JUNE 2, 1863

The Harriet Tubman statue at City Hall in Philadelphia on Jan. 11, 2022. It was created by Wesley Wofford. Credit: THOMAS HENGGE / Staff Photographer, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Harriet Tubman, along with Black soldiers, took part in a daring Union raid of Combahee Ferry near Beaufort, South Carolina. She became the first American woman to lead a major military operation when she and at least 150 Black soldiers helped to rescue more than 700 Black Americans who had been enslaved on nearby plantations. 

Many of the men became soldiers for the Union Army. The Wisconsin State Journal described this “She-Moses,” whose raid struck “terror to the heart of the rebeldom … without losing a man or receiving a scratch.” 

She worked on similar missions with the famed Massachusetts 54th Infantry, portrayed in the award-winning movie, Glory. In all, she made 19 trips back to the South to ensure that hundreds of others that were enslaved made their way to freedom and was quoted as telling them, “If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.” 

She was never caught, despite a $40,000 reward for her capture. The movie, “Harriet”, depicts the Combahee Ferry raid. A statue of Tubman can now be seen outside City Hall in Philadelphia.

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.