John Brown lived for a little while, before his attempted insurrection, at the Kennedy Farm among the hills, about three miles down the river from my father's place, five miles from Harper's Ferry, and near the.Antietam Iron Works. He seemed a hermit and only attracted attention because of his apparent eccentricity of manner and life, and went by the name of Isaac Smith, Although, it was reported, he hid occasional unknown visitors, I never saw but one person at his humble home, an old Negro woman of most uncomely aspect, who seemed to be his housekeeper and companion. He professed to be prospecting for minerals, which be said were hidden in these wooded hills. In this as in all other respects his life proved to be a lie.
One wet day, not long before his attack, I was crossing from Shepherdstown, when found him at the foot of tfie hill which rises from the river, with an overloaded two-horse wagon. He told me he was hauling miner's tools for prospecting and needed help. I went home and got my father's carriage horse and their driver, Enoch, and with their aid Mr. Smith's wagon was taken a mile over the hills to Sharpsburg, his best route home. Being very young I was much impressed with the grateful simplicity of the venerable actor as parted in the rain and mud, with mant dignified expressions of thanks on his part. I had not a susp scion that he was other than he seemed. But it was not very long until I found out that the rickety wagon contained boxes of "John Brown's pikes" and that I was an innocent particeps crime ines in their introduction into Maryland. He had brought them from a station on the Baltimore -and Ohio Railroad in Virginia, to which they had been shipped from New England.
Iti s an historical regret that John Brown, alias Isaac Smith, had not fallen among a more curious people, who might have watched and made record of his movements. Our people took little notice of him for they did not like him. As he was leading a life of deception, preparatory to crime, he of course did not seek acquaintances or friends. Not a kindly or creditable act is told of his life during these days. With a previous record as a horse thief and a murderer, he was now playing the new role of a conspirator. Full of cunning, with much experience and no little intelligence, cruel, bloodthirsty, and altogether unscrupulous, he seemed singularly ignorant not only-of the white people among whom he had camped, but of the characteristics of the race for whom he was about to raise the standard of insurrection. His cause, when the time came, frightened but did not attract the Negroes, and only made them keep quiet and remain the closer to their quarters. Five of them joined him in his Raid: one of these was killed, and the others deserted him.
There is nothing in all the history of fanaticism, its crimes and follies, so strange and inexplicable as that the people of New England, with all their shrewdness and general sense of or justice, should have attempted to, lift up the sordid name of that old wretch and, by a political apotheosis, to exalt him among the heroes and benefactors of this land. I can understand why enthusiasts and fanatics in the cause of the abolition of slavery might have sent him to Kansas and aided him with their means to keep that from becoming a slave state; but why they should have sent him money and arms to encourage him to murder the white people of Virginia is beyond my comprehension.
Personally I had no feeling of resentment against the people of the North because of their desire for the emancipation of the slave, for I believed Negro slavery was a curse to the people of the Middle States. As a boy I had determined never to own one. Whether I would have followed the example of shrewd New Englanders in compromising with philanthropy by selling my slaves for a valuable consideration -before I became an abolitionist, I will not pretend to say. But I do not think I could have followed that example so far as to drag the banner of freedom into the mire of deception and insurrection that Brown prepared for it and then glory in the falsification of his true -character. John Brown closed a life of vice and cruelty by flagrantly violating the laws of God and his country; if "'his soul is marching in" it is to be hoped it will confine its wanderings to the people who exalt and glorify it.
I never saw John Brown- again until the morning of the 19th of October, 1859, when I witnessed the attack of the United States Marines under Lieutenant Israel Green on the engine house at Harper's Ferry and saw him brought out of it. There were present two men destined to achieve great military distinction. Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J. E. B. Stuart. John Brown was wounded, his sons, Watson and Oliver, mortally wounded, and eight others of his party killed; another son, Owen, and four others escaped. Three citizens and some Negroes were killed by Brown's- party and a number wounded.
I did not take much notice of Brown after he came out of his "Fort," for I was more interested in Colonel Lewis Washington, whom Brown, after partaking of his hospitality, had taken from his home and family at night and had shut up with him as a hostages Washington was in the engine house with him when the assault was made and fortunately escaped unhurt. I recall my admiration of the coolness and nonchalance when, walking quietly, away from the fort with some excited friends, he took from his' pocket a pair of dark-green kid gloves and began pulling them on, and when in reply to the invitation of a friend as he approached 'The Wager House" to "take something," he smilingly replied, "Thank vou, I will. It seems a month since I've had one." Very soon all the gloom of the occasion had floated away and merriment abounded. Little did anyone suspect what an evil day was hatchingl
I saw John Brown again during his trial at Charlestown before judge Richard Parker and heard Andrew Hunter's great h for the Commonwealth. Brown's bearing on that occasion was admirable and I was told it had been so during the whole trial, which did not last long. He was convicted and so was John E. Cook (the only man -a misguided dreamer and enthusiast- whose fate aroused any sympathy) and so also three other white men, a free mulatto.
feeling of indignation and bitter criticism aid rth and a Negro. The feeling of indignation and bitter criticism aroused in the North by the execution of these criminals filled me with confusion and amazement as to its significance.
A committee of the United States Senate made a long and elaborate investigation of the facts connected with the Brown Raid, and on the 14th June, 1860, reported: "It was simply an act of lawless ruffians, under the sanction of no public or political authority, distinguishable only from ordinary felonies by the ulterior ends in contemplation by them, and by the fact that money to maintain the Expedition, and the large armament they brought with them, had been contributed-and furnished by the citizens of other states of the Union, etc." And yet there are people who would have us believe today that the name of this John Brown of "Osawatomie" is a synonym for martyrdom.