Coppocks and Harper's Ferry


The Coppocks and Harper's Ferry

Edwin and Barclay COPPOCK are my 1st Cousins 4 Times Removed

Barclay Coppock
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Edwin Coppock, Barclay's brother,
Barclay Coppock[1]
Edwin Coppock

Barclay Coppock (January 4, 1839 – September 4, 1861)[2] was a follower of John Brown and a Union Army soldier in the American Civil War. Along with his brother Edwin Coppock (June 30, 1835 - December 16, 1859), he participated in the raid on Harpers Ferry. In historic documents their last name was variously spelled "Coppock", "Coppoc", or "Coppac". The Coppock brothers were raised in Springdale, Iowa, where they met Brown while he was raising support for his Kansas Anti-slavery raids. Edwin was hanged in Charlestown, Virginia while Barclay eventually escaped to Canada; his flight was aided by Iowa governor Samuel Kirkwood, who refused to extradite him when Barclay was discovered hiding in Iowa. "His escape was aided by the Gurney sect of Quakers and in particular, one twenty year old man, Richard Beeson Engle via the 'underground railway.' When Barkely Coppock escaped from the captors of the John Brown party at the Harpers Ferry raid in October, 1859, he was sent by the underground railway to the Engle home in Mahoning County and to young Engle, twenty years of age, was assigned the task of guiding him in safety to Canada. This he did, although the country was filled with men searching for Coppock. Engle was supplied with ample funds and the excitement died down, they went to Springdale, Iowa, where Coppock had relatives. From that point it was an easy matter for Rev. Engle to get them to Kansas, just then in the war of organization, the fight being over whether it should be slave or free." Edwin Coppock is buried in Hope Cemetery in Salem, Ohio. Barclay later joined the Union Army during the American Civil War and served as a recruiting officer. Barclay was killed in action when his train plunged into a ravine on the Platte River.[3][4] Confederate Raiders had cut through the supports of the train bridge, the incident now called the Platte Bridge Railroad Tragedy.


1. ^ Both photos from A topical history of Cedar County, Iowa, Volume 1 (1910) Clarence Ray Aurner, S.J. Clarke Publishing Company
2. ^ The Palimpsest (November 1928) Vol. 9.
3. ^ Gibson Lamb Cranmer (1891) History of the upper Ohio Valley, Volume 2 p.270. Madison:Brant & Fuller
4. ^ John Brown and His Followers in Iowa Midland Monthly Magazine (1894) Vol. 1, pp. 262-267.

John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry

John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry (also known as John Brown's raid or The raid on Harpers Ferry; in many books the town is called "Harper's Ferry" with an apostrophe-s.[1]) was an attempt by white abolitionist John Brown to start an armed slave revolt by seizing a United States Arsenal at Harpers Ferry in Virginia in 1859. Brown's raid was defeated by a detachment of U.S. Marines led by Col. Robert E. Lee. John Brown had originally asked Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass to join him when he attacked the armory, but illness prevented Tubman from joining him and Douglass believed his plan would fail and did not join him for that reason.[2]

In 1794, George Washington selected the site of Harpers Ferry for the location of a federal arsenal. John H. Hall was contracted to manufacture his rifle in the town.


* 1 Brown's Preparation
* 2 The raid
o 2.1 October 16
o 2.2 October 17
o 2.3 October 18
o 2.4 October 19
* 3 Aftermath
* 4 Casualties
o 4.1 John Brown's raiders
o 4.2 Others
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 Sources
* 8 Further reading
* 9 External links

Brown's Preparation

John Brown rented the Kennedy Farmhouse, 4 miles (6.4 km) north of Harpers Ferry in Washington County, Maryland. [3] and took up residence under the name Isaac Smith. Brown came with a small group of men minimally trained for military action. His group included 16 white men, 3 free blacks, 1 freed slave, and 1 fugitive slave. Northern abolitionist groups sent 198 breech loading .52 caliber Sharps carbines ("Beecher's Bibles") and 950 pikes (obtained from Charles Blair, in late September), in preparation for the raid. The arsenal contained 100,000 muskets and rifles.[citation needed] Brown attempted to attract more black recruits. He tried recruiting Frederick Douglass as a liaison officer to the slaves. Douglass declined, indicating to Brown that he believed the raid was a suicide mission. The plan was "an attack on the federal government" that "would array the whole country against us." You "will never get out alive," he warned.[4]

