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I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land can 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.
— John Brown
These men are all talk. What we need is action—action!
— John Brown

John Brown was a militant abolitionist in Virginia who fervently believed that armed insurrection was the only way to combat slavery in the United States. After clashing with pro-slavery opponents during the fighting in Bleeding Kansas, where he gained notoriety as one of the few northerners to believe that violent insurrection would be the only way to end the institution of slavery, he prepared for an assault on the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. This entailed recruitment and a meticulous stockpiling of weaponry before the attack.

On October 16, 1859, Brown and several supporters cut the telegraph wire and successfully captured the arsenal. The popular slave uprising Brown had hoped to instigate never materialized, however. After fighting local townspeople who formed a militia to harass them, Brown's men were ultimately surrounded and defeated by US Marines led by Robert E. Lee. Brown was arrested and executed for his actions. Brown's actions are agreed by many historians to have been the catalyst for the secession of the southern states and ultimately the American Civil War.

Battle vs. Nat Turner (by El Alamein)[]

Nat Turner: RedRedRedRedRed

John Brown: BlueBlueBlueBlueBlue

The darkness of the night swallowed up the faint glimmer of courage that struggled feebly in the sentry's heart. He stood posted by the entryway to the outpost, clutching his Sharps carbine and squinting into the woods that surrounded the wooden palisade. Crickets chirped off in the distance, and the humid embrace of the summer night clung to his face in an oppressive hug. It tugged down at his eyelids, even as fear fought to keep them open. Still, he fidgeted in place, jumpy and nervous, waiting for the next watchman to come and relieve him. He turned and stared into the small fire that crackled in the center of the outpost, casting shadows that danced wickedly and painted black stripes on an orange glow. 

"Don't look into the fire. You won't see anything if you look away and back into the darkness." 

The sentry jumped. John Brown's hand clamped down hard on his shoulder. The abolitionist sat down next to the guard and gazed past the fire and into the distance. "This fire burns within all of us," he said. "The fire that drives us to take action against the injustice of this world. Against the injustice of this nation. Its heat burns until we cannot take it any longer, and then we are spurred to action. The flame destroys, yes, as it consumes all in its path. But it also urges good people to actionand when we move ahead of the flame, we can take action and prepare for it. And when the fire finally catches up, it will stand no chance."

Brown stood up and started to walk back toward the barracks where the rest of his men were sleeping. He stopped in the doorway and turned to the sentry. "But most of all, the fire should give us courage."

The sentry felt emboldened by his leader's brief speech. Looking back into the fire, he felt the revolutionary spirit surge within him. He was here in the south to make a difference. It was his mission. And, if it would require him to give his life in the process, so be it.

There was a slight rustling behind him. Before the sentry could turn to investigate the source of the noise, a hand wrapped itself around his mouth and dragged him backward. Effectively gagged, he could only let out a muffled grunt before a heavy blade came crashing down on the crown of his head. Stars shot across his vision and blood came tumbling out and down over his face, but a second blow quickly finished him off. Blue Nat Turner threw the body unceremoniously to the ground and entered the compound. Four of his rebel troops flooded in behind him, brandishing axes, knives, and old muskets. 

"Stay quiet," Turner whispered. "Search the place and kill everyone."

The slaves bristled with a furious excitement as they stalked forward into the barracks. It was dark, but they descended upon a sleeping militiaman next to the doorway nonetheless. His eyes bugged in terror at the figures that loomed out from the shadows. He gave a brief yelp before the rebel slaves came down on him, silencing him with blades. Blue It was too late, thoughtheir cover was blown.

