John Brown and his hardcore followers sought to take a second stand following the Battle of Osawatomie, but the cumulative effects of illness and heat derailed Brown’s plan to fight a standing fight.

Luke F. Parsons, a militant abolitionist who fought beside John Brown at the Battle of Osawatomie, stated that John Brown sought to continue fighting pro-slavery forces following the Battle of Osawatomie.

He wrote in a December 1859 letter to Redpath and Hinton, both abolitionist writers and journalists: “A few A day or so after the fight at Osawatomie Brown with his handful of men moved up the river [Marais Des Cygnes] two or three miles in the timber & finding that the Ruffians were a scouring the country in companies of from 10 to 50 & supposing that they were in search of him & co as they did not succeed in killing them, Brown proposed that if he could get 20 men to stand by him he would fortify & stand them another fight, spent some time to get signatures but so many were sick and discouraged that he only got 12 or 14. The B said that if he could get 15 men he would stand his ground. Everyone that was on consented to the new arrangement, 15 when we commenced to work on fortyfication, but the weather being very warm others were taken sick so that we were compelled to abandon the project.”

John Brown was not dispirited by the results of the Battle of Osawatomie, nor were the dedicated abolitionist guerillas who fought beside him. But even he and his tough, determined Free State guerilla fighters could not defeat the Kansas hot, humid summer when they tried to construct a second defensive perimeter north of Osawatomie.

Brown’s men succumbed to heat-related illness, and therefore John Brown had to abandon his plans to continue his militant abolitionist crusade in and around Osawatomie.

Brown then viewed the body of his son, Frederick, at the Adair Cabin, and then traveled to Lawrence, where he arrived on Sept. 7, 1856, where the pro-slavery force that had sought his life at the Battle of Osawatomie had surrounded Lawrence.

John Brown was hailed as a hero by the Free State defenders of Lawrence due to his bravery at the Battle of Osawatomie, and he was offered command of the Free State forces at Lawrence. But, wracked with grief at the death of his son, he declined the command and opted to take an advisory role in the Free State defense of Lawrence.

Brown clearly did not avoid contact with the pro-slavery forces that sought to capture and kill him following the Battle of Osawatomie, for he possessed the courage of his convictions and the willingness to risk, or if necessary, to give his life for the abolitionist cause.

Grady Atwater is site administrator of the John Brown Museum and State Historic Site.

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