"Old Brown," or "Ossawatomie Brown," as he
is often called, the hero of a dozen flights or so with the "border
ruffians" of Missouri, in the days of "bleeding Kansas,"
is the head and front of this offending the commander of the filibuster
army. His wounds, which at first were supposed to be mortal, turn
out to be mere fleshwounds and scratches, not dangerous in their
character. He has been removed, together with Stephens, the other
wounded prisoner, from the engine room to the office of the Armory,
and they now lie on the floor, upon miserable shake downs, covered
with some old bedding.
Brown is fifty five years of age, rather small
sized, with keen and restless grey eyes, and a grizzly beard and
hair. He is a wiry, active man, and, should the slightest chance
for an escape be afforded, there is no doubt that he will yet
give his captors much trouble. His hair is matted and tangled,
and his face, hands, and clothes, all smouched and smeared with
blood. Colonel Lee stated that he would exclude all visitors from
the room if the wounded men were annoyed or pained by them, but
Brown said he was by no means annoyed; on the contrary, he was
glad to be able to make himself and his motives clearly understood.
He converses freely, fluently and cheerfully, without the slightest
manifestation of fear or uneasiness, evidently weighing well his
words, and possessing a good command of language. His manner is
courteous and affable, and he appears to make a favorable impression
upon his auditory, which, during most of the day yesterday, averaged
about ten or a dozen men.
When I arrived in the Armory, shortly after two
o'clock in the afternoon, Brown was answering questions put to
him by Senator Mason, who had just arrived from his residence
at Winchester, thirty miles distant, Col. Faulkner, member of
Congress, who lives but a few miles off, Mr. Vallandigham, member
of Congress of Ohio, and several other distinguished gentlemen.
The following is a verbatim report of the conversation:
Mr. Mason: Can you tell us, at least who furnished
money for your expedition?
Mr. Brown: I furnished most of it myself. I cannot
implicate others. It is by my own folly that I have been taken.
I could easily have saved myself from it had I exercised my own
better judgment, rather than yielded to my feelings.
Mr. Mason: You mean if you had escaped immediately?
Mr. Brown: No; I had the means to make myself
secure without any escape, but I allowed myself to be surrounded
by a force by being too tardy.
Mr. Mason: Tardy in getting away?
Mr. Brown: I should have gone away, but I had
thirty odd prisoners, whose wives and daughters were in tears
for their safety, and I felt for them. Besides, I wanted to allay
the fears of those who believed we came here to burn and kill.
For this reason I allowed the train to cross the bridge, and gave
them full liberty to pass on. I did it only to spare the feelings
of those passengers and their families, and to allay the apprehensions
that you had got here in your vicinity a band of men who had no
regard for life and property, nor any feeling of humanity.
Mr. Mason: But you killed some people passing
along the streets quietly.
Mr. Brown: Well, sir, if there was anything of
that kind done, it was without my knowledge. Your own citizens,
who were my prisoners, will tell you that every possible means
were taken to prevent it. I did not allow my men to fire, nor
even to return a fire, when there was danger of killing those
we regarded as innocent persons, if I could help it. They will
tell you that we allowed ourselves to be fired at repeatedly and
did not return it.
A Bystander: That is not so. You killed an unarmed
man at the corner of the house over there [at the water tank]
and another besides.
Mr. Brown: See here, my friend, it is useless
to dispute or contradict the report of your own neighbors who
were my prisoners.
Mr. Mason: If you would tell us who sent you here
who provided the means that would be information of some value.
Mr. Brown: I will answer freely and faithfully
about what concerns myself I will answer anything I can with honor,
but not about others.
Mr. Vallandigham (member of Congress from Ohio,
who had just entered): Mr. Brown, who sent you here?
Mr. Brown: No man sent me here; it was my own
prompting and that of my Maker, or that of the devil, whichever
you please to ascribe it to. I acknowledge no man in human form.
Mr. Vallandigham: Did you get up the expedition
Mr. Brown: I did.
Mr. Vallandigham: Did you get up this document
that is called a constitution?
Mr. Brown: I did. They are a constitution and
ordinances of my own contriving and getting up.
Mr. Vallandigham: How long have you been engaged
in this business?
Mr. Brown: From the breaking of the difficulties
in Kansas. Four of my sons had gone there to settle, and they
induced me to go. I did not go there to settle, but because of
Mr. Mason: How many are engaged with you in this
movement? I ask those questions for our own safety.
