America's Hidden History | Robert Smalls | TBN

America's Hidden History | Robert Smalls

Watch America's Hidden History | Robert Smalls
November 21, 2019
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America's Hidden History

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America's Hidden History | Robert Smalls

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  • (dramatic music)
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  • - [Narrator] Modern historians have revised, rewritten,
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  • and even deleted entire chapters of American history.
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  • So what are we missing?
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  • What happened to the history that didn't make the books?
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  • Join historian David Barton, Tim Barton, and special guests
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  • as they uncover the facts some historians
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  • don't want you to know.
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  • This is America's Hidden History.
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  • (dramatic music)
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  • (electronic beeping)
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  • (electronic beeping)
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  • (waves crashing)
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  • - We're in Charleston, South Carolina,
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  • standing on an island known as Sullivan Island.
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  • Actually goes back to the days of the American Revolution.
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  • There was Fort Sullivan that was here.
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  • And then became known as Fort Moultrie.
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  • But in the American Revolution this was a place
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  • that really they were trying to protect
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  • against the British coming in and blockading.
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  • This is, Charleston Harbor
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  • was a kind of significant port coming in.
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  • And actually in the midst of talking about this,
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  • the hero today is gonna be a guy named Robert Smalls.
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  • We're gonna unfold his story,
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  • which a lot of it happens here,
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  • surrounding the Charleston Port.
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  • And really the significance of protecting, keeping,
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  • or regaining it in that sense.
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  • - Yeah, in a strategic sense what happens to this port,
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  • this is the connection to Europe,
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  • this connects to so much else.
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  • And so supplies come in here.
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  • All sorts of goods come in here.
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  • And the American Revolution, that's why a fort was here
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  • because the British wanted to shut down Charleston
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  • like they wanted to shut down Boston and Richmond.
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  • If they could shut down the ports they can control the war.
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  • So this really is a strategic place.
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  • - Behind us is a fort, Fort Sumter.
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  • Fort Sumter came after the War of 1812.
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  • The Americans realized we needed something
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  • to protect Charleston Harbor better than the fort
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  • that's here on this island.
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  • And so they began construction on Fort Sumter.
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  • Now, Fort Sumter is a very significant thing
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  • when it comes to the Civil War
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  • because this was really recognized
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  • as the start of the Civil War,
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  • the battle that happened there.
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  • And the battle that happened there,
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  • the reason this kind of took place
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  • was when Abraham Lincoln was elected to be president
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  • it was in December 20th of 1860 that South Carolina said,
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  • "I don't think we like the direction the country's going,
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  • "we want to secede."
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  • And they became the first to secede from the Union.
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  • They were followed by several states after them.
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  • At that time the Union forces were here
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  • with Major Robert Anderson leading them.
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  • And he only had roughly 80 men that were under his command.
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  • Major Anderson recognizes
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  • this is kind of a vulnerable position being on this island
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  • because this fort was not fortified as well as Fort Sumter.
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  • Now, even at a time when Major Anderson moved his men
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  • to Fort Sumter, Fort Sumter wasn't fully complete,
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  • but it was, it was still a lot better
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  • than the fort on this island.
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  • - Yeah.
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  • It's a bastion built fort.
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  • And as you look at it now, you can't see it from here,
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  • but it's three stories high.
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  • And they've got guns on various levels.
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  • - The walls were five foot thick.
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  • - That's right.
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  • - So this really was a much better fortified position.
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  • So he moves his troops over there.
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  • The problem is as he gets on this island
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  • and South Carolina is no longer part of the Union,
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  • they really don't have the supplies in the fort they need
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  • to sustain for as long as they're gonna be there.
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  • They begin what was really kind of a siege
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  • where they're not letting any supplies get to Fort Sumter
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  • and the men that are there.
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  • And so their food is running low.
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  • They don't have the men really they need even
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  • to operate the cannons in defense of the fort.
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  • Well, the Confederates started a bombardment.
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  • For 34 hours they bombed Fort Sumter,
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  • at the end of which Major Anderson realized
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  • we really aren't gonna be able to defend this position,
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  • so they surrendered.
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  • Well, after 34 hours, it was estimated
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  • more than 3.000 shots were fired.
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  • Cannons fired into that fort.
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  • - And that kinda tells you how strong that fort is.
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  • The fact that you can put 3.000 rounds into that fort
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  • and doesn't kill anybody.
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  • - Right.
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  • And there was no loss of life during the battle.
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  • (dramatic music)
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  • (dramatic music) (electronic beeping)
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  • (waves crashing) (seagulls calling)
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  • This fort is actually a place where the hero today,
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  • Robert Smalls, had some pretty interesting encounters.
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  • - Now, the Union knows that this is a significant port.
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  • They would like to shut this off.
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  • They would like to have this port.
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  • But you don't come sailing in there past Fort Sumter.
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  • You're gonna get blown out of the water.
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  • And so what they did was they put a blockade out there.
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  • About seven miles out there's a blockade of Union ships,
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  • they're not gonna allow anything to come in here,
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  • they're gonna try to shut this off
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  • and shut down the Confederacy from supplies.
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  • And so one of the things that was happening on this side
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  • was because the harbor is so significant
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  • there's four forts in here.
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  • They run all along here.
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  • And so in those forts there were different boats
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  • that would go back and forth carrying ammunition,
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  • carrying cannons, carrying things to keep them all supplied,
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  • to keep the Union from coming in.
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  • And one of the ships that went back and forth,
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  • this ship named Planter.
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  • It was kind of the flagship for Confederate General Ripley
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  • who had charge of the Charleston area.
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  • And on the Planter was a young man named Robert Smalls.
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  • Robert Smalls was actually born over in Beaufort
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  • not far from here, couple hours maybe.
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  • And his master, he was a slave, his master said,
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  • "I'm gonna send you to Charleston,
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  • "I want you to work there
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  • "and send me back all the money you make except $1 a week."
