Kraig McNutt will be speaking about the amazing true story of the escaped slave Robert Smalls from Charleston, South Carolina, in the Fort Donelson Camp #62 SUV meeting Tuesday evening, September 27th at 7pm at the Fort Negley Visitor’s Center in Nashville.
McNutt has been researching the Small’s story for almost ten years. This is a talk he has given many times and it is always well-received.
Robert Smalls (1839 – 1915) was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, on April 5th, 1839, in a slave cabin behind his mother’s master’s house on 511 Prince Street. In 1862 he escaped from Charleston harbor aboard a steamer called the Planter with his family and several friends too. The boat had to pass by five Confederate check-points and then surrender its contents to the northern Naval fleet out in the harbor where it was blockading the important southern port.
His escape succeeded and Robert would meet Abraham Lincoln personally a couple weeks later. Lincoln was quite impressed with a black man (slave) who had learned how to pilot and navigate the coastal waterways around Charleston. Lincoln rewarded Smalls handsomely with bounty-money and a commission into the Union Navy as a captain of a vessel – the Planter! He was the first black Captain of a U.S. Naval vessel.