But this version of events didnt accord with evidence gathered after the killings. Mahala doyle and James Harris both testified that they heard shots in the night. And old man doyle was found with a bullet hole in his forehead, to go with a stab wound to his chest. The most plausible account of Browns actions came from a family member who wasnt there: John Junior. Though initially opposed to his fathers mission, he later wrote a lengthy defense. Until late may 1856, proslavery forces in Kansas had committed almost all the violence, killing six Free state men without reprisal.
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God is my judge, his father replied. We were justified under the circumstances. This was about as for clear a statement as Brown would ever make about what became known as the pottawatomie massacre. He spoke of it rarely, and then only in vague terms that suggested he was culpable without having personally shed any blood. His family hewed to this line. Father never had any thing to do with the killing but he run the whole business, said Salmon, the most talkative of the four sons at the massacre. The work was so hot, and so absorbing, that I did not at the time know where each actor was, exactly, or exactly what each man was doing. The Browns and their allies cast the killings as an act of self-defense: a preemptive strike against proslavery zealots who had threatened their Free state neighbors and intended to harm them. The Browns defenders also denied any intent on their part to mutilate the kansans. Broadswords had been used to avoid making noise and raising an alarm; the gruesome wounds resulted from the victims attempts to ward off sword blows.
Shermans skull was split open in two places and some of his brains was washed out by the water, harris testified. A large hole was cut in his breast, and his left hand was cut off except a little piece of skin on one side. News of the murders along the pottawatomie spread quickly the through the district. A day after the killings, john Brown was confronted by his son Jason. A gentle man known as the tenderfoot of the Brown clan, jason had stayed behind with his brother John Junior while the others headed to dutch Henrys. Did you have anything to do with the killing of those men on the pottawatomie? Jason demanded of his father. I did not do it, but i approved of it, Brown answered. I think it was an uncalled for, wicked act, jason said.
Mahala doyle, having glanced at the bodies of her husband and older son, could not look at Drury. I was so much overcome party that I went to the house, she said. Down the creek, locals who went to the wilkinsons cabin to collect their mail found louisa jane wilkinson in tears. She had heard about the doyles and could not bring herself to go outside, for fear of what she might find. Neighbors discovered Allen Wilkinson lying dead in brush about 150 yards from the cabin, his head and side gashed, his throat cut. At Dutch Henrys paperwork Crossing, james Harris had also gone looking for his overnight guest, william Sherman. He found him lying in the creek.
Then William Sherman was escorted from the cabin. About 15 minutes later, harris heard a pistol shot; the men who had been guarding him left, having taken a horse, a saddle, and weapons. It was now Sunday morning, about 2 or. The terrified settlers along the pottawatomie waited until dawn to venture outside. At the doyles, the first house visited in the night, 16-year-old John found his father, james, and his oldest brother, 22-year-old William, lying dead in the road about 200 yards from their cabin. Both men had multiple wounds; Williams head was cut open and his jaw and side slashed. John found his other brother, 20-year-old Drury, lying dead nearby. His fingers were cut off, and his arms were cut off, john said in an affidavit. His head was cut open; there was a hole in his breast.
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Unshod, her husband was led outside. Louisa jane thought she heard her husbands voice a moment later in complaint, but then all was still. Dutch Henrys Crossing was named for Henry Sherman, a german immigrant who had settled the ford. He traded cattle to westward pioneers and ran a tavern and store that served as a gathering place for proslavery men. He and his brother, william, were feared by Free state families for their drunkenness and threatening behavior.
On the night development of the northern armys visit to the pottawatomie, dutch Henry was out on the prairie looking for stray cattle. But one of his employees who lived at the Crossing, james Harris, was asleep with his wife and child when men burst in carrying swords and revolvers. They demanded the surrender of Harris and three other men who were spending the night in his one-room cabin. Two were travelers who had come to buy a cow; the third was Dutch Henrys brother, william. Harris and the two travelers were questioned individually outside the cabin, and then returned inside, having been found innocent of aiding the proslavery cause.
I want you to tell me the way to dutch Henrys, a voice replied. When Wilkinson began to give directions, the man said, come out and show. His wife wouldnt let him. The stranger then asked if Wilkinson was an opponent of the Free state cause. I am, he said.
You are our prisoner, came the reply. Four armed men poured into the cabin, took wilkinsons gun, and told him to get dressed. Louisa jane begged the men to let her husband stay: She was sick and helpless, with two small children. Asked an older man who appeared to be in command. He wore soiled clothes and a straw hat pulled down over his narrow face. Louisa jane told him she had neighbors, but couldnt go for them. It matters not, he said.
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Like doyle, wilkinson had come from Tennessee and owned no slaves. Unlike doyle, wilkinson could read and write. He was a member of Kansass proslavery legislature, and his cabin served as the local post office. After midnight, louisa jane, who was sick with measles, heard a dog barking and woke her husband. He said it was nothing and went back to sleep. Then the dog began barking furiously and louisa jane heard footsteps summary and a knock. She woke her husband again; he called out, asking who was there.
Henrys Crossing on the pottawatomie to charge the Browns with violating proslavery laws. Mahala doyle pleaded tearfully with the intruders to release their youngest captive, her 16-year-old son, john. They let him go and then led the others out of the cabin and into the night. My husband and two boys, my sons, did not come back, mahala later testified. She and John didnt know the identity of the men who came to their door, but theyd glimpsed their faces in the candlelight. An old man commanded the party, john doyle testified. His face was slim. He added: These men talked exactly like eastern men and Northern men talk. Before leaving, the strangers asked the doyles about a neighbor, Allen Wilkinson, who lived about half a mile away with his wife, louisa jane, and two children.
Army colonel Robert. Click here to buy a copy or subscription. The excerpt below traces Browns first campaigns of war and terror, three years before harpers Ferry, when he and his family formed a northern army to fight proslavery forces in Kansas. at about 11 oclock on the brightly moonlit night of may 24, 1856, james doyle, his wife, mahala, and their five children were in bed when they heard a noise in the yard. Then came a rap at the door for of their cabin on Mosquito Creek, a tributary of Pottawatomie creek. A voice outside asked the way to a neighbors home. When doyle opened the door, several men burst in, armed with pistols and large knives. They said they were from the northern army and had come to take doyle and three of his sons prisoner. The doyles, a poor family from Tennessee, owned no slaves.
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Brown's raids in Kansas acted as an accelerant, business igniting a broader and bloodier fight. "He wanted to hurry up the fight, always said one of his sons. Author Tony horwitz confederates in the Attic ) returns to one of his favorite subjects, the civil War, in his forthcoming book, midnight Rising: John Brown and the raid That Sparked the civil War. Its a history that doubles as a character study of a radical whose act of terror carries overtones of 9/11. Harpers Ferry seems an al-qaeda prequel: a long-bearded fundamentalist, consumed by hatred of the. Government, launches 19 men in a suicidal strike on a symbol of American power, horwitz writes. A shocked nation plunges into war. The cover story for mhq's Winter 2012 issue tells of the harpers Ferry clash between John Brown and.