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Underground Railroad Research Forum

Re: HARRIET TUBMAN - Union Army Spy and Scout

Elizabeth, we do not disagree, obviously, about the use of black scouts. It seems we are both stuck on the words "led" and "conducted" the raid. Well, I will concede that Montgomery was the Commander, and therefore, he "led" the raid as commander. But Tubman also says she "led" the raid, so what we have here is this: Montgomery needs, uses, requires, makes good use of, Tubman and her band of scouts to *guide* him along the river - clearly he is unable to tell the boat captain where to steer the ship, since he has to get that info from Tubman and the scouts. She aquired important information for the raid, that she believed, and others believed, was used to execute that raid. She says she was in the lead boat, so I take her word for it - she says this several times.

It would be great if you could get a hold of Plowden's petition and military record. Since he is not mentioned in the official records either, this is an important clue that the black scouts were not given all the credit they were due. While Ely mentions them in his reports in 1862, where are all the other reports of other scouts and their work. Were they paid? George Garrison states clearly in 1864 that Tubman is particularly good at reconnaissance than anyone. Iin Tubman letter to Sanborn in June, 1863 (written by Elbridge Gerry) she claims credit for the raid and feels cheated that she did not get paid the bounty for bringing in so many able-bodied "recruits" as a result of the raid (something on the order of 150 men signed up or were coerced into signing up who were brought in from the Combahee Raid.)

Sanborn's article from the Commonwealth newspaper is reprinted verbatim in Bradford's 1869 biography of Tubman.

One thing that I do find odd, however, is that you think that maybe the Wisconsin State article is not referring to Tubman at all but someone else. The preponderence of evidence shows otherwise.

It is greta you will be posting all of this on a website. I am curious, also, to find out more about Montgomery. I too believe he has received short shrift in the historical record. I think, by the way, that there may be some uncatalogued letters of his at Houghton Library at Harvard. There is a collection - a large collection - of paper from the Loyal Legion there, including many Higginson letters, lots of military stuff like lists of enlistees, rations, notes, etc. When I looked at the collection last year I had about 3 hours and did not get very far. I was actually looking for a photo of Tubman that I had heard was in the collection - the photo upon which the famous woodcut of her in her Civil War garb is based on. I had no luck (there are thousands fo photos). I have wanted to go back and look at the collection more closely but have had no time to do so. If you want to email me personally, we can discuss this and I can try to get back there before Xmas and see what Montgomery stuff might be there.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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