Hayward / Heyward / Haywood Shepherd                                                                         John Brown Raid
                                                                                                 B & O Railroad
"Martinsburg Shops Three Years Before the Civil War"  [ca. 1858].    B & O Employees Magazine Sept. 1915

The African American man at  left foreground is newly-recognized as possibly Haywood (Heyward)  
Shepherd, an employee at the B & O depot at Harpers Ferry who was killed by John Brown's men on
October 17, 1859 (midnight darkness).  He would be in Martinsburg to help manage the extensive luggage
required by the B & O Artists' Excursion of June, 1858
(possibly) Hayward with two child laborers; Thomas Swann, mayor of Baltimore;
Philip E. Thomas, "father of American Railways"; assistant; (arm akimbo) Conductor
"Captain" Rawlings; (possibly) photographer's assistant; William Prescott Smith, Master
of Transportation and organizer of the excursion by the B & O Railroad
Enhancement of 1858 Rail Yards by Jim Surkamp, historian of African Americans in Jefferson County,
West Virginia
photo from the same location taken in November 2020
by Richard Snowden identification project volunteer

The Martinsburg Yards in the 1858 photograph were destroyed
in October 1862 by the Confederate General Stonewall Jackson
Rebuilt in 1866, the restored
Martinsburg Roundhouse is a
National Historic Landmark (2003) and community facility
Pencil sketch of Heyward /Haywood
Shepherd and Fontaine Beckham is by
David English Henderson, who lived near
Charlestown, between the Washington and
Allstadt plantations.  Henderson provided
first-hand details of the raid to his cousin
David H. Strother (Porte Crayon), published
Harper's Weekly in Oct-Nov 1859

Both men served as cartographers during
the Civil War; Henderson as a Lieutenant in
the Confederate States and Strother as a  
Brigadier General with the Union.

Fontaine Beckham was also killed by
Brown's men in the battle that took place in
the afternoon of October 17, 1859.  

Beckham was the station agent for the
B & O Railroad since 1842, and the mayor of
Harper's Ferry
courtesy Stan Cohen, John Brown
The Thundering Voice of Jehovah
Boyd Stutler Collection Record 712
  West Virginia State Archives


The Virginians buried Hayward (Haywood) Shepherd with military honors for defending the state from John Brown's attack. Stories circulated that he talked with the men who shot
him, refusing to join them.  In 1931 a monument was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy stating Shepherd was an example of loyal slaves.  The installation was
protested by W.E.B. DuBois and local African Americans.  The controversy has persisted into the present decade, with markedly different histories of the event by historians. On
October 19, 2020, flowers were placed at his virtual memorial thanking "a loyal Virginian."

Sources:  Jean Libby, Black Voices From Harpers Ferry; Osborne Anderson and the John Brown Raid (1979:142-145,231)  
Louis A. DeCaro, Jr.
The Untold Story of Shields Green; the Life and Death of a Harper's Ferry Raider (2020:91-92)
Hayward Shepherd Find-a-Grave Memorial ID 123489179


Haywood Shepherd was a free man who worked as a porter and night baggage-master at the junction of the B & O Railroad and the Winchester & Potomac bridges at Harpers Ferry.
Born ca. 1825 (age 34-35), his residence was in Winchester, Virginia, with his free wife (Sarah Elizabeth Briscoe) and five children. Their daughters ranged in age from 16 to 7 years;
his only son John H. was four.  All were described as Mulatto. Haywood is described as Black by primary accounts, but is not found in Census records. He was probably born into
slavery and manumitted.  He began working at the depot in approximately 1847, at age 22-23.       
Sources:   Eugene L. Meyer, Five for Freedom; the African American Soldiers in John Brown's Army (2018)                                       
Charles P. Poland, Jr
., America's Good Terrorist; John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid  (2020:68)  
Robert De Witt, ed.
The life, trial, and conviction of Captain John Brown, known as "Old Brown of Osawatomie," with a full account of the attempted insurrection at Harper's Ferry (1859:68-69)

