DescriptionThe town of Harpers Ferry is at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, separating Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The federal arsenal and armory built in 1796 manufactured many of the muskets and rifles used in the War of 1812 and the Civil War. These buildings were the targets of abolitionist John Brown's notorious raid.
On the night of Oct. 16, 1859, Brown, accompanied by 18 members of his 21-man “army,” surprised and captured the armory and arsenal. His intent was to incite the slaves to insurrection and arm them from the government stores. After considerable bloodshed, the raiders were captured by U.S. Marines under Col. Robert E. Lee. Brown and six of his followers were tried for treason, convicted and hanged at Charles Town.
During the Civil War, Harpers Ferry was regarded by the Union command as a key to the safety of Washington, D.C. In 1861 the small federal garrison abandoned the town before a force of Virginians, but destroyed the arsenal before leaving. It was never rebuilt. The following year Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson captured the federal garrison after a terrific bombardment, taking 12,500 Union soldiers as prisoners before moving on to join Lee at Antietam.
The Appalachian Trail passes nearby, and the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers offer opportunities for fishing, canoeing and rafting.
Visitor InfoJefferson County Convention & Visitors Bureau 37 Washington Ct. HARPERS FERRY, WV 25425. Phone:(304)535-2627 or (866)435-5698
Things to SeeJohn Brown Wax Museum
White-water RaftingRiver Riders Inc.
ZiplinesHarpers Ferry Canopy Tours