Jul 15 2009
Two collections dealing with John Brown are now online at http://www.whilbr.org - Western Maryland Regional Library's regional history site.
The first deals with John Brown in Washington County, and includes the signature of Brown, using the pseudonym I. Smith, at the Washington House in Hagerstown, on June 30, 1859. The hotel register is in the Western Maryland Room at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown. Also included are the letter from Brown to one of his group, Kagi , explaining how he would use the pseudonym I. Smith, two articles from the Hagerstown newspapers of 1859, and a carte de visite of Brown donated to the library by Jean Libby.
The second collection is the Senate of Maryland's document, published in 1860, entitled Correspondence relating to the Insurrection at Harper’s Ferry, 17th October, 1859. It comprises letters and telegrams dealing with events in Harper’s Ferry and environs from 17th October, 1859 to December 15th, 1859. It covers the official correspondence connected with the Harper's Ferry affair, so far as it was accessible to the Senate of Maryland, but does not include all the military and legal correspondence between the various authorities of Virginia, or the officers of the federal government.
The first document is from A. J. Phelps, the Through Express passenger train conductor, to W. P. Smith, Master of Transportation of the B. & O. R. R., Baltimore:
Monocacy, 7.05 A. M., October 17, 1859.
Express train bound east, under my charge, was stopped this morning at Harper's Ferry by armed abolitionists. They have possession of the bridge and the arms and armory of the United States. Myself and Baggage Master have been fired at, and Hayward, the colored porter, is wounded very severely, being shot through the body, the ball entering the body below the left shoulder blade and coming out under the left side.
W. P. Smith’s response was terse. Your despatch is evidently exaggerated and written under excitement. Why should our trains be stopped by Abolitionists, and how do you know they are such and that they number one hundred or more?
The correspondence deals with the concerns of the B. & O. Railroad, and in particularly John W. Garrett, its President, for the safety of the passengers and employees on the trains and at the stations, and the company’s property. Garrett updated the Governors of Maryland and Virginia, the U. S. Secretary of War and even President Buchanan on events throughout October and November 1859. The United States Armory at Harper's Ferry is in the possession of rioters… The presence of United States troops is indispensable, for the safety of Government property, and of the mails. On 26th October 1859, Garrett wrote to the President, Alfred M. Barbour, U. S. Superintendent at Harper's Ferry, has advised me by telegraph of his fear of an armed attempt to rescue Brown, and also of his apprehension that property at Harper's Ferry would be put in danger. I have telegraphed the Secretary of War, and asked if any force was to be sent this evening, as the danger apprehended from an attack of outlaws was immediate.
Correspondence is also included from Robert E. Lee, then Brevet Colonel, U. S. Army, Commander of forces at Harper's Ferry, to the Secretary of War and to troops in Frederick, together with documents from Governors Wise of Virginia and Hicks of Maryland.
Western Maryland Regional Library
100 S. Potomac Street
Hagerstown, MD 21740
301-739-3250 ext 168 or 800-752-9267
Historical documents and photographs from the libraries and historical societies of Allegany, Garrett and Washington Counties, Maryland