It was around midnight on October 16-17, 1859 that John Brown’s wagon came across the B & O Railroad bridge into Harper’s Ferry with nineteen men armed to capture the federal arsenal and liberate slaves in Virginia.  His army had tasks and
positions in pairs or groups:  Brown posted his two younger sons Watson and Oliver, paired with Stewart Taylor and William Thompson, guarding the railroad bridges. The second bridge was owned by the Winchester & Potomac Railroad and
crossed the Shenandoah into town near the B & O bridge. John Brown’s standing orders were to fire only in self-defense and not on unarmed men. The object of his invasion, the federal armory, was behind a locked gate. Brown himself came to
the gate and demanded the watchman, Daniel Whelan, give up the keys.  When refused, Brown forced the armory gate open with a crowbar and took the watchman prisoner, along with the B & O watchman William Williams.   

The next shift on the B & O bridge was for watchman Patrick Higgins, entering on the out-of-town side.  Concerned not finding Williams or the wooden markers he placed at time intervals, Higgins encountered two men “armed with spears” who
grabbed his lantern and struck him with it, saying they were taking him prisoner. Higgins ran headlong through a window to the Wager House hotel, behind him shots were fired: “I also woke the black man (Heywood), that keeps the depot.  And
went now to look for Willliams, went to his house, and told his wife that I feared he must be dead.  I then got down and met the train.  I stopped it, and told the conductor “You can not go over, the bridge is taken by a lot of murderers.”  With that the
conductor Phelps, the engineer Bill Woolett, and the fireman came over. They were met by two men who hallooed to them “Go back, you ____ _____, the place is taken.” Seven shots were then fired, and about this time Heywood was shot.”
Baltimore American, October 21, 1859   

Testimony of Conductor Phelps: “My train arrived at 1:25 bound East, saw no watchman …when the watchman came up, all excited [Higgins]… advised me to go through the bridge with my light first before starting the train, the baggage-master
and a passenger accompanied me with lights, and when we entered the bridge someone said “stand and deliver” and previously had told engineer to follow him slowly, but immediately saw the muzzles of four rifles pointed at us, resting on the
railing, told the engineer to back, which he did.  As I got out on the tressling, I heard the report of a gun, and Heywood, the colored man, came running to me and said “Captain, I am shot”, a ball had entered his back, and came out under his left
nipple, took him to the railroad office and started for a doctor …”
 Baltimore American, October 28, 1859     Trial of John Brown

Watson Brown and Stewart Taylor were the B & O bridge sentinels.  According to historian Tony Horwitz in
Midnight Rising; John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War, Stewart Taylor—a Canadian who had traveled on his own to find
John Brown and participate—was extremely shaken and “feared that he had killed a man.”   He was killed in the engine house battle on the afternoon of October 17. Haywood was laid on a plank placed between chairs at the depot.  Dr. Joseph
Starry, who lived nearby, examined him and was unable to help his mortal wound.  During his ten hours of agony, Patrick Higgins was allowed to bring him water.

"I am very sorry.  It was not my intention that any blood should be spilled."  
Testimony of B & O conductor W. A. Phelps
About the photograph:

The photograph (originally a
daguerreotype) was made by participants
in an Artist's Excursion train.  The first car
was adapted for making images in the field,
a pioneering photographic technique

The elderly man with a beard in the center
of the front row is identified as
Philip E. Thomas, the "Father of American
Railways"  (1776-1861)

The man next to Hayward is Thomas
Swann. then mayor of Baltimore and
previously president of the B & O Railroad

The man at far right of dignitaries line is
William Prescott Smith, Master of
Transportation for the B & O RR

See the
Harper's Monthly of June 1859
which describes the events by
David Hunter Strother
(Porte Crayon), a native of Martinsburg       
"Faithful Slave" monument in Harpers Ferry
dedicated October 1931 with protest from local

African Americans and W.E.B. Du Bois of the NAACP
photo by Richard Snowden, December 2020
photo of tablet to honor African Americans who
supported Brown and the 200,000 Colored Troops
in the Civil War is by Susan Higginbotham,
February 2021
"Artists Excursion on the B & O Railroad" took place in
June, 1858.  The article and illustrations by Porte
Crayon (David H. Strother) was published in
New Monthly Magazine
in June, 1859.   
 link to publication at internet  archive