Five for Freedom: The African American Soldiers in John Brown’s Army


Late on the evening of October 16, 1859, John Brown and his band of 18 raiders descended on Harpers Ferry at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. In an ill-fated attempt to incite a slave insurrection, they seized the federal arsenal, took hostages and retreated to a fire engine house where they barricaded themselves until a contingent of US Marines battered their way in on October 18.

The raiders were routed, and several were captured. Soon after, they were tried, convicted and hanged. Among Brown’s raiders were five African Americans whose lives and deaths have long been overshadowed by their martyred leader and, even today, are little remembered. Two—John Copeland and Shields Green—were executed. Two others—Dangerfield Newby and Lewis Leary—died at the scene. Newby, the first to go, was shot in the neck, then dismembered by townspeople and left for the hogs. He was trying to liberate his enslaved wife and children.

Of the five, only Osborne Perry Anderson escaped and lived to publish the lone insider account of the event that, most historians agree, was a catalyst to the catastrophic Civil War that followed over the country’s original sin of slavery.

Five for Freedom is the story of these five brave men, the circumstances in which they were born and how they came together at this time and place, grew to manhood and died. Their lives and deaths affected future generations, not just of their descendants, but of us all. It is a story that continues to resonate in the present.

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Hidden Maryland: In Search of America in Miniature

Tour the USA — in Maryland! This oddly-configured state — the ninth smallest — has been called "American in Miniature." Within its borders: maritime (Chesapeake!) and mountains (Appalachia), the industrial north (Baltimore), the plantation South (Southern Maryland). It's all here in Hidden Maryland: In Search of America in Miniature. Gene Meyer has spent decades exploring the state's hidden nooks and crannies, meeting people and finding places not on any traditional tour map. This richly illustrated guide through the state's regions, with side trips to its sporting life, military history and more, will delight and enthrall you. Plus, unique profiles of such Free State personalities as noir novelist and filmmaker George Pelecanos, wine guru Robert Parker, and Tony Mendez, the CIA operative behind ARGO, the successful extraction of American hostages in Iran turned into a 2012 Oscar-winning film, and Charlie Koiner, an honest-to-goodness urban farmer. In search of America in Miniature? You will find it all here, in Gene Meyer's readable, viewable Hidden Maryland.

"If Maryland is for crabs, then Gene Meyer is for Maryland. He's visited every corner of the state. That's no easy task, given how squiggly Maryland's border is in places. And after decades spent plumbing every nook and cranny -- from seashore to mountain -- Gene reveals a simple truth: Maryland's greatest natural resource is its people." – John Kelly, Washington Post columnist

"Back when Gene Meyer wrote for The Washington Post, I followed him closely. His stories from across Maryland popped with discovery and read-out-loud prose. His superb story-telling skills obviously continued into his Hidden Maryland days. In each tale, he makes his readers feel like fellow travelers." – Dan Rodricks, Baltimore Sun columnist

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