|[Page 5: Captain John Brown at Harpers Ferry]
The 1859 Raid on the Federal Arsenal at Harpers Ferry
Any number of people had elements of information in advance, about the raid by "Captain" John Brown on the federal arsenal, and his intention to kickstart a servile insurrection in the United States of America. This was by no means a deep dark secret. Even the Secretary of War had been warned in advance of this raid, and even the Secretary of War elected to do nothing whatever to intercept it. I have prepared a list of the people who had elements of information in advance, so that you yourself can decide just how much of a deep dark secret this could have been. Below I list but one person on this list:
Osborn Perry Anderson
Osborn Perry Anderson, "O.P. Anderson, or as we used to call him Chatham Anderson," the only participant of color to survive Harpers Ferry and elude capture, had been born free on July 27, 1830 in West Fallowfield, Pennsylvania. He had learned the printing trade in Canada, where he had met John Brown in 1858. He was a member of Congress of John Brown's Provisional Government in Chatham, Ontario in May 1858 and was "Osborn Anderson" on the list of signatories of the "Provisional Constitution and Ordinances for the People of the United States"; a member of the Vigilance Committee in Chatham and Windsor in September 1858. He would write later of the fight at Harpers Ferry and his escape in A Voice from Harper's Ferry: "We were together eight days before [John Edwin Cook and Albert Hazlett were] captured, which was near Chambersburg, and the next night Meriam [Francis Jackson Meriam] left us and went to Shippensburg, and there took cars for Philadelphia. After that there were but three of us left [Brown's son Owen Brown, Barclay Coppoc, and Charles Plummer Tidd], and we kept together, until we got to Centre County, Pennsylvania, where we bought a box and packed up all heavy luggage, such as rifles, blankets, etc., and after being together three or four weeks we separated...." Anderson, Coppoc, and Meriam had journeyed separately to safe exile in the area of St. Catharines, Canada. Anderson enlisted in the US Army in 1864, becoming a recruiter and/or noncommissioned officer for a unit as yet undetermined, and mustered out in Washington DC at the close of the war (he would be identified by his father Vincent Anderson in 1872 as having been a recruiter for the "western regiments"). He was a member of the Equal Rights League in 1865, and represented Michigan at the National Convention of Colored Men in 1869. He died a pauper of TB and lack of care in Washington on December 13th, 1872.
Click here, for a list of all the people who had pieces of advance information:
Others With Advance Information
The first casualty of war is Truth.