Mr. Brown: Any questions that I can honorably
answer I will, not otherwise. So far as I am myself concerned
I have told everything truthfully. I value my word, sir.
Mr. Mason: What was your object in coming?
Mr. Brown: We came to free the slaves, and only
A Young Man (in the uniform of a volunteer company):
How many men in all had you?
Mr. Brown: I came to Virginia with eighteen men
only, besides myself.
Volunteer: What in the world did you suppose you
could do here in Virginia with that amount of men?
Mr. Brown: Young man, I don't wish to discuss
that question here.
Volunteer: You could not do anything.
Mr. Brown: Well, perhaps your ideas and mine on
military subjects would differ materially.
Mr. Mason: How do you justify your acts?
Mr. Brown: I think, my friend, you are guilty
of a great wrong against God and humanity I say it without wishing
to be offensive and it would be perfectly right in any one to
interfere with you so far as to free those you wilfully and wickedly
hold in bondage. I do not say this insultingly.
Mr. Mason: I understand that.
Mr. Brown: I think I did right, and that others
will do right who interfere with you at any time and all times.
I hold that the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would
that others should do unto you," applies to all who would
help others to gain their liberty.
Lieut. Stuart: But you don't believe in the Bible.
Mr. Brown: Certainly I do.
Mr. Vallandigham: Where did your men come from?
Did some of them come from Ohio?
Mr. Brown: Some of them.
Mr. Vallandigham: From the Western Reserve? None
came from Southern Ohio?
Mr. Brown: Yes, I believe one came from below
Steubenville, down not far from Wheeling.
Mr. Yallandigham: Have you been in Ohio this summer?
Mr. Brown: Yes, sir.
Mr. Vallandigham: How lately?
Mr. Brown: I passed through to Pittsburg on my
way in June.
Mr. Vallandigham: Were you at any county or State
Mr. Brown: I was not not since June.
Mr. Mason: Did you consider this a military organization,
in this paper the Constitution? I have not yet read it.
Mr. Brown: I did in some sense. I wish you would
give that paper close attention.
Mr. Mason: You considered yourself the Commander
in Chief of these "provisional" military forces.
Mr. Brown: I was chosen agreeably to the ordinance
of a certain document, commander in chief of that force.
Mr. Mason: What wages did you offer?
Mr. Brown: None.
Lieut. Stuart: "The wages of sin is death."
Mr. Brown: I would not have made such a remark
to you, if you had been a prisoner and wounded in my hands . .
Mr. Vallandigham: Have you been in Portage County
Mr. Brown: I was there in June last.
Mr. Vallandigham: When in Cleveland, did you attend
the Fugitive Slave Law Convention there?
Mr. Brown: No. I was there about the time of the
sitting of the court to try the Oberlin rescuers. I spoke there
publicly on that subject. I spoke on the Fugitive Slave Law and
my own rescue. Of course, so far as I had any influence at all,
I was disposed to justify the Oberlin people for rescuing the
slave, because I have myself forcibly taken slaves from bondage.
I was concerned in taking eleven slaves from Missouri to Canada
last winter. I think I spoke in Cleveland before the Convention.
I do not know that I had any conversation with any of the Oberlin
rescuers. I was sick part of the time I was in Ohio, with the
ague. I was part of the time in Ashtabula County.
Mr. Vallandigham: Did you see anything of Joshua
R. Giddings there?
Mr. Brown: I did meet him.
Mr. Vallandigham: Did you converse with him?
Mr. Brown: I did. I would not tell you, of course,
anything that would implicate Mr. Giddings; but I certainly met
with him and had conversations with him.
Mr. Vallandigham: About that rescue case?
Mr. Brown: Yes, I did; I heard him express his
opinions upon it very freely and frankly.
Mr. Vallandigham: Justifying it?
Mr. Brown: Yes, sir; I do not compromise him certainly
in saying that.
A Bystander: Did you go out to Kansas under the
auspices of the Emigrant Aid Society?
Mr. Brown: No, sir; I went out under the auspices
of John Brown and nobody else.
Mr. Vallandigham: Will you answer this: Did you
talk with Giddings about your expedition here?
Mr. Brown: No, I won't answer that; because a
denial of it I would not make, and to make any affirmation of
it I should be a great dunce.
Mr. Vallandigham: Have you had any correspondence
with parties at the North on the subject of this movement?
Mr. Brown: I have had correspondence.
A Bystander: Do you consider this a religious
Mr. Brown: It is, in my opinion, the greatest
service a man can render to God.
