During the afternoon of October 18th, Gov. Henry A. Wise
arrived at Harper's Ferry
and took precautions for the protection of Virginia
and the execution of her laws, Brown
, having been turned over to the civil authorities of Jefferson county
, was brought to trial at Charlestown
on the following Thursday, October 20th, because on that day began the regular fall session of the circuit court.
A grand jury indicted him upon the charges of treason and murder.
His prosecution was conducted before an impartial judge and jury by Hon. Andrew Hunter
; he was defended by able counsel from Virginia
and other States, including Hon. D. W. Voorhees
, of Indiana
, and was condemned and convicted.
His trial lasted nearly a month, and, as Brown
himself admitted, was fair and impartial.
He was condemned to be executed on the 2d of December.
His counsel asked the Virginia
court of appeals for a stay of execution, on pleas presented, but this was refused.
After the condemnation of Brown
and his associates, fearing from published threats that an attempt might be made by Northern sympathizers to rescue them, Governor Wise
troops to Charlestown
to guard the prisoners until after their execution.
Toward the last of November about 1,000 were there assembled, among them the cadets of the Virginia military institute, under command of Col. F. H. Smith
, the superintendent.
Maj. T. J. Jackson
, the famous ‘Stonewall
’ Jackson of the war, was present in command of the cadet battery.
He witnessed the execution of Brown
about midday, December 2, 1859.
In a letter to his wife he wrote of Brown
, ‘he behaved with unflinching firmness,’ and of the execution: ‘My command was in front of the cadets, all facing south.
One howitzer I assigned to Mr. Truehart
, on the left of the cadets, and with the other I remained on the right.
Other troops occupied different positions around the scaffold, and altogether it was an imposing but very solemn scene.
I was much impressed with the thought that before me stood a man, in the full vigor of health, who must in a few moments enter eternity.
I sent up the petition that he might be saved.
Awful was the thought that he might in a few minutes receive the sentence, “Depart, ye wicked, into everlasting fire!”
I hope that he was prepared to die, but I am doubtful.’