On June 2, 1863, Harriet Tubman, acting as an advisor to Colonel James Montgomery, led a raid up the Combahee River freeing over 750 slaves. One-hundred-and-fifty years later, on June 2, 2013, a service will be held in Beaufort, South Carolina to commemorate Harriet Tubman’s Combahee River Raid.
Harriet Tubman arrived in Beaufort, South Carolina in the spring of 1862 and served as a nurse, spy, scout, and seamstress. Tubman, with the assistance of a number of hand-picked Negro scouts familiar with the interior, gleaned considerable knowledge as to the location of supplies and the disposition of the slaves in the region.
On the evening of June 1, three steam-driven gunboats with three hundred men from the Second South Carolina and the Third Rhode Island Battery left Port Royal under the cover of darkness. Under Tubman’s leadership, Montgomery and his small force made their way to the plantations where Tubman and her scouts had identified Confederate warehouses and stockpiles of rice and cotton.
On the morning of June 2, the troops set fire to several plantations, destroying homes, barns, rice mills, and steam engines, and confiscated thousands of dollars worth of rice, corn, cotton, horses, and other animals. Over 750 slaves fled to the Union boats. After returning to Beaufort, the newly freed Combahee slaves were temporarily lodged in a church where they were addressed by Montgomery and Tubman.
An article published in the Boston Commonwealth in 1863 describes the raid as follows: “Col. 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 to the heart of rebeldom, brought off near 800 slaves and thousands of dollars worth of property, without losing a man or receiving a scratch! It was a glorious consummation.”
The Commemoration service will be held on Sunday, June 2, 2013 at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort. Historians believe that the Tabernacle Church is where the slaves were lodged and addressed by Tubman following the raid. The service will begin at 5 p.m. with Dr. Kate Clifford Larson, author of ”Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero,” as the guest speaker.
The Harriet Tubman’s Combahee River Raid Commemoration service is a part of the Tabernacle Baptist Church’s 150th Anniversary Celebration. Tabernacle Baptist Church is located at 911 Craven Street in Beaufort.