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  • So Robert's over here working.
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  • Well, he becomes familiar with what's called
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  • a seafaring life and what happened in the harbor.
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  • And he was able to pilot ships and do a lot of sea jobs.
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  • And so when the war broke out after secession
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  • and the war comes, the Confederates took Robert
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  • and they put him in the Confederate Navy.
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  • They said, you're gonna be one of our pilots.
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  • And they didn't call him pilots
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  • 'cause that's too high a position
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  • to give to a black guy back then.
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  • So they just said he was one of the crew.
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  • But he actually is the guy who steered the ship
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  • and piloted it and so he had to go back and forth
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  • on all these runs.
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  • (dramatic music) (water rushing)
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  • He and his crew said, "We don't want to be slaves.
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  • "We want to escape to freedom."
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  • And they started making plans on how to escape to freedom.
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  • But you've got the Union Navy sitting out there
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  • waiting to blow out anything that comes outta here
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  • with the Confederate flag on it.
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  • And you got all these forts here that you gotta get past
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  • to get to the Union Navy, so it's tough.
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  • They make their plans, they finally decide
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  • when they're gonna do something.
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  • So they get all the families to the crew guys
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  • over at a place waiting for them kinda hidden.
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  • And there were three white officers on that ship.
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  • And they went ashore for a social gathering, for a party.
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  • And while they're gone the,
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  • Robert Smalls gets the rest of them together and said,
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  • "Now's the time.
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  • "We gotta do this."
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  • And so they go pick up the rest of the family.
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  • Now they're planning to sail out to the Union fleet
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  • that's out there blockading this.
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  • And to do that they've gotta sail past all these forts.
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  • And no boat goes past any of those forts
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  • without giving the right signals
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  • and without giving the right passwords.
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  • - And you can imagine in war time, right?
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  • You're not letting vessels just freely sail back and forth
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  • 'cause you don't know what's gonna be on those vessels.
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  • Even if it looks like a Confederate vessel
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  • because what if somebody's captured a Confederate vessel?
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  • So to get past it you have to know the signals,
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  • you have to know the codes, you have to know the procedures.
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  • Fortunately, Robert Smalls knew those things.
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  • - He knew all of those things.
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  • And what he did was when they decided to take off
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  • he went and put on the captain's jacket.
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  • He put on the captain's hat.
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  • And as they went past the different forts
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  • he would imitate the captain's voice.
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  • So he'd blow the right signals on the whistle
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  • and he'd give the right passwords.
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  • And when they got out to Fort Sumter the other crew said,
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  • "No, we're all gonna die.
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  • "Let's turn back, this is a bad idea."
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  • (dramatic music) (waves crashing)
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  • And Robert said, "No, we've come too far."
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  • And so he prayed with them,
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  • they had a prayer there as they went past.
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  • And as they were waiting there to hear from the fort
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  • that they're cleared to pass the fort,
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  • all this tension is there.
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  • And they're waiting and waiting.
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  • And finally the fort says, "Okay, you're clear to pass."
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  • so they head off out toward the Union fleet.
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  • Now, they're still flying a Confederate flag.
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  • - [Tim] Which they have to do where they are.
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  • - [David] Have to.
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  • - [Tim] 'Cause if they don't
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  • the Confederate's gonna shoot them down.
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  • But then you come to this moment
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  • where you're between the Confederates and the Union.
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  • And now you have a precarious situation
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  • 'cause which flag are you gonna fly?
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  • Somebody's gonna shoot at you.
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  • Who's gonna do it?
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  • - That's right, 'cause if you take down the Confederate flag
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  • Fort Sumter's gonna shoot you.
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  • But if you leave the Confederate flag up
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  • the Union guys are gonna shoot you.
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  • So here they are approaching the Union.
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  • It was 4:30 in the morning
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  • when they were approaching the Union ships.
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  • The sun was just coming up.
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  • What they did was they pulled down the Confederate flag
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  • and they raised up a white sheet, a bed sheet.
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  • And the Union ships were lining up wanting to blow them up,
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  • and one of the gunners said,
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  • "Whoa, I think I see something there."
  • 00:09:26.180 --> 00:09:29.120
  • And they waited.
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  • And sure enough it was a bed sheet.
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  • And so the Union ship goes over to this Confederate ship
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  • that's got this white sheet.
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  • They board, "What's up guys?"
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  • And the black crew, Robert Smalls says,
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  • "We have brought this to you.
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  • "We want to go to the Union side.
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  • "This is the flagship of General Ripley.
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  • "And by the way, we have his code book,
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  • "we have the codes for all the forts here.
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  • "We know their fortifications."
  • 00:09:51.160 --> 00:09:53.070
  • And Robert Small who guided the ship Planter
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  • back and forth here, he helped lay the mines in the harbor.
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  • So he knew where all the mines were.
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  • They called them torpedoes back then.
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  • He knew where all the mines and torpedoes were.
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  • He gave that information to the Union.
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  • He said, "This is our gift to Uncle Abe."
  • 00:10:04.190 --> 00:10:06.250
  • Well, actually the Union was shocked
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  • by finding out where all this stuff was.
  • 00:10:08.250 --> 00:10:11.170
  • And within a week they brought an assault
  • 00:10:11.170 --> 00:10:13.160
  • and actually were able to take Coles Island over here
  • 00:10:13.160 --> 00:10:15.280
  • which just, they hadn't been able to do anything
  • 00:10:15.280 --> 00:10:18.050
  • to that point.
  • 00:10:18.050 --> 00:10:19.000
  • (dramatic music)
  • 00:10:19.270 --> 00:10:21.250
  • (waves crashing) (seagulls calling)
  • 00:10:21.250 --> 00:10:25.270
  • So what happens is Robert Smalls then goes
  • 00:10:25.270 --> 00:10:28.070
  • to Washington, D.C., he meets with President Lincoln.
