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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
805 KIDDER BREESE SE -- WASHINGTON NAVY YARD
WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Online Library of Selected Images:
-- PEOPLE -- UNITED STATES --

Robert Smalls (1839-1915)

Robert Smalls was born a slave at Beaufort, South Carolina, on 5 April 1839. He was able to obtain an education and was pilot of the Confederate Army steamer Planter at Charleston, S.C., in 1862. In the early morning of May 13 of that year, Smalls executed a daring escape, navigating the Planter out of heavily fortified Charleston harbor. The ship brought out members of his family and other slaves as well as a valuable military cargo.

In Federal service, Robert Smalls continued as pilot of his ship, and ultimately became its captain. As a politically active advocate for his race, he served in the South Carolina Legislature and Militia. During the 1870s and 1880s, Smalls was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was appointed collector of the port of Beaufort, S.C. in 1889 and occupied this position for many years. Robert Smalls died at Beaufort on 22 February 1915.

This page features all our images of Robert Smalls.

For pictures of his ship, the steamer Planter, see Planter (1860-1876)

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the Online Library's digital images, see "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Photo #: NH 58870

Robert Smalls


Pilot of the Confederate Army armed transport Planter, who ran his ship out of Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, in the early morning of 13 May 1862 and delivered her to Federal forces. The Planter carried several other black men, women and children to freedom in this daring escape.

Engraving published in Harper's Weekly, 1862.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 108KB; 590 x 665 pixels

 
Photo #: NH 66586

Robert Smalls


Pilot of the Confederate Army armed transport Planter, who ran his ship out of Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, in the early morning of 13 May 1862 and delivered her to the Union forces.
This engraving shows Smalls some years after 1862.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 77KB; 520 x 765 pixels

 

For pictures of Robert Smalls' ship, the steamer Planter, see Planter (1860-1876)

Return to Naval Historical Center home page.

11 November 1998