John Brown cut his teeth as a killer as an anti-slavery “Jayhawker” during Bleeding Kansas. In mid-October of 1859, the crusading abolitionist organized a small band of white allies and free blacks and raided a government arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia. He hoped to seize weapons and distribute them to Southern slaves in order to spark a wracking series of slave uprisings. Although Brown captured the arsenal, he was quickly surrounded and forced to surrender by soldiers under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee. He was tried for treason and, upon his execution, became a martyr for the abolitionist cause. Southerners, on the other hand, began to militarize in preparation for future raids.