Bystander: Do you consider yourself an instrument
in the hands of Providence?
Mr. Brown: I do.
Bystander: Upon what principle do you justify
Mr. Brown: Upon the golden rule. I pity the poor
in bondage that have none to help them; that is why I am here;
not to gratify any personal animosity, revenge or vindictive spirit.
It is my sympathy with the oppressed and the wronged, that are
as good as you and as precious in the sight of God.
Bystander: Certainly. But why take the slaves
against their will?
Mr. Brown: I never did.
Bystander: You did in one instance, at least.
Stephens, the other wounded prisoner, here said,
in a firm, clear voice- "You are right. In one case, I know
the negro wanted to go back."
A Bystander: Where did you come from?
Mr. Stephens: I lived in Ashtabula county, Ohio.
Mr. Vallandigham: How recently did you leave Ashtabula
Mr. Stephens: Some months ago. I never resided
there any length of time; have been through there.
Mr. Vallandigham: How far did you live from Jefferson?
Mr. Brown: Be cautious, Stephens, about any answers
that would commit any friend. I would not answer that.
Stephens turned partially over with a groan of
pain, and was silent.
Mr. Vallandigham (to Mr. Brown): Who are your
advisers in this movement?
Mr. Brown: I cannot answer that. I have numerous
sympathizers throughout the entire North.
Mr. Yallandigham: In northern Ohio?
Mr. Brown: No more there than anywhere else; in
all the free States.
Mr. Vallandigham: But you are not personally acquainted
in southern Ohio?
Mr. Brown: Not very much.
Mr. Vallandigham (to Stephens): Were you at the
Convention last June?
Stephens: I was.
Mr. Yallandigham (to Brown): You made a speech
Mr. Brown: I did.
A Bystander: Did you ever live in Washington City?
Mr. Brown: I did not. I want you to understand,
gentlemen and, to the reporter of the "Herald"] you
may report that I want you to understand that I respect the rights
of the poorest and weakest of colored people, oppressed by the
slave system, just as much as I do those of the most wealthy and
powerful. That is the idea that has moved me, and that alone.
We expect no reward, except the satisfaction of endeavoring to
do for those in distress and greatly oppressed, as we would be
done by. The cry of distress of the oppressed is my reason, and
the only thing that prompted me to come here.
A Bystander: Why did you do it secretly?
Mr. Brown: Because I thought that necessary to
success; no other
Bystander: And you think that honorable? Have
you read Gerritt Smith's last letter?
Mr. Brown: What letter do you mean?
Bystander: The "New York Herald" of
yesterday, in speaking of this affair, mentions a letter in this
way:='Apropos of this exciting news, we recollect a very significant
passage in one of Gerrit Smith's letters, published a month or
two ago, in which he speaks of the folly of attempting to strike
the shackles off the slaves by the force of moral suasion or legal
agitation, and predicts that the next movement made in the direction
of negro emancipation would be an insurrection in the South."
Mr. Brown: I have not seen the "New York
Herald" for some days past; but I presume, from your remark
about the gist of the letter, that I should concur with it. I
agree with Mr. Smith that moral suasion is hopeless. I don't think
the people of the slave States will ever consider the subject
of slavery in its true light till some other argument is resorted
to than moral suasion.
Mr. Vallandigham: Did you expect a general rising
of the slaves in case of your success?
Mr. Brown: No, sir; nor did I wish it. I expected
to gather them up from time to time and set them free.
Mr. Vallandigham: Did you expect to hold possession
here till then?
Mr. Brown: Well, probably I had quite a different
idea. I do not know that I ought to reveal my plans. I am here
a prisoner and wounded, because I foolishly allowed myself to
be so. You overrate your strength in supposing I could have been
taken if I had not allowed it. I was too tardy after commencing
the open attack in delaying my movements through Monday night,
and up to the time I was attacked by the government troops. It
was all occasioned by my desire to spare the feelings of my prisoners
and their families and the community at large. I had no knowledge
of the shooting of the negro [Hayward].
Mr. Vallandigham: What time did you commence your
organization in Canada?
Mr. Brown: That occurred about two years ago,
if I remember right. It was, I think, in 1858.
Mr. Vallandigham: Who was the Secretary?
Mr. Brown: That I would not tell if I recollected,
but I do not recollect. I think the officers were elected in May,
1858. I may answer incorrectly, but not intentionally. My head
is a little confused by wounds, and my memory obscure on dates,
Dr. Biggs: Were you in the party at Dr. Kennedy's house?
