On the night of October 16th, 1859 John Brown and 21 armed followers took hostage many of the residents of Harper's Ferry, VA. The raid was actually ended by Oct. 18th with troops under Robert E. Lee's command. This action inflamed the north-south, free-slave tensions in the United States and ended in the conviction of John Brown for murder, slave insurrection and treason with the sentence of death by hanging. To read more, check out the Library of Congress's "Today in History."
Interested in learning more about the Civil War? Check out the Library's guide to Military Operations.
Want to see Harper's Ferry today? Check out the National Park Service web site.