- ›› Coverage People : Robert Smalls
Glossary Term – Event
Robert Smalls, a slave hired out to work aboard the Confederate steamship Planter, daringly commandeered the ship and delivered it to Union naval forces blockading Charleston harbor.
Glossary Term – Person
Robert Smalls (1839–1915) was a slave who became a Union naval hero of the Civil War. Born into slavery, Smalls was hired out to work on the Confederate steamship Planter in 1861. In May 1862, he led a group of African Americans in seizing the ship and piloting it to a Union naval blockade. Smalls turned over the ship and its cargo and documents to the Union, which earned him both admiration and freedom. He was given command of the Planter, making him the first black captain of an American service vessel. During...