Say What Sunday: “I kept on singing until all were brought on board.” Harriet Tubman

DBF

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 6, 2016
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On the Monday night of June 1, 1863 a small flotilla of Union ships made their way out of a coastal inlet in South Carolina known as St. Helena Sound. The lead ship John Adams pointed its bow toward the Combahee River while the Union gunships the Sentinel and Harriet A. Weed followed. Union Colonel and abolitionist James Montgomery was given the authority in January of 1863 to raise a regiment consisting of free blacks and former slaves. On May 22, 1863 the Second South Carolina Volunteers were mustered into service. Tonight over 200 black soldiers are accompanying Colonel Montgomery but all eyes are on another. This person has been infiltrating the area and knows the waterways and guides the Union gunboats around the dangers. Their mission is to rescue some 800 slaves and then destroy the plantations from the Confederate land owners. They are in enemy territory, they are on a dangerous mission and their leader wears a skirt and her name is Harriet Tubman.

Born a slave in or around 1820 Harriet broke free from the yoke of slavery and carries the scars from the whippings she received as a young girl and she suffers life-long pain from the treatment she received while enslaved. On September 17, 1849 Harriet made her run for freedom. Her brothers joined her but for some reason they turned around and went back; but Harriet kept running. {2} Through the help of the Underground Railroad she traveled 90 miles and arrived safely in Philadelphia. She soon returned South to help family members cross to safety and even tried to convince her husband to run for freedom but he had remarried and remained behind. With the passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act it became more dangerous for Harriet but she persevered in her desire to free the slaves. She became known to many as “Moses” and on the night of June 1 she is leading a raid to “Let Her People Go”.

As the flotilla makes its way up the Combahee River they are not going unnoticed. Tubman has eight scouts in place who had helped her map out the route they needed to take as well as alert the slaves that help was coming. In the early hours of June 2nd at 2:30 a.m., she directs the boats to the strategic locations where slaves were hiding and watching for the arrival of the Union ships. Accompanying the South Carolina troops were approximately fifty troops from a Rhode Island Regiment with orders to disembark at Field’s Point and destroy the plantations especially targeting those belonging to the Heyward, Middleton, and the Lowndes families all three well known South Carolina secessionists. The Union troops torched the plantations burning mansions, warehouses and fields destroying everything that was standing.

When the ship sounded their whistle it was the cue for the slaves to find their way to the water, rowboats and safety on the Union ships. At first their was fear among the slaves to move and then conditions moved to chaotic as slaves began running into rowboats to be ferried to the rescue ships. Harriet feared there would not be enough rowboats dispatched to accommodate the fleeing mass. Many slaves were hanging on for dear life in their dash for freedom. as Miss Tubman reported:

“I never saw such a sight. Sometimes the women would come with twins hanging around their necks; it appears I never saw so many twins in my life; bags on their shoulders, baskets on their heads, and young ones tagging along behind, all loaded; pigs squealing, chickens screaming, young ones squealing.” {5}

As the Union ships headed out to open water, Harriet Tubman is confronted with anywhere between 750-800 frightened slaves on deck. Tubman managed to calm down the fearful passengers by singing a popular abolitionist anthem:

“Of all the whole creation in the east
or in the west
The glorious Yankee nation is the
greatest and the best
Come along! Come along!

don’t be alarmed.” {5}

As the former slaves got into the rowboats and were unloaded they heard this song and soon began to shout “Glory!" in response to Harriet’s calming words. Harriet watched and sang as the rowboats went back and forth. Later she said:

“I kept on singing until all were brought on board.” {5}

The rescue mission was a success. Northern newspaper reported:

“Colonel Montgomery and his gallant band of 300 black soldiers under the guidance of a black woman, dashed into the enemy's country, struck a bold and effective blow, destroying millions of dollars worth of commissary stores, cotton and lordly dwellings, and striking terror into the heart of rebeldom, brought off nearly 800 slaves and thousands of dollars worth of property, without losing a man or receiving a scratch.” {5}

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Harriet Tubman (1820 or 1822 - 1913) - Colonel James Montgomery (1814 – 1871)

Harriet Tubman was born a slave and died a free woman and
in-between she had a dream and with strength and patience
she passionately reached for the stars and changed the world.



