to their friends to send a negro apiece as ransom.
At daylight, the train proceeded, Brown
walking over the bridge with the conductor.
Whenever any one asked the object of their captors, the uniform answer was, “To free the slaves ;” and when one of the workmen, seeing an armed guard at the Arsenal gate, asked by what authority they had taken possession of the public property, he was answered, “By the authority of God Almighty!”
The passenger train that sped eastward from Harper's Ferry
, by Brown
's permission, in the early morning of Monday, October 17th, left that place completely in the military possession of the insurrectionists.
They held, without dispute, the Arsenal, with its offices, workshops, and grounds.
Their sentinels stood on guard at the bridges and principal corners, and were seen walking up and down the streets.
Every workman, who ignorantly approached the Armory
, as day dawned, was seized and imprisoned, with all other white males who seemed capable of making any trouble.
By eight o'clock, the number of prisoners had been swelled to sixty-odd, and the work was still proceeding.
But it was no longer entirely one-sided.
The white Virginians
, who had arms, and who remained unmolested in their houses, prepared to use them.
Soon after daybreak, as Brown
's guards were bringing two citizens to a halt, they were fired on by a man named Turner
, and, directly afterward, by a grocer named Boerly, who was instantly killed by the return fire.
soon obtained possession of a room overlooking the Armory
gates, and fired thence at the sentinels who guarded them, one of whom fell dead, and another — Brown
's son Watson
— was mortally wounded.
Still, throughout the forenoon, the liberators remained masters of the town.
There were shots fired from one side or the other at intervals, but no more casualties reported.
The prisoners were by turns permitted to visit their families under guard, to give assurance that they still lived and were kindly treated.
chosen to fly to the mountains with his few followers, he might still have done so, though with a much slenderer chance of impunity than if he had, according to his original plan, decamped at midnight, with such arms and ammunition as he could bear away.
Why he lingered, to brave inevitable destruction, is not certain; but it may fairly be presumed that he had private assurances that the negroes of the surrounding country would rise at the first tidings of his movement, and come flocking to his standard; and he chose to court the desperate chances of remaining where arms and ammunition for all could abundantly be had. True, he afterward said that he had arms enough already, either on or about his premises; but, if so, why seize Harper's Ferry
At all events, if his doom was already sealed, his delay at least hastened it. Half an hour after noon, a militia force, one hundred strong, arrived from Charlestown
, the county seat, and were rapidly disposed so as to command every available exit from the place.
In taking the Shenandoah bridge
, they killed one of the insurgents, and captured William Thompson
, a neighbor of Brown