Mr. Brown: I was at the head of that party. I
occupied the house to mature my plans. I have not been in Baltimore
to purchase caps.
Dr. Biggs: What was the number of men at Kennedy's?
Mr. Brown: I decline to answer that.
Dr. Biggs: Who lanced that woman's neck on the
Mr. Brown: I did. I have sometimes practised in
surgery when I thought it a matter of humanity and necessity,
and there was no one else to do it, but have not studied surgery.
Dr. Biggs: It was done very well and scientifically.
They have been very clever to the neighbors, I have been told,
and we had no reason to suspect them except that we could not
understand their movements. They were represented as eight or
nine persons; on Friday there were thirteen.
Mr. Brown: There were more than that.
Q.: Where did you get arms to obtain possession
of the Armory?
A.: I bought them.
Q.: In what State?
A.: That I would not state.
Q.: How many guns?
A.: Two hundred Sharpe's rifles and two hundred
revolverswhat is called the Massachusetts Arms Company's revolvers,
a little under the navy size.
Q.: Why did you not take that swivel you left
in the house?
A.: I had no occasion for it. It was given to
me a year or two ago.
Q.: In Kansas?
A.: No; I had nothing given me in Kansas.
Q.: By whom; and in what State?
A.: I decline to answer. It is not properly a
swivel; it is a very large rifle with a pivot. The ball is larger
than a musket ball; it is intended for a slug.
Reporter of the Herald: I do not wish to annoy
you; but if you have anything further you would like to say I
will report it.
Mr. Brown: I have nothing to say, only that I
claim to be here in carrying out a measure I believe perfectly
justifiab, and not ot act the part of an incendiary or ruffian,
but to aid those suffering great wrong. I wish to say, furthermore,
that you had better—all you people at the South—prepare
yourselves for a settlement of that question that must come up
for settlement sooner than you are prepared for. The sooner you
are prepared the better. You may dispose of me very easily; I
am nearly disposed of now; but this question is still to be settled—this
Negro question I mean—the end of that is not yet. These
wounds were inflicted upon me -both sabre cuts on my
head and bayonet stabs in different parts of my body some minutes
after I had ceased fighting and had consented to a surrender,
for the benefit of others, not for my own. [This statement was
vehemently denied by all around.] I believe the major [meaning
Lieut. J. B. Stuart, of the United States cavalry, would not have
been alive; I could have killed him just as easy as a mosquito
when he came in, but I supposed he came in only to receive our
surrender. There had been loud and long calls of "surrender"
from us as loud as men could yell but in the confusion and excitement
I suppose we were not heard. I do not think the major, or any
one, meant to butcher us after we had surrendered.
An Officer here stated that the order to the marines
were not to shoot anybody; but when they were fired upon by Brown's
men and one of them killed, they were obliged to return the compliment.
Mr. Brown insisted that the marines fired first.
An Officer: Why did not you surrender before the
Mr. Brown: I did not think it was my duty or interest
to do so. We assured the prisoners that we did not wish to harm
them, and they should be set at liberty. I exercised my best judgment,
not believing the people would wantonly sacrifice their own fellow
citizens, when vat offered to let them go on condition of being
allowed to change our position about a quarter of a mile. The
prisoners agreed by vote among themselves to pass across the bridge
with us. We wanted them only as a sort of guaranty of our own
safety; that we should not be fired into. We took them in the
first place as hostages and to keep them from doing any harm.
We did kill some men in defending ourselves, but I saw no one
fire except directly in selfdefense. Our orders were strict not
to harm any one not in arms against us.
Q.: Brown, suppose you had every nigger in the
United States, what would you do with them?
A.: Set them free.
Q.: Your intention was to carry them off and free
A.: Not at all.
A Bystander: To set them free would sacrifice
the life of every man in this community.
Mr. Brown: I do not think so.
Bystander: I know it. I think you are fanatical.
Mr. Brown: And I think you are fanatical. "Whom
the gods would destroy they first make mad," and you are
Q.: Was it your only object to free the negroes?
A.: Absolutely our only object.
Q.: But you demanded and took Col. Washington's
silver and watch?
A.: Yes; we intended freely to appropriate the
property of slaveholders to carry out our object. It was for that,
and only that, and with no design to enrich ourselves with any
Q.: Did you know Sherrod in Kansas? I understand
you killed him.
A.: I killed no man except in fair fight; I fought
at Black Jack Point and Ossawatomie, and if I killed anybody it
was at one of those places.