While on leave from the army, Lee was summoned from Arlington to the Secretary of War’s office on October 17, 1859 by Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart. Lee was ordered to lead two regiments of Marines to put down a raid at Harpers Ferry led by abolitionist John Brown. The local militia had driven the insurgents into the engine house of the armory at Harpers Ferry, where they were holding several hostages. When Brown and the other insurgents refused to surrender to Lee and his men, the Marines battered down the door and overpowered them. Three insurgents were killed in the attack and John Brown was injured.
A month later, Lee returned to Harpers Ferry to command troops sent there to prevent any attempts to rescue John Brown, who had been sentenced to hang.
Paper. W 5.9, L 10 cm
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, ARHO 3362