  • 00:10:28.070 --> 00:10:30.180
  • He works with President Lincoln to say,
  • 00:10:30.180 --> 00:10:32.040
  • "Hey, we really need blacks fighting on the Union side."
  • 00:10:32.040 --> 00:10:34.240
  • Congress actually gives what's called prize money.
  • 00:10:34.240 --> 00:10:38.010
  • Congress said, "You know, Robert Smalls,
  • 00:10:38.010 --> 00:10:39.210
  • "you and the crew of the Planter,
  • 00:10:39.210 --> 00:10:41.050
  • "the ship is worth this much,
  • 00:10:41.050 --> 00:10:42.130
  • "we're giving you that much money."
  • 00:10:42.130 --> 00:10:43.240
  • And they got to split prize money.
  • 00:10:43.240 --> 00:10:45.260
  • And that period of time he's really honored,
  • 00:10:45.260 --> 00:10:47.160
  • they have celebrations for him in New York City.
  • 00:10:47.160 --> 00:10:49.240
  • They do a gold coin with the Planter on it
  • 00:10:49.240 --> 00:10:51.280
  • and showing him on the other side.
  • 00:10:51.280 --> 00:10:53.160
  • So significant stuff happening.
  • 00:10:53.160 --> 00:10:55.030
  • Then he comes back and is in the Union Navy.
  • 00:10:55.030 --> 00:10:57.190
  • And they used him as a pilot in the Union Navy.
  • 00:10:57.190 --> 00:10:59.190
  • Now, they want Sumter out of the way.
  • 00:10:59.190 --> 00:11:01.210
  • If they can get Sumter and get past Sumter
  • 00:11:01.210 --> 00:11:03.250
  • then they can control the harbor.
  • 00:11:03.250 --> 00:11:05.140
  • So the Union several times tries to attack Fort Sumter.
  • 00:11:05.140 --> 00:11:09.020
  • And every time they're unsuccessful.
  • 00:11:09.020 --> 00:11:10.260
  • And on one of those occasions
  • 00:11:10.260 --> 00:11:12.080
  • there was a bunch of ironclad ships,
  • 00:11:12.080 --> 00:11:14.070
  • really the armored ships of the Union,
  • 00:11:14.070 --> 00:11:17.000
  • attacking the fort thinking that's how we can do it.
  • 00:11:17.000 --> 00:11:19.210
  • And Robert Smalls was piloting one of those ironclad ships.
  • 00:11:19.210 --> 00:11:23.090
  • And he did a great job.
  • 00:11:23.090 --> 00:11:25.000
  • But his ship got hit 96 times in that battle.
  • 00:11:25.000 --> 00:11:29.080
  • They finally brought it over here to the beach
  • 00:11:29.080 --> 00:11:31.120
  • and it sank overnight.
  • 00:11:31.120 --> 00:11:32.190
  • And so he got on a different ship.
  • 00:11:32.190 --> 00:11:33.250
  • And he ended up piloting six different ships
  • 00:11:33.250 --> 00:11:36.070
  • on the Union side during the Civil War.
  • 00:11:36.070 --> 00:11:38.270
  • But Fort Sumter never fell to Union.
  • 00:11:38.270 --> 00:11:41.180
  • They finally gave it up at the end of the war,
  • 00:11:41.180 --> 00:11:43.280
  • but it was never defeated.
  • 00:11:43.280 --> 00:11:45.130
  • It was just the end of the war that brought it on.
  • 00:11:45.130 --> 00:11:47.110
  • But Robert Smalls did so much here in this harbor
  • 00:11:47.110 --> 00:11:50.080
  • that brought him to national fame and national notoriety.
  • 00:11:50.080 --> 00:11:52.290
  • (dramatic music)
  • 00:11:52.290 --> 00:11:55.220
  • (bright jazz music)
  • 00:11:59.020 --> 00:12:02.040
  • (bright dinging)
  • 00:12:02.040 --> 00:12:04.280
  • (electronic beeping)
  • 00:12:04.280 --> 00:12:08.000
  • (bright dinging)
  • 00:12:10.030 --> 00:12:12.230
  • (electronic beeping)
  • 00:12:15.110 --> 00:12:17.020
  • (bright dinging)
  • 00:12:17.020 --> 00:12:19.240
  • (dramatic music)
  • 00:12:19.240 --> 00:12:21.080
  • - [Narrator] We hope you're enjoying TBN's exclusive series
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  • whom God used in extraordinary ways to shape our nation.
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  • (gentle music)
  • 00:13:18.230 --> 00:13:21.100
  • - We're in another part of Charleston Harbor,
  • 00:13:33.240 --> 00:13:35.160
  • and the story of Robert Smalls takes place
  • 00:13:35.160 --> 00:13:37.050
  • all over this harbor.
  • 00:13:37.050 --> 00:13:38.190
  • I mean, this is a center of activity for four years.
  • 00:13:38.190 --> 00:13:41.020
  • And this is a part of the harbor known has Secessionville.
  • 00:13:41.020 --> 00:13:43.160
  • - Yeah, Secessionville got its name actually
  • 00:13:43.160 --> 00:13:45.290
  • from people that were leaving Charleston.
  • 00:13:45.290 --> 00:13:48.010
  • Apparently some wealthy people didn't want to be
  • 00:13:49.070 --> 00:13:50.280
  • in the center of action in Charleston.
  • 00:13:50.280 --> 00:13:52.150
  • And so they got out in the country a little bit.
  • 00:13:52.150 --> 00:13:54.270
  • But it's also the place where the only land invasion
  • 00:13:54.270 --> 00:13:58.230
  • that happened for Charleston
  • 00:13:58.230 --> 00:14:01.010
  • as far as the Union forces trying to reconquer
  • 00:14:01.010 --> 00:14:03.240
  • and recapture Charleston happened in this area.
