Who Lived This History? The Combahee Raid

In the early morning hours of June 2, 1863, Union troops based at Port Royal, South Carolina conducted a daring raid up the Combahee River, which winds inland from Port Royal Sound. Union Naval forces had captured Port Royal in November of 1861. After Port Royal fell to Union forces, the surrounding lands were abandoned by planting families, yet hundreds of enslaved people remained.

Led by Colonel James Montgomery, African American troops of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment advanced upon the Combahee River plantations, destroying several plantations and carrying away more than 700 enslaved people.

Who were the African American men, women and children who witnessed, or were freed by, the Combahee Raid?

 

Planters Affected by the Raid

 

An account of the raid published by the Macon Daily Telegraph newspaper on June 6, 1863 lists “Wm. H. Heyward, Wm. C. Heyward, Mr. Kirkland, Mr. Burnett, Mr. Nichols, R. Chisolm, the estate of Keith, J.L. Paul, and others whose names are not remembered” among those whose plantations were affected by the raid.

In the Freedmen’s Bureau Land Reports, Combahee Ferry, South Carolina, Sept. – Oct. 1865, we learn that William Kirkland, William Andrew Burnett, Robert Chisolm and James Paul owned plantations on the Combahee River.

The Civil War in South Carolina website contains statements filed by planters whose plantations were affected. The statements, sworn before Magistrate G.W. Pringle, list the names and ages of many of the enslaved people who escaped to the Union gunboats from the plantations of Joshua Nichols (also rendered Nicholls), William L. Kirkland, and William C. Heyward.

We may compare those statements to Freedmen’s Savings and Trust (Freedmen’s Bank) records of freedpersons who stated that they were born and/or raised on plantations on the Combahee River, to begin to learn the names of those who fled to the Union gunboats in the wee hours of June 2, 1863.

The table below lists such records from the Charleston, Beaufort and Savannah branches of the Freedmen’s Bank. Agents of the Freedmen’s Bank carefully recorded the names of spouse, parents, siblings and children of the account holder, effectively creating a family group sheet for each account holder. You may view the files by clicking on the “View” links below:

 

Freedmen Born and/or Raised on the Combahee River

 

