File:Desperate Conflict in a Barn.png

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English: Struggle for freedom in a Maryland barn.

Wesley Harris, a.k.a. Robert Jackson, has escaped with two comrades from Harper's Ferry, Virginia. They travel 60 miles north to "Terrytown" [Hagerstown?], Maryland, where they are "informed by a colored man of the danger [they] were in and of the bad [c]haracter towards colored people, especially those who were escaping to freedom ...". A farmer invites them to take shelter in his barn but then apparently betrays them and a conflict ensues.

"The men all being armed and furnished with ropes, we were ordered to be tied. I told them that if they took me they would have to take me dead or crippled. At that instant one of my friends cried out—'Where is the man that betrayed us?' Spying him at the same moment, he shot him (badly wounding him). Then the conflict fairly began. The constable seized me by the collar, or rather behind my shoulder. I at once shot him with my pistol, but in consequence of his throwing up his arm, which hit mine as I fired, the effect of the load of my pistol was much turned aside; his face, however, was badly burned, besides his shoulder being wounded. I again fired on the pursuers, but do not know whether I hit anybody or not. I then drew a sword, I had brought with me, and was about cutting my way to the door, when I was shot by one of the men, receiving the entire contents of one load of a double barreled gun in my left arm, that being the arm with which I was defending myself. The load brought me to the ground, and I was unable to make further struggle for myself. I was then badly beaten with guns, &c. In the meantime, my friend Craven, who was defending himself, was shot badly in the face, and most violently beaten until he was conquered and tied. The two young brothers of Craven stood still, without making the least resistance. After we were fairly captured we were taken to Terrytown, which was in sight of where we were betrayed. By this time I had lost so much blood from my wounds, that they concluded my situation was too dangerous to admit of being taken further; so I was made a prisoner at a tavern, kept by a man named Fisher. There my wounds were dressed, and thirty-two shot were taken from my arm. For three days I was crazy, and they thought I would die."

Dictated by Robert Jackson a.k.a. Wesley Harris on 2 November 1853. From William Still's The Underground Rail Road, p. 50. "Engravings by Bensell, Schell, and others."
Source The underground rail road. A record of facts, authentic narratives, letters, &c., narrating the hardships, hair-breadth escapes, and death struggles of the slaves in their efforts for freedom, as related by themselves and others, or witnessed by the author; together with sketches of some of the largest stockholders, and most liberal aiders and advisers, of the road. (Available from
Author William Still


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current03:49, 17 August 2014Thumbnail for version as of 03:49, 17 August 20141,754 × 1,221 (3.01 MB)Monumenteer2014User created page with UploadWizard

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