  • 00:14:03.240 --> 00:14:06.140
  • And they were not successful.
  • 00:14:06.140 --> 00:14:08.140
  • At the time the Confederate forces set up barricades,
  • 00:14:08.140 --> 00:14:11.070
  • had all kinds of perimeters, they had various forts.
  • 00:14:11.070 --> 00:14:13.130
  • Well, one of the officers was Thomas Lamar.
  • 00:14:13.130 --> 00:14:15.250
  • He was in charge of kind of this section of defense.
  • 00:14:15.250 --> 00:14:19.110
  • And so the fort, or actually the stronghold they had built
  • 00:14:19.110 --> 00:14:22.090
  • became known as Fort Lamar in his honor
  • 00:14:22.090 --> 00:14:24.090
  • because he was recognized as the hero of that battle.
  • 00:14:24.090 --> 00:14:26.200
  • And this is kind of where this area got its recognition,
  • 00:14:26.200 --> 00:14:30.150
  • at least in that regard for the battle of Thomas Lamar.
  • 00:14:30.150 --> 00:14:33.230
  • - The Confederates also had emplacements here,
  • 00:14:33.230 --> 00:14:36.190
  • gun emplacements.
  • 00:14:36.190 --> 00:14:37.270
  • And they tried to protect that here
  • 00:14:37.270 --> 00:14:39.010
  • because particularly the Planter,
  • 00:14:39.010 --> 00:14:40.150
  • which was the ship that Robert Smalls was piloting,
  • 00:14:40.150 --> 00:14:42.150
  • it had a really small draft,
  • 00:14:42.150 --> 00:14:44.000
  • which means it could go in really shallow waters.
  • 00:14:44.000 --> 00:14:45.280
  • And so it would move up and back,
  • 00:14:45.280 --> 00:14:47.160
  • and it would try to keep Confederate ships from coming out
  • 00:14:47.160 --> 00:14:49.150
  • and keep troops messed up.
  • 00:14:49.150 --> 00:14:51.030
  • And as it was going by here at one point the battery here
  • 00:14:51.030 --> 00:14:54.220
  • at Secessionville just opened up
  • 00:14:54.220 --> 00:14:56.100
  • and just almost point blank at the Planter.
  • 00:14:56.100 --> 00:14:59.060
  • And at that point Robert Smalls is the pilot of the Planter.
  • 00:14:59.060 --> 00:15:03.060
  • And the captain was a white guy named Captain Nickerson.
  • 00:15:03.060 --> 00:15:06.200
  • And when all of this barrage comes at him
  • 00:15:06.200 --> 00:15:10.070
  • and he's just getting pounded, he goes below deck,
  • 00:15:10.070 --> 00:15:13.060
  • he gets in the coal bunker and he says,
  • 00:15:13.060 --> 00:15:14.270
  • "Surrender, surrender, surrender."
  • 00:15:14.270 --> 00:15:17.200
  • And Robert Smalls says,
  • 00:15:17.200 --> 00:15:18.260
  • "No, no, no, no, we're not surrendering.
  • 00:15:18.260 --> 00:15:20.140
  • "This is the Confederacy."
  • 00:15:20.140 --> 00:15:22.030
  • And in the Confederacy they had a standing policy
  • 00:15:22.030 --> 00:15:24.100
  • on the Confederate side
  • 00:15:24.100 --> 00:15:25.180
  • that you do not take black prisoners of war.
  • 00:15:25.180 --> 00:15:27.270
  • If you get a black prisoner of war you kill them
  • 00:15:27.270 --> 00:15:30.030
  • and you execute them on the spot.
  • 00:15:30.030 --> 00:15:31.170
  • That was the famous incident at Fort Pillow
  • 00:15:31.170 --> 00:15:33.180
  • where Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • 00:15:33.180 --> 00:15:35.000
  • after Union black soldiers had surrendered,
  • 00:15:35.000 --> 00:15:36.280
  • he went through and, I mean, just what he did to them,
  • 00:15:36.280 --> 00:15:39.110
  • the skinning them, the burning them, the drowning them,
  • 00:15:39.110 --> 00:15:42.070
  • the stuff he did to them was just atrocities.
  • 00:15:42.070 --> 00:15:45.040
  • And so Robert Smalls knows that if he surrenders
  • 00:15:45.040 --> 00:15:47.210
  • he and his crew, they are done.
  • 00:15:47.210 --> 00:15:50.080
  • And so at that point with the captain below deck
  • 00:15:50.080 --> 00:15:53.000
  • and cowering in fear, Robert Smalls takes control of it,
  • 00:15:53.000 --> 00:15:56.120
  • he actually does well in the battle,
  • 00:15:56.120 --> 00:15:58.180
  • gets the ship out of there.
  • 00:15:58.180 --> 00:15:59.280
  • (dramatic music)
  • 00:15:59.280 --> 00:16:02.220
  • And so when the commander of the Union forces,
  • 00:16:06.110 --> 00:16:08.040
  • Quincy Adams Gillmore hears what's happened here,
  • 00:16:08.040 --> 00:16:11.010
  • and by the way, Quincy Adams Gillmore.
  • 00:16:11.010 --> 00:16:13.240
  • - Yeah, that sounds a little familiar, right?
  • 00:16:13.240 --> 00:16:15.110
  • If you remember John Adams had a son, John Quincy Adams.
  • 00:16:15.110 --> 00:16:18.060
  • And the Civil War is really kind of in the era
  • 00:16:18.060 --> 00:16:21.230
  • of John Quincy Adams.
  • 00:16:21.230 --> 00:16:23.070
  • And John Quincy Adams died shortly before the Civil War.
  • 00:16:23.070 --> 00:16:25.070
  • But those who were active in the Civil War
  • 00:16:25.070 --> 00:16:27.030
  • woulda certainly known the Adams family,
  • 00:16:27.030 --> 00:16:29.030
  • at least John Quincy Adams.