* * *


Sources
1. https://www.history.com/news/harriet-tubman-combahee-ferry-raid-civil-war
2. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/harriet-tubman
3. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/combahee-river-raid-june-2-1863/
4. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smit...s-heroic-military-career-now-easier-envision-
180975038/
5. The Commonwealth, Boston, Massachusetts, July 10, 1863, Harriet Tubman Website
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connecticut yankee

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 2, 2017
Fascinating post! You could easily make a Civil War movie for television out of this very dramatic historical event.
I find it fascinating, too, that the South Carolina Legislature in 2013 introduced a House bill to honor Harriet Tubman and to commemorate the raid. I don't know if the bill eventually passed but here it is as it contains additional information to the story:

South Carolina General Assembly
120th Session, 2013-2014

Bill 4236​


A HOUSE RESOLUTION​

TO REMEMBER AND COMMEMORATE THE ONE HUNDRED FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF HARRIET TUBMAN'S COMBAHEE RIVER RAID IN BEAUFORT COUNTY THAT RESCUED EIGHT HUNDRED SLAVES AND SUPPLIED UNION FORCES WITH THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN CONFISCATED GOODS ON JUNE 2, 1863.

Whereas, it is altogether fitting that the South Carolina House of Representatives should pause in its deliberations to recall the daring raid twenty-five miles up the Combahee River from Port Royal, planned and executed by Harriet Tubman, reverently known as "Moses" by those whom she freed from slavery; and

Whereas, on June 2, 2013, the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Combahee River Raid will be commemorated at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort where Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, author of the celebrated, Bound For The Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of An American Hero, will address the participants; and

Whereas, Harriet Tubman, the first woman to plan and execute an armed expedition during the Civil War, had recruited three hundred slaves for the Second South Carolina Volunteers commanded by Union Colonel James Montgomery; and

Whereas, she acted as Colonel Montgomery's advisor for the raid, sailing with him and those same black volunteers up the Combahee in the lead military vessel, the Adams, which successfully navigated the heavily mined waters without incident; and

Whereas, when Colonel Montgomery landed on the foggy morning, he dispersed some of his regiment to ferret out any Confederates hiding in the fields and woods and sent word to slaves to hasten to the river under the protection and freedom of the Union regiment; and

Whereas, they had met with little resistance as they effectively diffused Confederate gunners along the river and began setting fire to several plantations, destroying homes, barns, rice mills, and steam engines; and

Whereas, on the information supplied to Ms. Tubman by slaves acting as scouts for the Union, she had learned the locations of Confederate warehouses and stockpiles of rice and cotton from which the Second South Carolina confiscated thousands of dollars worth of rice, corn , cotton, horses, and other livestock; and

Whereas, they opened the sluice gates which flooded the fields, making the beautifully growing crops a total loss and leaving devastation for the Confederates. All was accomplished without losing one volunteer from the regiment; and

Whereas, despite threats from overseers, plantation owners, and managers, some eight hundred slaves sallied forth when the steamer whistles sounded their signal for them to abandon the plantations and board the ships: the sight of the streaming masses laden with their worldly goods awed even Harriet Tubman; and

Whereas, the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives commend the observation of the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Harriet Tubman's Combahee River Raid and the heroism of all those who participated. Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:

That the members of the House of Representatives of the State of South Carolina, by this resolution, remember and commemorate the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Harriet Tubman's Combahee River Raid in Beaufort County that rescued eight hundred slaves and supplied Union forces with thousands of dollars in confiscated goods on June 2, 1863.

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be presented to Tabernacle Baptist Church.
 

Combahee

Cadet
Joined
Feb 6, 2014
Fascinating post! You could easily make a Civil War movie for television out of this very dramatic historical event.
I find it fascinating, too, that the South Carolina Legislature in 2013 introduced a House bill to honor Harriet Tubman and to commemorate the raid. I don't know if the bill eventually passed but here it is as it contains additional information to the story:

South Carolina General Assembly
120th Session, 2013-2014

Bill 4236​


A HOUSE RESOLUTION​

TO REMEMBER AND COMMEMORATE THE ONE HUNDRED FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF HARRIET TUBMAN'S COMBAHEE RIVER RAID IN BEAUFORT COUNTY THAT RESCUED EIGHT HUNDRED SLAVES AND SUPPLIED UNION FORCES WITH THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN CONFISCATED GOODS ON JUNE 2, 1863.

