Today in History:

John Brown's Trial - Day 3

Oct. 28, 1859.

Capt. Cook arrived here at 1 o'clock this morning. He says that if Brown had taken his advice in relation to mounting, a thousand men could not have taken them. There is great rejoicing at his arrest. He says that Fred Douglass acted the coward, having promised to be there in person.

George H. Hoyt, of Boston, counsel for Brown, arrived tins morning. He is quite a youth.

The Court met at 11 o'clock. Brown was led from the jail, walking very feebly. He lay down upon his cot.
Senator Mason entered the Court with Mr. Hoyt, the Boston counsel of Brown; he remarked that the testimony of Col. Washington and Mr. Phelps yesterday was strictly truthful.

The Jury were called, and answered to their names
Mr. Botts announced the arrival of Mr. Hoyt, who had come here to assist the counsel for the prisoner. At present, however, he did not feel disposed to take part in the case Whenever he should feel disposed, he would do so.

Mr. Hunter suggested that he had better be qualified as a member of the bar by producing proof from the Boston bar.

Mr. Hoyt had not brought his credentials of admission.

The Court said that that was not required in order to be strictly legal; to that fact any citizen's evidence would answer.

Mr. Green said his partner had read letters from fellow-students or Mr. Hoyt, alluding to him as a member of the bar.

Mr. Hoyt then took the customary oath.


By Mr. Botts--Conductor Phelps recalled--The question put to him was prepared by Brown. The firing was commenced by those men on the bridge who shot Hayward; the next firing was by Throgmorton; does not know whether the firing at Hayward was intentional; there was no attack on Brown's men until after Hayward was shot; he was shot by armed men in the Winchester span of the bridge.

By Mr. Botts--Col. Lewis W. Washington recalled--Negotiations were opening with Brown for the release of prisoners before the general firing commenced on Monday; does not know whether all the prisoners signed the proposition for a suspension of firing; in the opening negotiations, Brown frequently suggested that the prisoners should cross the bridge with him to the second canal, and the lock was not to be fired upon until they reached that point; none of the prisoners made any objection to the proposition; Brown said he was too old a soldier to yield the advantage he possessed in holding hostages; during the day Brown's son was wounded in the breast, the ball passing around to the side, but he took his weapon again, and fired frequently before his sufferings compelled him to retire; heard Capt. Brown frequently complain of bad faith of people on a flag of truce; heard him make no threat, nor utter any vindictiveness against the people; Mr. Brewer went out and brought in a promise that the people would not fire while negotiations were pending; cannot say that all the firing of Capt. Brown or his men was in self-defense; heard Brown give frequent orders not to fire on unarmed citizens; the first firing was against the engine-house; Brown said the people appeared to pay but little regard to the lives of the citizens, and we must take the chances with them; after the first attack on the engine-house by the marines, there was not a general cry of "surrender;" one cried surrender, but the others fought on; Brown had a rifle in his hand when he was struck clown by the marines, and received a cut over the head with a sword of Lieutenant Green.
Mr. Hunter laid before the jury the printed Constitution and ordinance of the Provisional Government, reading the two first clauses of the preamble, the 7th, 45th, and 48th articles, and briefly summing up other portions of the Constitution. Sheriff Camp bell knows the handwriting of the prisoner; has copied a letter for him.

Brown said he would himself identify any of his handwriting, and rave all that trouble. He was ready to face the music.

Mr. Hunter would prefer proving them by Mr. Campbell.

Brown--Either way, as you please.

A large bundle of letters was produced. Each was identified by Campbell and handed to Brown, who, at the first glance, replied to each in a loud voice, "Yes, that is mine." The papers and letters were about fifty in number.
On receiving a list of members of the Convention, Mr. Hunter read it. It is headed, William Charles Morris, President of the Convention; and H. Kagi, Secretary of the Convention. On handing the list to Brown, he exclaimed, with a groan, "That's my signature.?"

In reference to another paper, he said, "I have nothing to say about that."

Mr. Hunter read a letter from J. R. Giddings, acknowledging the receipt of a letter from Brown, and that he would be pleased to see him at his house during the summer.