  • 00:16:29.030 --> 00:16:30.180
  • And he actually, the name was because of John Quincy Adams
  • 00:16:30.180 --> 00:16:34.030
  • who had been the sixth president.
  • 00:16:34.030 --> 00:16:35.100
  • Was a son of a signer of the Declaration.
  • 00:16:35.100 --> 00:16:37.150
  • And so there was some level of respect for the Adams family.
  • 00:16:37.150 --> 00:16:40.140
  • - Well, especially since John Quincy Adams
  • 00:16:40.140 --> 00:16:42.100
  • is such an ardent abolitionist.
  • 00:16:42.100 --> 00:16:43.280
  • I mean, he's called the Hellhound of Abolition.
  • 00:16:43.280 --> 00:16:45.220
  • From the Union side you can say, "Hey, this is our guy."
  • 00:16:45.220 --> 00:16:48.220
  • And so Quincy Adams Gillmore,
  • 00:16:48.220 --> 00:16:50.070
  • when he hears what happens here with Robert Small,
  • 00:16:50.070 --> 00:16:52.040
  • how he took command of the vessel
  • 00:16:52.040 --> 00:16:53.200
  • and got through the battle with great honors,
  • 00:16:53.200 --> 00:16:56.180
  • he says, "I'm gonna remove this other guy
  • 00:16:56.180 --> 00:16:59.100
  • "who is the white captain.
  • 00:16:59.100 --> 00:17:00.180
  • "You're now the new captain of the Planter."
  • 00:17:00.180 --> 00:17:02.250
  • And so Robert Smalls becomes the first black captain
  • 00:17:02.250 --> 00:17:05.210
  • of a naval vessel, really in the Civil War for sure,
  • 00:17:05.210 --> 00:17:08.260
  • and probably in American history.
  • 00:17:08.260 --> 00:17:10.040
  • - And it does speak to something
  • 00:17:10.040 --> 00:17:11.170
  • that you have a commanding officer recognizing
  • 00:17:11.170 --> 00:17:13.290
  • that what we need to win is not a certain color of skin.
  • 00:17:13.290 --> 00:17:17.100
  • But we need someone who's got the courage, right,
  • 00:17:17.100 --> 00:17:18.280
  • who's got the fortitude to say,
  • 00:17:18.280 --> 00:17:20.040
  • "Hey, just 'cause we're getting shot at
  • 00:17:20.040 --> 00:17:21.100
  • "doesn't mean we need to turn and run."
  • 00:17:21.100 --> 00:17:23.210
  • And that's ultimately what this white commander had done.
  • 00:17:23.210 --> 00:17:26.000
  • And so they recognized, wow, Robert Smalls,
  • 00:17:26.000 --> 00:17:28.040
  • you had the courage to fight through this thing.
  • 00:17:28.040 --> 00:17:30.090
  • You need to be the leader on this.
  • 00:17:30.090 --> 00:17:32.050
  • And so really it even goes to this notion
  • 00:17:32.050 --> 00:17:34.220
  • that people in the North,
  • 00:17:34.220 --> 00:17:36.160
  • there were some who recognized the content
  • 00:17:36.160 --> 00:17:39.090
  • and the quality of individuals
  • 00:17:39.090 --> 00:17:40.140
  • was more important than the color of skin,
  • 00:17:40.140 --> 00:17:42.120
  • which was even part of what this war was about.
  • 00:17:42.120 --> 00:17:44.160
  • - It was part of what this war was about.
  • 00:17:44.160 --> 00:17:46.150
  • And from here Robert Smalls,
  • 00:17:46.150 --> 00:17:47.290
  • when he takes command of that vessel,
  • 00:17:47.290 --> 00:17:49.180
  • he gets engaged in all sorts, there's 17 engagements
  • 00:17:49.180 --> 00:17:52.260
  • that Robert Smalls is involved with
  • 00:17:52.260 --> 00:17:54.170
  • all around Charleston Harbor.
  • 00:17:54.170 --> 00:17:56.040
  • Charleston Harbor's surrounded with a number of forts.
  • 00:17:56.040 --> 00:17:58.110
  • There's a lot of active battles that happened here.
  • 00:17:58.110 --> 00:18:00.260
  • Fort Wagner did not happen far from here.
  • 00:18:00.260 --> 00:18:02.260
  • And Fort Wagner, if you've ever seen the movie "Glory,"
  • 00:18:02.260 --> 00:18:04.290
  • that is here at Charleston Harbor.
  • 00:18:04.290 --> 00:18:07.030
  • Actually Fort Wagner is where William Carney
  • 00:18:07.030 --> 00:18:09.030
  • receives the Medal of Honor.
  • 00:18:09.030 --> 00:18:10.250
  • That's the earliest engagement in the Civil War
  • 00:18:10.250 --> 00:18:13.150
  • for which a black is awarded the Medal of Honor.
  • 00:18:13.150 --> 00:18:16.050
  • And by the way, even at Fort Wagner it was interesting
  • 00:18:16.050 --> 00:18:19.140
  • that after Robert Smalls had turned the ship Planter over
  • 00:18:19.140 --> 00:18:22.280
  • to the Union, he went to Washington, D.C.,
  • 00:18:22.280 --> 00:18:25.190
  • met with Abraham Lincoln and started talking to him
  • 00:18:25.190 --> 00:18:28.070
  • about we need some black regiments.
  • 00:18:28.070 --> 00:18:29.260
  • We need black soldiers fighting on the Union side.
  • 00:18:29.260 --> 00:18:32.180
  • And so early on Robert Smalls is one of the earliest voices
  • 00:18:32.180 --> 00:18:35.250
  • to say we need black soldiers fighting.
  • 00:18:35.250 --> 00:18:37.240
  • And then a year or so later we have Fort Wagner
  • 00:18:37.240 --> 00:18:40.120
  • where that William Carney receives the Medal of Honor.
