loudoun — rebel as well as 
loyal. He was a young man of an attractive appear- 
ance and great physical strength, as well as of iron 
nerve. After marauding successfully for many 
months he was made prisoner by federal scouts, near 


Johnson's stillhouse — the scene of the pugilistic en- 
counter between Yankee Sullivan and Ben Caunt — 
and taken to Harper's Ferry, where he was executed 
as soon as the formalities of a court martial could 
be complied with. He displayed the utmost courage 
on the scaffold and many pitied him on this account, 
as well as for the great brutality with which the exe- 
cution was conducted. The provost was Major 
Pratt of the gallant 34th Massachusetts regiment, a 
very kindhearted man, but others who acted under 
him displayed the greatest cruelty and barbarity. 
On the whole it was the most sickening affair wit- 
nessed at the place during the war. 

On another occasion two deserters were taken out 
for execution by shooting. The Reverend Father 
Fitzgibbon, a Catholic priest, chaplain to one of the 
regiments then at the place, took an interest in them 
and, although they did not belong to his communion, 
he volunteered his spiritual aid for the occasion. 
Father Fitz Gibbon had officiated in the ministry 
years before at Springfield, Illinois, and had become 
well acquainted with Mr. Lincoln, then a practising 
lawyer at that place. It occurred to the good priest, 
therefore, to use his influence with the President for 
the pardon of the condemned men, or a commutation 
of their sentence. He telegraphed his request to 
Mr. Lincoln. No reply came until the hour ap- 
pointed for the execution had actually passed. 
Major Pratt, with his usual kindheartedness, delayed 
the catastrophe as long as he could do so 1 consist- 
ently in view of his duty. At length the condemned 
men were placed on their knees and a file of soldiers 
held their guns ready to> fire at the command of the 
provost, when a horseman was seen riding furiously 
from the direction of the telegraph office and if was 
hoped that he might be the bearer of some message 
of mercy. True enough, the benevolent Lincoln had 


pardoned them, and there was not one in the crowd 
of spectators who did not feel relieved on hearing 
the good news, and many a rough cheek was wet 
with tears. It will be readily believed that the pris- 
oners participated largely in the joy of the occasion. 
There is an old fatalistic saying that "every wight 
has got his weird," or that every man's career on 
earth and the manner of his death are predestined. 
This may or may not be true, but many things occur 
to< give at least plausibility to> the belief. One of 
these men thus rescued from the very jaws of death, 
lost his life some twenty years afterwards bv being 
shot by a woman whom he had grossly insulted with 
improper proposals, and to whom he was about to 
offer personal violence. The "weird," if there is 
such a thing, missed him at Harper's Ferry, but 
overtook him some thirty miles farther up the Poto- 
mac. The author will give another instance of ap- 
parent fatality. Like the sentimental Sterne, he loves 
philosophical digressions which, perhaps, the reader 
may pardon. Besides, the occurrence took place 
near enough to Harpers Ferry to give it some little 
claim on the chronicles of that neighborhood. In 
the confederate army during the civil war was the 
scion of a very respectable house in the lower valley 
of Virginia. Like other young men, no- doubt, he 
felt that in him was the making of a hero but, in his 
first battle, he discovered that he had missed his vo- 
cation. In his second and third battles his fears were 
confirmed and, stilj worse, his comrades suspected 
the truth. He held on to the colors, however, but, 
after a few more experiences, he ever sought some 
excuse for absence from his post in time Of battle, 
until his example was considered detrimental to the 
' service, and by a tacit connivance he was allowed to 
quit the army and return home. It often happened 
that scouting parties of the opposite sides would en- 


counter one another near his home and so great was 
his fear of death that on these occasions he would 
hide himself in some bullet-proof retreat. Once, a 
skirmish took place nearly a mile from his home and 
he thought he could view it safely at that distance, 
He, however, took the precaution of hiding in some 
high grass while looking at the encounter. All in 
vain was his care, for a stray bullet found him and 
he received a mortal wound. 

An understanding may be got of the war experi- 
ences of Harper's Ferry from the fact that the rail- 
road bridge at the place was destroyed and rebuilt 
nine times from June, 1861, to> the surrender of Gen- 
eral Lee at Appomattox in April, 1865. Mr. Thomas 
N. Heskett, now dead, assistant master of road for 
the Baltimore and Ohio railroad company, every 
time superintended its reconstruction, assisted by 
Milton and Oliver Kemp, his foremen , and it is 
very creditable to these gentlemen that, notwith- 
standing the many disadvantages under which they 
labored, and the hurry with which they were obliged 
to perform the work of reconstruction, no' accident 
occurred to any of the thousands of railroad and 
wagon trains that passed over it' during these years, 
which could be traced to any defect in the bridge it- 
self, or the track laid on it. 

At every evacuation of the place the wildest ex- 
citement pervaded the town, and scenes of terror 
were fre-quently presented, mingled with ludicirous 
occurrences. Few, however, could at the time com- 
mand equanimity enough to appreciate the laughter- 
moving side of those pictures and see where the joke 
came in. A few days prior to> a retreat a vague 
rumor of approaching danger could be heard and 
immediate preparations would be put on foot for a 
"skedaddle." There were in the town many sym- 
pathizers with the rebellion, especially among the 


fair sex. These were in constant communication 
with the insurgents, who kept them informed of what 
was going- on within the confederate lines, in return 
for the news with which they were supplied of the 
doings of the union troops. While, at heart, thor- 
oughly loyal to the rebel cause, the women of south- 
ern proclivities could never keep their information 
concerning the movements of the confederates en- 
tirely secret. The love of talk and the pride in 
knowing more than their neighbors always betrayed 
them into giving some hints of what was impending 
and, in consequence, the townspeople were but sel- 
dom taken by surprise. As the enemy approached, 
the excitement would increase and, finally, a motly 
crowd of fugitives of every shade of color could be 
seen tramping along the turnpike road to Frederick 
City, ankle deep in mud or enveloped in a cloud 
of dust and stewing with heat,accordingtothe season. 
Ideal socialism existed among them for the time 
being and a practical illustration of the eqwality of 
mankind was frequently exhibited when a darkey of 
the blackest shade of color, with a wallet well sup- 
plied with hard tack and bologna sausages, or a bot- 
tle of whiskey, commanded more consideration than 
the purest Caucasian, though he could trace his line- 
age to the Crusades or the Norman conquest, if de- 
ficient in his commissariat. Uncle Jake Leilic's 
hotel in Frederick City was the headquarters of the 
fugitive Harper's Ferry people on these occasions, 
and assembled there, they contrived to receive in- 
telligence about the movements of the rebels, until 
the danger had passed away, and the confederates 
had retreated up the valley. Mr. Leilic deserved 
well of many refugees whose pecuniary resources 
became exhausted while they were away from home, 
and he is remembered by many with gratitude. He 
was a good, honest, kindhearted. though blunt Ger- 


man— a native, of Hesse Darmstdat. He has been 
dead many years and few there are to fill his place in 
the estimation of his surviving friends. The retreats 
were called "skedaddles," a term invented at the time 
by some wag - . The originator in all probability was 
not aware that a similar word is used by Homer to 
express the same idea and, if at any time, the inven- 
tor should chance to read these pages, or should 
learn by any other means of -the coincidence, the 
information, no doubt, will afford him the liveliest 
satisfaction. It must be confessed, however, that 
the termination "daddle" is not homeric, as it is 
lacking in dignity and such as would not be tolerated 
for a moment in the grand old language in which 
the great bard wrote his sonorous hexameters. A 
correction in the next edition is, therefore, respect- 
fully suggested. 

After the surrender of General Lee a garrison was 
left at Harper's Ferry, and for more than a year after 
the restoration of peace were the ear-piercing notes 
of the fife and the boom of the drum heard on the^ 
streets of that place. It may be said with truth 
that no spot in the United States experienced more 
of the horrors of the war than that village. The 
first act of the great tragedy — the Brown raid — was 
enacted there and, at no time until the curtain fell, 
was Harper's Ferry entirely unconnected with the 
performance. Even the cessation of military opera- 
tions was far from restoring the tranquillity that 
used to reign in this once prosperous and happy 
little community. In the spring and summer of 
1865 many families that had cast their lots with the 
confederacy returned to the place to find their 
homes occupied by tenants to whom the national 
government had rented them as being in a condi- 
tion of semi-confiscation. Some found their houses 
occupied by mere squatters who had seized them as 


so .much Treasure Trove, £iid who impudently as- 
serted their superior right to the property on the 
score of loyalty,, although the government had given 
no sanction to their occupancy, and was simply pas- 
sive with regard to the ownership. General Egan, 
a gallant soldier of the State of New York, was for a 
short time, in the summer of that year, in command 
of the post and. filled with pity for the forlorn condi- 
tion of the hapless owners and indignation at the 
effrontery of the intruders, he, regardless of techni- 
calities, cleared many of the houses of the riff-raff 
that had unjustly settled in them and restored them 
to the former and real proprietors. Unfortu- 
nately, this generous, brave and impulsive soldier 
was moved to some other command, before his noble 
work of restoration was completed. We have never 
been able to fully ascertain the identity of this gal- 
lant soldier with the General Egan so prominent 
in the late war with Spain, but assuredly our people 
at Harper's Ferry owe him a heavy debt of grati- 

The new State of West Virginia had been created 
during the war, and Harper's Ferry is the eastern 
extremity of that state. The then dominant political 
faction, as usual, persecuted those, who in their day, 
were so intolerant, and harsh election and school 
laws were enacted for the purpose of rendering the 
defeated party incapable of ever again asserting it- 
self. During this state of affairs the writer was 
elected superintendent of free schools, and never will 
he forget the perplexities imposed on him by the 
office. It was his bounden duty to establish schools 
all over the county, but it was equally incumbent 
on him by law to see that no teacher was employed 
for. any of the public schools who refused to take 
an iron-clad oath setting forth his or her unfaltering 
love for the union and hatred for its enemies, and 


also, .that the applicant for the place of teacher had 
never given aid in any way to the late rebels. When 
it is considered that ninety-nine in every hundred of 
the inhabitants of the county had been in active sym- 
pathy with the rebellion, it will be evident that the 
school superintendent's only way to escape a dilem- 
ma was to send to the loyal states for teachers. 
Again, the salaries paid were too small to tempt 
people from the north to reside in a hostile land to 
train pupils rendered refractory by the bad examples 
of the war and imbued by their parents with a hatred 
for "Yankees" as all northern people were styled. 
Finally, the writer, finding it impossible to comply 
with the letter of an absurd and contradictory law, 
resolved on following the spirit and underlying prin- 
ciple of all public school legislation, and he took on 
himself to dispense with all test oaths and employ 
teachers without reference toi their politics. His 
action in the matter brought him very near to im- 
peachment, but he brazened it out until the expira- 
tion of his term. Again, a registration law then en- 
acted, depriving sympathizers with the south of the 
right to> vote at elections, put into, the power of 
county boards to allow or refuse this right at their 
own sweet wills. Of course, the boards were com- 
posed of "loyal men" and it is easy to imagine how 
petty spite or interest in the election of some candi- 
date for office too often swayed the judges. Those 
whose property had been injured by the rebels 
sought recompense by suing before the courts the 
officers whose men had inflicted the damage, and 
all these causes, with many others, combined to keep 
the town and neighborhood in a ferment for several 
years, so that many thought that they had gained 
but little by the cessation of actual warfare. Time, 
however, has happily cured the wounds, though the 
scars will ever remain, and it is confidently hoped 


that the historic village — the theme of this little 
book will flourish again some day — the better, per- 
haps, for the fiery ordeal through which it has 
passed — so mote it be ! 

This concludes an imperfect account of Harper's 
Ferry in the war, and the writer is impelled to com- 
ment on a fact which, although it may have been ac- 
cidental, appears to have a strange significance for 
a reflecting mind. Of all the government buildings 
in the armory inclosures before the war, the only one 
that escaped destruction in that fearful struggle was 
ohn Brown's famous engine-house or fort. Of the 
ocurrence that gave fame to that little building there 
can be but one opinion from a legal standpoint — 
that it was a violation of law for which the aggres- 
sors paid a just penalty, if we consider obedience 
to human enactments without reference to the moral 
code as obligatory on man. On the other hand, it 
must be admitted that slavery was not only an evil 
that affected perniciously every member of any com- 
munity in which it existed, but an anomaly in the 
model republic of modern times and this civilized 
century. Who knows then by what providential in- 
terference an enthusiastic fanatic may have been 
selected as an instrument in removing that anomal- 
ous stain of slavery from the state that boasts of 
having given birth to> Washington and of contain- 
ing his ashes, and from this whole nation that now. 
at least, can truly call itself the Land of the Free! 
The preservation of this little building was certainly 
remarkable and, although the present owners of the 
old armory property have sold — unfortunately, it is 
thought by many — this interesting little relic of stir- 
ring times, and every brick of it has been conveyed 
away by Chicago speculators, the actions of man do 
not lessen the significance of the protection ac- 
corded to it by Providence from the day when the 


first active protest against the great wrong of 
slavery was uttered in fire from its door, until that 
sin was finally banished from the land. The writer 
has no intention to dictate to property owners what 
they ought to' do with what belongs to them justly, 
but he cannot help heaving a sigh for this great sacri- 
fice of sentiment, as well as for the material loss of a 
great attraction that brought hundreds of people 
every year tO' the place to see a curiosity, and inci- 
dentally and necessarily, to leave some money behind 
when they departed. But the site is there yet and it 
takes but a slight stretch of imagination to prophesy 
that it will be the Mecca to which many a pilgrim 
of this and of other lands will journey in future times 
as to a shrine consecrated to liberty. Some seventy- 
five miles farther down the Potomac is another 
shrine — the grave of Washington — and it is not his 
countrymen alone who bare their heads in honor of 
the great man who> rests in the consecrated ground. 
From all civilized lands they come to venerate, and 
even his ancient foes have been known to> lower the 
haughty flag - of their country in his honor. They 
who' come to Mount Vernon do not ask how much 
right the British or the Americans had on their re- 
spective sides in the war of the Revolution. They 
come to honor the heroic man who did so much for 
humanity in obedience to his conscience and the 
same motive will bring many to' the site of the fa- 
mous engine house — people who' will not take the 
trouble to examine the finle-spiun sophistries and 
subtleties we used to hear from politicians before the 
war, but will honor and revere bona-fide honesty and 
the heroism that upholds the! right and combjats 
wrong, even to the death, despite of legal quibbles. 
Many will consider it sacrilege to compare George 
Washington with John Brown, but all must admit 
that what the former began the latter completed or, 


at least, put in the way of completion by Abram 
Lincoln. All three deserve imperishable monuments 
for all of them did the best according to their light 
for the cause of humanity, and "Angels could no 
more." In 1859 it was a high crime against the 
laws of Virginia and, we believe,- of other states, to 
teach a man of color the alphabet. In 1866, within 
a quarter of a mile of John Brown's, fort was estab- 
lished "Storer College" for the education of the ex- 
slaves and their descendants. Mistaken, fanatical, 
or criminal as John Brown may have been, if we 
judge him by the results of his action at Harper's 
Ferry, we will not be considered unreasonable, we 
hope, when we point to> this flourishing seat of learn- 
ing to justify a great deal of favorable consideration 
for him by posterity. He is getting it already, even 
in the life-time of many who clamored for his blood, 
and the heroic old' confederate soldiers are not be- 
hind in doing honor to his undoubted courage and 
honesty. Brave men will ever honor the brave. 
"Exegi monumentum aere perennius" may well be 
inscribed on the*graves or monuments of those three 
extraordinary men. No one now grudges it to 
Washington or Lincoln, and the day will be when all 
will concede the right to John Brown as well. 
"Tempora mutantur, nos et, mutamur in illis." 