Acct #
Name
Spouse
Birth Year
Where Born
Where Raised
Record
3507
Aikens, Jack
Chloe
1846
Combahee
Same Place
4413
Aikens, Jack
Jinny
1847
Combahee
do [ditto]
4649
Barnwell, Sarah
Jack
1819
Combahee
do [ditto]
3475
Bartly, Anthony
Maria
Combahee
Same Place
5864
Baskin, Prince
Mary Ann
Combahee
do [ditto]
7917
Bee, Matthew
1848
Combee, SC
in Georgia
6793
Blake, Abraham
Josephine
1837
Cumbee River, SC
Cumbee River, SC
3489
Blake, Corbner
Juliette Chisolm
1821
Combahee
Same Place
3194
Blake, Dorcas
Jeffry
Combahee River
3218
Blake, Joseph
1832
Cumbahee, SC
do [ditto]
6630
Blake, Joseph
1833
Comber, SC
2910
Blake, Limas
Barbary
Combahee, SC
Same Place
3383
Blake, March
Jane Myers
Abt. 1829
Combahee, SC
Same Place
2220
Blake, Michael
Sarah
1809
Combee, SC
do [ditto]
3168
Blake, Tobey
Hester
Combahee River, SC
Same Place
10541
Bolles, Sophey
Samuel
1843
Chston, Res. Combee, Mr. Haskels Place
Charleston
9791
Brown, Captain
Ellen
1839
Cumbee, SC
” “
5285
Brown, John
Fanny
1839
Beaufort Dis SC
Combahee, Walter Blake
6952
Brown, Mingo
Lizzy
1843
Combahee
do [ditto] Chas Heyward Place
Bryan, George
Minda
Beaufort, Living Combahee
Beaufort
3148
Bulls, Cuffee
Sophy
1842
Combahee
Same Place
2982
Burns, Fabry
Mary
1824
Combahe
do [ditto]
3333
Caleb, Jethro C.
Jacob
1855
Combahee
Same Place
8286
Campbell, Paul
Guranna
Abt. 1842
Combee, SC
do [ditto]
5753
Campbell, Prince
Adaline
1830
Combee, SC
do [ditto]
Chisolm, Clorinda
March
1823
Combahee
Combahee
3145
Chisolm, March
Clorinda
1820
Cypress Plantation Near Combahee Ferry, SC
Same Place
6829
Colter, William
1855
Cumbee
do [ditto]
6828
Colter, Joanna
Charles
1823
Cumbee
do [ditto]
10668
De Hone, Jeffrey
Nancy
1827
Smithfield, Combee
do [ditto]
3021
Devine, Thomas
Delia
1820
Combahee, SC
Same Place
6089
Drayton, Arthur
Nancy
1848
Combahee Ferry, SC
Same Place
4461
Drayton, John
1853
Combahee, SC
Charleston, SC
3419
Edwards, Bella
Norris
1848
Rose Hill, SC
Savh. [Savannah?]
3943
Ferguson, Hector
Mary
1848
Combahee, SC
Same Place
3369
Ferguson, Nancy
John
Abt. 1845
Combahee
Same Place
3035
Ferguson, Richard
Sue
1835
Combahee River, SC
Same Place
3236
Ferguson, Sam B.
Annie
1810
Combahee
Same Place
7223
Fields, Bina
Isaac
1843
Combahee
do [ditto]
2438
Fields, Isaac
Bina
Combahee
do [ditto]
9421
Fraser, William
Rosena
1836
Combahee
Charleston
4081
Frazier, Manuel
Hetty
1849
Combahee, SC
Same Place
3491
Frazier, Simeon
Mary
1821
Combahee, SC
Same Place
5521
French, Charlie
1861
Combee, SC
Walterboro, SC
2612
Giles, Cato
Emma
1819
Combahee, SC
do [ditto]
9196
Glover, Lindie
Gabriel
1833
Combahee
Charleston
3332
Godfrey, Joseph D.
Mary
1837
Combahee, SC
Charleston, SC
5845
Graham, Walley
Ena
1821
Combahee
Combahee
3510
Grant, Flora
Carolina
1836
Combahee, SC
Same Place
3291
Grant, Gibba
Daniel
1809
Combahee, SC
Same Place
3910
Grant, Mary
Bob
1827
Combahee, SC
Same Place
4009
Grant, Wally
Molsey
1832
Combahee, SC
Same Place
9241
Green, Jesse
Bella
Abt. 1822
Combie, SC
do [ditto]
9792
Hamilton, Frank
Celia
1840
Combee/Kirkland Place
“” “
9470
Hamilton, Friday
Abby
1838
Cumbahee, SC
” “
3020
Harris, Andrew
Diana
1825
Combahee
do [ditto]
3513
Haywood, July
Jane
1831
Combahee, SC
Same Place
3912
Heidt, Beck
Emanuel
Abt. 1810
Combee, SC
Georgia
5600
Izzard, Wm.
Anna
Combahee
Combahee
8287
Jackson, Doll
Henry
1807
Combee, SC
do [ditto]
4202
James, Teena
Moses
1833
Combahee, SC
Same Place
4044
Jenkins, Frank
Diana
1812
Combahee, SC
Same Place
232
Jenkins, John
Clara
Cumbahee [last master W. H. Heyward]
4074
Jenkins, York
Diana
Abt. 1804
Combahee, SC
Same Place
5688
Jones, Elsy
William
1840
Combahee
do [ditto]
3809
Jones, Ned
Daphne
1812
Combahee, SC
Same Place
2748
Kelly, Primus Renty
Clarissa R.
1825
Combahee, SC
Charleston, SC
4821
Kelly, Primus R.
Clarissa B.
1827
Combahee, SC
Charleston, SC
525
King, Cupid
Harriet
Combee, SC
3389
Kirk, Samuel
Hetty
Rose Hill mainland
Same Place
3607
Lawrence, March
Annie
1831
Combahee, SC
Same Place
5024
