1 A Frederick lawyer, Coale had been brigadier general of the Ninth Brigade of Maryland Militia since 1849. The Ninth Brigade consisted of the 16th, 20th, 28th, and 47th regiments, all from Frederick County. The 16th Regiment, commanded by Col. Edward Shriver, was the only part of the brigade engaged in the Harper’s Ferry exercise. See ADJUTANT GENERAL (Militia Appointments), 1822-1862, S 0348-7, MdHR 5590, 2/6/5/14, p. [4B]; Williams’ Frederick Directory, City Guide, and Business Mirror, Vol. 1, 1859-’60 (reprint ed., Silver Spring, MD: Family Line Publishers, 1985), p. 8.
2 John T. Sinn, captain of the United Guards, operated with Edward Sinn a livery and sale stable in Frederick. See T.J.C. Williams and Folger McKinsey, History of Frederick County Maryland, 2 vols. (1910; reprint ed., Baltimore: Regional Publishing Col, 1967), 1:346; Frederick Directory, p. 36.
3 John Ritchie (1831-1887), captain of the Junior Defenders, was the son of Dr. Albert Ritchie, a Frederick physician. Ritchie was educated at the Frederick Academy, and then studied medicine before deciding on a career in the law. He was a graduate of Harvard. At the time of John Brown’s Raid, Ritchie was practicing law in Frederick. In 1881, he was appointed to the Court of Appeals of Maryland, where he remained until his death. Williams, History, 1:346; 2:1328-29; Frederick Directory, p. 33.
4 Ulysses Hobbs, captain of the Independent Riflemen, practiced law in Frederick. Ibid., p. 19.
5 A telegram from F. Mantz to W.P. Smith, sent from Monocacy Junction at 3:32 P.M. on October 17, reported that “Capt. Shriver proceeded as far as Gibson’s Switch, east end of Harper’s Ferry Bridge, and found the state of things so bad he returned to this place, and has gone to Frederick to get the three military companies from there, and proceed back to Harper’s Ferry to show fight if necessary.” “Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection at Harper’s Ferry, 17th October 1859”, in House of Delegates [Document S], p. 13, MdHR 8102249, 2/1/9/5.
6 James M. Harding is listed as a Frederick magistrate in ibid., p. 17.
7 Michael Baltzell is listed as working in the Frederick magistrates’ office in ibid., p. 2.
8 Samuel Carmach is listed as a Frederick justice of the peace in ibid., p. 7.
9 James McSherry, Shriver’s second in command of the 16th Regiment, practiced law in Frederick at the time of the Harper’s Ferry insurrection. Son of James and Ann Ridgely McSherry, he was born in 1819 in Libertytown, Frederick County. McSherry studied law under Maryland Militia general James M. Coale in Frederick, and after a brief practice in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in partnership with Thaddeus Stevens, he returned to Frederick where he practiced law until his death in 1869. McSherry was a well-known author and authority on Maryland history. His son James, who supported the South during the Civil War and was briefly confined in Fort McHenry, later served as chief judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland. Williams, History, 2:694; Frederick Directory, p. 33.
10 Monocacy Junction was three miles south of Frederick.
11 Knoxville, a small railroad town on the Potomac, located about two miles downriver from Harper’s Ferry on the Maryland side, was twenty-two miles by rail from Frederick. Maryland Directory and State Gazetteer for 1887, p. 209
12 William P. Maulsby practiced law in Frederick. Frederick Directory, p. 27.
13 In addition to armed citizens from the town and surrounding countryside, militia from Charlestown, Shepherdstown, and Winchester had arrived in Harper’s Ferry before the Frederick militia arrived on the evening of Monday, October 17. Williams, History, p. 347; Stephen B. Oates, To Purge This Land With Blood, A Biography of John Brown (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), pp. 292-98.
14 This building was the fire-engine house, often in reports simply called the “engine house,” for the federal arsenal, described as a “brick building with three heavy oak doors in front and arched windows above them.” Ibid., p. 295.
15 George B. Shope, a Frederick cabinetmaker. Williams, History, p. 347; Frederick Directory, p. 36.
16 John E. Cook, a former student at Yale and brother-in-law of Indiana governor A.P. Willard, had joined Brown in his antislavery campaign in 1857. In the summer of 1858, Brown had dispatched Cook to Harper’s Ferry to scout out the area. He travelled freely under the guise of selling subscriptions to a biography of George Washington. During the raid on Harper’s Ferry, Cook was in charge of moving armaments stored at the Maryland farmhouse Brown had rented to a staging site nearer to Harper’s Ferry. After the collapse of Brown’s insurrection, Cook was able to elude capture for more than a week. He was seized in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, on October 26. Oates, This Land With Blood, p. 218-19; Williams, History, p. 351.
17 Lock 33 on the C&O Canal was located at Harper’s Ferry. Walter S. Sanderlin, The Great National Project. A History of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, ser. 64, no. 1 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1946), p. 194.