In 1862 Mr. Daniel J. Young, formerly master 
machinist at the rifle factory, was sent from Wash- 
ington City to take charge of the ordnance at Har- 
per's Ferry, as also 1 , of all the government property 
at that place. He was the same who, on the morn- 
ing, of the Brown Raid, ventured to remonstrate 
with and warn the invaders. We have already given 
an account of his services to the government and his 
promotion to the rank of captain in the regular army, 
and how he was retained at Harper's Ferry from; the 
time of his appointment in 1862 until the end of the 
war, and still farther, until 1869, when the govern- 
ment interests at the place were disposed of at public 
sale. In the meantime,, he was made defendant in a 
suit against the government for possession of the 
most important part of the armory grounds — the 
plaintiff being Mr. Jacob Brown, of Charlestown, 
West Virginia, whiot had a long'-standing claim for 
said property, arising from alleged irregularities in 
the original purchase. The case was decided in Park- 
ersburg West Virginia, in August, 1869, Chief Justice 
Chase presiding at the trial. The verdict was in favor 
of Captain Young and the government. Some years 
before Mr. Brown had another suit with the govern- 
ment for another piece of property. This first trial 
took place in the United States Courts, at Staunton, 


Virginia, and the resul-t was adverse to Mr. Brown's 

During the winter of 1868-69 a bill was introduced 
into Congress and passed, providing for the sale of 
the government property at Harper's Ferry. On 
the 30th of November and the 1st of December* 
1869, therefore, it was put up at public auction, and 
the armory grounds and the site of the rifle factory 
were purchased by Captain F. C. Adams, of Wash- 
ington, D. C, for the sum of two hundred and six 
thousand dollars, with one and two 1 years time for 
the payment. Most of the houses and lots belonging 
to the government in other parts of the town were 
disposed of to citizens on terms similar as to time, 
and very high prices were offered. Captain Adams 
represented, as he said, some northern capitalists, 
and great hopes were entertained for the rivival of 
manufactures at the place and the renewal of the 
old-time prosperity. 

Notwithstanding the great depression of the times 
— since the war — as far, at least, as Harper's Ferry 
is concerned — a good deal of enterprise has been ex- 
hibited by many of the old citizens of the place. In 
July, 1867, Mr. A. H. Herr, an extensive manufac- 
turer and the owner of the Island of Virginius, of 
whom mention has been made in this book several 
times heretofore, sold his interest at Harper's Ferry 
to the firm of Child & McCreight, of Springfield, 
Ohio, — both now deceased. This property is ro- 
mantically situated on the Shenandoah which bounds 
it on the south. On the north and east it is bounded 
by the canal, constructed to facilitate the navigation 
of the Shenandoah, and on the west by a waste way 
of the, canal conmmunicating with the river. The 
island contains thirteen acres on which were, before 
the war, twenty-eight neat dwellings, one flour mill, 
one cotton factory, one carriage factory, one saw 

170 AFT.bR THE WAR. 

mill, a machine shop and a foundry. It will be remem- 
bered that in 1861, shortly after the skirmish at Boli- 
var, a party of confederates visited the town and de- 
stroyed the flour mill. Fromi that time there was 
no business conducted on the island until the sale of 
that property to the above mentioned firm. These 
gentlemen, having availed themselves of the talents 
of Mr. William F. Cochran, then so well known for 
his thorough knowledge — theoretical and practical 
— of machinery, immediately commenced fitting up 
the cotton factory for a flour mill. A large force 
of men was kept in employment for fifteen months, 
preparing the building and putting up the ma- 
chinery, under the direction of Mr. Cochran. The 
works were of the most approved description, set in 
motion by four turbine wheels, the power being that 
of three hundred horses. There were ten run of 
buhrs, which turned out five hundred barrels of flour 
daily and, on the whole, it was said by adepts in that 
business, to be a marvel of ingenuity, which greatly 
added to- the previous and well-established fame of 
Mr. Cochran. That gentleman, after varied fortunes 
and many vicissitudes, lost his life in a railroad acci- 
dent in Michigan, in January, 1889. He was a na- 
tive of Scotland and he served some years in the 
British navy. Messrs. Child & McCreight, the new 
proprietors of this desirable property, soon won for 
theniselves golden opinions among the people of the 
place for their courteous demeanor, and the 
success which at first attended them, gave un- 
alloyed pleasure to all with whom they came in con- 
tact. They associated with them as a partner, Mr. 
Solomon V. Yantis, an old resident and long a mer- 
chant of Harper's Ferry, where his character was 
of the very best as a business man and a good citi- 
zen generally. Of the twenty-eight dwellings on the 
island nearly all were put in repair and the Work 


performed on them, as well as on the new flour mill, 
gave employment to many who otherwise must have 
suffered from extreme destitution. Many other im- 
provements have been made in the town since the 
close of the war and the traces of that fearful 
struggle were gradually disappearing when the 
calamity of the great flood of 1870 befell the place 
and, not only retarded its recovery, but left a part 
of it in far worse condition that it was at any time 
in its history. The Presbyterian church had been 
put, during the rebellion, to the most ignoble uses, 
the upper part being used for a guard house and the 
basement for a horse stable. The venerable Dr. 
Dutton, a gentleman of great piety and deserved 
popularity, took charge of the congregation soon 
after the war, and by great exertions succeeded in 
restoring the building to its pristine, neat appear- 
ance. Dr. Dutton died some years ago and his* 
death was a severe loss, not only to his own flock, 
but to the general society of the town and neighbor- 

The Catholic church, also, was repaired through 
the energy of the Reverend J. J. Kain, a young priest 
of great promise, who has since risen to* the dignity 
of Archbishop. He established a school, or rather 
revived one organized in 1854, but, of course, broken 
up by the war. This school, under several teachers, 
was singularly successful, and many men now emi- 
nent in various professions confess their great obli- 
gations to this remote and humble seat of learning. 
Through the exertions of Father Kain, a fine bell 
was purchased and suspended in the church steeple 
and at morning, noon and vesper hour, its musical 
notes sound with a sweet solemnity through the ro- 
mantic glens of the Blue Ridge, admonishing all 
who hear them to pause and worship the great archi- 
tect of the stupendous scenery around them. It may 


be remarked that, of all the churches in Harper's 
Ferry proper, this one alone escaped destruction or 
desecration during the war — an exemption due to 
the courage of the late Reverend Dr. Costello, who 
was at the time pastor and who, alone, of all the 
ministers at the place, remained to. defend church 
property. It was said that on one occasion it was 
proposed by some union soldiers of intolerant opin- 
ions to burn down this building, but that the project 
was abandoned on account of the proximity of some 
regiments with views friendly to that church who, it 
was believed, would resent any injury or indignity 
done to< it. It may be that there never was any in- 
tention of attacking it, and that the rumor origi- 
nated from the unmeaning threats of some drunken 
brawler. . Anyway, there never was t^e least injury 
done to it by either party, except that its roof and 
walls were indented in many places by stray bullets. 
As before stated, this church has been torn down and 
a new one erected on its site. The Methodist Episco^- 
pal" denomination at the place lost their church in 
Harper's Ferry proper, and there is not a single 
trace of it remaining, but as there was another 
church belonging to the same denomination in Boli- 
var which had escaped destruction in the war, they 
did not deem it necessary to rebuild at Harper's 
Ferry. The two congregations have united to> wor- 
ship at the Bolivar church. 

The Lutheran church at the place was used for 
hospital purposes in the war. At the restoration of 
peace the building was renovated and it now pre- 
sents a very neat appearnace. 

About the time of the termination of the civil war, 
a gentleman named Storer, residing in some part of 
New England, made a bequest of a large sum of 
money for the endowment of a college for the edu- 
cation of the freedmen. Harper's Ferry was chosen 


as the site and a charter was obtained from the legis- 
lature of the new state of West Virginia for it, under 
the title of "Storer College." The board of trustees 
appointed by the testator were all of the Free-will 
Baptist persuasion in compliment to> the marked dis- 
like manifested to slavery by that communion before 
and in the course of the war. The Reverend N. C. 
Brackett, a minister of that denomination was sent 
to take charge of the institution, and the success 
which he has met in conducting the difficult duties 
of his office, fully justifies the choice. The farm of 
Mr. William Smallwood in Bolivar was purchased 
by the board for the location of the college, but, 
the government having - donated to the institution 
four large houses on Camp Hill with lots attached, 
one of those buildings — the superintendent's house 
—with a large frame structure erected soon after, 
is used for college exercises. The principal, Mr. 
Brackett, is an accomplished scholar, a gentleman 
in every sense and a practical Christian. He is, 
moreover, a man of great firmness and this, coupled 
with his suavity and well known integrity, insured 
a triumph over the prejudice against the school, 
which it cannot be denied, existed and still exists 
through the neighborhood. 

Messrs. Matthew Quinn and J. M. Decaulne — 
both now long deceased — Daniel Ames, who died 
recently, and James Conway erected four fine houses 
after the war — the last named after the government 
sale. The lower floors of these buildings are occu- 
pied as store rooms and the upper as dwellings. Mr. 
Murtha Walsh, who, too, is now dead, erected a 
similar house on the site of the old and well known 
Doran store and, later, a fine dwelling and store ad- 
joining Mr. Conway's house. A frame building put 
up about the close of the war, adjoining the old 
Doran property, supplied for many years the place of 


Fouke's hotel, destroyed by federal troops in 1862. 
The building last mentioned was pulled down a few 
years ago to make way for a railroad depot not, how- 
ever, before the erection of a new hotel near the op- 
posite corner by Mr. George- W. Greene, who 1 soon 
after sold out to the Conner Brothers, from whom 
it now takes its name of "Hotel Conner." Mr. 
Theodore Conner now conducts it. Messrs. Thomas 
N. Beale, James McGraw, John Fitzpatrick, George 
Breedy, Edward Colgate, William Luke and many 
others have built new houses or renovated old ones. 
The author of these pages, too, has contrived to 
scrape together enough to invest in a new cottage, 
and he will say for his house that, if it has no other ( 
merit, it commands a view unsurpassed anywhere 
for beauty or sublimity. Tourists who admire its 
situation have christened it "Sunset Cottage" on ac- 
count of the magnificent spectacle to be seen from 
it, when the Day God descends to rest, but the 
owner, while fully appreciating the poetic name 
which enthusiastic travelers have given to his 
modest home, prefers in the interest of truth, as well 
as of poetry, to name it "Moonshine Cottage," and 
the reasons are as follows : Heretofore, he has rec- 
ommended to his readers who may be desirous to 
get the best view of Harper's Ferry, to choose a 
moonlight night and the old cemetery, for the time 
and place to enjoy the sight. Like Melrose Abbey, 
it does better in "the pale moonbeams" than in the 
garish light of day, and, next to the cemetery, the 
author's new cottage is the best standpoint from 
which to survey the moonlit scenery of the place. 
Again, the house itself, though substantial enough, 
may be said, in one sense at least, to be composed 
of moonshine, when the methods whereby the owner 
acquired the means to. erect it are considered. His 
youth and early manhood were spent in hard toil, 


much to the benefit of his fellow men, but not a bit 
to his own. At the age of nearly half a century he 
found himself as poor as when he began life, 
although, as before said, his labors had helped ma- 
terially to enrich others. At length he made the 
discovery, which he ought to have made thirty years 
before, that mankind love nothing so well as being 
humbugged, and the happy thought struck him that 
a history of Harper's Ferry would tickle the fancy 
of the traveling public and^ sure enough, the idea 
proved to- be an inspiration. This is the third edi- 
tion of a nonsenical rigmarole that has no merit 
in the world, except absolute truth, which is some- 
thing in its favor, and the happy result that its 
author, from the proceeds of the sale, was enabled 
to build "Sunset" or "Moonshine Cottage" — call it 
as you will — for either name is logical and approp- 
riate enough. 

From the foregoing pages it will be seen that 
Nature has done much for Harper's Ferry and that 
industry and art improved its natural advantages, 
until the frenzy of war was permitted to mar the 
beneficent designs of Providence, and the labors of 
three quarters of a century. It will soon appear as 
if Heaven, in its anger at the folly and ingratitude 
of man, had marked the place for total destruction 
when, in addition to the ravages of war, the power of 
the elements was invoked to overwhelm the town, 
as will be seen in the following account of the great 
flood of 1870: 

