Page:Boissonnas, Un Vaincu, English, 1875.djvu/53

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of Virginia. At the head of 16 Whites and 5 Blacks, John Brown overtook easily -- so far was one of any suspicion -- the Federal Armory and the Arms Factory of Harpers Ferry, proclaimed the liberation of the Blacks, and summoned them to come with haste to pick up the arms that his daring raid had put in his power. At the same time, he abducted from their houses, the principle inhabitants of the town to use them as hostages if he was attacked.

Frightened, the population of Harpers Ferry called the Army to its rescue and turned to the government who, in view of the fact that Colonel Lee was at Arlington, put under his orders a Battalion of Marines, and dispatched him to Harpers Ferry.

His first care was to surround the Federal Armory. The number of insurgents had not increased, not a single Black among those they had just liberated having come to help them. The problem of the hostages was the only serious difficulty, John Brown declaring that they would be executed at the first act of hostility.

In vain, a peace envoy promised him, in the name of the Colonel, that if he liberated the hostages, he would be protected against the furor of the inhabitants and would receive the guarantees of a civil law suit. John Brown refused. He was well conscious that his movement had aborted, but he tried to obtain for himself and his companions the right to gain the frontier freely. He wanted to hand over the