"harpers ferry, west virginia" Harpers Ferry National Historical Park by doug48

harpers ferry

harpers ferry is located at the confluence of the potomac and shenandoah rivers were the states of maryland, virginia, and west virginia meet. around 1750 robert harper was given a patent on 125 acres at the present location of the town of harpers ferry. in 1761 harper established a ferry service across the potomac. in 1765 the virginia general assembly established the town of "shenandoah falls at mr. harpers ferry". in 1783 thomas jefferson viewed "the passage of the potomac through the blue ridge" from a rock which is now named for him. jefferson called the site "perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature". in 1785 george washington traveled to harpers ferry to determine the need for bypass canals on the potomac. in 1796 the federal government purchased a 125 acre parcel from the heirs of robert harper. in 1799 construction began on the united states armory and arsenal at harpers ferry. the town was transformed into an industrial center producing muskets, rifles, and pistols. in 1834 the baltimore and ohio railroad was built through the town. today the town of harpers ferry is a national historic park. for those interested in american history and nature harpers ferry is well worth a visit.

harpers ferry's most famous historic event was john brown's raid in 1859. john brown was a revolutionary abolutionist who in the 1850's advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to abolish slavery in the united states. prior to his famous raid on harpers ferry brown participated in the 1856 "pottawatomie massacre" in kansas. in october 1859 brown and twenty one followers attempted to capture the federal arsenal at harpers ferry and distribute it's 100,000 rifles to arm rebellious slaves. on the night of october 16 th brown detached a party under john cook jr. to capture lewis washington and to steal george washington's relics. lewis washington had inherited a sword presented to george washington by frederick the great and two pistols given to him by the marquis de lafayette, which brown considered tallsmans. the party carried out it's mission and lewis washington was held hostage at the allstadt house near harpers ferry. on the morning of october 17 th armory workers discovered brown's men and local militia, farmers, and shopkeepers surrounded the armory. during the day four townspeople were killed , including the mayor of harpers ferry. brown then took nine hostages and moved into the fire engine house next to the arsenal. the fire engine house would come to be known as john brown's fort. that afternoon president james buchannan ordered a detachment of marines under the command of colonel robert e. lee to take the "fort". colonel lee sent lt. j. e. b. stuart to negotiate a surrender of brown and his men. brown refused and was captured by the marines. john brown was taken to charles town were he was tried and executed.

another significant historic event was the battle of harpers ferry in 1862. the battle of harpers ferry was part of general robert e. lee's maryland campaign. as lee's army of northern virginia advanced down the shenandoah valley into maryland, he planned to capture the garrison and arsenal at harpers ferry. the confederates commanded by general thomas jackson established artillery positions on loudoun and maryland heights overlooking the town. general a. p. hill positioned his troops south and west of harpers ferry. on the morning of september 15 th jackson ordered an artillery barrage on the town. union general dixon mills realized that he was surrounded and surrendered his garrison. general jackson won a great victory at very little cost. the union garrison surrendered 12,419 men, 13,000 small arms, 200 wagons, and 73 artillery pieces. this was the largest surrender of union troops during the civil war.

  • Last visit to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park: Nov 2011
  • Intro Updated Dec 2, 2011
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