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John Brown's Men at Harpers Ferry


Born in 1824, Owen Brown was the third child of John Brown. As a result of a childhood injury, he had a crippled arm. He served with his father in the Kansas struggles and participated in at the Pottawatomie Massacre in 1856. Owen was the last of the Harpers Ferry raiders to die, January 9, 1889, at Pasadena, California.

John Brown’s son Watson Brown was born in 1835. He married Isabella Thompson, sister of his brother-in-law Henry Thompson. Watson died October 19, 1859, at Harpers Ferry. A son Frederick, born in 1859, died in 1863.

Born in 1839, Oliver Brown was the youngest son of John Brown. He served with his father in Kansas and was present at the Pottawatomie Massacre. He died October 17, 1859, at Harpers Ferry. A daughter born in February 1860 lived only two days, and his wife Martha died soon thereafter.

William Thompson was a younger brother of John Brown’s son-in-law Henry Thompson. Born 1833 in New Hampshire, he died October 17, 1859, at Harpers Ferry.

Dauphin Adolphus Thompson, younger brother of Henry and William Thompson, was born in 1838 and died October 18, 1859, at Harpers Ferry.

Jeremiah Goldsmith Anderson was born 1833 in Indiana, a descendant of western Virginia settlers. He moved to Kansas in 1857 and served in the Free State cause with James Montgomery. He joined John Brown in December 1858 and participated in the slave raid in Missouri. Anderson died October 18, 1859, at Harpers Ferry.

Born free in Pennsylvania in 1830, African American Osborne Perry Anderson moved to Canada, where he worked as a printer for the newspaper The Provincial Freeman. He attended the Chatham Convention in 1858 and joined John Brown. Anderson survived the raid on Harpers Ferry and wrote an account of his experience with John Brown, A Voice from Harpers Ferry. He recruited black soldiers for the Union army during the Civil War. Anderson died in December 1872 in Washington DC.

John Edwin Cook was born in 1829 in Connecticut. He went to Kansas in 1855 and met John Brown in 1856 after the Battle of Black Jack. He joined Brown in November 1857 and went to Harpers Ferry a year before the raid. Cook married Mary Virginia Kennedy in April 1859 in Jefferson County; a son was born a few months later. Despite the efforts of his brother-in-law, Gov. A. P. Willard of Indiana, to obtain a pardon for him, Cook was hanged December 16, 1859, in Charlestown.

John Anthony Copeland was a free African American born in 1834 in North Carolina. His family moved to Ohio while he was a young boy, and he attended Oberlin College. Copeland and his uncle Lewis Leary were recruited by John H. Kagi in Cleveland in 1858 and joined John Brown in October 1859. Copeland was hanged December 16, 1859, at Charlestown.

Barclay Coppoc was born in 1839 in Ohio. He and his brother Edwin Coppoc joined John Brown in April 1858. Barclay survived the Harpers Ferry raid and after the Civil War began enlisted in the Union Army. He died from injuries in a troop-train accident on the Platte River on September 3, 1861.

Edwin Coppoc, brother of Barclay, was born in 1835 in Ohio. He joined John Brown in April 1858 and was hanged December 16, 1859, at Charlestown.

Little is known about Shields Green. An escaped slave from South Carolina, Green met John Brown through Frederick Douglass. He was hanged December 16, 1859, at Charlestown.

Born in 1837 in Pennsylvania, Albert Hazlett went to Kansas, where he served with James Montgomery before joining John Brown in December 1858 for the slave raid into Missouri. Hazlett was hanged March 16, 1860, at Charlestown.

John Henry Kagi was John Brown’s second in command. Born in Ohio in 1835, he taught school for a short time in Shenandoah County, Virginia, the native county of his parents which was in the Shenandoah Valley, not far from Harpers Ferry. He later worked as a lawyer and newspaper correspondent for the National Era, the New York Tribune, and other papers. In 1856, he enlisted in Aaron Stevens’s Kansas militia company, was captured, and was imprisoned for a short time. In January 1857, Kagi was seriously injured by pro-slavery Judge Rush Elmore in Tecumseh, Kansas. Kagi joined John Brown in November 1857 and served as secretary of the Chatham Convention in 1858. He was stationed at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, during the months leading up to the raid because the time he previously had spent in the area made him recognizable. He died October 17, 1859, at Harpers Ferry.

Freeborn in North Carolina in 1835, Lewis Sheridan Leary was of Caucasian, African American and Native American descent. He moved to Oberlin, Ohio, in 1857, married and fathered a daughter. He and his nephew John Copeland were recruited by John H. Kagi in Cleveland in 1858 and joined John Brown in October 1859, shortly before the raid. He died October 17 at Harpers Ferry.

The youngest of John Brown’s raiders by about two weeks (he was born on March 20; Oliver Brown on March 6), William Henry Leeman was born in 1839 in Maine. He went to Kansas in 1856 and joined John Brown in September of that year. He died October 17, 1859, at Harpers Ferry.

Born in 1837 in Massachusetts, Francis Jackson Merriam, grandson of prominent abolitionist Francis Jackson, was one of the last men to join John Brown, arriving in the Kennedy Farm on October 15, the same day John Copeland and Lewis Leary arrived. He joined John Brown after learning of the approaching raid and arrived with $600 in gold. He survived the raid on Harpers Ferry and served in the army during the Civil War as captain of the 3rd South Carolina Colored Infantry. Merriam died in New York on November 28, 1865.

Dangerfield Newby was born a slave in 1815 in Virginia but was freed by his master father when the family moved to Ohio in 1858. His wife and children, owned by another master, remained in slavery, and Newby had attempted to purchase their freedom, only to be denied by their owner. In order to free them, he joined John Brown in August 1859. Newby died October 17, 1859, in Harpers Ferry. He was the oldest of the men who served under John Brown at Harpers Ferry.

Aaron Dwight Stevens was born in 1831 in Connecticut and ran away to volunteer for service in Mexican War in 1847. Discharged at war’s end, he enlisted in the First United States Dragoons in 1851 and served in the New Mexico Territory. In 1855, he was court-martialed for mutiny and striking an officer but received a commuted death sentence. Stevens escaped in 1856 and served with the Free State cause in Kansas as colonel of the Second Kansas Militia under the alias Charles Whipple. He joined John Brown in November 1857 and was hanged March 16, 1860, at Charlestown.

Born in Canada in 1836, Stewart Taylor emigrated to Iowa in 1853. He joined John Brown in April 1858 and died October 17, 1859, at Harpers Ferry.

Charles Plummer Tidd was born in 1834 in Maine. He emigrated to Kansas in 1856 and joined John Brown in 1857. Tidd survived the raid at Harpers Ferry and during the Civil War enlisted as “Charles Plummer” in the Union army with the 21st Massachusetts. He died of disease February 8, 1862, near Roanoke Island on the transport “Northerner.”


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