National Historical Park
Ferry, West Virginia is located at the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah
Rivers converge. On October 16, 1859, John Brown, a fervent abolitionist,
raided the town's arsenal in hopes of obtaining weapons to arm and free
the slaves. Though Brown's failed quest led to his hanging later that
year, his dream of freeing the slaves lived on for abolitionists.
A year-and-a-half later, at the onset of the Civil War, the armory at
Harpers Ferry was targeted by secessionists when Virginia (Harpers Ferry
was in Virginia at that time—the
state of West Virginia was not founded until 1863) seceded from the
Union. Federal soldiers set fire to the armory and arsenal to prevent
them from being taken by the Confederates.
On September 15, 1862, Major General Thomas J. "Stonewall"
Jackson surrounded and captured the 12,500-man Union garrison stationed
at Harpers Ferry. When the Federals returned to Harpers Ferry after
the Battle of Antietam, they set forth to protect the town—and
the B&O railroad that ran through the town—by
transforming the surrounding heights into fortified encampments.
In 1864, during the Shenandoah Campaign, Union General Philip H. Sheridan
used Harpers Ferry as his base of operations.
Harpers Ferry National
Historical Park was established on June 30, 1944.
The stone foundation of the armory can be seen beyond the
fence, across the street.
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Dragoon's Civil War Site. All rights reserved.