Robert Smalls and the Escape of the Planter, Part 3

Andy Hall, over at Dead Confederates has made a series of interesting posts related to Robert Smalls and the escape of the CSS Planter since his first post about this topic on May 13. They are all well worth reading. The subsequent posts include:

The Black Confederate Who Stole The Steamboat Planter.” (May 16, 2012) Which discusses Robert Smalls’ associate William Morrison, who also escaped aboard the Planter.

Suck to Be You, Lieutenant.” (May 17, 2012) Features the letter of Confederate Bvt. Lt. F. G. Ravenel, who had the unenviable task of writing the official Confederate report on the Planter‘s escape.

‘. . . to be divided between Robert Smalls and his associates.’” (May 18, 2012) Discusses the efforts to award Smalls and crew members of the Planter that escaped with him naval prize money.


About Donald R. Shaffer

Donald R. Shaffer is the author of _After the Glory: The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans_ (Kansas, 2004), which won the Peter Seaborg Award for Civil War Scholarship in 2005. More recently he published (with Elizabeth Regosin), _Voices of Emancipation: Understanding Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction through the U.S. Pension Bureau Files_ (2008). Dr. Shaffer teaches online exclusively (i.e., a virtual professor). He lives in Arizona and can be contacted at
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8 Responses to Robert Smalls and the Escape of the Planter, Part 3

  1. I’m getting the impression that if someone did the research on all the African American Confederates that the majority of them (outside of the Louisiana unit would have been musicians (like the ones from St. Augustine). I only have one report of a Africian American soldier who shot a gun (at Bull Run) and he later became part of the USCT. In the cases that I have after the U. S. Army took an area the African American troops were simply abandoned (and that includes Louisiana.)

  2. Pingback: More on Robert Smalls from Donald Shaffer | Western Mass Civil War Sesquicentennial

  3. marcferguson says:

    What “African American Confederates” are you talking about? It’s pure fantasy.

  4. marcferguson says:

    The commenter here seems to be asserting the existence of “black Confederates,” and I would dispute the existence of such people, at least until the very end of the war.

    • Marc: as I read it, the comment is not making an argument for mass participation of African Americans as soldiers in the Confederate army, but more isolated, ad hoc, and informal participation, which seems to be the case. Have you read Glenn Brasher’s recent book on the Peninsula campaign? He makes a pretty good case for such “black Confederates” in Virginia in 1862, and it wouldn’t surprise me to find a few in Louisiana and elsewhere as well, especially early in the war when the war’s outcome was far from certain and a few African Americans might have thrown their lot in with the Confederates in the hope of they would be rewarded if the South won. Of course, the Confederate government did not formally approve African Americans as soldiers in their army until very late in the war, too late to make any real difference.

  5. Michael B. Moore says:

    Let’s not confuse slaves whose owners put them in service to the Confederacy as “black Confederates”.

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