“Robert Smalls (April 5, 1839 – February 23, 1915) was an enslaved African American who became a ship’s pilot, sea captain, and politician. He freed himself, his crew and their families from slavery on May 13, 1862, by commandeering a Confederate transport ship, CSS Planter, in Charleston harbor, and sailing it from Confederate controlled waters to the U.S. blockade. His example and persuasion helped convince President Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the U.S. Army.”
He’s a bonafide Civil War Hero, and you’ve never heard of him. Here’s an amazing episode of the Podcast “Memory Palace” that tells his story.