In closing the eventful history of Harper's Ferry 
we must not omit the greatest, perhaps, of the series 
of calamities which, commencing on the day of John 
Brown's raid, culminated in the destruction of the 
most flourishing part of the town by a great flood in 
the Shenandoah on Friday, September 30th, and 
Saturday, October 1st, 1870. On the Tuesday be- 


fore the inundation it rained heavily at intervals, as 
also, on Wednesday, Thursday and the morning of 
Friday. No extraordinary rise of either river was 
anticipated, however, as from the long drought of 
the previous months, the streams were greatly re- 
duced arid the most that was anticipated was a mod- 
erate increase in the volume of water, such as is 
usual in equinoctial storms. On Friday morning, 
however, many persons noticed the rapidity with 
which the Shenandoah rose, and something in the 
fierce dash of its tawny waves against the roclfs near 
its mouth attracted unusual attention. All that day 
this river rose very fast, and about 4 o'clock, p. rh., 
its banks were crowded with people watching the 
furious rush of the water and the drift which, in 
great quantities and of a miscellaneous character, 
was tossed on its angry waves. About this time a 
vague rumor was circulated that a telegraphic dis- 
patch had arrived from Front Royal, about fifty 
miles farther up the Shenandoah — on the south fork 
— stating that a water spout had burst on the Blue 
Ridge at a point still farther up the valley, that a 
deluge was pouring down and that the people of 
Harper's Ferry, especially, were in imminent peril. 
While people were yet speculating on the probability 
of the truth of this report and, before the lapse of 
half an hour from the time of the arrival of the dis- 
patch, several citizens came rushing from the Island 
of Virginius, who stated that they had had just time 
enough to escape to the main land before the 
bridges connecting - it with the island were swept 
away, and that many people were left behind whose 
houses were already partially submerged. Even 
then, few people in the lower part of the town could 
realize this state of affairs, but before many minutes 
a column of water rushed along the streets and 
around the houses, which imimediatdy convinced 



everyone that saw it of the dreadful truth. Of this 
body of water marvelous accounts are given. It is 
said that it rose at the rate of six feet in four minutes 
and, although it is probable that the terrors of the 
people exaggerated the swell of the waters, the fact 
that this extraordinary tale was readily believed will 
give an idea of the reality. Up toi 8 o>'clock, p. m., 
however, it was hoped that all who had not escaped 
from their houses on Virginius and Overton's islands 
and on Shenandoah street would be safe, and that the 
inconvenience of being separated from their friends 
for a few hours and that, of cleaning up for some 
days after, would be the extent of the damage. Be- 
tween 8 and 9 o'clock, however, the water had risen 
to such a height as to cause serious apprehension 
for the safety of the families so cut off, and the ex- 
traordinary rapidity and fury of the river made it 
impossible for their more fortunate friends to render 
them the smallest assistance. About this time an 
excited crowd had gathered at the foot of Union 
street, watching with intense anxiety for the fate 
of some families on Overton's island, directly oppo- 
site, and about sixty yards distant. Between them 
and the island rushed an impetuous torrent to at- 
tempt to cross which, in a boat, would be madness 
and the distance was too great to allow a rope of 
sufficient strength to< be thrown to the assistance of 
the helpless people. The scene was truly terrible. 
The screams of men, women and children in immi- 
nent peril of drowning or being crushed by falling 
houses, and the sympathetic cries and sobs of the 
pitying spectators were partially lost in the thunders 
of the furious tide and the spectral light of a young 
moon wading through heavy masses of cloud pave 
a weird coloring to the fearful picture, which added 
greatly to its horrors. Five families resided on this 
island. One house, a large brick building, was 


rented and occupied by Mr. Sidney Murphy. A 
small frame tenement was occupied by the widow 
Overton, her daughter, -the widow Mills — and a 
young child of the latter. Samuel Hoff and his*wife 
lived in a third house, James Shipe and his wife in a 
fourth and Jerry Harris, a very worthy old colored 
man, with his wife, daughter and two grandchildren, 
in a fifth. Mr. Murphy and his family, as well as 
Mrs. Hoff, had fortunately taken alarm at an early 
hour in the evening and escaped a few minutes be- 
fore the destruction of the foot bridge on which they 
had passed over. This being light and not firmly 
secured to the bank on either side, was soon swept 
away by the rising waters. The other residents, 
thinking, no doubt, that, as their houses had stood 
many assaults froni the river in former floods, they 
might venture to remain, unhappily concluded to 
take chances. About 9 o'clock a crash from a falling 
house was heard and piteous appeals from a drown- 
ing man for aid rose above the noise of the waters 
and were conveyed to* the ears of the spectators on 
the main land. It appeared as if he had been washed 
from the falling house and had drifted to a tree some 
yards below, to which he was clinging with the pro- 
verbal tenacity of a drowning man's grip. This 
was supposed to be Samuel Hoff. James Shipe, who 
escaped almost miraculously, afterwards explained 
the situation, and the surmises of the people proved 
to be correct, as it was Hoff who, carried from, his 
own door by the current, grasped a small tree and 
appealed for assistance. Of course, no aid could be 
given to him, and the poor fellow's voice was soon 
hushed in death. Shipe said that his own house was 
the first to give way and that before its collapse he 
stripped and prepared for swimming. He then put 
an arm 'round his wife and as the house fell in he 
jumped with her into the river. Opposite to his 


house was a water station of the Baltimore and Ohio 
railroad company, and as this was the most substan- 
tial building near him, he swam towards it and en- 
deavored to clutch the wall with one hand while the 
other was supporting his wife. Several times he 
caught some projection of the building, but as often 
was beaten off by the powerful waves that surged 
around it. At length, his wife requested of him to 
let her go and to save himself, saying that she was 
prepared to die. but that he was not. He would not 
consent, but a larg'e and furious wave soon decided 
the loving controversy by liftin them up and dash- 
ing them against something, thereby loosening his 
hold on her. when she immediately sank and disap- 
peared forever from his view. A covered bridge of 
the railroad which had bee.n washed away a few 
minutes before and had lodged on some obstruc- 
tion! now presented itself to him and held out some 
hope of safety. He was drifting rapidly and, al- 
though the water was cold, he had not much diffi- 
culty in reaching the bridge. When he gained it, 
however, he found the water so* rapid that it was 
impossible for him to retain any hold on the sides. 
He tried to get on top of the roof, but he was caught 
in the current which rushed through the bridge and 
which he was unable to resist. Onward, he was 
hurried and in his passage he was dreadfully lacer- 
ated by nails and salient angles of the timbers, be- 
sides being stunned and confused to such a deeree 
that he could not get a hold on the wreck, but drifted 
below it. Of course, there was no hope of returning 
against the tide, and he swam for the lower island. 
Here he succeeded in clutching a tree that pTew near 
the house of a man named Hood. He succeeded in 
climbing into the forks of the tree and, for the first 
time since his immersion, a strong ray of hope was 
presented to him. The house was not many feet 


from the tree and he succeeded in jumping to a win- 
dow. He found no one in the house, the family 
having abandoned it early in the evening. The 
water had reached the second story and the house 
was tottering. Fearing that he would be crushed 
by the falling building he returned to> the tree just 
as the house gave way and fell into the seething 
flood. He then swam to> another house in which he 
found a pair of pantaloons — the only article of cloth- 
ing he had to* protect him from the cold, which he 
now felt to be benumbing. He was rescued late on 
Saturday evening-, when the water had partially sub- 
sided, and it will be readily believed that hy this 
time his condition was pitiable. This is his account 
and, certainly, at least, a part of it is true, as his 
story is corroborated in many particulars by the 
testimony of others who saw him at various stag'es 
of his strange adventure. After the disappearance 
of Hoff great excitement was noticed in the houses 
of Mrs. Overton and Mr. Murphy, into the latter of 
which it appears that Jerry Harris and his family 
had rushed from their own as to a place of greater 
safety. Lights were seen carried rapidly from place 
to place at Mrs. Overton's, and, from Mr. Murphy's 
the sound of Harris' voice was heard apparently in 
earnest appeal to Heaven for assistance. A light 
was seen for an instant on Mrs. Overton's porch, 
and, but for an instant, when it disappeared and the 
porch was seen to> drift with the current. It is sup- 
posed that either Mrs. Overton or Mrs. Mills had 
taken the light to see how the water stood around 
the house, and that just as she stepped on the porch 
it was torn loose and she was overturned into the 
water. Thus was the sudden disappearance of the 
light accounted for by the spectators. In a minuter 
or two the building was heard to> fall with a crash 
and none of the occupants was seen again or, if the 


bodies were found, it was by strangers on the lower 
Potomac, who knew not whose remains they were. 
In a short time Murphy's house also disappeared 
and with it Harris and his family, making- a total 
of ten deaths in this one group of buildings. 

In the meantime, the greatest consternation pre- 
vailed in the lower part of the town. Many families 
that had remained in their houses on Shenandoah 
street, expecting every moment the flood to> attain 
its greatest height and then subside as suddenly as 
it had risen, finding that it increased with great 
rapidity and persistency, made efforts to escape 
about 7 o'clock, p. m. A family named Kane living 
between the Winchester and Potomac railroad and 
the Shenandoah river were rescued with great diffi- 
culty by passing a basket to them on a rope thrown 
across the abyss and transporting them, one by one, 
to dry land in this novel aerial carriage. Charles 
King, at one tim^ proprietor of the Shenandoah 
House, a man of great physical strength and activity 
as well as courage, directed the operations of the 
rescuing party and. in several other instances, ren- 
dered valuable assistance in saving life and property. 
The Widow Furtney and family, living at the upper 
end of Shenandoah street, were rescued in the same 
manner as were the Kanes, and, in the latter case, 
the Reverend Daniel Ames, another citizen, exhib- 
ited a great deal of courage ^- A tact. 

Mr. William B. Fitzpatrick. supervisor of track 
on the Winchester and Potomac railroad, while at- 
tending to his duties some hours before, near Stras- 
,burg, Virginia, learned that the river was swelling 
to an unusual height and, fearing for the safety of 
his family at Harper's Ferry, he hastened home on 
his engine and had just crossed the bridges on the 
islands when they were swept awav. As the engine 
proceeded along the trestling through Harper's 


Ferry, the track swayed in such a manner that it was 
t with the utmost difficulty the engineer could direct 
his course and, just as they left the trestling and 
landed on terra firma at the market house, the up- 
rights that supported the track above the solid 
ground gave way before the force of the waters, and 
at the same time, the houses from which the Kane 
and Furtney families had been saved, as well as 
others from which the inmates had fled or had been 
rescued, fell with a horrible crash, and so completely 
were they demolished that in some cases there was 
a doubt afterwards as to their exact site, the very 
foundations having disappeared. Mr. Fitzpatrick 
found it impossible to reach his family, but having 
climbed the hill on which the Catholic church is 
built and descend it on the other side to the water's 
edge, he stood opposite his house and called to 
his wife inquiring' how it fared with her and their 
children. She replied that the house was giving way 
— that the walls were cracking- and that she expected 
to be swept away at aify moment, but at the same 
time she appeared to be more concerned for the 
safety of her ag"ed and feeble mother, who* was at 
the time lying sick in bed in the house, than for her 
own. Mr. Fitzpatrick, who was a man of the most 
acute sensibility, and whoi was thoroughly devoted 
to his family, became completely frantic, offering all 
that he possessed to any one who would venture 
to- help him across the raging torrent to 
their aid. The utmost sympathy was felt 
for him, but nothing could be done to assist 
him in a rescue. The poor fellow sat all night on a 
rock opposite his house and, between the paroxysms 
of his grief, sent words of encouragement across to 
his dear ones. The behavior of Mrs. Fitzpatrick 
under the circumstances was very remarkable. She 
evinced the most extraordinary coolness and cour- 


age and was heard to express her willingness to 
abide by the decrees of Providence, manifesting a 
composure in the face of death, which could arise 
only from a consciousness of her having lived a good 
life and from a well founded hope of happiness here- 

Interminable appeared that autumn night to the 
anxious watchers in the town and few, even of those 
who had nothing at stake, thought of sleep. At 
length the dawn appeared and, from marks left by 
the water it was seen that the river had fallen a few 
inches. Joyful news this was tc all, but people of 
experience in such matters were far from being re- 
lieved from all anxiety, as it is well known that the 
turn of a flood is the most critical time for a building 
that has been exposed to the action of the current. 
As soon as it was clear daylight the attention of 
many people was directed to' the house of Mr. Sam- 
uel Williams — the same gentleman that was taken 
prisoner by John Brown's men at the rifle factory — 
situated on the very bank of the river, near the ferry 
crossing to Loudoun, in which it was known that 
not only the Williams family but those of Messrs. 
John Greaves and Tames Anderson were imprisoned. 
The last two resided in small buildings near the 
house of Mr. Williams and they and their families 
had had barely time to escane ^ hi<= ^^-^ substan- 
tial residence, when their own houses were swept 
away. As soon as there was light enough the en- 
dangered people were seen crowding to the windows 
and gesticulating wildlv, but rtieir voices were lost 
in the roar of the rushing waters and the reason for 
their great excitement at this oarticular time was 
not fully understood until they were rescued in the 
afternoon, as will be narrated hereafter. At that 
moment nearly the whole side of the house fronting 
the river fell in, and ^ery naturally caused the hap- 


less prisoners to give up all nope. Of course, noth-. 
ing could be done for them then, as the water had 
fallen but a few inches, and, as the other people in 
the town were not aware of the catastrophe to the 
river side of the house, there was not as much anx- 
iety felt for them; as their situation really demanded. 
Besides, two trees that grew near the end of the 
house, looking up stream, had gathered a vast pile 
of drift, and the sleepers and other timbers of the 
railroad that had been wrecjked on the previous 
evening, still connected by the rails, had swung about 
and surrounded the house, collecting a great deal of 
miscellaneous rubbish which broke the force of the 
current and materially protected the building. Still 
great uneasiness was felt and hundreds of eyes 
eagerly watched the watermark, but for many hours 
there was but little fall and, indeed, it was 4 o'clock, 
p. m., on Saturday before there was any marked 
diminution in the volume of water. 

About 10 o'clock, a. m,, on Saturday, the crowd 
of spectators that covered the hill near Jefferson's 
Rock, heard a crash on Virginius Island and soon 
it was known that the noise was caused by the falling 
in of a portion of the building occupied by Mr. John 
Wernwag as a dwelling and a machine shop. Mr. 
Wernwag was the same that has been noticed in this 
book as a man of great mechanical genius, but very 
retiring habits. He resided alone in this house and, 
surrounded by strange tools and devices of his own 
planning and construction, and entirely devoted to 
those creatures of his brain and hand, he lived in a 
world of his own, voluntarily cut off from associa- 
tion with his kind. In a few minutes the^sound was 
repeated, wheh the remainder of the building crum- 
bled and fell into the tide. The roof floated down 
the stream, but at first nothing was seen of Mr. 
Wernwag himself. Many a l»ud and earnest prayer 


was sent to Heaven from the throng of spectators 
for the soul of the poor recluse and the hoarse mur- 
mur of many voices in supplication, mingled with 
hysterical screams from women and the more sensi- 
tive of the other sex, the wild rush of the river and 
all the awful surroundings presented a combination 
of horrors happily of rare occurrence. Two large 
trees grew on the river bank about a hundred yards 
below the island, and, as the roof floated down the 
stream, it fortunately dashed against one of them 
and was broken in two. Through the space made 
between the portions of the roof Wernwag's head 
was seen to emerge from the water and soon the 
brave old man had succeeded in climbing nimbly to 
one of the pieces. He had sunk under the roof and 
would have been suffocated in a few minutes had not 
the tree broken the incubus that was preventing him 
from making any exertion to save himself by swim- 
ming. As he secured his seat on the fragment he 
was seen to motion with his hand as if bidding adieu 
to his life-long friends. It is probable that he merely 
wiped his brow and put back his dripping hair, but 
the belief got abroad that he had motioned a fare- 
well and the excitement of the people was greatly 
intensified. Past the town he was hurried by the 
remorseless flood, until he was lost to' sight amid 
the waves of "the Bull Ring," a rocky ledge that 
runs across the Potomac a little below the mouth 
of the Shenandoah. Over this barrier in time of 
high water, the waves of the united rivers plunge 
with a fury equalled only by the ocean tides burst- 
ing on an iron-bound coast, and the most sanguine 
of those who took heart on seeing Mr. Wernwag 
emerg-e from under the incubus and climb to the 
fragment of roof, now gave up all hope of him, but 
in an hour or two a report reached Harper's Ferry 
that he had been rescued at Berlin — now Brunswick 


