Columbus Neighborhoods: Confederate General Roswell Ripley and Slave Robert Smalls
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Columbus Neighborhoods: Confederate General Roswell Ripley and Slave Robert Smalls


>>WE’RE UP IN WORTHINGTON AT THE BIRTHPLACE OF ROSWELL RIPLEY ONE OF THE GREATEST CONFEDERATE GENERALS OF THE CIVL WAR. AFTER GRADUATING SEVENTH IN HIS CLASS AT WESTPOINT, RIPLEY SETTLED IN SOUTH CAROLINE WHERE HIS WIFE WAS BORN AND RAISED. AND TOGETHER THEY RAN A SUCCESSFUL PLANTATION.>>IF HE HAD LIVED IN TODAY’S WORLD HE’D HAD BEEN A COMPUTER GEEK OR A MATH NERD. HE WAS INCREDIBLE AT MATH AND AS IT TURNS OUT IN THE CIVIL AND WAY AND VEFORE THAT IN THE WAR WITH MEXICO. HE WAS THE ONLY MAN WHO COULD FIRE A CANNON AND KNOW PRETTY MUCH EXACTLY WHERE THE CANNONBALL WAS GOING TO LAND. THE OTHERS FIRED LOTS OF PRACTICE SHOTS AND THEN THEY ADJUSTED THE CANNON. BUT RIPLEY COULD CALCULATE THE ANGLES AND HIT WHAT HE WAS SHOOTING AT.>>FIRE! [ CANNON BOOM ]>>GENERAL ROSWELL RIPLEY WAS HERALDED AS THE DEFENDER OF CHARLESTON HARBOR. THE KEY PORT CITY FOR THE CONFEDERACY.>>GENTLEMEN.>>GENTLEMEN!>>WE’VE COMPLETED THE MEASUREMENTS OF THE HARBOR AS YOU REQUESTED.>>THANK YOU, CAPTAIN.>>THE UNION GENERAL KNEW, THAT IF THEY COULD TAKE CHARLESTON HARBOR, THEY COULD WIN THE WAR.>>THEY PLANNED AN ASSAULT ON CHARLESTON WHICH SHOULD HAVE SUCCEEDED. THE NEWEST SHIPS IN THE WORLD WERE THE IRONCLAD SHIPS. BEFORE THE WOODEN SHIPS COULD BE SUNK BY A GOOD CANNONBALL, BUT WITH THESE IRONCLAD SHIPS IT WAS MUCH HARDER. SO THE UNION SENT IN A FLEET OF EIGHT IRONCLADS AND 24 SUPPORT SHIPS, WITH MORE GUNPOWDER AND SUPPLIES TO TAKE CHARLESTON HARBOR, AND THEY WERE CONFIDENT THEY COULD DO IT VERY EASILY. BUT RIPLEY HAD DONE HIS HOMEWORK AND HE HAD CALCULATED ANGLES AND HAD VARIOUS CANNONS READY TO FIRE WHEN SHIPS REACHED A CERTAIN POINT IN THE HARBOR.>>GENTLEMEN, YOU ARE DISMISSED.>>AND SO IN SHORT, WHEN THE IRONCLAD ARMADA ATTACKED, RIPLEY SANK THEM ALL WITHIN TWO AND HALF HOURS AND BROKE THEM ALL UP AND THEY WERE FLEEING IN PANIC.>>AND THERE’S EVEN A BIGGER STORY CONNECTED WITH GENERAL RIPLEY AND IT HAS DO WITH A MAN NAMED ROBERT SMALLS. ROBERT SMALLS, WAS A SLAVE WHO WORKED ON CARGO SHIPS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR. SMALLS VERY QUICKLY BECAME FAMILIAR WITH CHARLESTON HARBOR AND ALL OF THE KNOWLEDGE THAT WAS NEEDED TO RUN SHIP AROUND. BUT HE GETS ON A SHIP CALLED THE PLANTER AND HE WAS CHARGED WITH DISTRIBUTING TO ALL THE PORTS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR. SUPPLIES, BORDERS, AMMUNITION. HE GETS