  • 00:18:40.120 --> 00:18:42.200
  • So Robert Smalls is actually engaged
  • 00:18:42.200 --> 00:18:44.180
  • in a whole lot of stuff.
  • 00:18:44.180 --> 00:18:45.250
  • This is where he spent so much of his life.
  • 00:18:45.250 --> 00:18:47.210
  • But right out here is where he became
  • 00:18:47.210 --> 00:18:49.130
  • the first black captain in naval history.
  • 00:18:49.130 --> 00:18:52.060
  • (bright jazz music)
  • 00:18:52.060 --> 00:18:55.060
  • - Well, while the Bartons are on the road
  • 00:19:02.000 --> 00:19:03.110
  • they've asked me to come down into the collection
  • 00:19:03.110 --> 00:19:05.120
  • and see what we have about Robert Smalls.
  • 00:19:05.120 --> 00:19:08.000
  • So as you can see, in this right here is a poster
  • 00:19:08.000 --> 00:19:11.120
  • with some of the main national black heroes
  • 00:19:11.120 --> 00:19:14.110
  • during the late 1800s right after the Civil War period.
  • 00:19:14.110 --> 00:19:16.280
  • And right up top we've got our guy, Robert Smalls.
  • 00:19:16.280 --> 00:19:19.200
  • But also look at the people that are around him.
  • 00:19:19.200 --> 00:19:21.080
  • You've got Frederick Douglass.
  • 00:19:21.080 --> 00:19:22.140
  • You've got Booker T. Washington.
  • 00:19:22.140 --> 00:19:24.080
  • All of these guys were national heroes.
  • 00:19:24.080 --> 00:19:26.180
  • And, you know, well-known names, household names,
  • 00:19:26.180 --> 00:19:29.270
  • men with incredible stories that did incredible things
  • 00:19:29.270 --> 00:19:32.260
  • to really move the country in the correct direction.
  • 00:19:32.260 --> 00:19:35.060
  • People who we don't really know a lot about today.
  • 00:19:35.060 --> 00:19:37.260
  • But I was also able to find this.
  • 00:19:37.260 --> 00:19:40.170
  • This is a giant newspaper out of New York City, New York.
  • 00:19:40.170 --> 00:19:44.290
  • This is October 7th, 1862.
  • 00:19:44.290 --> 00:19:48.050
  • And if we bring it around and look at it, on the front page,
  • 00:19:48.050 --> 00:19:50.220
  • right, it's got stories
  • 00:19:50.220 --> 00:19:51.290
  • about what's happening in the war, right?
  • 00:19:51.290 --> 00:19:53.160
  • 1862, you're still in the middle of the Civil War.
  • 00:19:53.160 --> 00:19:56.030
  • It's got stories about Abraham Lincoln
  • 00:19:56.030 --> 00:19:58.240
  • signing the Emancipation Proclamation
  • 00:19:58.240 --> 00:20:00.200
  • just about two weeks before this paper is published.
  • 00:20:00.200 --> 00:20:03.140
  • But also on the front page
  • 00:20:03.140 --> 00:20:05.000
  • we have the story of Robert Smalls.
  • 00:20:05.000 --> 00:20:07.020
  • In fact, if we come in and look at it, it says,
  • 00:20:07.020 --> 00:20:09.050
  • "City Intelligence.
  • 00:20:09.050 --> 00:20:10.190
  • "The black hero of the Planter among his people.
  • 00:20:10.190 --> 00:20:13.010
  • "Public reception of Robert Smalls,
  • 00:20:13.010 --> 00:20:15.040
  • "interesting ceremonies at the Shiloh Church."
  • 00:20:15.040 --> 00:20:17.210
  • Now the Shiloh Church was a really important place
  • 00:20:17.210 --> 00:20:20.090
  • for kind of the black civil rights movement at the time
  • 00:20:20.090 --> 00:20:23.210
  • because its pastor was Reverend Henry Highland Garnet.
  • 00:20:23.210 --> 00:20:26.200
  • He was actually the first black man to preach
  • 00:20:26.200 --> 00:20:28.270
  • and to speak in Congress.
  • 00:20:28.270 --> 00:20:30.210
  • But as we go through it goes through the ceremony
  • 00:20:30.210 --> 00:20:32.160
  • and people presenting, it's telling the story to the crowd.
  • 00:20:32.160 --> 00:20:35.210
  • And then it says that a gold medal was presented
  • 00:20:35.210 --> 00:20:38.090
  • to Robert Smalls on behalf of the people of the city.
  • 00:20:38.090 --> 00:20:41.160
  • So it's a gold medal presented to him.
  • 00:20:41.160 --> 00:20:43.000
  • And it actually goes into a little bit more detail about it.
  • 00:20:43.000 --> 00:20:45.140
  • It says, "The medal is of gold,
  • 00:20:45.140 --> 00:20:47.010
  • "and bears a representation of the steamer Planter
  • 00:20:47.010 --> 00:20:50.030
  • "leaving Charleston Harbor."
  • 00:20:50.030 --> 00:20:52.030
  • So it goes through the story, it's this really big thing.
  • 00:20:52.030 --> 00:20:54.220
  • A lot of the civil leaders in the city come out to see it.
  • 00:20:54.220 --> 00:20:58.110
  • And what's incredible to me
  • 00:20:58.110 --> 00:20:59.270
  • is that we have in New York, New York,
  • 00:20:59.270 --> 00:21:01.280
  • one of the biggest cities in the world at the time,
  • 00:21:01.280 --> 00:21:03.290
  • on the front page of the newspaper
  • 00:21:03.290 --> 00:21:05.240
  • a story about this national hero,
  • 00:21:05.240 --> 00:21:07.240
  • but somebody who today is a hidden hero.