— about six miles below. After a little more time the 
news was confirmed, qualified, however, by the in- 
telligence that he was likely to die from the effects 
of the exposure. Shortly after, another rumor was 
spread that he had died, but, about 8 o'clock, p. m., 
the old hero made his appearance in the flesh, hav- 
ing been rescued, sure enough, and having revived 
from a fainting fit into which he had dropped on be- 
ing landed from his perilous voyage. He had waited 
at Berlin for the passenger train due at Harper's 
Ferry at the above hour, and having taken passage 
on it he was restored to his anxious friends. He 
was received with the greatest enthusiasm and con- 
veyed by an exultant crowd to> the residence of his 
niece, Mrs. Julia Johnson. It was the seventy-sixth 
anniversary of Mr. Wernwag's birthday and, taking 
into account his age, as well as the circumstances of 
the adventure itself, it is one of the most extraordi- 
nary instances on record of providential preserva- 
tion from what appeared to be inevitable destruc- 

Soon after Mr. Wernwag's hasty passage down 
the river, a ludicrous mistake was near causing trou- 
ble between some of his friends. At that time there 
lived at Harper's Ferry two men of hasty tempers, 
but of generous impulses — one an Englishman and 
the other an Irishman. They were inseparable com- 
panions and proverbial for their attachment to one 
another. Both were great admirers of Mr. Wern- 
wag and with moist eyes they both stood close to- 
gether on the river bank, when their old friend was 
swept off to his death, as all supposed. Mr, Wern- 
wag had an only son who was named Edward. The 
young man happened to* be away from the place at 
the time, which was a great aggravation of the calam- 
ity supposed to have been consummated. The boy's 
acquaintances used to call him "Wernwag's Ed" and 


this familiar appellation was the cause of a misunder- 
standing, which was near ending in a fist-fight, be- 
tween the friends referred to. About the time when 
the old man reached the "Bull Ring'' the English- 
man turned to his Irish friend and asked him where 
he thought Wernwag's Hed could be found — of 
course meaning the boy. As usual with his country- 
men, he used the aspirate "H" before the vowel. 
The Irishman understanding the inquiry to refer to 
the poor old gentleman's cranium, and thinking that 
the question savored of untimely levity, replied that 
he supposed it would be found with the rest of the 
body, and he added some comments to show his 
opinion of his friend's heartlessness. The Briton 
feeling innocent of any wrong, and being a man of 
pluck, put in a sharp rejoinder which was met by an- 
other from the peppery Irishman. The quarrel was 
intensified by the laughter of the bystanders who 
took in the situation accurately. The interference of 
friends alone prevented a set-to and the belligerents 
were alienated from one another for many weeks 
after. The matter dropped when the mistake was 
explained and they became fully reconciled. 

About 4 o'clock, p. m., on Saturday, Mr. Williams 
and his fellow prisoners were rescued by the same 
process that was used in saving the Kane and Furt- 
ney families. Great difficulty was experienced in 
passing to them a rope, as the distance was very 
great from the house of Mr. Matthew Quinn, the 
nearest available point from which to operate, but 
through the ingenuity of a Mr. Crosby, of Ashta- 
bula county, Ohio, who was temporarily residing at 
the place, constructing agricultural machines, a rope 
was cast after many trials to Williams' house and the 
inmates were taken out, one by one, in a basket. 
Charles King, before mentioned, was very active on 
this occasion, as was also the Reverend Daniel Ames. 


who on the previous evening; had distinguished him- 
self in rescuing the Furtney family. Mr. Ames ven- 
tured across in the basket on its first trip to Wil- 
liams' house, remained there encouraging the wo- 
men and children and securing the passengers with 
ropes in their frail and unsteady carriage, and was 
the last to» leave the tottering building. When he ar- 
rived back he was received with rounds of applause 
from the spectators, and the surounding hills echoed 
with the cheers sent up for this brave and self-sacri- 
ficing man. Mr. Ames was a man of A^ery mild and 
unassuming manners and the great courage mani- 
fested by him on this terrible ocasion was a matter 
of surprise to many who- regarded bluster as the only 
indication of bravery. Too much credit cannot be 
given to him or Mr. King for their conduct at this 
time. They were both New Englanders who came 
to reside at Harper's Ferry during the war, where 
their upright and courteous behavior had gained for 
them many friends long before this trying period, 
and where their heroic courage on this ocasion cov- 
ered them with glory. Mr. Ames, as before stated, 
is now dead, but Mr. King moved to New Haven, 
Connecticut, many years ago and his subsequent ca- 
reer is unknown to us. 

Mrs. Fitzpatrick and family were rescued on Sat- 
urday about 9 o'clock, a. m., by some young men 
who floated to their house on pieces of drift and suc- 
ceeded in bridging the gulf between the Fitzpatrick 
house and that of Mr. Matthew Quinn. They did 
so by stopping and securing- in some way floating 
fragments of timber — enough to- allow of Walking 
from the one house to the other. 

Early on Saturday morning a colored woman was 
found clinging to a tree near the site of her house on 
Shenandoah street. She hung by the hands to the 
tree, the water being too deep to allow her to touch 


bottom. Back and forward she swayed with the cur- 
rent that eddied round the ruins of her house, but she 
held on with a death grip. A youth named William 
Gallaher went in a skiff to her rescue and, with the 
utmost difficulty, succeeded in saving her life. At 
that time there was no injunction on the name of 
Gallaher to "lei her go," and, if there had been ten 
thousand orders to that effect, Will was not the boy 
to obey any command that militated against human- 
ity. He was one of the author's pupils in school, 
when the writer wielded the birch and this notice 
of the gallant boy is given with a great deal of pleas- 
ure by his old taskmaster. Mr. Gallaher died lately 
in Cumberland, Maryland. The woman told an 
almost incredible tale ; that she had thus hung on all 
night ; that her cabin had been washed away aoout 
8 o'clock, p. m., and that her daughter had been 
drowned, but that she had caught the tree and had 
retained her hold till morning. It is probable that 
at first she got into* the forks of the tree and there 
remained 'till within a short time of her discovery, 
when she fell into the water from exhaustion but, 
yet, retaining the instinct of self-preservation, had 
clutched the tree and held on with the grip of a 
drowning person until she was rescued. 

Messrs. Child, McCreight and Hathaway, of the 
mill firm, as well as many others living on the island 
of Virginius, had not yet been heard from, when Mr. 
Williams and his companions were saved. These 
gentlemen and the Reverend Dr. Dutton of the Pres- 
byterian congregation who, also, resided on that is- 
land, were among the very best and most respected 
citizens of the place. Their houses could be seen 
yet standing, but, as the island was entirely sub- 
merged,, it was plain that each family was isolated 
and that no communication «ould easily be held from 
one to another in case of special emergency, and it 


was feared that some casualities might have occurred 
which, as in the case of the river front of Mr. Wil- 
liams' house, could not be perceived from the shore. 
Each family had its own adventures and experiences 
to relate afterwards. All the houses on the island, 
except that occupied by Mr. Child, were badly in- 
jured and the lives of the inmates hung by a hair. 
The Reverend Dr. Dutton was severely wounded by 
a brick that fell on his head from a partition in his 
house which tumbled down suddenly while he was 
standing near it. He was stunned and for a while 
rendered entirely helpless and unconscious. He and 
his wife lived alone and, as there was no one to ren- 
der her assistance, Mrs. Dutton, as soon as her hus- 
band had partially recovered, contrived to communi- 
cate with a neighbor who threw her a rope by means 
of which, strongly bound by her delicate hands 
around her husband, he was dragged through the 
water across to> the neighbor's house, where h&s 
wound was dressed and his wa^ts supplied. The 
venerable sufferer lay for a long time sick from the 
effects of his injuries and the excitement and ex- 
posure of the occasion. He recovered, however, and 
for some years after continued to serve his divine 
Master with his accustomed zeal and devotion. He 
with Messrs. Child, McCreight and Williams is now 
dead, and the survivors of their families are scattered 
far and wide. Soon after the flood Mr. Hathaway, 
connected with the firm of Child and McCreight and 
also a resident of the island, returned to his old home 
in Ohio. 

About 7 o'clock on Saturday evening the water 
had subsided enough to allow communication by 
boat with the Island of Virginius, and Harper's Ferry 
was left to present an indescribable appearance of 
ruin, desolation and filth. The, very streets were in 
many places ploughed up, as it were, and chasms 


many feet in depth were made in the road bed. 
Every house on the south side of the street, from the 
market house to the Island of Virginius was either 
entirely destroyed or badly injured, except that of 
Mr. Matthew Ouinn, which was saved by the accident 
of the falling of some heavily laden house-cars with 
the railroad trestling, into the street near it and their 
lodging against it, which broke and diverted the 
force of the current. Some seventy houses in all 
were either entirely demolished or rendered unin- 
habitable and, as before stated, in many instances, 
the very foundations were obliterated. All imagin- 
able floating things were represented in the huge 
piles of debris heaped up at corners or wherever the 
torrent met a check. , Trees nearly two feet in diam- 
eter were to be encountered frequently, lodged in the 
streets and the vast amount of rails, plank and vari- 
ous kinds of timber gathered up for use, formed a 
very important item of fuel for the citizens during 
the severe winter that followed. Sadder than all, 
some forty-two lives were lost. Three families 
named Bateman, numbering over twenty souls, dis- 
appeared, with a large brick building at Shenandoah 
City — a suburb — into which they had fled from their 
own houses for greater protection. Of these families 
only one body was recovered for interment. The 
Batemans were humble, hard-working people, sup- 
posed to have in their veins the blood of the Indians 
that in former times possessed the land, tinctured 
with that of the African, but they were a good deal 
respected for their industry and unobstrusive man- 
ners. It has been related before that ten were lost 
on Overton's island Mjs. Margaret Carrol, widow 
of Eli Carroll, fromerly proprietor of the Wager 
house — aftenvards'-called Fouke's hotel — and, at one 
time owner of "Hannah" who saved the author's life 
at the Brown raid, was drowned at the boarding 


house of Mrs. Nancy Evans on Virginius island. She 
was very old and feeble and, when the family were 
retreating - from the house on Friday evening, they 
tried to induce her to acompany them, but in vain. 
Either not considering the flood dangerous or being 
from age and infirmities, apathetic about the result, 
she refused to leave the house and there was no time 
to' be lost in arguing the case with her, as the other 
inmates had barely a few minutes in which to make 
their own escape. Soon after the house was swept 
away and with it, of course, the hapless old lady. 
Strangely enough, her body was found some weeks 
afterwards about thirty miles down the Potomac, 
near the mouth of the Seneca creek, and within a 
few paces of the residence of one of her relations. 
The corpse was recognized by means of a ring with 
Mrs. Carrols' name engraved on it which was on one 
,af the fingers, and the remains were forwarded to 
Harper's Ferry for interment. Several persons were 
drowned whose names cannot be gathered now, and, 
indeed, it is probable that the loss of life was much 
more extensive than is generally supposed, as it is 
known that the upper islands are always occupied 
by stragglers and obscure people, of whom little note 
is taken in the neighborhood, and the chances are 
that many of such temporary residents were lost of 
whom no account was given and about whom no 
questions were asked. 

A remarkable occurrence took place in connection 
with this flood which, though, of course, accidental, 
was a very strange: coincidence. The Reverend N. 
C. Brackett, county superintendent of free schools, 
had convened the teachers' association and had se- 
cured the services of Professor Kidd, a well known 
itinerant lecturer on elocution, to give instruction 
to them on this important branch of education. On 
Friday evening, before any apprehension was felt 


from the river, he was holding forth in the public 
school house, on Shenandoah street. He remarked 
on the faulty construction of school houses in general 
through that region as being a serious drawback on 
the comfort and advancement of pupils, and he turn- 
ed the attention of his audience to the building in 
which they were, as being about the worst-planned of 
any he had seen. Warming with his subject, he ex- 
pressed a wish that some convulsion of the elements 
would take place for the special purpose of destroy- 
ing this house, so that another might be erected on a 
better plan. This wish, thoughtlessly or playfully ut- 
tered, was, strangely enough, gratified that very 
night. The river rose beyond all usual bounds and, 
before 9 o'clock, not a vestige of the obnoxious school 
house remained. Professor Kidd, with his own eyes, 
witnessed the consummation of his desires, but 
whether Heaven was moved by the Professor's elo- 
quence or the thing would have happened anyway, 
is a question which the writer will not undertake to 

Another strange occurrence used to be related by 
the late Mr. Edmond H. Chambers, one of the oldest 
and most respectable citizens of the place. Mr. 
Chambers was a class leader in the Methodist Epis- 
copal church, and Mrs. Overton, whose tragic death 
in the flood has been narrated, was a member of his 
class. On the Sunday before the awful visitation, 
she attended the class meeting and semed to be ex- 
cited to a high degree during the exercises. Her 
unusual demeanor was noticed by all present, and it 
could not be accounted for, as she was not generally 
very demonstrative in her devotions. She went 
'round among the members of the class and shook 
hands with them all, bidding them farewell and say- 
ing that, in all probability, she would never again 
meet them on this side of the grave. Her words 


were prophetic for, sure enough, on Friday night of 
the same week, she passed "the bourne from which 
no traveler returns." Who can tell what message 
she may have received from that mysterious world 
towards which we are all traveling — that her weary 
pilgrimage on earth was nearing its end and that in 
a few days she would rejoin the loved ones who had 
gone before her. It is useless for the most practical 
and so' called hard-headed of the world to deny that 
many such presentiments are felt, and that events 
often prove their correctness. When people of ner- 
vous arid susceptible natures take up the belief that 
they are doomed to a speedy demise, it may be said 
with plausibility, that their imaginations con- 
tribute to bring on some disease to fulfill the proph- 
ecy, but when the catastrophe occurs through acci- 
dent or any means that did not or could not before 
affect the mental or bodily health of the subject, we 
are bound to confess the probability of some com- 
munication between the incarnate spirit and one of 
clearer vision and superior knowledge. But, pa- 
tience ! We will know more about it some day, per- 

On Sunday, October 2nd, a meeting of the citizens 
was convened to> adopt measures for the relief of the 
sufferers and a subscription list was immediately 
opened. All the people of the place who could afford 
to do so, subscribed to the fund and, soon, meetings 
were held at Charlestown and other places and large 
contributions of money, food, raiment and fuel 
poured in from the neighboring country and many 
cities of other states, so that in a few days provision 
was made for the support of the destitute sufferers 
during the coming winter, and a committee compos- 
ed of the most prominent of the citizens regulated the 
distribution of the funds, &c, subscribed by the char- 
itable all over the country. Those whose houses were 


destroyed or badly injured were kindly entertained 
by their more fortunate neighbors until arrangements 
could be made for rebuilding or repairing their own 
homes, and the sympathy evinced toward those luck- 
less people by their fellow citizens and kind hearted 
people in other places was creditable to our common 
humanity. Had not the flood been confined to the 
Shenandoah and, had the Potomac risen like its 
tributary, it is impossible to imagine the amount of 
damage that would have been done. The rivers, it is 
true, would have checked one another and lessened 
each other's current, but the water would have cov- 
ered the whole peninsula and that part at least of the 
beautiful Shenandoah Valley would have been for a 
time what antiquarians and geologists assert it form- 
erly was — the bed of a considerable sea. 

