Chapter 4: Exodus.John Brown, in January, 1859, wrote a letter in relation to his invasion of Missouri, which, of course, should precede all other accounts of it. It became a celebrated document, and was known as:
The invasion.Of these two parties of liberators John Brown and Kagi were the Captains. The old man's force consisted of twelve men; Kagi's company of eight only. The slaves were to have been removed to Texas on the following day. Captain Brown went to the house of Hicklan, the master of Jim, and liberated that negro and four others. He then proceeded to the house of Isaac Jarne, another slave-holder, and released five more. Jarne was taken prisoner and carried into the Territory, to prevent an alarm being given.  John Brown was not merely an emancipationist, but a reparationist. He believed, not only that the crime of slavery should be abolished, but that reparation should be made for the wrongs that had been done to the slave. What he believed, he practised. On this occasion, after telling the slaves that they were free, he asked them how much their services had been worth, and — having been answered — proceeded to take property to the amount thus due to the negroes. Kagi went on the southern side of the Little Osage, and called at several houses for the purpose of rescuing slaves. But he failed to find one, until he reached the residence of David Cruse. That robber of God's poor children, on learning the purpose of the party, raised his rifle to fire at it, but was shot dead before he pulled the trigger. He had one slave only — who immediately filled his place in the census of freemen. The two parties soon reunited. Jarne was carried several miles into the Territory. One of his late female slaves attempted to console him; but, like Rachael mourning for her children, he was not to be comforted; upon which the sympathetic negress remarked: “Gosh! massa's in a bad fix — hog no killed — corn no gathered — nigger run away: laws-a-me! what'll massa do?” Jim, who was driving an ox team, “supposed to belong to the estate,” asked one of the liberators, “How far is it to Canada?” “Twenty-five hundred miles.” “ Twenty-five hundred! Laws-a-massa! Twenty-five hundred miles! No get dar 'fore spring!” cried  Jim, as, raising his heavy whip and bringing it down on the ox's back, he shouted impatiently--“Whoa-la, Buck, get up dar-g'lang, Bell!” A little boy of the party grasped his father by the leg and asked: “Hows ye feel, fadder, when you's free?” 1 These liberated slaves constituted four families: one man, his wife, and two children; a widowed mother, two daughters, and a son; a young man, a boy, and a woman who had been separated from her husband. They were taken by one party several miles into Kansas, and there they remained for two or three weeks.
A fight or two.Captain Brown and Kagi returned to their fortified position — known as Bain's Fort — on the Little Osage, in which fifty men could have resisted five hundred. When the news of the invasion of Missouri spread, a wild panic went with it, which, in a few days, resulted in clearing Bates and Vernon Counties of their slaves. Large numbers were sold south; many ran into the Territory and escaped; the others were removed farther inland. When John Brown made his invasion there were five hundred slaves in that district where there are not fifty negroes now. For a short time a dead calm in the Territory followed this movement; the public seemed to hold their breath in anxious expectation for the next step. The Governor of Missouri, appealed to by the Borderers, offered a reward of three thousand dollars for the arrest of John Brown, to which the President added a further reward of two hundred and fifty  dollars. The politicians of Lawrence, of both parties, became alarmed at a movement which defied their pusillanimous policy — and men who had only hypocritically cursed when their territory was invaded, now worked in earnest to arrest the schemes of the brave retaliators. Some honest men, also, aided in this effort “to restore tranquillity;” but it owed its embodiment into a law to the Free State sycophants of the South. That embodiment was the Amnesty Act, which pardoned all “political offences” up to that time, and which the Federal Governor was compelled, by the fear of renewed disturbances, to approve, in order to induce Montgomery to disband his organization. Montgomery, sent for by the politicians, reached the town of Lawrence while John Brown was on his journey to it, for the purpose of arranging to carry off his negroes. To save Montgomery from the odium that his enemies had attempted to cast on him, for his supposed implication in the invasion of Missouri, the old man wrote his parallels from the “Trading post” in Lynn County. During the absence of Montgomery and Brown, Kagi, who had been left in command, had two or three fights with the invaders.
Battle of the Spurs.About the 20th of January, John Brown left Lawrence for Nebraska, with his emancipated slaves, who had been increased in number by the birth of a child at Ossawatomie. It was named, Captain John Brown. When at the third resting place of “Jim Lane's army,” which had been named Concord, but which subsequent settlers called Holton, a party of thirty proslavery  men, who had followed them from Lecompton, approached so near that it was necessary to halt and make a defence. The old man had at this time four white companions and three negro men. The whites were Stevens, Tidd, and Anderson, (who fought at Harper's Ferry,) and another Kansas boy. The Captain took possession of two log cabins in the wood, which the pursuers surrounded — at a distance,--while they sent to Atchison and Lecompton for further aid. From Atchison twelve men arrived; thus making a force of forty-two men opposed to eight only. They were preparing for the attack, when Captain Brown and his men issued from the woods for the purpose of offering fight. The Sheriff's Lecompton posse turned and fled! Not a shot was fired, not a drum was heard, as, putting spurs to their horses, they ran panic-stricken across the prairie. Only four men — ashamed of the conduct of their comrades — stood their ground; and they were made prisoners forthwith. This incident was ironically called the Battle of the Spurs, as those sharp instruments of torture were the only weapons used on the occasion. The old man caused them to dismount, and put the negroes on their horses. They swore. He ordered them to be silent, as he would permit no blasphemy in his presence. They swore again. “Kneel!” said the old man, as, with stern earnestness, he drew his pistol. They knelt down, and he ordered them to pray. He detained them for five days, and compelled them to pray night and morning. They never swore again in  the old man's presence. They returned to Atchison, I was told, and one of them indiscreetly related the story: the ridicule that overwhelmed them compelled them to leave the town.
