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Robert Smalls's Great Escape: How A Slave Stole A Confederate Ship And Sailed To Freedom

 Born into slavery and forced to serve as a ship's captain without any respect, Robert Smalls was a man who refused to live by the rules set by the Confederate Army during the Civil War. For his final act of defiance, he stole a Confederate ship and sailed his family and friends to freedom, after which he continued to break hopes by becoming a successful businessman and politician. Smalls ended his life as one of the wealthiest men in the South, not just a former slave.

Smalls was born into slavery



Born on April 5, 1839, Robert Smalls was raised in a shack behind his owner's home in Beaufort, South Carolina. No one knows who his father was, but his descendants believe that his owner, John Mackie, gave birth to the boy. Others have suggested Mackie's son, Henry, and his plantation manager, Patrick Small, as possible suspects. (Interestingly, the shared last name of "Smalls" may have been a complete coincidence.)

It is a depressing fact that the brutal reality of life as a slave often meant the privilege of knowing who gave birth to their children, but because it was believed that Smalls belonged to someone who was in the plantation food chain. Upstairs, she led a relatively comfortable existence in childhood. Worried that her son didn't really understand how terrible life was for slaves, his mother hired Smalls to work in the fields near the whip post. Sent.

The experience seemed to have had a lasting effect on the young man. When he was 19, Small was sent to the city, where he worked as a lamplighter before securing a job on the USS Planter. Working his way up to Wheelman (the Confederates refused to give him the title of captain), he met his wife, Hannah, and began to devise a plan to buy his freedom.

Smalls planned a daring escape


Smalls took months to devise an escape plan, which he put into practice in the early morning hours of May 13, 1862. Although it was against military rule for soldiers to leave their boat while it was manned by slaves, Smalls knew this would not 'prevent Captain Charles Relia and his subordinates from going ashore that night, so he took three Bid goodnight to white Confederate officers as they left the boat for the evening.

Once Rayleigh and her men were at home, Smalls donned one of Rayleigh's outfits before pulling the planter out of the dock and headed to the Union blockade anchored outside Charleston Harbor. With 16 people on board, it was imperative that Smalls did everything in his power to ensure that the planter made it unnoticed beyond the Confederate docks. To blind and help him, the ship exited Confederate territory, but another problem awaited.

Union troops nearly destroyed the planter


After Planter was out of Confederate territory, the next phase of his plan required him to remove the Confederate and South Carolina flags that hung from the mast and a white bed linen was raised to indicate that the driver. The party has no loss because of the union. As they departed Fort Sumter at about 4:30, however, a fog enveloped the ship, obscuring the white sheet. As Planter approached USS Onward, Union troops prepared to fire until a crew saw the flag at the last minute. Later, a witness described the scene.

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