John Brown and two other militiamen sat up in an instant. The two militamen were groggy and disoriented, but Brown leapt to his feet and grabbed the Sharps rifle that leaned against the wall next to him. He fired off a shot in the darkness that missed the attackers, but the slaves hesitated at the sound of the gunshot. Brown reached down and picked up his pistol, letting loose a second shot. This round hit an attacking rebel in the chest. Red The two militamen recovered and started to advance on Turner's group with two pikes. Unable to push forward in the confined spaces inside and confronted by some very dangerous polearms, Nat Turner slipped back out the doorway, his troops close behind. They regrouped in the courtyard of the outpost, spreading out along the wooden palisade walls that made up the perimeter. Brown burst out in a fury, rushing one of the slaves like a bull with his massive Bowie knife unsheathed. The two tumbled to the ground while his two militiamen tried to keep their other attackers at bay with the pikes. 

A righteous anger boiled out in Brown's heart, his teeth gnashing and his eyes rolling in a frenzy. He pinned down the slave, pushing the man's arm against his stomach when he tried to reach for a cane knife in defense. The man was now at Brown's mercy. He cried out in fear, but this only spurred Brown onward. He plunged the Bowie knife deep into the rebel slave's stomach, then ripped it out and stabbed him in the chest. His victim thrashed and convulsed, twitching in pain as the life was torn from his body with each successive strike. Red Brown was snapped out of his rampage as a gunshot pierced the air.

Nat Turner had discharged a flintlock musket at Brown from across the outpost. It was only a distance of twenty-five or so feet, but the round missed. One of Brown's militamen ran forward at Turner with his pike, but a slave turned on the spot with a hunting shotgun and blasted a huge chunk out of the militaman's upper chest and neck. Choking on his own blood, the abolitionist stumbled backward, dropping the pike. One hand fluttered up and shook involuntarily as he crumpled down to the ground. Blue The other militaman charged before Turner or his men could reload. The shotgun-wielding rebel was speared through the belly. Red The militiaman tried to slide the body off the shaft of his weapon, but he had driven the point of the pike too far in to his victim. He looked up in shock at the enraged Nat Turner, who twirled a cane knife in his hand as he advanced. With a vicious downward slash, Turner hacked right into the jaw of the militaman. Ripping the blade out, he tore again into the man's head and neck, over and over again. The abolitionist struggled feebly, reaching up with his hands to push at Turner's face, but he was completely defenseless. Finally, Turner delivered the killing blow that split the top of his victim's skull and destroyed the brain. Blue Standing up, he turned to see John Brown engaged in combat with his final surviving rebel.

The slave had Brown backed up against the palisade wall, trying to keep him on the defensive. Brown ducked and evaded wild swings of the hatchet from his attacker until one blow went careening into the wooden palisades and got stuck. John Brown immediately swiped downward with his Bowie knife at the slave's wrist, still holding the hatchet stuck in the wall. The man let go in pain and clutched at his bleeding arm. Brown ripped the hatchet out and smashed the rebel slave on the head. Red

The two rebel leaders then stared at each other briefly, their eyes glowing under the moonlight. John Brown's chest heaved up and down as he breathed furiously. Nat Turner's nostrils flared as he sized up his opponent. It was Brown who moved first, making an impulsive dash with his arm raised high overhead. Nat Turner easily sidestepped, bringing the cane knife down on the back of Brown's leg. It was a grazing wound, but a painful one, and Brown hobbled as he turned, putting his weight on his uninjured leg. Nat Turner took one step closer to his foe before John Brown threw his knife. It spun once through the air before it landed straight into its target's chest. Sprouting like a blade of grass from the earth, the handle stuck out from Turner's body as he looked down at it, then back up at his killer. John Brown still had his throwing arm outstretched, watching in an all-consuming fury as Nat Turner tottered backward to the palisade wall, leaned against it, and slid down to a sitting position. Red

The summer night breeze ambled idly by as John Brown surveyed the scene of carnage that surrounded him. He raised his bloody Bowie knife high into the air and yelled in victory. 

Expert's Opinion[]

John Brown and his men were better equipped and better trained. Brown himself also had greater combat experience. These simple factors were highly important and were more than enough to overcome the superior physicality and survival traits that Nat Turner possessed, which gave Brown the victory.

To see the original battle, weapons, and votes, click here.