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[290] to take life in order to save your own, then make sure work of it.

Harper's Ferry was then a village of some five thousand inhabitants, lying on the Virginia side of the Potomac, and on either side of its principal tributary, the Shenandoah, which here enters it from the South. Its site is a mere nest or cup among high, steep mountains; the passage of the united rivers through the Blue Ridge at this point having been pronounced by Jefferson a spectacle which one might well cross the Atlantic to witness and enjoy. Here the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad crosses the Potomac; and the rich valley of the Shenandoah is traversed, for a considerable distance hence, by the Winchester and Harper's Ferry Railroad. Washington is fifty-seven miles distant by turnpike; Baltimore eighty miles by railroad. Modest as the village then was, space had been with difficulty found for its habitations, some of which were perched upon ground four hundred feet above the surface of the streams. One of its very few streets was entirely occupied by the work-shops and offices of the National Armory, and had an iron railing across its entrance. In the old Arsenal building, there were usually stored from 100,000 to 200,000 stand of arms. The knowledge of this had doubtless determined the point at which the first blow of the liberators was to be struck.

The forces with which Brown made his attack consisted of seventeen white and five colored men, though it is said that others who escaped assisted outside, by cutting the telegraph wires and tearing up the railroad track. The entrance of this petty army into Harper's Ferry on Sunday evening, October 17th, seems to have been effected without creating alarm. They first rapidly extinguished the lights of the town; then took possession of the Armory buildings, which were only guarded by three watchmen, whom, without meeting resistance or exciting alarm, they seized and locked up in the guard-house. It is probable that they were aided, or, at least, guided, by friendly negroes belonging in the village. At half-past 10, the watchman at the Potomac bridge was seized and secured. At midnight, his successor, arriving, was hailed by Brown's sentinels, but ran, one shot being fired at him from the bridge. He gave the alarm, but still nothing stirred. At a quarter-past one, the western train arrived, and its conductor found the bridge guarded by armed men. He and others attempted to walk across, but were turned back by presented rifles. One man, a negro, was shot in the back, and died next morning. The passengers took refuge in the hotel, and remained there several hours; the conductor properly refusing to pass the train over, though permitted, at three o'clock, to do so.

A little after midnight, the house of Col. Washington was visited by six of Brown's men under Capt. Stevens, who captured the Colonel, seized his arms, horses, etc., and liberated his slaves. On their return, Stevens and party visited the house of Mr. Alstadtt and his son, whom they captured, and freed their slaves. These, with each male citizen as he appeared in the street, were confined in the Armory until they numbered between forty and fifty. Brown informed his prisoners that they could be liberated on condition of writing

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