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A Turner Bugler, 2004

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Execution of John Brown


November/December 1859

From The Missouri Democrat, Saturday, December 3, 1859.



His Remains sent North with a Military Escort.

BALTIMORE, Dec. 2.–The Sun has a special dispatch from Charlestown, stating that Brown was executed at a quarter past eleven o’clock, without any unusual excitement.

The express with dispatches for the Associated Press has not yet arrived at Harper’s Ferry, the nearest Telegraph station to Charlestown.

CHARLESTOWN, Dec. 2, M,–Brown was taken from the jail about 11 o’clock, in a furniture wagon. He conversed freely with the soldiers around him. The execution took place at a quarter past 11 o’clock. He died apparently very easy. His body was taken down after being suspended thirty-five minutes. His remains will be sent to Harper’s Ferry at 4 o’clock this afternoon, and from thence will be conveyed North this evening.

HARPER’S FERRY, Dec. 2, P. M.–Brown was hung at a quarter past eleven. The military assembled at nine o’clock and were posted on the field leading to the execution, and also at various points as laid down in general orders. Everything was conducted under the strictest discipline, as if the town was in a state of siege. Mounted scouts were stationed in the woods to the left of the scaffold, and picket guards stationed out towards Shenandoah Mountains in rear. The military on the field formed two hollow squares. Within the inner one was the scaffold, and between the inner line and outer lines the citizens admitted, no one being allowed outside of the lines, except the mounted guards. At eleven o’clock the prisoner was brought out of the jail, accompanied by Sheriff Campbell and assistants, and Captain Avis, the jailor, when a small wagon containing a white pine coffin was driven up, upon which he took his seat.

Six companies of Infantry and Rifles, and one of Horse, and General and staff, numbering twenty five officers, headed the procession, and moved towards the place of execution.

Brown was accompanied by no minister, desiring no religious ceremonies either in the jail or on the scaffold. He looked calmly around on the people, fully possessed; mounted the scaffold with firm step, his arms pinioned by the Sheriff, bid farewell to Capt. Aves and Sheriff Campbell-and at half past eleven the trap of the scaffold was pulled away, and with a few slight struggles, John Brown yielded up his spirit.

His body was placed in a coffin, and is now on its way to Harper’s Ferry, to be delivered to his wife, under strict military escort.