Brown’s plan was not to conduct a sudden raid and then escape to the mountains. Rather, his plan was to use those rifles and pikes he captured at the arsenal, in addition to those he brought along, to arm rebellious slaves with the aim of striking terror to the slaveholders in Virginia. He believed that on the first night of action two to five hundred black adherents would join his line. He ridiculed the militia and regular army that might oppose him. Then he would send agents to nearby plantations, rallying the slaves. He planned to hold Harpers Ferry for a short time, expecting that as many volunteers, white and black, would join him as would form against him. He then would make a rapid movement southward, sending out armed bands along the way. They would free more slaves, obtain food, horses and hostages, and destroy slaveholding morale. Brown planned to follow the Appalachian mountains south into Tennessee and even Alabama, the heart of the South, making forays into the plains on either side.[5]

The raid
October 16

On Sunday night, October 16, 1859, Brown left three of his men behind as a rear-guard: his son, Owen Brown; Barclay Coppoc; and Frank Meriam and led the rest into the town of Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Brown detached a party under John Cook to capture Colonel Lewis Washington, great grandnephew of George Washington at his nearby Beall-Air estate, some of his slaves, and two relics of George Washington: a sword allegedly presented to Washington by Frederick the Great and two pistols given by Lafayette, which Brown considered talismans.[6] The party carried out its mission and returned via the Allstadt House, where they took more hostages.[7] Brown's main party captured several watchmen and townspeople in Harpers Ferry.

Brown's men needed to capture the weapons and escape before word could be sent to Washington. The raid was going well for Brown's men. They cut the telegraph wire and seized a Baltimore & Ohio train passing through. An African-American baggage handler on the train named Hayward Shepherd, confronted the raiders; they shot and killed him-- ironically a freed slave became the first casualty of the raid. Then for unknown reasons, Brown let the train continue unimpeded. The conductor alerted the authorities. One of the keys to success was the support of the local slave population. A massive uprising did not occur and the slaves never rebelled. The townspeople soon began to fight back against the raiders. Nevertheless, Brown's men captured the armory that evening.

October 17
John Brown's Fort today

Armory workers discovered Brown's men early on the morning of October 17. Local militia, farmers and shopkeepers surrounded the armory. When a company of militia captured the bridge across the Potomac River, any route of escape was cut off. During the day four townspeople were killed, including the mayor. Realizing his escape was cut, Brown took 9 of his captives and moved into the smaller engine house, which would come to be known as John Brown's Fort. The raiders barred off the windows and doors and exchanged the occasional volley with the surrounding forces. At one point Brown sent out his son, Watson, and Aaron Dwight Stevens with a white flag, but Watson was mortally wounded and Stevens was shot and captured. The raid was rapidly deteriorating. One of the raiders named William H. Leeman panicked and tried to escape by swimming across the Potomac River. The townspeople, reportedly drunk, made sport of shooting up Leeman's body. During the intermittent shooting Brown's other son, Oliver was shot and died after a brief period.

By 3:30 that afternoon, President James Buchanan ordered a detachment of U.S. Marines to march on Harpers Ferry under the command of Brevet Colonel Robert E. Lee of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry.

October 18

Lee first offered the role of attacking the engine house to the local militia units on the spot. Both militia commanders declined and Lee turned to the Marines. On the morning of October 18, Col. Lee sent Lt. J.E.B. Stuart, serving as a volunteer aide-de-camp, under a flag of truce to negotiate a surrender of John Brown and his followers. Lee instructed Lt. Israel Greene that if Brown refused, he was to lead the marines in storming the engine house. Stuart told Brown that his men would be spared if they surrendered. Brown refused and Stuart signaled to Lt. Greene and his men. Two marines armed with sledgehammers tried in vain to break through the door. Greene found a wooden ladder and 10 marines used it as a battering ram to knock the front doors in. Greene was the first through the door and with the assistance of Lewis Washington identified and singled out John Brown. Greene later recounted what happened next:

"Quicker than thought I brought my saber down with all my strength upon [Brown's] head. He was moving as the blow fell, and I suppose I did not strike him where I intended, for he received a deep saber cut in the back of the neck. He fell senseless on his side, then rolled over on his back. He had in his hand a short Sharpe's cavalry carbine. I think he had just fired as I reached Colonel Washington, for the Marine who followed me into the aperture made by the ladder received a bullet in the abdomen, from which he died in a few minutes. The shot might have been fired by some one else in the insurgent party, but I think it was from Brown. Instinctively as Brown fell I gave him a saber thrust in the left breast. The sword I carried was a light uniform weapon, and, either not having a point or striking something hard in Brown's accouterments, did not penetrate. The blade bent double."[8]

The action inside the engine house happened very quickly. In three minutes, all of the raiders still alive were taken prisoner and the action was over.

October 19

Robert E. Lee made a summary report of the events that took place at Harpers Ferry. According to Lee's notes Lee believed John Brown was insane,"...the plan [raiding the Harpers Ferry Arsenal] was the attempt of a fanatic or mad­man". Lee also believed that the African Americans used in the raid were forced to by John Brown himself. "The blacks, whom he [John Brown] forced from their homes in this neighborhood, as far as I could learn, gave him no voluntary assistance." Lee attributed John Brown's "temporary success" by creating panic and confusion and by "magnifying" the number of participants involved in the raid.[9]

John Brown's last prophecy
John Brown wrote his last prophecy on December 2nd of 1859.

Colonel Lee and Lt. Greene searched the surrounding country for fugitives who had participated in the attack. John Brown was taken to the court house in nearby Charles Town for trial. He was found guilty of treason against the commonwealth of Virginia and was hanged on December 2. (This execution was witnessed by the actor John Wilkes Booth, who would later assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.) On the day of his execution, Brown wrote his last prophecy, which said,

“I John Brown am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty, land: will never be purged away; but with Blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed; it might be done.”

Four other raiders were executed on December 15 and two more on March 16, 1860.

John Brown was the first white man to use violence in an attempt to end slavery. This first use of violence by a white man scared many in the South, leading the Southern state militias to begin training for their defense of further raids and, consequently, to the militarization of the South in preparation for a Northern invasion.

The first Northern antislavery reaction to Brown's Raid was one of baffled reproach. William Lloyd Garrison called the raid "misguided, wild, and apparently insane." But through the trial, Brown transformed into a martyr. Henry David Thoreau, in A Plea for Captain John Brown, said, "I think that for once the Sharp's rifles and the revolvers were employed in a righteous cause. The tools were in the hands of one who could use them," and said of Brown, "He has a spark of divinity in him."[10] Though "Harper's Ferry was insane," wrote the religious weekly the Independent, "the controlling motive of his demonstration was sublime." To the South, he was a murderer who wanted to deprive them of their property. The North "has sanctioned and applauded theft, murder, and treason," said De Bow's Review.[11][12]

John Brown's raiders
John Brown in 1859.


* John Henry Kagi (Shot and killed while crossing a river. First buried in common grave at Harpers Ferry; reburied 1899 in a common grave near John Brown at North Elba, New York.)
* Jeremiah G. Anderson (At age 26, was mortally wounded and killed by a Marine’s bayonet during the final assault on the engine house. Body claimed by Winchester Medical College as a teaching cadaver; last resting place unknown.)
* William Thompson (First buried in common grave at Harpers Ferry; reburied 1899 in a common grave near John Brown at North Elba, New York.)
* Dauphin Thompson (Killed in the storming of the engine house. First buried in common grave at Harpers Ferry; reburied 1899 in a common grave near John Brown at North Elba, New York.)
* Oliver Brown (At age 21, being the youngest of John Brown’s three sons to participate in the action, he was mortally wounded on the 17th inside the engine house, resulting in a death the next day. He was first buried in common grave at Harpers Ferry; reburied in 1899 in common grave near John Brown at North Elba, New York.)
* Watson Brown (At age 24, was mortally wounded outside the engine house while carrying a white flag, trying to negotiate with the responding militia, resulting in death two days later. The body was claimed by Winchester Medical College as a teaching cadaver which caused College to be burned by Union troops. Reburied in 1882 in a grave near John Brown at North Elba, New York.)
* Stewart Taylor. (First buried in common grave at Harpers Ferry; reburied 1899 in a common grave near John Brown at North Elba, New York.) * William Leeman (Shot while trying to escape across the Potomac River. First buried in common grave at Harpers Ferry; reburied 1899 in a common grave near John Brown at North Elba, New York.)
* Lewis Sheridan Leary (At age 24 being a free African-American, was mortally wounded while attempting escape across the Shenandoah River. He was stationed in the rifle factory with Kagi. Alleged to be buried at John Brown gravesite at North Elba, New York. Cenotaph memorial in Oberlin, Ohio.)
* Dangerfield Newby (At about 35, being born into slavery [despite father being white and not his master], had permission to move to Ohio along with his mother and siblings, but when he tried to attain freedom for his wife and children, the owner refused, leading Newby to join Brown’s raid. He was the first raider killed [body was mutilated]. His ears, for example, were cut off by someone in the crowd as souvenirs. First he was buried at Harpers Ferry; reburied in 1899 in a common grave near John Brown at North Elba, New York.))