Mr. Hunter then read the letter from Gerrit Smith about the "Kansas work," which has already been published. It has June, B, 1859, indorsed on the back, in Brown's writing.

Mr. Botts here insisted on the right of examining the letters before their being read.

Armstead Ball, master machinist at the Armory, testified that early in the morning he was aroused by Benjamin Hobbs announcing that persons were at the Armory, carrying off government property; reached the gate, was accosted by two armed men, and seized as a prisoner; refused to make any explanation until within the Armory yard, Stephens was sentry at the gate; was conducted to Capt. Brown, who told me his object was to free the slaves, and not the making of war on the people; that my person and private property would be safe; that his war was against the accursed system of slavery; that he had power to do it and would carry it out; it was no child's play he had undertaken; he then gave me permission to return to my family, to assure them of my safety and get my breakfast; started back home, and was accompanied by two armed men, who stopped at the door; breakfast not being ready, went back, and was allowed to return home again, under escort, at a later hour; on returning again, Capt. Brown said it was his determination to seize the arms and munitions of the government, to arm the blacks to defend themselves against their masters; Brown also made a proposition to witness and other officers of the Armory to deliver into his possession the munitions of war belonging to the Government; he replied that they were already in his possession, as we were; Brown frequently told us our safety depended on the good conduct of our citizens; when the firing commenced all fell; we were in danger, and almost any proposition that was made was accepted to secure our safety; Brown said if the citizens were willing to risk their lives and those of the prisoners, to capture him, they must abide by it; Brown made but one proposition to go to the canal lock, give up their prisoners, and fight it out with the military; at daylight, on Tuesday morning, witness appealed to Brown on the ground of humanity to the prisoners, as well as to the men who appeared so bound to him, not to persist in spilling more blood; Brown replied that he was well aware of what he was about, and knew the consequences; that he was already proclaimed an outlaw', and $3,500 was on his head; with regard to the killing of Beckham, one of Brown's party had fired in that direction several times; remonstrated with him when levelling his rifle at an old man named Guess, that he was not a combatant, and he desisted; afterward heard him fire, and heard him say, "Dropped him;" when we heard that Beckham was dead, the man who fired asked who it was; we told him he was an old and respectable citizen, and mayor of the town, and the man who fired expressed himself very sorry; this man was afterward killed at the charge of the marines? Capt. Brown made preparations for resisting the marines; he was always in arms, but I do not think I saw him fire. [The other portions of Mr. Ball's testimony were merely in corroboration of Mr. Washington's.]

By Mr. Green--We, as prisoners, agreed to such terms of capitulation as our citizens were willing to accept. The proposal was written by Mr. Dangerfield, and dictated by Brown. Do not know whether Brown's son and Stephens were wounded while they accompanied the citizens with a flag of truce. Did not know that any of them were Brown's sons, until I heard Brown say to Capt. Simms, "there lies one of my sons dead, and here is another dying." Brown frequently remarked that the citizens were acting indiscreetly in persisting in firing on their own citizens; he maintained a different position all the time. Brown repeatedly said he would injure no one but in self-defense; Coppie frequently urged us to seek places of safety, but Brown did not; he appeared to desire us to take care of ourselves, and at the time of the charge of the marines, told us we must equally occupy the post of danger with themselves. There were three or four slaves in the engine-house; they had spears, but all seemed badly scared; Washington Phil was ordered by Brown to cut a port-hole through the brick wall; he continued until a brisk fire commenced outside, when he said, "this is getting too hot for Phil," and he squatted. Brown then took up the tools and finished the hole.

