On October 16, 1859, John Brown led 21 men, black and white, into Harpers Ferry, VA. Brown's aim was to seize the federal arsenal there, distribute the captured arms to slaves in the area, and start a general slave uprising. Brown held 60 of the town's prominent citizens hostage because he had hope that their slaves would then join the insurrection. However, no slaves came forward, instead local troops killed 8 of Brown's men. Colonel Robert E. Lee commanded a detachment of U.S. Marines to race to Harpers Ferry. They storm the engine house where Brown and his men were barricading themselves, killed two more of his raiders, and captured Brown. Brown was turned over to Virginia to be trialed for treason. No one knows exactly why John Brown didn't tell slaves in advance of his plans or why didn't provide his men with enough food to last even for one day. On December 2, 1859, John Brown was hanged for high treason in the presence of federal troops and a crowd of curious observers. Lincoln and Douglas commended Brown as a murderer, but many other Northerners expressed admiration fir him and his cause. Some Northerners began to call Brown a martyr for the sacred cause of freedom. In the South, outraged mobs assaulted whites who were suspected of holding antislavery views. Harpers Ferry terrified Southern slaveholders, who were convinced the North was plotting slave uprisings everywhere.