* John Brown (also wounded) Hanged December 2, 1859 in nearby Charles Town.
* Aaron Dwight Stevens (shot and captured October 18. Hanged March 16, 1860 in Charles Town. First buried in New Jersey; reburied 1899 in a common grave near John Brown at North Elba, New York.)
* Edwin Coppock (At age 24, he shot and killed Harpers Ferry mayor Fontaine Beckham during the raid. He was later executed at Charles Town on December 16, 1859 and was buried in Salem, Ohio.)
* John Anthony Copeland, Jr. (At age 25, being a free African American, joined the raiders along with his uncle Lewis Leary. He was captured during the raid and executed on December 16, 1859 in Charles Town. The body was claimed by Winchester Medical College as a teaching cadaver. The last resting place is unknown. Cenotaph memorial in Oberlin, Ohio.)
* Shields Green (At about age 23, Green was an escaped slave from South Carolina; captured in the engine house on October 18, 1859 and hanged December 16, 1859 in Charles Town. The body was claimed by Winchester Medical College as a teaching cadaver. The last resting place is unknown. Cenotaph memorial in Oberlin Ohio.)
* John Edwin Cook (Escaped into Pennsylvania but soon captured. Hanged December 16, 1859 in Charles Town. Body sent to New York.) * Albert Hazlett (Escaped into Pennsylvania but soon captured. Hanged March 16, 1860. First buried in New Jersey; reburied 1899 in a common grave near John Brown at North Elba, New York.)

Four raiders escaped and were captured about six months later.

Escaped and never captured

* Barclay Coppock (Died during US Civil War.)
* Charles Plummer Tidd (Died during US Civil War)
* Osborne Perry Anderson (Served as an officer in Union Army, and penned a memoir about the raid.)
* Owen Brown
* Francis Jackson Meriam (Served in the army as a captain in the 3rd South Carolina Colored Infantry.)



* Hayward Shepherd (African-American B&O baggage handler; killed.)
* Thomas Boerly (Townsperson; killed.)
* George W. Turner (Townsperson; killed.)
* Fontaine Beckham (Town mayor; killed.)
* A slave belonging to Col. Washington was killed.
* A slave belonging to hostage John Allstad was killed.

(Some claim the two slaves voluntarily joined Brown's raiders, others say Brown forced them to fight. Regardless one was killed trying to escape across the Potomac River, the other was wounded and died in the Charles Town prison.)

9 other civilians were wounded.


* Luke Quinn (Killed during the storming of the engine house.)
* Matthew Ruppert (Shot in the face while storming the engine house.)