Whereas, it is altogether fitting that the South Carolina House of Representatives should pause in its deliberations to recall the daring raid twenty-five miles up the Combahee River from Port Royal, planned and executed by Harriet Tubman, reverently known as "Moses" by those whom she freed from slavery; and

Whereas, on June 2, 2013, the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Combahee River Raid will be commemorated at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort where Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, author of the celebrated, Bound For The Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of An American Hero, will address the participants; and

Whereas, Harriet Tubman, the first woman to plan and execute an armed expedition during the Civil War, had recruited three hundred slaves for the Second South Carolina Volunteers commanded by Union Colonel James Montgomery; and

Whereas, she acted as Colonel Montgomery's advisor for the raid, sailing with him and those same black volunteers up the Combahee in the lead military vessel, the Adams, which successfully navigated the heavily mined waters without incident; and

Whereas, when Colonel Montgomery landed on the foggy morning, he dispersed some of his regiment to ferret out any Confederates hiding in the fields and woods and sent word to slaves to hasten to the river under the protection and freedom of the Union regiment; and

Whereas, they had met with little resistance as they effectively diffused Confederate gunners along the river and began setting fire to several plantations, destroying homes, barns, rice mills, and steam engines; and

Whereas, on the information supplied to Ms. Tubman by slaves acting as scouts for the Union, she had learned the locations of Confederate warehouses and stockpiles of rice and cotton from which the Second South Carolina confiscated thousands of dollars worth of rice, corn , cotton, horses, and other livestock; and

Whereas, they opened the sluice gates which flooded the fields, making the beautifully growing crops a total loss and leaving devastation for the Confederates. All was accomplished without losing one volunteer from the regiment; and

Whereas, despite threats from overseers, plantation owners, and managers, some eight hundred slaves sallied forth when the steamer whistles sounded their signal for them to abandon the plantations and board the ships: the sight of the streaming masses laden with their worldly goods awed even Harriet Tubman; and

Whereas, the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives commend the observation of the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Harriet Tubman's Combahee River Raid and the heroism of all those who participated. Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:

That the members of the House of Representatives of the State of South Carolina, by this resolution, remember and commemorate the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of Harriet Tubman's Combahee River Raid in Beaufort County that rescued eight hundred slaves and supplied Union forces with thousands of dollars in confiscated goods on June 2, 1863.

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be presented to Tabernacle Baptist Church.
There are some inaccuracies in this resolution. This resolution was adopted however and the bridge over the Combahee River was names the "Harriet Tubman Memorial Bridge".
 
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Combahee

Cadet
Joined
Feb 6, 2014
For a complete detailing of the raid, "Combahee River Raid, Harriet Tubman and Lowcountry Liberation" The History Press, Jeff W. Grigg 2014
 
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Georgia

Sergeant
Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass are believed to have been born not too far from where we live. I so wish there was an increased interest in her and her works.
Granted, school systems are not currently in normal teaching patterns today.
But, about a decade ago, when a black gentleman came into my store to ask if I’d purchase advertising in the black written and produced magazine he was representing I asked him if they were also going to do a piece on Thomas Garret and the Underground Railroad as his home was but a block or so away.

He had never heard of the Underground Railroad. As a college educated gentleman, I find this so sad to realize.
The children who come to visit the plantation where I hearth cook have no prior introduction to the enslaved and by fifth grade this shouldn’t be.

We are missing great opportunities to educate the citizens of incredible role models both of race, convictions during also gender. So very many lost opportunities.

Thank you for sharing about Harriet. My hopes are that she will soon get the recognition as great and far spreading as her actions with the Underground Railroad.
 
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Mrs. V

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
May 5, 2017
I love this post. When the Ohio Chataqua came to my home town, there was a woman who portrayed Harriet. She was awesome, and she came on stage singing. She really was the inspiration for my own Living History persona..She really got into character, and she was a delight to see perform.

Because my son was part of the pre-historical presentation we got to meet the Living Historians. And down the rabbit hole we went.

My son played the solo violin, with no sheet music, just off the top of his head. (He learned the tunes by ear)..I made his uniform. Farby fabric, but awesome trim and authentic eagle buttons. And then there was the plastic sabre..and the drapery cord sash...He stood as Lincolns honor guard too. Learned not to lock his knees..it was hot and August..He never did get credit for suggesting tunes for the “chamber” strings..Oh well, he impressed the heck out of the audience and the scholars..We were the only ones to come in period dress.
 
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