Enslaved African who, through courageous effort, became the first captain under service to the United States, distinguished politician, and entrepreneur.
In 1862, he was serving as ship’s pilot on the Confederate military transport vessel CSS Planter, when the ship’s captain and officers disembarked to spend the evening ashore. Smalls donned the captain’s uniform and a hat resembling the one that the captain wore, and with the help of various crew, managed to slip the vessel through Confederate lines and to the Union blockade. As a result, he was hailed a hero in the North, and was awarded $1500 as his share of the ship’s prize.
While serving in the US Army in 1863, the Planter came under fire in a skirmish; Captain Nickerson, in command of the vessel, was inclined to surrender the ship to the enemy. Wary of the potentially dangerous terms of surrender, Smalls instead assumed command of the ship and sailed the vessel out of harm’s way. For his action under fire, he was elevated to captain in place of Nickerson, becoming the first captain under service to the United States.
After the war, he continued to serve his country, having been elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, the South Carolina Senate, the South Carolina Militia (earning the rank of major general), and the US House of Representatives, serving multiple terms. He was also an entrepreneur of note, acquiring considerable holdings.
Look him up!
“Once more unto the breach,dear friends, once more”-
legendary words that
Shakespeare so eloquently
envisioned as English King Henry V
his loyal and depleted few to victory over the
numerically superior French forces,
a powerful army that was overwhelmingly
predicted to crush Henry and his
“Once more unto the breach”,
he cried when defeat seemed certain,
and under the unwavering bravery of
those rallying words,
his troops sallied forth courageously into
the swell of the enemy, and vanquished them
from the field wholly and victoriously.
Shakespeare at his finest…
history at its most endearing.
Once more unto the breach,
we should remind ourselves as we
venture out into the swell of
against its unknown numbers,
and challenges that, on paper,
would annihilate us-
once more unto the breach,
as we throw our hats gallantly into the
mix and swim out against the current
for another shot, another chance, and
despite the odds,
despite the challenges,
eager to face its unknown numbers,
and eager to cry out ferociously into the
face of opposition-
ready to march forward once more,
ferociously brave in pursuit of any and
every dream that we could possibly
Defeat sometimes seems certain..
victory often seems dim,
until we remember that one more
charge into the fray may mean the
difference between failure and success,
the beginning and the end
if we’re willing to rally forward into the
surge of the current, no matter the odds,
and claim what lands we choose to
Shakespeare at his finest,
history at its most triumphant,
bravery at its most resounding*