It may be well to dissipate the gloom which it is 
probable the reader feels after perusing this chapter 
of human suffering, and to give a cheerful finale to 
a history more than sufficiently melancholy. It is, 
therefore, proposed that the author relate a joke on 
himself in connection with the great flood and tell 

"How he was 'sold.' " 

If his book will meet with half as successful a "sell" 
as he met with the writer will be perfectly satisfied. 
Immediately after the flood there was a great de- 
mand among newspaper men for accounts of it from 
eye witnesses, and the author "spread himself" as the 
saying is, in the columns of a "daily" in a neighbor- 
ing city. The "main facts given in these pages were 
narrated and some which the writer afterwards had 
good reason to' believe were apocryphal. There re- 
sides in Pleasant Valley, Maryland, a jolly farmer 
and shrewd business man, whose name it is not ne- 
cessary to mention. He is much respected for many 


good qualities of head and heart, and his company 
is much sought and enjoyed by lovers of fun, for he 
is always ready to give and take a good joke. Hear- 
ing that the author was collecting items for an exten- 
sive account of the inundation, our wag determined 
to contribute his share of experiences, and he related 
to the writer how, on the Saturday of the flood, hfe 
had rescued, near his place, from the river, a colored 
woman who had floated down stream, on the roof 
of a house, from Page county, Virginia, fully seventy 
miles. He represented her as being a very large 
woman, so big, indeed, that it was wonderful that the 
roof could float and carry her weight. He also men- 
tioned that when rescued she was composedly smok- 
ing a short pipe. The historian who, like all men of 
great genius, is remarkable for a child-like simplicity 
and an unsuspecting nature, eagerly noted the re- 
markable voyage and the singular incident of the 
pipe smoking, and next day the newspaper above re- 
ferred to whose editor, too, must have been a man 
of genius, came out with the report — pipe story and 
all — and not until a skeptical friend of the correspon- 
dent, and one who is of an investigating turn of mind, 
ventured to ask how the woman got fire to light her 
pipe, did the possibility of his being deceived occur 
to the writer. In defense of his narrative and of his 
feelings, the author suggested that she might have 
had matches on her person, but as the chances were 
Overwhelmingly against the probability of there be- 
ing any thing dry about her, he was obliged tO' "con- 
fess the corn," as the phrase goes, and admit that he 
had been duped. It was some consolation, however, 
to reflect that the shrewd newspaper man had shared 
the same fate at the hands of the Pleasant Valley 
Munchausen. The latter further related that the 
woman was staying at his house, recruiting after her 
voyage and, this getting abroad, many contributions 


of money and creature comforts came pouring into 
his care, for the relief of his protege. There is a 
town not far from his house, the inhabitants of 
which were Abolitionists before the war, and are Re- 
publicans now. On hearing of the sad condition of 
the mythical black woman and her miraculous escape, 
the citizens of that place assembled in town meeting 
and subscribed liberally for her benefit. They were, 
however, and are very cautious, prudent people and 
they determined to send a committee to inquire into 
,the matter before remitting-. Our friend was equal 
to the occasion and, when the committee arrived at 
his house, he showed them a strapping black woman 
who had been for many years in his family, and point- 
ed to> her as a living witness to the truth of his story. 
As the committee were not acquainted with his do- 
mestics, they felt perfectly satisfied and, on their re- 
turn home, they reported favorably of the affair, and 
the funds were sent. All he received for the use of 
the black myth, Munchausen immediately transfer- 
red to the Harper's Ferry relief association and the 
money and the joke contributed to the comfort and 
merriment of the real sufferers. 

On the 25th of November, 1877, there was a big 
and disastrous flood in the Potomac, caused by heavy 
rains_in tire valleys of both branches of that river. 
There was no corresponding rise in the Shenandoah, 
however, as the rains did not extend to any great 
degree to the regions drained by the latter. Har- 
per's Ferry did not suffer much from this flood, ex- 
cept that the Chesapeake and Ohio canal, with which 
its interests are to some degree identified, was almost 
entirely demolished. That important channel of bus- 
iness has never fully recovered from the loss it sus- 
tained on that occasion, and, of course, the whole 
country bordering on it has been more or less af- 


fected by the depressed condition of that useful 

On the last day of May, 1889, both rivers rose to 
an unprecedented height, but as the currents acted 
as mutual checks on one another, there was compara- 
tively little damage done to property at the place, 
except from the filthy deposits left by the waters. 
This was the. day of the famous Johnstown disaster 
and, while the people of that place were being hur- 
ried to destruction, the author of these pages was en- 
joying a swim in the basement of his own house at 
Harpers Ferry — not "Moonshine Cottage," how- 
ever — the site of which will never be inundated until 
the gap in the Blue Ridge is stopped up in some con- 
vulsion of Nature that will topple over the Maryland 
and Loudoun Heigdits. He and his had retreated to 
the upper part of the house, as soon as the lower floor 
was flooded, but having forgotten to^ secure some 
important papers which he usually kept in the apart- 
ment now under water, he was obliged to strip and 
strike out to their rescue. 

Great as were the hopes excited by the sale of the 
government property in November, 1869, and the 
promise of a renewal of business activity, it soon ap- 
peared that those expectations were illusory. Cap- 
tain Adams and others interested in the purchase 
became incorporated under the title of "The Har- 
per's Ferry Manufacturing and Water Power Com- 
pany" and the captain more than hinted that Senator 
Sprague and other wealthy manufacturers of the 
north were concerned as partners in the new firm. 
On one occasion, soon after the purchase, a tele- 
graphic dispatch from Captain Adams reached the 
.place stating that Sen'ator Sprague would visit the 
town on a particular day and address the people on 
"The Future of Harper's Ferry." This looked like 
business and hand-bills were immediately struck off 


and circulated through the surorunding country, in- 
viting all to assist the citizens of the place in showing 
honor to the great man. A committee was appointed 
to. present him with an elaborate address, and prepa- 
rations were made to receive him in a manner suit- 
able to the occasion. On the appointed day, however, 
the senator was "non est" an it is said that he after- 
wards expressed great astonishment and indignation 
at the unauthorized use of his name irr the business. 
Then, indeed, for the first time, did the people of 
Harper's Ferry begin to> suspect a fraud of some kind 
and future developments went to confirm their un- 
pleasant surmises. Though Captain Adams hired a 
watchman to take care of the property, and he him- 
self continued to visit the place at intervals, it soon 
became apparent that his company were in no hurry 
to begin manufactures or the preparations for them. 
After the flood of 1870 some influence was brought 
to bear on the government to delay the collection of 
( the first installment of the purchase money, and a bill 
was introduced into Congress to extend the time for 
payment to five years. The grounds for this stay of 
collection and the bill were the damage done by the 
high water to a considerable part of the property 
purchased, and' the great distress caused to. the whole 
place by that calamity. About the same time it be- 
came known that a claim was set up by Captain 
Adams and his firm against the Baltimore and Ohio 
railroad company for possession of the ground over 
which the road passes between Harper's Ferry and 
Peacher's Mill. The railroad company had, many 
years before, got the right of way through the ar- 
mory grounds from the government on certain con- 
ditions, and no one dreamed of their being disturbed 
about it until the thought struck some Washington 
City speculators that there was something to be 
made off the road by the purchase of the armory 


property and the institution of a suit of ejectment. 
In this way the people of Harper's Ferry were sacri- 
ficed to the greed of a set of heartless speculators, 
and the injury was aggravated by the absolute cer- 
tainty that if Captain Adams had not made his ill- 
omened appearance on the day of the sale the Balti- 
more and Ohio railroad company would have pur- 
chased the property and erected on it a rolling' mill. 

The courts were now appealed to, but a recital of 
the many suits and counter-suits between the gov- 
ernment, the railroad company and the Adams com- 
pany would be uninteresting and tiresome. The lat- 
ter first tried to eject the railroad company and, fail- 
ing in this, and finding that, as they never intended 
to establish manufacturing at the place, their enter- 
prise was futile, they tried to return the property in- 
to' the hands of the government on the pretense that 
they could not get possession of all they had bar- 
gained for. After a great deal of litigation the gov- 
ernment, no- doubt, thinking that the game was not 
worth the candle, as the saying is, finally cried 
"quits" and received back the property, without en- 
forcing any pecuniary claim arising from the sale. 
All this time the people of Harper's Ferry were suf- 
fering from hope deferred and truly sick "were their 
hearts. The magnificent water power was lying idle, 
as far as any general utilization of it was concerned, 
and so matters rested until the year 1886, when the 
property was purchased by Savery and Company, of 
Wilmington, Delaware, who, in the spring of 1887, 
proceeded to render the water power available for 
the purposes of pulp mills. These gentlemen en- 
countered many difficulties arising from the indefinite 
wording of old deeds made to the government at 
various times and the conflicting claims of various 
property holders at the place. Their most serious 
difficulty was with the firm of Child, McCreight and 


Company, or rather with a new firm composed of 
some members of the original one and others taken 
from time to time into the company. In the summer 
of 1887 the United States Court at Parkersburg, 
West Virginia, decided in favor of Savery and Com- 
pany, standing on the rights supposed to> have been 
enjoyed by the government when the sale was made 
to these gentlemen. In the meantime, a pulp mill 
was erected on the Shenandoah, and, in some time 
after another on the Potomac. Savery and Company 
experienced difficulties with the Chesapeake and Ohio 
canal company also. The State of Maryland has al- 
ways laid claim to jurisdiction over the Potomac, as 
far as the ordinary water mark on the Virginia shore 
and, as in times of drought, the volume of water in 
that river is but little more than is required for the 
supply of the canal, the State of Maryland, which 
owns a large interest in that work, when appealed to 
by the canal company, used all its power to> hinder 
the water fromt being diverted to other industries 
than that of the canal which is under their direct pat- 
ronage and protection. The author is not advised 
as to the result of this controversy, but both the pulp 
mills are in operation and that on the Potomac — the 
one to be affected by any victory for the canal com- 
pany — is worked at present without any apparent in- 
terruption. The new firm — Savery and Company — 
are evidently good business men, and it would appear 
as if they had come to stay, and give a start to a new 
Harper's Ferry. It is, perhaps, a good sign of their 
business qualifications that they are not bothered 
with sentiment as is shown in their sale of John 
Brown's fort. Everybody at the place wishes them 
well and hopes that they realized a good price for 
this interesting relic, but many regret that they did 
not retain it, as age but added to its value to the own- 
ers and, indeed, to the whole town, for many a tourist 


has tarried a day at the place expressly to get a good 
sight of it, and the older it grew, the more interest 
was attached to it. 

When the author of this book had about finished 
his labors, he became aware of something very inter- 
esting' in connection with the site of Harper's Ferry. 
Had he known it when he began, he certainly would 
have given his readers the benefit of it at the very 
start, for there it belongs as, if it happened at all, it 
occurred away back in the misty ages of history or, 
at least, of Christianity. It is true that he could have 
remodeled his manuscript and penned it over again, 
but, as the Fatalists say, "what is written is written" 
and the undoing of what has been done might bring 
bad luck to him by putting him in conflict with Fate, 
besides imposing much labor on him for nothing, 
perhaps. From his earliest years the writer has been 
familiar with the legend of Saint Brandan or Boran- 
dan, a pious though enterprising Irish monk of the 
6th century, who embarked, it is said, on the Atlantic 
in quest of the "Isles of Paradise," as' they were 
called. At that time and, indeed, at a much later 
period, there was a firm belief that there was, at least, 
one island of exquisite beauty in the western Ocean, 
which appeared at intervals, but always eluded those 
who tried to take possession of it. There is reason 
to believe that some vision of the kind, the effect of 
mirage was sometimes presented to the unsophisti- 
cated sailors and fishermen of the olden time and 
as in those days science had scarcely been born, it is 
no wonder that a belief in the actual existence of this 
land was firmly fixed in the minds of a people imagi- 
native and poetic as the Irish, ancient or modern. 
Be this as it may, there is a well authenticated tradi- 
tion of the voyage of Saint Brandan in quest of this 
evanescent land, and manuscripts of hoary antiquity 
preserved in monasteries until the Reformation, and, 


since, in old families that trace their lineage even to 
the times of the Druids, corroborate the oral tradi- 
tion. Grave historians of late times give respectful 
mention to< the voyage of Saint Brandan and many 
prefer a claim to his having been the first European 
discoverer of America. Some time this winter — 
1 901 -i 902 — the author saw in some newspaper a 
statement purporting to be", from some correspon- 
dent in Great Britain or Ireland, that a manuscript 
had bee*n discovered a little before, giving a circum- 
stantial account of this voyage — of the discovery by 
Brandan of a land of apparently great extent and 
surpassing beauty — of the entrance by the voyagers 
into- a large 1>ay, their ascent of a wide river that 
emptied into it, and their final resting at the mouth 
of another river in a chasm, of awful sublimity. The 
correspondent concludes that Saint Brandan had dis- 
covered America — that the bay was the Cheasapeake 
and that the river ascended was the Potomac. If we 
grant all this, we may conclude, as the correspondent 
does, that the Saint rested at the mouth of the Shen- 
andoah, on the site of Harper's Ferry. As before 
noted, there appears to be little doubt of the voyage 
or of the discovery of some land by Brandan, for the 
most cautious writers of even the present day refuse 
to treat the story with contempt, but whether we 
can confidently follow him all the way from Ireland 
to our very door at Harper's Ferry or not, is a mat- 
ter for some consideration and future developments. 
There is not a man in that town who does not wish 
the tale to< be true, for, besides the poetry of the 
matter, it would be a feather in the cap of Harper's 
Ferry that it was presumably under the protection 
of a saint and an Irish one at that. An Irishman, in 
the flesh, does not stand on trifles when the interests 
of his friends are at stake and, when he is translated 
to Heaven and invested with the dignity of a saint. 


he may be relied on to put in some heavy licks for 
any cause or person he loved while on earth. If the 
tale of the correspondent is true in every respect, 
Harpers Ferry may be regarded as Saint Brandan's 
own child — the heir to> his fame on earth and the best 
entitled to all the influence which he may command- 
in Heaven. We must not inquire too closely as to 
how he got past "The Great Falls" or what induced 
him to* undertake the great labor of the portage. 

