Guard House 64

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park will present the “Guard House, 1864” living history weekend on June 17-18 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Costumed rangers and volunteers will interpret Civil War civilian life under harsh military rule.

The public is invited to see how the former Armory Fire Engine House was put to use during the American Civil War. The structure was repurposed as a Guard House for both civilians and soldiers prisoners who found themselves on the wrong side of martial law and order. In 1864, U.S. soldiers occupied the town while conducting army garrison duties such as guard mount parade; searching and arresting spies, deserters, and traitors; processing prisoners of war; searching citizens; and maintaining military security in a occupied enemy town.

Famous people associated with the Fire Engine House include abolitionist John Brown, who in 1859 was captured inside the small brick structure during his ill-fated attempt to seize weapons from the armory to start a war on slavery. Later, following the Battle of Antietam in September of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln made statements to the press at the engine house just before he released his draft in the newspapers of the Emancipation Proclamation, which would free enslaved people in areas of rebellion.

For further details, call the park’s Information Center at 304-535-6029.