Most Americans know Harriet Tubman as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. However, the many biographies and children’s books about Tubman, as well as the biopic “Harriet” are all virtually silent on her Civil War service when Tubman worked for the US Army Department of the South. Tubman was a commander of men in the Combahee River Raid, which freed 756 slaves and was one of the most successful US expeditions in the Civil War. This lecture will present thefirstoriginal research about Harriet Tubman in more than 15 years and thefirst everoriginal research on Tubman’s Civil War service based on a deep reading of 160+ US Civil War Pension Files primarily from the regiments formed after the Raid.‘Combee’: Harriet Tubman, the Combahee River Raid, and the Gullah Geechee Transformationtells the untold story of the Combahee River Raid from the perspective of Tubman and the enslaved people she helped to free.
MEET THE AUTHOR: Dr. Edda Fields-Black, Associate Professor, Carnegie Mellon University in the Department of History, has written numerous scholarly studies on the trans-national history of West African rice farmers, includingDeep Roots: Rice Farmers in West Africa and the African DiasporaandRice: Global Networks and New Histories(co-edited with Francesca Bray, Peter Coclanis, and Dagmar Schaeffer), which was awarded the Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2015. From 2012 to 2016, Fields-Black served as a consultant for the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture’s permanent exhibit “Rice Fields of the Lowcountry.” Fields-Black is also a history consultant for the International African American Museum (scheduled to open in Charleston in 2020) and advised the “From Slavery to Freedom” permanent exhibit at the Senator John Heinz History Center. Fields-Blacks’ latest book is tentatively titled‘Combee’: Harriet Tubman, the Combahee River Raid, and the Civil War Transformations among the Gullah Geechee (Oxford University Press trade list, advanced contract) which reveals Harriet Tubman’s Civil War activities, reconstruct the communities which were freed from enslavement on Lowcountry rice plantations in the June 1863 Combahee River Raid, and show the Civil War transformations among freed Blacks in the Lowcountry whose descendants are known today as the Gullah Geechee. She is executive producer and librettist ofUnburied, Unmourned, Unmarked: Requiem for Rice, the first full symphonic work about enslavement with three-time Emmy Award winning classical music composer, John Wineglass.