The Horry County Museum presents a lecture and book signing by local publisher, Steve Robertson on Thursday, February 6th, on his new novel about Civil War hero Robert Smalls.
In the early morning hours of May 12, 1862, a young enslaved man astonished a nation, torn by Civil War, when he commandeered Charleston’s most powerful warship and sailed it past a formidable gauntlet of Rebel forts to freedom.
As the war played out, his escape from deep within Southern territory set off a series of events that made Robert Smalls the most famous black man in the United States.
The exploits of Smalls before, during and after his daring dash to freedom is the subject of a novel written by Steve Robertson in conjunction with African-American History Month, Smalls: The South wanted his head. The North his heart.
“The Smalls story fascinated me from the moment I first heard it,” said Robertson, a journalist by profession. “The more I learned about his life and times, the more convinced I became that his story must be told.”
Although several excellent histories of Robert Smalls have been written, Smalls is among the first semi-fictional accounts of the man born into slavery, but who helped change the course of the Civil War.
“Interestingly, Robert’s escape from slavery is only part of the amazing story,” said Robertson. “After his escape, the South put a bounty on his head. Undeterred, Robert participated in numerous battles taking place around Charleston and Beaufort.”
More importantly, the previously enslaved man influenced President Abraham Lincoln to allow black men to fight on behalf of the Union at a pivotal point during the Civil War.