TO BE IN EFFECT THE CAPTAIN OF THE PLANTER AND OFFICIALLY BLACKS COULDN’T BE PILOTS OR CAPTAINS OF SHIPS. THEY HAD TO HAVE A WHITE CAPTAIN AND A WHITE CREW. THE WHITE CREW BECAME FAMILIAR WITH HOW WELL ROBERT SMALLS DID IN MANAGING THE SHIP WITH HIS SLAVE CREW AND THEY FOUND THAT THEY COULD EASILY GO ASHORE TO SOME OF THE LOCAL TAVERNS NEAR RIPLEY’S OFFICE AND HAVE A NIGHT ON THE TOWN, SO THEY LEFT THE SHIP IN THE CUSTODY OF SMALLS AND THE SLAVES. ROBERT WAS VERY BRIGHT AND HE ALSO VERY MUCH WANTED FREEDOM, SO HE TOLD THE OTHER SLAVES GET YOUR FAMILIES OUT ON COAL’S ISLAND. WE’RE GOING TO STEAL RIPLEY’S SHIP AND WE’LL PICK UP YOUR FAMILIES AND WE’LL SAIL OUT TO THE UNION FLEET AROUND CHARLESTON HARBOR AND WE’LL TURN OVER RIPLEY’S SHIP TO THEM.>>AND THAT’S WHAT THEY DID.>>AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THEY DID! THEY WERE VERY CLEVER, THEY HAD THE CONFEDERATE FLAG ON IT, THEY SAILED OUT TOWARD THE UNION FLEET AND AT LAST MINUTES AS THE UNION FLEET WAS ABOUT TO FIRE ON THEM, THEY PULLED DOWN THE CONFEDERATE FLAG AND PUT UP A BED SHEET! AND TURNED OVER THE SHIP TO THE UNION COMMANDER.>>THIS ISN’T THE END OF THE STORY, ROBERT SMALLS CONVINCES WHO TO MAKE SURE AFRICAN AMERICAN SOLDIERS ARE USED DURING THE CIVIL WAR. TELL ME THAT STORY.>>IT HELPED ROBERT SMALLS AND OTHERS PERSUADE LINCOLN AND THE WHOLE COUNTRY THAT AFRICAN AMERICANS COULD BE GREAT SOLDIERS.>>AFRICAN AMERICAN SOLDIERS WERE USED IN THE UNION ARMY AFTER THAT.>>YES THEY WERE USED IN THE UNION ARMY AFTER THAT AND ROBERT SMALLS HIMSELF WAS MADE PILOT OR CAPTAIN OF UNION SHIPS.>>AND HERE’S SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT — IF ROSWELL RIPLEY HAD NOT TRUSTED SLAVES, AND HAD SEEN THEM AS INTELLECTUALLY INFERIOR WOULD ROBERT SMALLS HAVE EVER BEEN IN A POSITION TO STEAL THE PLANTER AND SURRENDER IT TO THE UNION FORCES?>>ONE OF THE GREAT ADVANTAGES FOR RIPLEY IN BEING FROM THE NORTH FROM RIGHT HERE ON HIGH STREET IN WORTHINGTON WAS THAT HE HAD A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. HE UNDERSTOOD THAT SLAVES WERE CLOSER TO HUMAN BEINGS THAN MOST SOUTHERNERS BELIEVED AT THAT TIME. AND HE SAID THAT THEY COULD DO IT AND HE TRUSTED SMALL TO RUN HIS SHIP AROUND THE HARBOR. HE WAS PROBABLY BITTERLY DISAPPOINTED WHEN SMALLS STOLE IT, BUT I THINK SECRETLY TO HIMSELF AWAY FROM THE PUBLIC RIPLEY MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT, I WISH ALL OF MY OFFICERS HAD THE INITIATIVE AND INTELLIGENCE THAT ROBERT SMALLS DEMONSTRATED IN STEALING MY SHIP! [ LAUGHING ]

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