Mack, Bina
Harry
1839
Combahee
do [ditto]
9105
Manning, Rebecca
George
1848
Combee, SC
“” “
3627
McNeil, Story
Sarah
1819
Combahee, SC
Same Place
10227
McPherson, Betsey
1853
Combahee, SC
” “
2993
Middleton, William
Relia
1840
Combahee, SC
Same Place
9168
Middleton, William
1857
Combahee, SC, Chas Lowndes Place
” ” “
10035
Miller, Eleanor
Edward
1847
Combahee, SC
Charleston, SC
3158
Minis, Joe
1842
Combee, SC
do [ditto]
4610
Moore, John
Abby
1843
Hankel Place, Combahee
do [ditto]
6830
Murray, Moses
Maria
1828
Cumbahee
do [ditto]
9076
Nesbit, March
Anna
1828
Combahee, SC
” “
3011
Nicholls, Neptune
Betsey
Combahee
Same Place
9790
Osborn, James
Jane
1807
Combee, Wm Hubbard Place
do [ditto]
2735
Osborn, Nat
H??
Combahee, SC
Same Place
3574
Robinson, Bachus
Delia
1841
Combahee, SC
Same Place
3774
Saunders, Rinah
Pompey
1817
Walter Blake Place on Combahee, SC
Same Place
3136
Sheppard, James
Sally
1820
Combahee, SC
Same Place
3756
Shields, Jim
Joan?
1837
By Combahee Ferry, SC
Same Place
3512
Simmonds, Joshua
Margaret
1831
Combahee, SC
Same Place
2988
Simmons, Moses
Cretia
1835
Combahee Ferry, SC
Same lace
3837
Singleton, Charles
D. Elizabeth
1851
Combahee, SC
Same Place
3772
Singleton, Eliza
June
1832
On Combahee Main Land
Same Place
4831
Singleton, Eliza
June
1844
Combahee
” “
5768
Singleton, Eliza
Joe
Combahee, Heyward Place
” “
2468
Singleton, Jack
Harriet
Cumbahee
Whitehall SC
2909
Singleton, Peter
Lucinda
Combahee
South Santee SC
2930
Small, Elizabeth
Charles
Combahee
Same Place
3728
Small, Joe
Clarinda
1832
Newhaw, Living on Combahee
Near Savannah GA
7018
Small, Scipio
1855
Cumber
Savannah GA
9873
Smith, Benjamin
Amy
1840
Cumbahee
North Carolina
3010
Smith, Richard
Bella
Combahee, SC
Blake Place, Same River
9793
Strobert, Cilla
Jimmy
1844
Combee
Combee
9107
Tarleton, Robert
Nanny
1837
South Santee SC Living on Combahee
South Santee SC
9053
Taylor, George
Elisabeth
1833
Combahee, SC
Combahee
3689
Washington, James
Maria
1822
Mainland Near Combahee
Same Place
5058
Washington, Job
Milly
1825
Combahee
Barnwell Island
3137
Washington, Monday
Phillis
1845
Combahee
Same Place
3506
Washington, Simon
1845
Combahee, SC
Ashley River, SC
3525
Washington, Smart
Mary
1801
Combahee
Combahee
5603
White, Molly
John
1815
Combahee
do [ditto]
2777
Williams, Frank
Tilda
Combahee
3224
Wine, Phillis
Thos.
1851
Rose Hill, SC
Savannah
3498
Wright, Frank
Maria
1801
Middleton Place, Near Charleston
Living Combahee Ferry
4233
Young, Sinah
William
1843
Cypress Plantation, Combahee
Same Place

6 Comments

  1. Claire Hamilton

    Your site has contributing greatly to my knowledge of the life and times of my great-grandfather who was among those who served with Col Montgomery.

    Reply
    • myafricana

      Hi Claire, that is so wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to comment and please do let us know if we can assist you in your research.

      Reply
  2. Jenefred Davies

    Wow!
    Very impressive! Such historical documentation confirms earlier stories. Thank you for the time and interest taken to preserve this history.

    Reply
    • myafricana

      Thank you so much Jenefred! "Who Lived This History" is one of our favorite series to research and write because we get to learn who the individuals were who MADE the history. It is very rewarding to see how individuals changed the world around them. :0)

      Reply
  3. Wanetta Williams

    You have provided a wealth of knowledge on my great great great grandfather
    Adam Allston and his service in the USCT. Also relatives were freed from slavery through the Combahee River Raid and married into the Allston family. I have been coming to this site for my research needs for almost 10 years. So grateful.

    Reply
    • toniheadr@aol.com

      Blessings Wanetta, so happy that you have found resources here. We hope to add many more!

      Toni

      Reply

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