  • 00:21:07.240 --> 00:21:10.010
  • (dramatic music)
  • 00:21:10.010 --> 00:21:12.200
  • (dramatic music) (electronic beeping)
  • 00:21:15.290 --> 00:21:20.290
  • (electronic beeping)
  • 00:21:53.110 --> 00:21:56.130
  • - So Robert Smalls had really a remarkable career.
  • 00:22:09.050 --> 00:22:11.140
  • He's a war hero.
  • 00:22:11.140 --> 00:22:12.210
  • He's the first black captain the U.S. Navy.
  • 00:22:12.210 --> 00:22:15.170
  • He was at Fort Sumter
  • 00:22:15.170 --> 00:22:16.240
  • when they lowered the Confederate flag,
  • 00:22:16.240 --> 00:22:19.070
  • raised the American flag.
  • 00:22:19.070 --> 00:22:20.190
  • He got to be there for that.
  • 00:22:20.190 --> 00:22:21.260
  • He was here all the way through the Civil War.
  • 00:22:21.260 --> 00:22:23.220
  • But it didn't stop there.
  • 00:22:23.220 --> 00:22:25.210
  • He got elected to the state House of Representatives.
  • 00:22:25.210 --> 00:22:28.180
  • He got elected to the state Senate.
  • 00:22:28.180 --> 00:22:30.080
  • He became a U.S. congressman from South Carolina.
  • 00:22:30.080 --> 00:22:33.110
  • As a matter of fact,
  • 00:22:33.110 --> 00:22:34.220
  • he's the second-longest-serving black congressman
  • 00:22:34.220 --> 00:22:37.230
  • in the Reconstruction Era.
  • 00:22:37.230 --> 00:22:39.080
  • He was first a colonel in the South Carolina militia.
  • 00:22:39.080 --> 00:22:41.240
  • Then they made him a general.
  • 00:22:41.240 --> 00:22:43.100
  • Then he's a major general in the South Carolina militia.
  • 00:22:43.100 --> 00:22:45.270
  • He's involved in a number of business endeavors here,
  • 00:22:45.270 --> 00:22:49.030
  • including some trolley cars and other things.
  • 00:22:49.030 --> 00:22:51.030
  • Very successfully involved.
  • 00:22:51.030 --> 00:22:52.260
  • He was a strong Christian man.
  • 00:22:52.260 --> 00:22:54.060
  • You can tell by the prayer he prayed
  • 00:22:54.060 --> 00:22:55.200
  • even as they were going past the fort.
  • 00:22:55.200 --> 00:22:57.010
  • But very active in Baptist church here.
  • 00:22:57.010 --> 00:22:59.180
  • So Robert Smalls is quite a remarkable hero
  • 00:22:59.180 --> 00:23:03.010
  • in so many categories.
  • 00:23:03.010 --> 00:23:04.170
  • Robert Smalls was another one of the hidden heroes
  • 00:23:04.170 --> 00:23:07.070
  • in America's hidden history.
  • 00:23:07.070 --> 00:23:09.100
  • (gentle music)
  • 00:23:09.100 --> 00:23:11.240
  • Telling the story of Robert Smalls
  • 00:23:23.000 --> 00:23:24.180
  • is a story I really enjoy telling.
  • 00:23:24.180 --> 00:23:27.000
  • I was recently speaking to a really large black audience
  • 00:23:27.000 --> 00:23:29.210
  • up in Detroit, and I was talking about
  • 00:23:29.210 --> 00:23:32.130
  • the first black military general.
  • 00:23:32.130 --> 00:23:35.000
  • And so I googled it, pulled it up,
  • 00:23:35.000 --> 00:23:36.200
  • and it came up General Vernon Robinson.
  • 00:23:36.200 --> 00:23:38.190
  • - Oh, yeah.
  • 00:23:38.190 --> 00:23:40.030
  • - And there he is in Vietnam, and they go, "Way to go."
  • 00:23:40.030 --> 00:23:41.190
  • Except let's back up more than a hundred years
  • 00:23:41.190 --> 00:23:44.110
  • to Major General Robert Smalls.
  • 00:23:44.110 --> 00:23:46.160
  • And I heard (gasping rapidly).
  • 00:23:46.160 --> 00:23:47.140
  • And it was just audible gasp.
  • 00:23:47.140 --> 00:23:49.010
  • And so when you start telling the story
  • 00:23:49.010 --> 00:23:50.280
  • of folks like Robert Smalls,
  • 00:23:50.280 --> 00:23:53.220
  • there is so much they did
  • 00:23:53.220 --> 00:23:55.200
  • that was really breakthrough kind of stuff.
  • 00:23:55.200 --> 00:23:58.120
  • But then I think about his character as well.
  • 00:23:58.120 --> 00:24:00.280
  • Because, I mean, at the time
  • 00:24:00.280 --> 00:24:03.030
  • that that white captain went under the ship and said,
  • 00:24:03.030 --> 00:24:05.220
  • "Get me outta here and surrender,"
  • 00:24:05.220 --> 00:24:07.050
  • and Robert Smalls says, "There's no way I'm surrendering."
  • 00:24:07.050 --> 00:24:09.260
  • I mean, just the leadership under fire that he did.
  • 00:24:09.260 --> 00:24:12.270
  • And then even as he was escaping from Charleston
  • 00:24:12.270 --> 00:24:15.280
  • and his crew said, "Oh, man, this is too dangerous,
  • 00:24:15.280 --> 00:24:18.130
  • "let's go back."
  • 00:24:18.130 --> 00:24:19.200
  • He said, "No, guys, we're not going back."
  • 00:24:19.200 --> 00:24:20.290
  • And I just think of the immense courage he had,
  • 00:24:20.290 --> 00:24:23.200
  • and what he had to face
  • 00:24:23.200 --> 00:24:25.030
  • even in the way of the discrimination
  • 00:24:25.030 --> 00:24:26.140
  • and the civil rights back then.
