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Sledgehammer used at Harper's Ferry on display

Tuesday - 5/15/2012, 12:25pm  ET

TRIANGLE, Va. - A piece of U.S. history handed down through generations of a West Virginia family is now on display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

A sledgehammer used by one of three Marines during John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 is now part of the northern Virginia museum's "Defending the New Republic" gallery.

A bystander during the raid picked up one of the sledgehammers used by the Marines after the abolitionist Brown raided the U.S. arsenal at what was then Harpers Ferry, Va. Brown was attempting to arm slaves and spark a Southern revolt.

The sledgehammer finally ended up in the hands of the Rissler family in Charles Town. The sledgehammer had been in the family for nearly a century before it was donated to the museum.

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