Within a few years the Baltimore and Ohio rail- 
road company have made great changes at Harper's 
Ferry, enough to alter its appearance very materi- 
ally. In the summer of 1892 they commenced the 
cutting of a tunnel of over eight hundred feet in 
length through the spur of the Maryland Heights 
that projects over the old track near the railroad 
bridge. They also commenced at the same time the 
erection of stone piers to support a new bridge a lit- 
tle northwest of the old one. The course of the road 
bed in the town has also been changed, for the old 
trestling has been abandoned and the track 
has been laid across the eastern end of the 
old armory grounds and over a part of the 
site of John Brown's fort. The principal ob- 
ject of this change was to straighten the 
road and avoid the dangerous curves at the old 
bridge and also to do away with the perpetual ex- 
pense of keeping the trestle work in repair. In con- 
sequence, the appearance of the place is greatly 
changed and not for the better, but, happen what 
may, the eternal mountains will remain, clothed with 
the verdure of spring and summer, the purple and 
gold of autumn, or the snowy mantle of winter, ac- 
cording to the season.v The noble and historic rivers, 
too, will pour their allied waters through the awe in- 
spiring chasm which, in the course of bygone ages, 
their united strength has cut through the gigantic 


barrier of the Blue Ridge. The Bald Eagle — king of 
birds — will still sweep in majestic curves around the 
turreted pinnacles of the Alpine Heights or, poised 
on outspread wings, will survey his unassailable an- 
cestral domain and, if in the garish light of day, the 
utter loneliness and wildness of the mountains op- 
press the imagination, the gloaming and the tender 
moonbeams will mellow the savage grandeur of the 
scene and invest it with a dreamy and mystic beauty 
to* soften and enhance its sublimity. Besides, what- 
ever may occur in the future, Harper's Ferry has in 
the past attained a fame of which even- Fate itself can- 
not deprive it and, as longas poetry, romance and a love 
of the sublime and beautiful in Nature find a home 
in the human heart, tourists from all the continents 
and the isles of the sea will visit it, and the day will 
never come when there will be no enthusiastic lover 
of freedoYn to doff his hat at the shrine of John 
Brown. He was, anyway, a man of honest convic- 
tions who fought desperately and died fearlessly for 
the faith that was in him, and what hero has done 
more ? 

Having spent a long and a very long winter's night 
in a haunted house with a corpse for his only com- 
panion, and having been treated with marked con- 
sideration by their ghostships in their not bothering 
him in any way, the writer feels under obligations to 
g-ive the spirits a puff and keep alive their memory 
in an age of skepticism. He, therefore, craves the 
reader's patience while he relates the history of an 
invisible but exceedingly potent sprite that kept the 
neighborhood of Harper's Ferry in a terrible fer- 
ment for a long time and that to this day gives a 
name to a thriving village within a short distance of 
that town. Tourists who come to historic Harper's 
Ferry never fail to gather all the stories they can, not 
only of the town itself, but of the surounding coun- 


try, and it is partly for their benefit and partly to 
honor the spirits that treated him so* cleverly, that 
the author gives the following- legend. There are 
but few, indeed, in northern Virginia, who have not 
heard the tale a thousand times, with endless varia- 
tions, all accounts, however, agreeing as to the 
main facts. The author has heard many versions of 
it, but he will give it as he got it from a gentleman 
now deceased — an ex-member of Congress and an 
ex-minister to< one of the most important nations of 
Europe. This gentleman spent much of his youth in 
the immediate neighborhood of the village where 
the great mystery occurred and he was on the most 
intimate terms with one of the families that were 
conspicuous in the occurrence. Of course, he gave 
it as he received it himself. He was not born when 
the spirit was rampant, but he got the story fresh 
from those who were witnesses to the mystery. He 
was an eminent man and deeply learned — a graduate 
of Georgetown: College — and the writer would give 
a great deal to be able to relate the story with the 
inimitable grace of his informant. Of course, he did 
not believe the legend himself, but he cherished it 
as a memory of his childhood and as a choice morsel 
of folklore. 


In the southwest part of Jefferson county, West 
Virginia, within less than a mile of the Opequon 
river so famous in the late war, is a drowsy though 
well-to-do village that rejoices in three names — Mid- 
dleway, Smithfield and Wizard Clip. The first of 
these names it got from its being at exactly the same 
distance from Winchester, Martinsburg and Har- 
pers Ferry, and this is the name acknowledged in 
the postal service. The second name — Smithfield — 
is derived from a very respectable family of the far 
extended Smith clan that has resided there a great 
many years. The last — Wizard Clip — it got from a 
singular legend, connected with a house that once 
stood in the outskirts of the village. This building, 
except a part of the foundation, has long since suc- 
cumbed to time. Not far from the site of the house 
is a tract of land known as "The Priest's Field" 
which at one time belonged to a resident of the 
aforesaid mansion — a man named Livingstone — but 
now forms a part of the lands of Mr. Joseph Ming- 
hini. In the old burying ground of the village is, or 
at least was shown a few years ago, a mound known 
as "The Stranger's Grave" and these singular names 
will be explained by the story. 

Some time about the commencement of the 19th 
century a Pennsylvanian, named Livingstone, 
moved from his native state and purchased 


the farm on which was the residence above 
referred to. He and his family took possession of 
the house, and for several years they prospered. Liv- 
ingstone used to say that he had been unfortunate 
in life before his moving to Virginia, and he was fond 
of contrasting his former failures with his success in 
his new home. He is said to> have been a man of a 
mild and genial disposition, but tradition has it that 
his better half was of a different temper and that, 
figuratively, she wore the garment which is supposed 
to be the 'special prerogative and attribute of the 
male sex. The facts of our tale, if indeed, they are 
bona fide facts at all, appear to> bear out the popular 
estimate of the family, with the addition, perhaps, 
that Mr. Livingstone was of a credulous turn of 
mind, which exposed him; to the machinations of 
some designing neighbors, who took advantage of his 
unsophisticated nature and who, perhaps, were not 
sorry to* punish the wife for her lack of amiability. It 
should be noted that the period of our tale long 
antedates railroads and steamboats. Goods were 
then conveyed entirely by horse power and the prin- 
cipal road from Baltimore and Alexandria to south- 
west Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee passed 
through Middleway. In consequence, long convoys 
of wagons were constantly passing along this road 
which was within a few yards of Livingstone's house. 
About three miles east of this residence, also' on this 
road, lived an Irish family, named'McSherry, from 
whom are sprung the many highly respectable people 
of that name who now adorn nearly every learned 
profession in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsyl- 
vania, especially that of medicine. Between these 
two' residences lived Joseph Minghini — an Italian — 
the grandfather of the gentleman referred to as now 
owning the tract of land called "The Priest's Field." 
The Minghini of our tale had accompanied the fa- 


mous generate Charles Lee from Italy when that ec- 
centric character was obliged to fly from the land of 
the Caesars, but finding himself disappointed in his 
patron had set up for himself in the neighborhood 
of Middleway. ' So much for a preface and now for 
our story. 

One evening a stranger called at Livingstone's 
house and asked for a night's lodging. This was 
accorded to him cheerfully by Livingstone and, in 
justice to the lady of the house, it must be recorded 
that tradition is silent on the subject of what she 
thought of her husband's hospitality and, being an 
impartial chronicler, the writer will give her the 
benefit of any doubt on the subject, especially as it 
turned out afterwards that she had good reason to 
regret her having "taken in the stranger.'.' The fam- 
ily and their guest conversed for a good part of the 
night, as is customary in Virginia on such occasions, 
and the new acquaintances separated about 10 
o'clock, Mr. Livingstone conducting the stranger 
to a sleeping apartment and then betaking himself 
to his own. After having slept some time, the mas- 
ter of the house awoke and became aware of queer 
noises coming from the direction of his guest's apart- 
ment. He arose, knocked at the stranger's door and 
inquired what was the matter. The occupant replied 
that he was very sick and that he had a presentiment 
that he could not live "till daylight. At the same 
time he entreated that a Catholic priest should be 
sent for to shrive him — that he had been brought 
up in the Catholic faith, but that he had neglected 
religion when in health. Now he would gladlv ac- 
cept its consolations, for he felt himself to> be in 
extremis. Livingstone replied that he knew of no 
priest of that faith- anywhere near, and that he could 
not hope to find one closer than in Maryland. He 
remarked, however, that he had neighbors who were 


Catholics — meaning- the McSherrys and the Ming- 
hinis — and that they might set him on the track of 
a priest, and he volunteered to go> immediately to 
make inquiries of those people. On. this, the wife 
who, too, had been aroused, and woman-like, was 
listening to the conversation, became very angry and 
told her husband that, if he was fool enough to start 
out on such a wild-goose chase, she would take good 
care to thwart him, even if he succeeded in finding 
the clergyman, which was unlikely enough. She was 
determined, she said, to hinder any Romish priest 
from entering her house, and that the best thing 
Livingstone could do was to> return to< his bed and 
leave the stranger to his fate. The good-natured 
and well-disciplined husband submitted and again re- 
tired to> slumber. Next morning the guest did not ap- 
pear for breakfast and Livingstone, a good deal 
alarmed, went to> the stranger's room and found him 
dead. The neighbors of the family knew nothing of 
these occurrences, and the Livingstones would not 
be likely to say much about them, unless they were 
driven to a disclosure by the pangs of terror and 
remorse. They, however, had the corpse on their 
hands, and, of course, the fact of the death could not 
be concealed. A few neighbors were notified, and 
the unknown was committed to 1 a nameless grave. 
No other designation can be given to> him than "the 
unknown" because the stranger had not revealed to 
the family his name or anything connected with his 
history, except in the few remorseful words to Liv- 
ing-stone, when he confessed the sinfulness of his life. 
No clue was ever found to his name, family or na- 
tionality, but, as the Livingstones did not report any 
peculiarity in his accent, it is to be inferred that he 
was an American by birth or very long residence. 

On the return of the family from the funeral late 
jn the evening they built a good fire and took their 


seats around it. discussing, no doubt, the untoward 
occurrences of the previous night, when, suddenly the 
logs jumped, all ablaze, from the fireplace and 
whirled around the floor in a weird dance, sputtering 
sparks all about the room and seeming to be en- 
dowed with demoniacal power and intelligence. 
Poor Livingstone, too, danced around, trying to 
put out the fire, but it took him a long - time to do so, 
and no sooner had he thrown the smouldering sticks 
back into the fireplace than they jumped out again 
and went through the same performance as before, 
and Livingstone was again obliged to hustle for the 
safety of his house. This was repeated at short in- 
tervals until daylight, and the family did not get a 
monment's rest during that memorable night. How 
the amiable lady of the house managed to cook 
breakfast, tradition does not say, but from the fact 
that nothing is related of suffering by the Living- 
stones from hunger, it is to be presumed that the 
"spook" let up on them for a little while and allowed 
them to get something to eat. 

Worn out, scared and disconsolate, the hapless 
Livingstone walked down to the road that passed 
his house, the highway before referred to, and was, 
immediately greeted by a rough wagoner, who had 
stopped his team and who wanted to know why the 
devil Livingstone had stretched a rope across the 
highway and fastened it to a tree on either side, so 
as to impede travel. Livingstone knew that there 
were trees, as the wagoner said, on both sides of the 
road, but he saw no rope and wondered what the ap- 
parently drunken teamster meant by accusing him of 
such an absurd thing'. The driver angrily demanded 
that the obstruction be removed at once, and Living- 
stone disdaining to make any reply, the infuriated 
teamster drew a knife and slashed at the rope, but 
the blade met with no resistance and. while the ob- 


struction was palpable to his eye, it was but an airy 
nothing to his touch. It was now the wagoner's turn 
to be amazed. He knew not whether to offer an 
apology or not and, while he was still pondering the 
matter, another team arrived and its driver went 
through the same performance as the other, with the 
same result. At length, Livingstone mildly sug- 
gested that they should drive on, regardless of the 
intangible rope and so they did and passed along 
without difficulty, attributing their delusion, no 
doubt, to the bad whiskey of the neighborhood. 
Soon, however, other teams arrived and again the 
spectre rope was in the way and again were repeated 
the perplexity and the profanity of the first encounter. 
Every new arrival brought the luckless Livingstone 
a fresh cursing, and so 1 it was kept up for several 
weeks. In the course of time, the demon, now ac- 
knowledged to be around the place, adopted a new 
method of annoyance. A sharp, clipping noise, as 
if from a pair of invisible shears, was heard all 
through and around the house and, worse yet, all 
the clothes of the family, their table cloths and bed 
coverings were cut and gashed, the slits being all in 
the shape of a crescent. Of course, the news of these 
unearthly doings soon spread, and people from all 
directions crowded to> see and hear what was going 
on. There are still preserved in some families pock- 
et-handkerchiefs that were folded in the pockets of 
their owners when they visited the place, but, yet, 
were cut and marked in his peculiar way by the 
fhmon of the scissors that kept up his "clip-clip" 
: "ound them while they were condoling with the af- 
iHcted family. One lady visitor was complimenting 
Mrs. Livingstone on a fine flock of ducks that were 
waddling through her yard on their way, perhaps, to 
the neighboring Opequon, when "clip-clip" went the 
uncanny and invisible shears and one after another 


the ducks were all cleanly decapitated in broad day- 
light before the very eyes of the ladies and many 
other witnesses. 

At that time there lived in Middleway a German 
tailor, who, though fully imbued with the mysticism 
of his native country, yet regarded with contempt all 
vulgar superstitions, or what he considered to be 
such. He boasted that he would stay all night alone 
in the house supposed to be haunted and that, if he. 
had time enough to< spare for the purpose, he could 
expose the imposture of the wizard clipping. He 
had just finished a suit of broad cloth for a neigh- 
boring planter and had made up the clothes in a 
neat package, when on his way to> deliver them he 
passed Livingstone's house, grinning at the folly of 
his neighbors in believing- that the place was tenant- 
ed by an evil spirit. "Clip-clip" went the terrible 
scissors around the ears of the German who, in the 
plenitude of his incredulity, invited the author of 
the sounds to "go for damn." He proceeded to the 
house of his employer, opened his bundle with pro- 
fessional confidence and pride, to exhibit his model 
suit, when, lo ! and behold ! he found the clothes full 
of the crescent shaped slits and utterly ruined. 

The excitement continued to spread and far and 
near extended the fame of "Wizard Clip." One 
night a party of youngsters of both sexes assembled 
at the house for a frolic, got up by the young men of 
the neighborhood, who' desired to show to the world 
and especially to their sweethearts that they were not 
afraid, whoever else might be so, and curiosity led 
many young ladies to the scene, in spite of the ter- 
rors of the place. They were, perhaps, desirous to 
test the courage of their lovers, and trusted for pro- 
tection to the big crowd in attendance. One rough, 
blustering fellow came all the way from Winchester, 
carrying his rifle. He was courting a girl of the neigh- 


borhood of Living-stone's place, and he determined 
to show off to the best possible advantage. Things 
proceeded smoothly for awhile, and the young peo- 
ple were engaged in a dance when, suddenly, "clip- 
clip" went the goblin shears, and the Winchester- 
hero felt something flap against the calves of his 
legs. He reached down to investigate and found, to 
his consternation, that the most important part of 
his nether garment had been cut loose from the 
waist band and that there was nothing left for him 
to do but to sit down and keep on sitting 'till the fes- 
tivities were over. His condition soon became 
known to the others and, great as the terrors of the 
situation were, nothing could prevent the company 
from tittering, until the hapless hero< found his plight 
so painful that. he resolved to leave the house, which, 
for the sake of delicacy, he was obliged to do by 
backing to the door, while the ladies coyly looked in 
another direction. 