  • 00:24:26.140 --> 00:24:27.280
  • Being a slave, then going through Reconstruction
  • 00:24:27.280 --> 00:24:30.180
  • as a congressman
  • 00:24:30.180 --> 00:24:32.030
  • when there is still so much of the nation targeting blacks.
  • 00:24:32.030 --> 00:24:34.200
  • I mean, he just, he's just an incredible guy.
  • 00:24:34.200 --> 00:24:37.180
  • - Well, and especially thinking about the disenfranchisement
  • 00:24:37.180 --> 00:24:40.190
  • that different populations of America feel
  • 00:24:40.190 --> 00:24:43.090
  • because we teach history
  • 00:24:43.090 --> 00:24:44.220
  • as if it were white people doing white things.
  • 00:24:44.220 --> 00:24:46.180
  • And although historically we were a conglomerate.
  • 00:24:46.180 --> 00:24:51.090
  • You know, even in the American Revolution, we--
  • 00:24:51.090 --> 00:24:52.210
  • - And actually, I mean,
  • 00:24:52.210 --> 00:24:54.070
  • that is what we're trying to help people understand here
  • 00:24:54.070 --> 00:24:56.240
  • is you do have these guys,
  • 00:24:56.240 --> 00:24:58.090
  • there were Indians and there were whites
  • 00:24:58.090 --> 00:24:59.290
  • and there were blacks and men and women from all eras.
  • 00:24:59.290 --> 00:25:03.020
  • And so, yeah, you're right.
  • 00:25:03.020 --> 00:25:04.170
  • We teach too much of history today like it's all white,
  • 00:25:04.170 --> 00:25:06.140
  • and it's not.
  • 00:25:06.140 --> 00:25:07.290
  • - Well, and so going back to the American Revolution,
  • 00:25:07.290 --> 00:25:09.140
  • we had generals from 20 different nations, right?
  • 00:25:09.140 --> 00:25:10.250
  • I mean, we were absolutely a melting pot.
  • 00:25:10.250 --> 00:25:13.240
  • And so even though historically we can look back,
  • 00:25:13.240 --> 00:25:16.100
  • and I think the reason that so many black Americans
  • 00:25:16.100 --> 00:25:19.020
  • feel disenfranchised is because they think
  • 00:25:19.020 --> 00:25:20.290
  • their legacy is slavery.
  • 00:25:20.290 --> 00:25:22.130
  • And even though slavery is part of the legacy of America,
  • 00:25:22.130 --> 00:25:24.290
  • although arguably it's the legacy of every nation
  • 00:25:24.290 --> 00:25:27.200
  • in the history of the world on some level, right?
  • 00:25:27.200 --> 00:25:30.140
  • I think one of the challenges is that people don't recognize
  • 00:25:30.140 --> 00:25:34.060
  • how many heroes there were
  • 00:25:34.060 --> 00:25:36.070
  • who were flat out American heroes, right?
  • 00:25:36.070 --> 00:25:38.120
  • It's not because of the color of somebody's skin.
  • 00:25:38.120 --> 00:25:40.070
  • It's not because of their gender, nope.
  • 00:25:40.070 --> 00:25:42.030
  • This is just someone who was courageous
  • 00:25:42.030 --> 00:25:44.200
  • and stood up and was a leader and did something.
  • 00:25:44.200 --> 00:25:47.150
  • And Robert Smalls, I mean, the story itself was amazing.
  • 00:25:47.150 --> 00:25:50.090
  • This ought to be a Hollywood movie.
  • 00:25:50.090 --> 00:25:52.050
  • At some point maybe it will be.
  • 00:25:52.050 --> 00:25:53.210
  • And I can't wait to watch this movie, it's gonna be awesome.
  • 00:25:53.210 --> 00:25:57.040
  • But Robert Smalls is that guy who
  • 00:25:57.040 --> 00:25:58.270
  • when you start looking through history
  • 00:25:58.270 --> 00:26:00.070
  • I think not just his story is incredible,
  • 00:26:00.070 --> 00:26:02.260
  • but he gives you a glimpse that maybe there is more
  • 00:26:02.260 --> 00:26:04.290
  • to the story than we've heard, right?
  • 00:26:04.290 --> 00:26:06.180
  • Maybe it's bigger than just white people doing white things.
  • 00:26:06.180 --> 00:26:10.260
  • Maybe there were people of other colors,
  • 00:26:10.260 --> 00:26:13.170
  • of other shapes and sizes and different genders.
  • 00:26:13.170 --> 00:26:15.260
  • And I think Robert Smalls is not only inspiring
  • 00:26:15.260 --> 00:26:17.280
  • as a personal story, but inspiring
  • 00:26:17.280 --> 00:26:20.150
  • because he reveals there's more to the story
  • 00:26:20.150 --> 00:26:22.120
  • than we've heard.
  • 00:26:22.120 --> 00:26:23.170
  • (dramatic music)
  • 00:26:23.170 --> 00:26:26.090
  • (electronic beeping)
  • 00:26:28.120 --> 00:26:30.070
  • (dramatic music)
  • 00:26:30.070 --> 00:26:31.210
  • - [Narrator] We hope you're enjoying TBN's exclusive series
  • 00:26:31.210 --> 00:26:33.010
  • America's Hidden History.
  • 00:26:33.010 --> 00:26:34.150
  • Thrilling stories of ordinary and unsung Americans
  • 00:26:34.150 --> 00:26:37.170
  • whom God used in extraordinary ways to shape our nation.
  • 00:26:37.170 --> 00:26:40.290
  • Right now we want to send you the entire first season
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  • of America's Hidden History as our way of saying thank you
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  • for your gift of support
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  • such a foundational role in the formation
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  • of the United States and discover a wealth of information
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  • to share with others.
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  • (electronic beeping)
  • 00:27:29.090 --> 00:27:32.110