18 Robert E. Lee, a colonel in the U.S. Army, was at the time on leave from the service and living at Arlington, his deceased father-in-law’s plantation, just across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. On Monday morning, October 17, Lee received an urgent request to accept command of two companies of marines and to proceed to Harper’s Ferry to suppress a rumored insurrection of some 500 insurgents. Lee and his second in command, J.E.B. Stuart, proceeded by rail to Harper’s Ferry. Lee is generally said to have arrived in Harper’s Ferry just before midnight—about the time Shriver states he and the other field commanders were meeting to plan the morning assault on the engine house. One correspondent, in a telegraphic dispatch from Harper’s Ferry dated “12 midnight, October 18th,” specifically stated that “Col. Lee has arrived.” The same dispatch, however, reports that “Col. Shriver, Frederick, just had interview with Brown in Armory.” Surely Colonel Lee, rather than militia commander Shriver, would have conducted the interview with Brown if Lee had been present in the armory compound. Lee was uncharacteristically vague about the hour of his arrival in Harper’s Ferry in testimony he gave before a U.S. Senate committee established to investigate the raid. He stated, “I did not reach the Ferry until eleven or twelve o’clock on Monday night, and I found the village in possession of State troops.” U.S. Senate Report No. 278, vol. 1040 (June 15, 1860), Appendix (Testimony), p. 46. Other telegrams sent the night of October 17-18 suggest that Robert E. Lee did arrive at Sandy Hook, on the Maryland shore about a mile and a half from Harper’s Ferry, before midnight. It seems probably, however, that Lee remained there, in the special car ordered up for him by W. Prescott Smith, master of transportation for the B&O Railroad, for about two hours, crossing the Potomac into Harper’s Ferry on the 2:00 A.M. express train. See Smith to L.M. Cole, “Correspondence Relating to the Insurrection,” p. 15. Upon arriving at the federal arsenal, Lee found that one of the prominent citizens held hostage by Brown was Lewis Washington, a great-grandnephew of George Washington and a cousin of Lee’s wife, Mary Custis. Nancy Scott Anderson and Dwight Anderson, The Generals, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee (New York: Vantage Books, 1989), p. 189.
19 There were at least seven men named Sinn in Frederick in addition to the captain of the United Guards, J.T. Sinn, so a positive identification of this private cannot be made. Frederick Directory, p. 36.
20 Probably Charles Sensel, a Frederick blacksmith. Ibid., p. 35.
21 Probably either Arthur Boteler or Augustus Boteler, a coachmaker, both of Frederick. Frederick Directory, p. 4.
22 Bradley Tyler Johnson (1829-1903), a Frederick native who was practicing law in that city at the time of the Harper’s Ferry incident. Johnson later became a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. Frederick Directory, p. 20.
23 No one with this surname is listed in the Frederick Directory.
24 A number of Smiths are listed in the Frederick Directory, but none can be identified as the private mentioned in the report.
25 No one by the name of Rarster is listed in the Frederick Directory.
26 Probably either John Simpson, a wagon maker, or Samuel Simpson, a shoemaker, both of whom lived in Frederick. Frederick Directory, p. 36.
27 Six Buckeys are listed as living in Frederick in 1859-60: Frank, a cooper, George J., a moulder, Jacob, a cooper, Jacob, a moulder, James, a cooper, and Jno., a cooper. Ibid., p. 6.
28 No Frazier is listed in the Frederick Directory; the private indicated probably spelled his name Frazer, nine of whom were listed in the Frederick Directory, p. 13.
29 At 5:00 P.M. on Monday, October 17, five companies of Baltimore City militia left for Harper’s Ferry on a special train provided by the B&O Railroad. The companies consisted of the Independent Greys, Law Greys, Baltimore City Guard, Shields’ Guards, and Wells and McComas Riflemen, and totalled 201 men in arms. Shortly before reaching Harper’s Ferry, the train stopped to receive the marines from Washington, D.C., under the command of Robert E. Lee. As the federal troops and Baltimore City militia approached Harper’s Ferry, Lee ordered the militia to remain on the Maryland side to prevent insurgents from escaping. The militia remained on the Maryland shore until summoned to the federal arsenal just before Lee ordered the assault on the engine house. Williams, History, p. 353; J. Thomas Scharf, History of Maryland, 3 vols. (reprint ed., Hatboro, PA: Tradition Press, 1969), 3:279.
30 The person dispatched by Lee to offer Brown one last opportunity to surrender was not a marine, but Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart of the U.S. Army. Oates, To Purge This Land With Blood, p. 300; Scharf, History, 3:279.
31 According to Lee’s report, three marines were furnished with sledge hammers, but “the doors were fastened by ropes, the spring of which prevented their being broken by the blows of the hammers.” Quoted in ibid., p. 280.
32 The marines are identified as Private Quinn, who was killed, and Private Rupert, who was wounded. Ibid.
33 Identified as Israel Green, leader of the storming party and the marine who personally subdued John Brown once the engine house had been breached. Oates, To Purge This Land with Blood, p. 300.
34 William Tyler, Jr. (1810-1871), son of Dr. William Tyler and Mary Addison Tyler, was educated at Mount St. Mary’s College and studied medicine under his father. He was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1844, and opened a medical practice in Frederick. Williams, History, 2:1398; Frederick Directory, p. 39. The Examiner (Frederick) Wednesday, September 20, 1871; May 3, 1872; Maryland State Archives SPECIAL COLLECTIONS MSA SC 1708 (All Saints' Church Collection)
35 Identified in the Frederick Directory, p. 9, only as “V.” Delashmutt, physician.
36 John Goldsborough, physician. Frederick Directory, p. 15.
The militia companies
arrived back in Frederick at 3:00 P.M., Tuesday, October 18. Williams,
History, p. 347.
© Maryland State Archives, 2000, an Archives of Maryland publication