Numberless are the tales related of the queer do- 
ings of the demon with his invisible and diabolical 
scissors. Poor Livingstone lost heart and even his 
wife's masculine courage gave way. The whole 
neighboring country was, of course, intensely ex- 
cited. One night Livingstone had a dream. He 
thought he was at the foot of a hill on the top of 
which was a man dressed in sacerdotal garments and 
appearing to be engaged in some religious cere- 
mony. While looking towards this strange man, the 
afflicted dreamer became aware of the presence with 
him of some disembodied spirit that whispered to 
him that the man in the priestly garb could relieve 
him from his great trouble. He awoke and immedi- 
ately formed the resolution to appeal to* some minis- 
ter of the gospel to exorcise his tormentor — the 
fiend of the "clip." He applied to his own pas- 
tor, a Lutheran preacher who, of course, had heard 


of the affair, as had everybody in the state. To 
please Livingstone, the reverend gentleman visited 
the haunted house, but he experienced a reception 
so* hot that he concluded not to try issues any more 
with SO' potent a spirit, and he left without accom- 
plishing anything-. Livingstone now remembered 
that the minister of his vision wore priestly vest- 
ments and, on the failure of his own pastor, he con- 
cluded that the party to. help him must be one who 
was usually arrayed with such adjuncts in the per- 
formance of his- rites. The Catholic, or perhaps the 
Protestant Episcopal must, therefore, be the denomi- 
nation for him to seek aid from, and he found out 
from the Minghinis and the McSherrys that a certain 
Father Cahill, who used robes such as he had seen 
in the dream, would, on a certain day, be at Shep- 
herdstown, about ten miles away, to: hold Catholic 
service. They promised Livingstone an introduc- 
tion to the priest, and on the day specified they ac- 
companied their unhappy neighbor to the church 
meeting. At the first sight, Livingstone recognized 
in Father Cahill the minister he had seen in the 
dream, and falling on his knees and with tears stream- 
ing down his cheeks, begged to be relieved from the 
thralldom of the evil one. Having been questioned 
by the priest, he gave the whole history, including 
the unkindness shown to the stranger guest. Father 
Cahill, who was a jovial, big-fisted Irishman, alive as 
the Lutheran minister had been, to the absurdity of 
the whole affair, tried to convince the sufferer that 
he was merely the victim of some malicious practical 
jokers of his neighborhood. It was all in vain, how- 
ever, to try to dispel Livingstone's fears, and for 
sheer pity and, perhaps. Irishman-like, not being 
averse to a shindy even with the devil himself, the 
good father consented to- accompany Livingstone 
home, and do all he could to relieve him. At that 


time a Catholic priest was something heard of with 
awe and superstitious dread in Virginia, but very 
rarely seen there, and it is likely that the perpetra- 
tors of the outrage on the hapless family were them- 
selves victims of an unreasonable fear of something 
that was formidable only from its rarity and from 
attributes that existed only in their own ignorant 
and untrained imaginations. Anyway, it is recorded 
that never after the visit of Father Cahill were the 
diabolical scissors heard, and from that time peace 
again reigned in the Livingstone household, but the 
name of "Wizard Clip" still clings to the village and, 
it is to 1 be hoped, that the legend will not be allowed 
to die out for, laugh as we may at those old time 
tales, they have a charm for even the most prosaic 
and skeptical. John Brown's fort is lost, forever, to 
Virginia, but it is a matter for thankfulness that, 
while brick and mortar can be disposed of to satisfy 
the love of gain, the traditions of a people cannot be 
converted into* money and that sentiment cannot be 
sold by the square foot. Land marks are more easily 
destroyed than folklore. 

In gratitude to Father Cahill, Livingstone before 
his death deeded to the Catholic church thirty-four 
acres of land, and this tract is what has ever since 
been named "The Priest's Field." The clergy of 
that faith, however, renounced all claim to the place 
because, no> doubt, they felt that nothing in the 
spiritual ministration of Father Cahill contributed or 
was intended by him to contribute towards the ob- 
ject Livingstone had in view — the expulsion of a 
veritable demon. Father Cahill, like the Lutheran 
minister, went to the house merely as a friend and 
not in the character of an exorciser of a real spirit' 
and, if the rascals who so cruelly tormented their 
harmless neighbor were more afraid of the priest 
than of the other minister, with whom they were no 


doubt familiar, it was no reason why a claim should 
be set up by the former of superior influence with 
Heaven. Mr. McSherry and Mr. Minghini were 
made trustees of the property, but by common con- 
sent, the land was left with the Minghinis and it is 
now theirs by prescription, perhaps. In the county 
clerk's office in Charlestown, Jefferson county, West 
Virginia, can be seen the deed made by Livingstone 
and wife to Denis Cahill, the supposed exorciser of 
the fiend. It will be found in Book No. I of the 
County Records, and it conveys the title to thirty- 
four acres o.f land — "The Priest's Field" — to> Father 
Cahill and his successors. Our esteemed friend 
Clerk Alexander will be glad to'-show it to anyone 
curious to see it. The deed is dated February 21st, 

Within about eight miles of Harper's Ferry is a 
sleepy hamlet which has quite a history in connec- 
tion with several prominent men of the Revolution. 
It is called Leetown, and it has been heretofore men- 
tioned in this history as the scene of a brisk skirmish 
in the war of the rebellion. As before noted in this 
book, it got its name from General Charles Lee who, 
after the censures incurred by him for his conduct 
at the battle of Monmouth, buried himself here in 
gloomy seclusion. Very near this village is also a 
house occupied by General Horatio Gates, of more 
honorable fame in our war for independence, and 
still another revolutionary general — Darke — lived in 
the immediate neighborhood of the place. So, then, 
a sauntering tourist might spend a little time pleas- 
antly enough in visiting the neighborhood. It is but 
a few minutes' drive from "Wizard Clip" and a curi- 
osity seeker might easily take in many noteworthy 
sights in the course of a day's jaunt from Harper's 
Ferry. About five miles north of Leetown and in 
the immediate neighborhood of the battlefield of An- 


detain, is Shepherdstown, which is, or at least ought 
to be known to fame, as the home of James Rumsey 
who, it has been pretty clearly proven, was the first 
to apply steam power to purposes of navigation. On 
the Potomac, at Shepherdstown or Mecklenburg, as 
it was then called, was the first experiment made of 
propelling a boat by steam power, and the trial was 
made with success by Rumsey. In his life-time he 
was regarded by his acquaintances as a visionary, if 
not a decided maniac, but time has vindicated him, 
although the honor of the invention has been gener- 
ally assumed to< belong to others. There can be but 
little doubt that Rumsey anticipated all the other 
claimants for the fame of the invention, although 
with them, too, it may be said to< be original, as they 
probably knew nothing of Rumsey or what he had 
accomplished. Shepherdstown has a war record, al- 
so, for in a day or two after the battle of Antietam, a 
detachment of federal troops having crossed the Po- 
tomac into Virginia at the ford near the town, they 
were badly defeated by a force of the rebel army that 
attacked them unexpectedly. 

Some ten or twelve years ago>, a stranger arrived 
at Harper's Ferry and, without letting any one know 
what his business was, he purchased a pick and 
shovel, hired a horse and buggy, and drove up the 
Potomac taking the implements with him. He pro- 
ceeded towards Shepherdstown, appearing to be 
very familiar with the road. When he arrived with- 
in a mile of the latter place, he halted, tied his horse 
to something available and looked around inquiring- 
ly. It took him but a short time to find what he 
wanted, for in a few minutes he approached a large 
tree and plied vigorously his pick and then his shovel 
around the roots. His labor was not in vain, 'for 
soon he exposed to view a fair sized box which he 
immediately transferred to the buggy, and at once 


returned to Harper's Ferry, without deigning* to sat- 
isfy the curiosity of some parties who were attracted 
to the spot by the sight of him at his work. It is 
generally supposed that he himself had buried a con- 
siderable treasure at the place while he was hard 
pressed by enemies at some time while the late war 
was in progress, and that, deeming it safe, and not 
being much in want of money, he had left it in its 
concealment for nearly thirty years. Some ad- 
vanced the dream theory — that, in his sleep he had 
a vision of the buried treasure, but the stranger 
kept his own counsel and departed on the next rail- 
road train for parts unknown, 


Starting from the railroad bridge at Harper's 
Ferry and running northwest, with the railroad track 
for six miles to Duffield's Station, is a region that 
has ever been the home of wizards, witches and all 
kinds of adepts in occult lore, besides being a favor- 
ite resting place for 'gypsy caravans. The construc- 
tion of the railroad many years ago was the first in- 
terruption to the dreams of magic, and, then, the 
civil war, with its very practical ideas and, above all, 
perhaps, the subsequent introduction of free schools 
have completed the delivery of the worthy inhabi- 
tants from the very galling yoke of many professors 
of the black art — African and Caucasian — who prof- 
ited in money and reputation by the fears they ex- 
cited and the fees they received for cures or immun- 
ity. In justice, it must be stated that the whites, 
mostly of German orig-in, were generally of a be- 
nevolent character and that the practice of their art 
was always directed to counteract the malevolence 
of the negroes who seldom devoted their mystic 
knowledge to any good purpose, especially where 
any member of their own race was concerned. They 
always appeared to have an instinctive dread of the 
superior race and were shy of practising on the 
white man, unless under very strong temptation. 
The gypsies alone keep alive the old order of things, 
appearing to have nobody to punish and every one 
to reward with a rich wife or a gallant husband for 


the trifle of crossing- the sibyl's palm with a piece of 
silver. Indeed, they are not charged with molesting 
the person or property of any one. On the contrary, 
they are ever invoking' the blessings of Venus, on the 
conditions above mentioned. Time has in no way 
changed their habits. 

Two generations ago great was the fame of the 
professors — white and black — but now it is difficult 
to get any one of either color, unless some octo- 
genarian, to relate what used to occur in the olden 
times. They appear to be afraid of the imputation 
of superstition. In this way many interesting and' 
even poetic legends are likely to> be lost. 

Of the white seers the most renowned was the 
miller — John Peacher — a Pennsylvania Dutchman. 
He was a man of excellent reputation, and the only 
people who had any complaint to* make of him were 
the evil doers, especially the thieves. It was useless' 
for a thief to steal anything from John Peacher, for 
it had to be returned, and by the culprit himself, in 
broad daylight. Peacher's friends, too, if they re- 
ported to him any loss were merely told to wait a 
little for the stolen article. So, neither Peacher nor 
his friends ever complained to a law officer of any 
loss, feeling very certain that the missing would re- 
/turn. In consequence, it was no unusual sight to 
see seated on a fence near Peacher's mill, or the 
house of one of the miller's neighbors, a man, nearly 
always a negro, with a bundle of some kind tied up 
to suit the contents. There the visitor sat until late 
evening, if not asked to get off the fence and tell 
his business. Even then, it was with extreme diffi- 
culty that he could get off his perch, and some were 
known to invoke the assistance of the proprietor to 
unfasten them. The man was sure to be a thief, 
and the bundle always contained the stolen article, 
which was laid at the feet of the lawful owner-*-the 


proprietor of the place — Peacher or some one of his 
friends who had reported to* him, a robbery. On 
one occasion a wagoner on his way to Georgetowfi 
drove his team past Peacher's place and abstracted 
from, a wagon that belonged to Peacher some part 
of the gearing, with which he proceeded to George- 
town, fifty-seven miles distant. Peacher soon dis- 
covered the loss but, as usual, he "lay low" and wait- 
ed for the certain issue. In a few days a man was 
seen to approach Peacher's place early in the morn- 
ing afoot and carrying an apparently heavy load. 
When he reached Peacher's gate, he climbed one of 
the posts and rested his load on the fence nearby. 
No one questioned him, for Peacher and his domes- 
tics recognized the articles, the loss of which was 
known to them from the time of the theft, and the 
presumption was that the man was the guilty one. 
There the culprit sat without a word until 
the benevolent Peacher thought that the peni- 
tent might be hungry and sufficiently hum- 
bled. Peacher invited the stranger to get 
off and come into the house to get some- 
thing to eat, but the hapless thief was glued, as it 
were, to the seat and not 'till Peacher chose to break 
the spell could the crestfallen victim get off his perch. 
He then confessed his 'guilt and told how his con- 
science did not trouble him a bit until he reached 
Georgetown with his plunder, when some impulse 
forced him to leave his team in the city and walk 
back, carrying the stolen articles, instead of waiting 
for his regular return trip to make restitution. After 
his meal he commenced his journey back, afoot, to 
the city for- his team and in some time after rode past 
Peacher's place on his home trip, but did not stop. 
How Peacher worked his charms he never revealed, 
except that he said he had a wheel by the turning of 
which, as the case demanded, he effected his wonder- 


ful exploits at thief-catching. The wheel he never 
exhibited. For many years after his death there was 
a common phrase in the neighborhood, "1*11 intro- 
duce you to Peachers wheel," whenever any one was 
suspected of knavish practices — especially a child or 
a superstitious person. It would take more space 
than we have allotted to ourselves to relate a tenth 
of the exploits of Peacher with his magic wheel. 


Of an entirely different type as to nationality, color 
and moral standing 1 , was Jesse Short, a disreputable 
negro' scamp who enjoyed an immense reputation for 
powers of mischief, and who got credit for nearly ev- 
ery mysterious thing that occurred in the neighbor- 
hood, if only it was of a disreputable kind. Nearly all 
of the houses had low porches at their front doors, 
and the very narrow spaces underneath were enclosed 
with lattice work, SO' close that a robin could scarce- 
ly force himself inside and, if he could, he had very 
scant room to> hop for a little exercise. It often hap- 
pened, however, that in the early morning the ears of 
the family were greeted with the bleats or grunts of 
a well grown sheep or porker belonging to some 
neighbor that had found its way or for which a way 
had been found, in some uncannie manner to enter, 
and which had to crouch very low to find room for 
itself. But although an entrance had been found for 
it, there was no exit until the porch was torn down. 
All this and many other such pranks were put to the 
credit of Jesse until he enjoyed a fame equal to that 
of Michael Scott, and was the great terror of the 
country all 'round. Like John Peacher of better 
character, he performed too many feats for recital in 
this modest-sized book, but we will relate one that 
was witnessed, and is vouched for by at least two 
parties of unexceptionable character, who are still 
living, one of them being- the victim of Jesse's unholy 


practices, who can still exhibit marks left on her per- 
son by the wizard's touch. 