The overland journey.Kagi, in the mean time, arrived at Topeka from the South, and found the town in a great commotion. News had just arrived that Old Brown was surrounded. As soon as he appeared, all the fighting boys flocked around him. At the head of forty mounted men, he started at once to rescue his old Captain. He came up just in time to see the last of the posse retreating across the prairie. He advocated the hanging of the captured slave-hunters, but the old man opposed it, and the kidnappers were saved.2 Seventeen of the “Topeka boys” escorted the party of liberators to Nebraska City. The kidnappers, on being released, asked the old man to restore their horses and weapons. “No,” said John Brown, gravely; “your legs will carry you as fast as you want to run; you won't find any more Old Browns between this and Atchison.” The party reached Tabor in the first week of February, and travelled slowly across the State of Iowa. As he was performing this journey, men panting for the price of blood closely followed him; but the sight of his well-armed company prevented an attack on the  band of liberators. He stopped at several villages, and was well received by the friends of freedom. From one of his hosts, we have the following letter, which was published at the time:
The same writer, in a letter published since the trial of John Brown, gives additional particulars of the old hero's talks when under his roof:
Nothing seemed to so much excite him as an intimation that oppression aroused a spirit of revenge. As he spoke in public there was no boasting, nor a display of himself. The wrongs of Kansas, and the atrocities of slavery, he pictured in a clear style, declaring:When in Chicago, he sent his men in different directions, retaining Kagi and Stevens with him. A gentleman who conversed with him in that city thus writes to me:That it was “nothing to die in a good cause, but an eternal disgrace to sit still in the presence of the barbarities of American slavery.”His logic, with all who were captious as to his course, was like a chain shot argument; yet he courted no discussion, being then occupied with the safe escape of the eleven supposed chattels from Missouri. “Providence,” said he, “ has made me an actor, and Slavery an outlaw. A price is on my head, and what is life to me? An old man should have more care to end life well than to live long.” “Duty is the voice of God, and a man is neither worthy of a good home here, or a heaven, that is not willing to be in peril for a good cause!” “ The loss of my family and the troubles in Kansas have shattered my constitution, and I am nothing to the world but to defend the right, and that, by God's help, I have done, and will do.” This, in substance, and much more, was said in reply to a wish which I expressed that he would not return to Kansas, but seek that quiet with his family which his health demanded. He scouted the idea of rest while he held “ a commission direct from God Almighty to act against slavery.” He claimed to be responsible for the wise exercises of his powers only, and not for the quality of certain acts. In taking slaves out of Missouri, he said that he would teach those “living in glass houses not to throw stones,” and they would have more than they could do to keep slavery in Missouri, without extending it against the will of  Kansas. The battle of Black Jack and others, he was free to say, he thought had scared Missouri, and that was Gen. Lane's opinion. They did not report half the number killed, which they were ashamed to do, nor will it ever be known. I could repeat much that he said which showed a wonderful sagacity, and a bold, undaunted spirit. His whole demeanor was that of a well-bred gentleman, and his narratives were given with child-like simplicity. He feared nothing, for said he,Any who will try to take me and my company are cowards, and one man in the right, ready to die, will chase a thousand. Not less than thirty guns have been discharged at me, but they only touched my hair. A man dies when his time comes, and a man who fears is born out of time.The nation was not worthy of him. Tyranny is relentless as the grave, and its tools want a victim. Cowardice will hang him, but humanity will stand appalled at the sacrifice of such a victim to the cruel Moloch.
There is one thing he charged me to do when I last saw him. It was this: Do not allow any one to say I acted from revenge. I claim no man has a right to revenge myself. It is a feeling that does not enter into my heart. What I do, I do for the cause of human liberty, and because I regard it as necessary.The party reached Detroit on the 12th of March, and immediately crossed over to Canada. There, free children of the God of the oppressed, the old warrior of the Lord left the people he had snatched from the earthly hell of American slavery. Eight months afterwards, when their deliverer lay in prison for endeavoring to free others of the same despised race, we hear the sobbings of this little group, intermingled with prayers for their benefactor's safety, as they waft across the Lakes to the Southern jail. A Canadian correspondent thus writes: