Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Harpers Ferry - Master Armorer's House

Modern photograph of the Master Armorer's House
Modern photograph of the Master Armorer's House
NPS

Quick Facts

Location:
Harpers Ferry, WV
Designation:
National Park

The strategic location of the Master Armorer's House made it ideal for the headquarters of the commanding officer at Harpers Ferry. The Master Armorer's House is at the junction of Shenandoah and High Streets only one block from the Baltimore & Ohio (B&O) Railroad Bridge and the Potomac River pontoon crossing. The Master Armorer's House was easy to find and a nerve center for communications during the Civil War.

Completed just before the John Brown Raid in 1859, the Master Armorer's House was one of the newest buildings in Harpers Ferry at the outbreak of the Civil War.

The most famous general who stayed in the Master Armorer's House was Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Grant only spent one night in the house, on September 16, 1864, when returning from a strategy meeting in Charles Town with his Shenandoah Valley commander, Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan. During Grant's stay, the building was the headquarters of Union Brig. Gen. John D. Stevenson. Stevenson commanded the Military District of Harpers Ferry along with managing Sheridan's logistics operations during the 1864 Valley Campaign. Stevenson was known to control Harpers Ferry, and the surrounding region, with a "hard-hand" of martial law. Stevenson also combated Confederate guerillas; he even entrapped John Mobberly, his nemesis, and killed him just before the end of the war. Stevenson also displayed Mobberly's corpse at the Master Armorer's House, as a reminder of the war's ruthlessness.

Union commander Col. Dixon S. Miles, who opposed Stonewall Jackson during the Battle of Harpers Ferry on September 12-15, 1862, also used the Master Armorer's House as his headquarters. Miles would be mortally wounded during the battle, and he would die here on September 16.