Jesse was a slave on the Miller estate, about four 
miles northwest of Harper's Ferry. Near this plan- 
tation was another owned and occupied by John 
Engle, a pious, God-fearing man, some of whose 
children are yet alive. As far as we know there are 
two — Mr. James Engle and his sister, Mrs. Margaret 
Moler. When these were very young children, their 
father owned or hired a colored girl to whom our he- 
ro, Jesse, desired to> pay attentions and with this view, 
often visited Mr. Engle's house. Mr. Engle, how- 
ever, positively forbade those visits on account of 
Jesse's very bad reputation. It was supposed that 
our hero was deeply offended at this exclusion from 
the company of his lady-love, and secretly vowed ven- 
geance, although his countenance and general bear- 
ing towards the Engle family did not betray his real 
feeling. One day he visited the house, ostensibly to 
convey some message from his master. While he 
was waiting for a return message, Margaret, the five 
year old daughter of Mr. Engle, who is now the 
widow of a Mr. John Moler, passed close to him. 
The negro patted the child and appeared to have a 
desire to ingratiate himself with her, but the little 
girl screamed wildly as soon as his hand touched 
her, and she showed the utmost horror of him. Her 
screams continued until she got into fits and the 
greatest difficulty was experienced in restoring her 
temporarily to her normal condition. But the little 
one was not the same from that time. Day by day 
she failed, lost appetite and could not get natural 
sleep. In a month she was reduced from a hale, 
hearty and lively child to a mere, spiritless skeleton, 
and hope of her recovery was almost abandoned. At 
that time regular physicians were not as plentiful as 
they are now, and old mammies of either color were 


mostly depended on, especially in cases of ailing 
children. The Engle family were then, as they are 
now, among the most respectable in Jefferson coun- 
ty, and, from regard for them as well as for natural 
sympathy, every mother in the neighborhood and 
every skillful woman aided in trying to- restore the 
poor child, but in vain. When the little tot was al- 
most exhausted somebody remembered that across 
the Potomac, in Maple swamp, a place inhabited in 
a great measure by half-breeds descended from the 
Indians, lived a certain Mrs. Mullin, whose fame for 
occult knowledge was wide-spread. Indeed, she was 
a power even among the professors themselves. To 
her as a last resort the parents of the child appealed. 
The benevolent old lady responded at once, and 
crossed the Potomac on her mission of charity. She 
took the child on her knee, without the least repug- 
nance on the part of the little girl. What mystic 
words or rites the old lady used, tradition does not 
say, but she took from her pocket a pair of scissors 
and with deliberation clipped the nails from the fin- 
gers of the child — from all but one finger — and here- 
in lies the wonder, for the child at once began to im- 
prove and, as we have before mentioned, is still 
alive and hearty at an advanced age, with the full use 
of all her limbs, except that one finger, the nail of 
which Mrs. Mullin failed toi clip. That finger is 
crooked and that one alone. It has never been 
straight since that day, about seventy-five years ago, 
when Mrs. Mullin, either by accident or design, fail- 
ed to' treat it as she treated its fellows. It never 
pains her, however, and merely gives a sign of some- 
thing designed to> be a mystery. Mrs. Mullin, as far 
as we know, never tried to> rectify the omission or 
make any explanation. 


About half way bewteen Dufneld's and Shenan- 
doah Junction, on the south side of the B. & O. rail- 
road, and very close to it, is to be seen the grave of 
General Darke, heretofore mentioned as one of the 
famous men of the Revolution, who once lived in that 
region which is embraced in the present county of 
Jefferson, and whose homes were very close to> Har- 
per's Ferry. General Darke is the hero of the neigh- 
borhood, and many of the best people of Jefferson 
county, are proud of the kinship to him, which they 
claim. His personal history would, indeed, read like 
a romance, but our proposed limits forbid us the 
pleasure of giving it in detail. We will merely relate 
one of his adventures and a curious tale told of a dog 
belonging to him that figured in connection with his 
master's story. We have but the general's own 
words to prove the truth of most of the tale, but he 
was a man of undoubted veracity and, besides, he 
had no motive for inventing the story. We have 
heretofore given an account of great sagacity mani- 
fested by a dog owned by Colonel Lewis Washing- 
ton and, as the farms on which the dogs were born 
are but a short distance apart, it is probable that 
General Darke's dog was a remote ancestor of that 
of Colonel Washington, and that the extraordinary 
intelligence they both displayed was a family trait. 
The exact period of our legend is unknown, but it 
probably was a few years after the Revolution. 


General Darke then lived near the spot where he 
now rests from his life's work, surrounded by many 
,of his veterans and relatives, by whom he was much 
revered. The general, like the great majority of men, 
was fond of a good dog - , and was very jealous of the 
fame as well as careful of the bodies of his dumb fa- 
vorites of that species, which he kept around him. 
One dog was his 'special pet. Tradition does not tell 
what breed he belonged to or his name, as it does in 
the case of Colonel Washing-ton's "Bob" — neither 
does it inform us of his caudal advantages or defi- 
ciencies. Indeed, in the case of "Bob" there is no 
need, yet awhile, to> question tradition, for we all, 
whose hair is gray, knew him, that is all of us who 
in 1859 were acquainted with the hospitable home 
of the colonel. 

One day one of the general's neighbors complain- 
ed to him that his — the neighbor's — meat house 
had frequently of late been robbed and that, having 
watched many nights for the thief, he had at last got 
ocular demonstration that the general's favorite dog 
was the culprit. The general would not deny the 
fact of the robbery, but he plainly denied the guilt of 
his dog- and, although the complainant was a man 
of the utmost respectability, the general still stood 
up for his humble friend. An agreement was finally 
made that the general shimself should watch — 
which he did and, besides, every night he barricaded 
the room in which' the dog used to sleep, and left the 
animal not the least chance, as he thought, to leave 
the house without permission. The master kept lis- 
tening, too, for any sound from the dog's room -that 
,would indi'cate an effort to escape, and for some 
nighfs he heard just enough noise to prove that the 
dog was in his proper place. One night, however, 
he thought the stillness unnatural, and his suspicion 
was aroused. He entered the dog's room and found 


it vacant. He also found a hole either in the wall 
of the room or at the foundation, through which it 
was easy to make a noiseless escape. The general at 
once started in pursuit and encountered the dog on 
the way from the neighbor's meat house whither the 
master's suspicions led him. The dog had a large 
piece of meat in his mouth, which he at once dropped 
on recognizing his owner, and then made a hasty re- 
treat out of sig-ht. Of course, the general made all 
the apologies due from him to his wronged friend, 
and the trouble between them was forever ended. 
The dog, however, was never again seen in that 

In some years after General Darke had occasion 
to travel to Ohio. He made the journey on horse- 
back, the only method at that time. One night he 
took lodging at a lonely inn among the wilds of the 
Alleghany Mountains. On alighting he noticed sev- 
eral suspicious-looking men lounging around, but 
the general was a brave man and, besides, he had no 
choice, so he remained at the house. He kept awake 
all night, however, but he was not molested. Next 
morning he started to continue his journey, but he 
had not advanced far before a very rough-looking 
man jumped from behind a fence and ordered him to 
halt. At the same time a dog bounded from the 
same direction to the road, and at once caught the 
assailant by the throat and dragged him to the 
ground, holding on with a death grip to that pecu- 
liarly dangerous part of the human anatomy to be 
seized by. Whether the man was killed or not tradi- 
tion does not say, but he was rendered hors de com- 
bat. The general recognized in the dog his own 
former pet, but the dog again fled from before the 
face of his old master, by whom he was never again 
seen. The general returned to the inn, reported the 
affair to the landlord and made special inquiries 


about the dog. All he could learn was that the ani- 
mal had appeared at the inn a long time before, and 
that, the family having taken a liking to the est ray, it 
was allowed to remain. The dog was not to> be seen at 
the inn at least, until the general departed finally, 
nor is it-known that he ever did return and, as far as 
we know, he was" never again seen by any of his old 

Harper's Ferry has always been noted for the 
number of ministers of religion it has produced. It 
would be impossible to name all of them in view of 
the limit we have set for ourselves. A few, however, 
whom we ourselves have taught and prepared for 
learned professions, we feel justified in mentioning. 
They are Fathers Edward Tearney, James T. O'Far- 
rell and John Bowler, of the Catholic church; the 
Reverend McFadden brothers — John, Harry and 
Frank; the Reverend C. B. Price and the Reverend 
A. S. Yantis — the last five of various Protestant de- 
nominations. We are proud of those boys, their 
genuine piety, their learning and the great good they 
are reported as doing. No bigots are they who can 
see no good in anybody that differs from them, but 
they found their belief and their life-practise on the 
glorious "Sermon on the Mount" and have a good 
word for everybody. This is the way to win souls 
to God, and they have found it. 

Various eminent men, not natives of the place, 
however, have served in the ministry at Harper's 
Ferry. The Rt. Rev. J. J. Kain, the present Arch- 
Bishop of St. Louis, and the Rt. Rev A. Vandevyver, 
Bishop of Richmond, were formerly priets in charge 
of the Catholic church there. The vener- 
able Dr. Dutton of the Presbyterian church 


also served thea;e and was the hero of a remarkable 
.adventure in the great flood of 1870, which we have 
noted elsewhere. The last mentioned three were 
held in extraordinary honor. Many believe that the 
coming great man of the Catholic church in America 
js Bishop Vandevyver, of Richmond. He is certain- 
ly one of God's noblemen. 

There are now serving in the ministry at Harper's 
Ferry the Reverend Messrs. Marsh of the M. E. 
Church, and Sullivan and Fairing of the M. P. 
Church, also, the Reverend Father Collins, Catholic 
priest. We have not the pleasure of much acquaint- 
ance with any of those gentlemen, but they are, we 
know, men of very high character. Father Collins' 
father we knew well — a better man never lived and 
we take him for a guarantee for his son's excellence. 
We have been thrown a good deal into* company with 
the Reverend J. D. Miller of the Protestant Episco- 
pal church, and in our judgment, he is a gentleman 
of profound learning and a high degree of polish 
and amiability. We always listen with high pleasure 
to his conversation, the more so because he never 
tries to: convince his hearers that he "knows it all," 
although it is plain that he knows a great deal, and 
that the day is not far off when he will make a very 
distinguished mark. He is making it now. 

In giving the names of Harper's Ferry-born 
clergymen we might have mentioned Father William 
Lynch, pastor of the Catholic church at Roanoke, 
Virginia, who, if not quite a native of Harper's Ferry 
came very near having that claim on us. He was 
born and brought up at Halltown, within four miles 
of Harper's Ferry, and those four miles deprived the 
ancient village of the honor of being his birthplace, 
and us of the credit his education would have con- 
ferred on us. He is, however, regarded by us as one 
of our own, and the author is as glad of the great 


success the good father has met and is meeting with 
as if he himself had made him as he made the others. 
From this rather extended notice of the ministers of 
religion to the credit of Harper's Ferry it must not 
be inferred that the place is not entitled to the honor 
of having produced other men of marked ability who 
adorn other professions. Some sixty years ago> was 
boom in Bolivar, a suburb of the place, the Hon. E. 
Willis Wilson, an eminent lawyer of Charleston-on- 
the-Kanawha. The civil war broke 'out just at the 
time when he had got a fair education and his studies 
were, of course, interrupted for a time. His 
native energy, however, was too' much for any ob- 
stacle and as soon as the reverberation of the can- 
nons ceased around his native place, he went to work 
at the study of law, entered politics, and was chosen 
to fill various places of honor and trust until he was 
elected governor of West Virginia, and was inaugur- 
ated on the same day that saw the same ceremony 
for President Cleveland. The election of Governor 
Wilson was the more remarkable for the violent op- 
position to' him on the part of all the monopolies in 
the state and his was a triumph for the right as well 
as for himself. His administration was a model one 
and as he is young enough for further usefulness, the 
people of West Virginia will not lose sight of him. 

Another native of the place has risen to eminence 
in the law. The Hon. James D. Butt was brought 
up under some disadvantages in the matter of educa- 
tion, caused by the civil war but, as he was young 
enough at the cessation of hostilities to; resume his 
interrupted studies, he made up for lost time. He 
is now Referee in the Bankruptcy Court of his native 

In medicine, too, Harper's Ferry has many sons 
to be proud of. William, George and Robert Mar- 
mion, three sons of Dr. Nicholas Marmion, were 


themselves famous physicians and surgeons, especi- 
ally in diseases of the eye and ear. The second — 
George — died some two< years ago, but the oldest — 
William — is still practising in Washington City, and 
ranks among the very highest in the profession. The 
youngest — Robert — is in the U. S. Navy. They 
were all our pupils in the long past. 

Another pupil of ours is Dr. Joseph Tearney, now 
employed by the B. & O. railroad. He has practised 
a good deal at this, his native place, and, although 
he is yet a young man, he has, and justly has the rep-~ 
utation of possessing wonderful skill in his profes- 
sion. Personally, he is emphatically a "good fellow" 
with a big, generous heart, as is well known to many 
a needy patient. So, with his acknowledged ability, 
the confidence he inspires, and the magnetism that 
draws every one to him, he cannot fail to become a 
veritable celebrity. And he, too, was a pupil of ours. 
He never forgets the old tie and the "old man" is 
very much the better for the remembrance. 

We would be ungrateful indeed if we forgot Drs. 
Howard and Claude Koonce, young physicians, na- 
tives of Harper's Ferry and two of our old pupils. 
They are sons of Mr. George Koonce, prominent in 
the politics of West Virginia. They stand very high- 
ly in their profession and are whole-hearted young 









MARtflHjSBURG, - WES* ¥A. 




QOLD DUST j» & & L2 


Dime « IHusucm 

If you fail to see SPENCER'S DIME MUSUEM when 
visiting Historical Harper's Ferry, you will have 
missed an opportunity that you will ever regret. 
Having had a mania for 


at a very early age much valuable time in fifty years 
has been spent in collecting the largest private coI= 
lection in the United States. 

Traveling Salesmen, Tourists, and Strangers generally have 
expressed their surprise upon viewing such 

An Immense Aggregation 


49 » 

** T. M. CONNER, Prop. A. A. LAMON, Clerk i> 

| HOTEL | 

49 — &» 

49 &» 

♦? $2.00 Per Day and Upward fc> 

•49 &fr 

49 Steam Heat Electric Call Bells &> 

JJj Artesian Water Hot and Cold Baths ^J 

49 Electric Lights Good Meals &|» 


4$ M* 





49 &» 

49 TIJTC IIAXIhT Has ' ust " }een comp'^eiy ^ 

S lill^ HUICL renovated throughout, is ?* 

5q ^— — — — — — — — located in the business £* 

40 part of the tJtvn and convenient to trains :: :: :: ?? 

49 __________^^ ?* 


49 M» 


49 &» 

__ C q LLEG £1 

j The oldest school for colored students in W. Va. 

Established 1S67. Coeducational, Academic, 
State Normal, Music and Industrial Departments 

2 Beautiful site, ample buildings, fine libraries, a healthful atmosphere and \ 
\ strong faculty make this college an excellent educational 

. . institution for colored youth . . 

3 Write for catalogue t 

HENRY T. McDONALD, A. M., President ► 
1 N. C. BRACKETT, Ph. D., Treasurer