1. ^ For example, "Col. Robert E. Lee's Report Concerning the Attack at Harper's Ferry, October 19, 1859,"; Horace Greeley, The American Conflict: A History of the Great Rebellion in the United States of America, 1860–64. Volume: 1. (1866), p. 279; French Ensor Chadwick, Causes of the Civil War, 1859–1861 (1906) p. 74; Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln (1950) vol 2 ch 3; James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (1988), p. 201; Stephen W. Sears, Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam‎ (2003) p. 116.
2. ^ Taylor, Marian (New edition 2004). Harriet Tubman: Antislavery Activist. Chelsea House Publishers. pp. 68–69. ISBN 978-0791083406.
3. ^ The Kennedy Farmhouse The Kennedy Farmhouse
4. ^ James M. McPherson, Battle cry of freedom: the Civil War era‎ (2003) p. 205
5. ^ Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln: Prelude to Civil War, 1859–1861 (1950), vol 4 pp:72–73
6. ^ Ted McGee (April 5, 1973). National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Beall-AirPDF (341 KB). National Park Service
7. ^ Frances D. Ruth (July, 1984). National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Allstadt House and OrdinaryPDF (1.10 MB). National Park Service
8. ^ Israel Green, Eyewitness Account
9. ^[dead link] Robert E. Lee's Report Concerning the Attack at Harper's Ferry|October 19, 1859|Colonel Lee to the Adjutant General|HEADQUARTERS HARPER'S FERRY
10. ^ Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume B. Page 2057.
11. ^ Reynolds, John Brown (2006), pp. 340
12. ^ James M. McPherson, Battle cry of freedom: the Civil War era‎ (2003) p. 210

Further reading

* Earle, Jonathan. John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry: A Brief History with Documents‎ (2008) excerpt and text search
* Lee, Robert E. "Col. Robert E. Lee's Report Concerning the Attack at Harper's Ferry, October 19, 1859" online
* Nevins, Allan. The Emergence of Lincoln: Prelude to Civil War, 1859–1861 (1950), vol 4 of The Ordeal of the Union, esp ch 3 pp 70–97 * Potter, David M. The Impending Crisis: 1848–1861 (1976) pp 356–84; Pulitzer Prize winning history
* Reynolds, David S. John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights (2006)
* Villard, Oswald Garrison. John Brown, 1800–1859: A Biography Fifty Years After‎ (1910) 738 pages, full text online
* Fraser, George MacDonald. Flashman and the Angel of the Lord (1994) * Nalty, Bernard C. The United States Marines at Harper's Ferry and in the Civil War (1959) History & Museums Division, United States Marine Corps. online

The Platte Bridge Railroad Tragedy

The Platte Bridge Railroad Tragedy was a bushwhacker attack on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad during the American Civil War on September 3, 1861, in which the train derailed on a bridge over the Platte River east of St. Joseph, Missouri, killing between 17 and 20 and injuring 100. The bridge crosses the river in Buchanan County, between Marion Township on the east, and Washington Township on the west.

Confederate partisans planned to burn the lower timbers of the 160-foot bridge across the river, leaving the top looking intact. At 11:15 p.m. on a moonless night, the westbound passenger train from Hannibal, Missouri, to St. Joseph started to cross the bridge. The supports cracked and gave way. The locomotive flipped, falling 30 feet into the shallow river and bringing with it the freight cars, baggage car, mail car and two passenger cars with 100 men, women and children. Bodies and the injured were taken to the Patee House near the St. Joseph depot. Union soldiers were ordered to track down and execute bushwhackers for their part in the incident.

Barclay Coppock.[1]

Confederate Major General Sterling Price, who had been invading northern Missouri at the time, wrote Union commanding general Henry Wager Halleck to protest, stating the sabotage was "lawful and proper" according to the rules of warfare and that the captured men should be treated as prisoners of war. Halleck replied that the bushwhackers were "spies, marauders, robbers, incendiaries, guerrilla the garb of peaceful citizens" The bushwhackers were to also say that it was a military target because there were soldiers on it bound for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. One of the soldiers killed was Barclay Coppock, a member of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry. The bushwackers were also to claim that it was an attempt to assassinate former Missouri Governor Robert Marcellus Stewart.

The most prominent of the bushwhackers sought by the Federal troops was Silas M. Gordon. Union troops were to burn Platte City, Missouri twice (in December 1861 and July 1864) in unsuccessful attempts to force the townspeople to surrender him (see the Burning of Platte City).

The railroad at the time was the first to cross the state of Missouri and it was used to deliver mail to and from the Pony Express terminus in St. Joseph, Missouri. Col. Ulysses S. Grant's first commission in the Civil War had been guarding the trains. In August he was promoted to brigadier general on a new assignment.


* Filbert, Preston. The Half Not Told: The Civil War in a Frontier Town. ISBN 0-8117-1536-1.

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