Johnston thought that the place was unimportant, and withdrew when (15th June) the Federal forces under General Robert Patterson and Colonel Lew Wallace approached, and Harper's Ferry was again occupied by a Federal garrison.
A United States arsenal and armoury were established at Harper's Ferry in 1796, the site being chosen because of the good water-power; these were seized on the 16th of October 1859 by John Brown, the abolitionist, and some 21 of his followers.
The first settlement here was made about 1747 by Robert Harper, who ran a ferry across the Potomac. The position of Harper's Ferry at the lower end of the Shenandoah Valley rendered it a place of strategic importance during the Civil War.
On the following day Harper's Ferry capitulated after a weak defence.