Weekend events commemorate life of Robert Smalls

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Descendants are planning a weekend celebration of the life of Robert Smalls, the slave who 150 years ago commandeered a Confederate vessel and turned it over to the federal Navy.

It happened in Charleston on May 13, 1862. Less than a year later, Smalls was back in Charleston piloting a Union ironclad in an unsuccessful attempt to take Fort Sumter. After the war, Smalls served in the state General Assembly as a congressman and as a customs inspector.

Smalls’ descendants are speaking at events and markers showing where Smalls commandeered the CSS Planter. The sites where he picked up family members on the vessel are being dedicated.

The series of events closes Sunday with a harbor tour retracing the path the vessel took to freedom.

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