On april 12, 1861 the armed forces of South Carolina attacked United States Soldiers at Fort Sumter, initiating the beginning of the American Civil War.
Now obviously the Civil War is a massive subject, and our intent today is not to explore in depth every facet of its vast history. We are, however, interested in telling the story of one specific battle which highlights this week’s principle of Give More.
The Raid on Combahee Ferry, or the Combahee River Raid, took place from June 1st to June 2nd in 1863. The Union Forces needed control over strategic waterfronts in South Carolina in order to offer their troops sufficient naval support in the south.
One of these waterfronts was the Combahee River, which was held by Confederate forces, and was surrounded by plantations filled with slaves who had no idea they had been freed months earlier by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The Union’s goal was to both push back Confederate forces and liberate hundreds of these enslaved individuals.
The United States forces that participated were made up of several Regiments, including one called the 2nd South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment. This particular group was composed of African-American soldiers who had themselves been enslaved shortly before. It was one of many units of former slaves raised in the middle of the war to strengthen the Union forces and increase the number of Federal troops.
These were the very troops which liberated the slave plantations surrounding the river and repelled the Confederate forces. Miraculously, and by the hand of God, a large number of southern troops stationed in the nearby village of Green Pond did not join in the battle, having heard the Union ships were potentially a false alarm. This enabled the northern forces to attack many plantations and free over 700 people from slavery without losing a single soldier.
The 2nd Regiment was led by one Colonel Montgomery, but someone else was also at the forefront of the battle leading the African-American force. A woman, herself a former slave, who had no qualms about rushing into the heat of battle to liberate those that currently found themselves in bondage.
A report in the pro-Union newspaper The Commonwealth 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. It was a glorious consummation. … The colonel was followed by a speech from the black woman who led the raid and under whose inspiration it was originated and conducted. For sound sense and real native eloquence her address would do honor to any man, and it created a great sensation.”
This woman was none other than Harriet Tubman.
Unbeknownst to many, her efforts in emancipation were not limited to her vital work on the underground railroad. She was willing to give even more, to fight in whatever way was most effective in ensuring the freedom of Americans. Harriet put her life on the line in countless ways and her actions had spectacular results.
She was one to not just give, but to Give More in the cause of freedom and American Liberty. She didn’t just embody the principles and ideals put in place by president Lincoln and the Union, she was willing to lead soldiers in actual battle to make them happen, and did so in one of the most succesful raids of the Civil War.
Today we invite others to Give More in honor of a heroic woman who gave her all.