On the night of June 1, 1863, Harriet Tubman and soldiers of the United States Army – including members of the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers – slipped away from the docks in Beaufort County and sailed up the Combahee River. When they returned the next day, they brought with them more than 750 people experiencing their first taste of freedom.
160 years later, between June 1-3, 2023, Reconstruction Era National Historical Park will be just one of several organizations marking the anniversary with special programs and tours in Beaufort County.
“We’re excited to provide opportunities for visitors to learn more about the events of June 1st and 2nd, 1863” said Chris Barr, who is the Chief of Interpretation for the park. “The Combahee Raid marked the beginnings of freedom for hundreds of people, and their story here at the dawn of Reconstruction is important for not only their descendants, but for the community at large.”
Reconstruction Era National Historical Park will conduct a series of special tours exploring sites associated with Harriet Tubman and those liberated on the raid in downtown Beaufort, the Smith Plantation in Port Royal, and at the Combahee Ferry site.
In addition to working with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, Park rangers are working closely with Dr. Edda Fields-Black, the author of the forthcoming book, Combee’: Harriet Tubman, the Combahee River Raid, and Black Freedom during the Civil War, to create tour opportunities for visitors and community members to learn more.
For a schedule of park programs, visit https://go.nps.gov/Combahee160
These tours by Reconstruction Era National Historical Park are only one part of a broader series of community-focused commemorations occurring during this time. In addition to the park programs, the Slave Dwelling Project is conducting activities along the Combahee River around the ACE Basin. And in downtown Beaufort, the Black Moses Freedom Festival will take place June 2-4 at the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce, and features a wide variety of community events, tours, and wellness activities celebrating the legacy of Harriet Tubman in the Lowcountry.
For more information about Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, visit www.nps.gov/reer. Information about the Slave Dwelling Project can be found at https://slavedwellingproject.org/ And for a complete schedule for the Black Moses Freedom Festival, visit https://www.blackmosesfreedomfestival.com/