John Allstadt, sworn--On Monday morning, about three, was awakened from sleep asked who was at the door; the reply was, "Get up quick, or we will burn you up;" asked what they intended to do; they said, "Free the country of Slavery;" told me they were going to take me to Harper's Ferry; dressed myself, and when I got to the door they had all my blacks, seven in number; we were all put into a wagon; the negroes were then all armed with pikes; all the men who took us up were armed; we went to the Armory-yard, where I was put in charge of one of Brown's party; afterward we were ordered into the watch-house; saw Col. Washington there; Brown came and spoke to us about our getting two negroes to take our places, and then he would release us; nothing further was said about that; Brown's rifle was cocked all the time; the negroes were placed in the watch-house with spears in their hands; the slaves showed no disposition to use them witness was afterward transferred to the engine-house; several negroes were there saw Phil making port-holes by Brown's order; the other negroes were doing nothing, and had dropped their spears; some of them were asleep nearly all the time [laughter]; when the marines made the assault, Brown's party took position behind the engine and aimed at the door; Brown was in front, squatting; he fired at the marines, and my opinion is, that he killed that marine.

By Mr. Green--did not see any Others shoot; cannot state certainly by what shot the marine was killed; he might have been killed by shots fired before the door was broken open; was much confused and excited at the time; heard regrets expressed at Beckham's being killed.

Alexander Kelly, sworn--Described the manner of Thomas Boerley's being killed on Monday. Brown's party fired at witness, and witness returned the fire. Boerley was with witness, and was armed with a gun. Saw him soon after he was shot. The shot came from the direction of Shenandoah street.

Not cross-examined.

Albert Grist, sworn--Sunday night had been to meeting with my son; coming home across the Shenandoah bridge, was seized by two men with rifles; when we got to the end of the bridge, were stopped by a man with a spear; asked what was the matter; was the town under martial law; he told me I should not be hurt, and asked me whether there were many slaveholders about Harper's Ferry; I told him no: Brown came up, and observed, "You have got some prisoners;" they took us to the Armory; found some citizens' there; being tired, we laid down; Brown said his object was to free the slaves; told him there were not many there; he replied, "The good book says we are all free and equal," and if we were peaceable we should not be hurt; there was some firing about that time; afterward, about three o'clock, witness was sent to tell the conductor that the train might pass unmolested; saw Mr. Beckham, and delivered the message; Brown then dismissed me; did not go home, being afraid some of Brown's men, not knowing this, might shoot me; saw Hayward brought in, wounded.

Mr. Kelly, recalled--Saw Geo. W. Turner killed on High street; he was shot while in the act of levelling his gun; the shots came from the corner of Shenandoah and High streets; the men who fired had rifles; one had a shawl on.

Afternoon Session, 3 o'clock.

Henry Hunter, sworn--Went to the Ferry with the Charlestown Guard; staid in the bridge, leaving the company; went off fighting on my own hook; saw Beckham fall when shot; heard the whistling of the ball; undertook to go to his assistance, but was withheld by a friend; soon after, another person went to remove the body, saying he "would help the Squire;" heard the whistling of another ball; think that Beckham had a pistol in his coat pocket, judging from the weight and shape of the pocket; did not see it, and don't think the people from the Armory yard saw it; the shot that killed Beckham came from the engine-house; numerous shots were fired from the engine-house at the tank

The cross examination of this witness elicited nothing new,

Col. Gibson, sworn--Helped a portion of the militia of Jefferson County to suppress the insurrection; the Jefferson Guards and other detachments were in the action; they were called out by authority of law; three insurgents were killed at the rifle factory, and Copland captured.

Cross-examined--There was firing by outside citizens, and the three killed were not under my command; don't think the insurgents fired a gun at the rifle factory, but endeavored to make their escape across the river.

Benjamin T. Bell, sworn--Went to Harper's Ferry armed; did net join the military; was stationed in the Gait House, in Capt. Botts' company; in the evening walked out on the platform; saw Beckham shot; went as near to him as was safe, but perceived no breathing; there was firing from the engine-house toward the railroad; Mr. Young, a member of the Jefferson Guards, was wounded while making a charge against the insurgents; saw others shot; there were probably thirty shots fired from the engine-house toward the tank, and in other directions.

Cross-examined--There was general firing in almost every direction; McCabe was about firing when he was shot; there were twenty or thirty men firing at the engine-house when Young and McCabe were wounded

Lewis Starry examined--He testified respecting the killing of Turner.

The prosecution rested here