John Brown led an armed slave revolt against the United States Arsenal in Harper's Ferry, Virginia, in October 1859. Brown rented the Kennedy House in Washington County, Maryland, about 4 miles from Harper's Ferry, where he used the name Isaac Smith. He led a group of 21 men, including 4 free black men and 1 fugitive slave. His plan was to capture the arms located at the Arsenal and arm slaves to create a revolt of slaves against their masters. Brown expected around 400 slaves to join him in a rebellion.Brown and his followers were trapped in the Harper's Ferry fire engine house on October 18th 1859, when Lee sent United States Lieutenant JEB Stuart in to negotiate for a surrender of Brown and his followers. Lee then ordered United States Lieutenant Israel Greene to lead the marines against the engine house if Brown refused to capitulate. Brown would not accept any terms, and two marines armed with sledgehammers tried to break down the door. They switched to using a ladder and ten marines busted through the door. Green described the scene, "Quicker than thought I brought my saber down with all my strength upon [Brown's] head. He was moving as the blow fell, and I suppose I did not strike him where I intended, for he received a deep saber cut in the back of the neck. He fell senseless on his side, then rolled over on his back. He had in his hand a short Sharpe's cavalry carbine. I think he had just fired as I reached Colonel Washington, for the Marine who followed me into the aperture made by the ladder received a bullet in the abdomen, from which he died in a few minutes. The shot might have been fired by someone else in the insurgent party, but I think it was from Brown. Instinctively as Brown fell I gave him a saber thrust in the left breast. The sword I carried was a light uniform weapon, and, either not having a point or striking something hard in Brown's accouterments did not penetrate. The blade bent double.”
The whole action only took about three minutes. Brown and his raiders where take prisoner.