Local Black History icon Robert Smalls is being honored by the Unites States Navy which is naming a guided missile destroyer after him. Perhaps just as significantly, the USS Robert Smalls was formerly known as the USS Chancellorsville. Yes, named after the site of a Confederate victory in the Civil War.
“Robert Smalls is a man who deserves a namesake ship and with this renaming, his story will continue to be retold and highlighted,” Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said in a statement. “The renaming of these assets is not about rewriting history, but to remove the focus on the parts of our history that doesn’t align with the tenets of this country, and instead allows us to highlight the events and people in history who may have been overlooked.”
For the rest of the CNN article CLICK HERE.
Robert Smalls was born a slave in South Carolina. By the time he was 23 years old, Smalls had won freedom for himself and his family, and was a famous war hero.
Smalls was an enslaved crew member on a privately owned vessel that was contracted as a supply ship for the Confederate Army in Charleston.
Smalls became famous when he, and other enslaved crew members, seized the ship, picked up their families, and successfully fled Charleston harbor navigating the ship through Confederate forces at Ft. Sumter and Fort Moultrie. Smalls sailed the group out to the naval blockade squadron and turned the Planter over to the United States Navy. Robert Smalls and his family were free.
Smalls went on to be a five term member of Congress during the Reconstruction Era. To see more of this biography from the National Park Service website CLICK HERE