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ABOUT THIS EPISODE

America’s divided. And it always has been. Uncivil, Gimlet’s new history podcast, takes you back to a time when America was so divided that it split in two. In each episode hosts Jack Hitt and Chenjerai Kumanyika ransack the official history of the Civil War… that boring, safety-first version you were taught in school. They’ll bring you untold stories of covert ops, mutiny, counterfeiting, and the 1860s version of drone warfare. And give you a better sense for how these forgotten struggles connect to the political battlefield we’re living on right now.

In this first episode of Uncivil, The Raid, a group of ex-farmers, a terrorist from Kansas, and a schoolteacher attempt the greatest covert operation of the Civil War.

New episodes of Uncivil come out every week. Listen on:
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English
United States
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TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00hello St Louis nurse at Alex blumberg here and the co-founder and CEO of Deloitte media the company that produced the podcast the sampler and if you are listening to my voice right now you're still subscribe to the sampler feed and are occasionally getting things that we send out it so thank you very much I'm here with two announcements first I think most of you probably know already but if you don't Brittany loose the host of sampler has a new gimlet show which you all should check out it is amazing it's called the nod if you are a fan of her other show for colored nerds that you did with her best friend Eric eddings they are back now with a show on gimlet called the nod it is phenomenal and I'm just check it out that's not the number one and number two gimlet has a new show that we think if you guys like pie I guess you will like it's a show about events from 150 years ago that still feel very relevant today to show about the Civil War that's called uncivil
00:01:00everything yourself I don't not sure about History Podcast this is like no History Podcast you ever heard an uncivil you'll hear stories of covert operations Mutiny the 1860s version of drone Warfare and you get a better sense for why Charlottesville and antifa and the fight over Confederate Monument basically everything that is happening in the news right now where that comes from and what is still happening today so that's that you sent you you should definitely subscribe at uncivil on Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcast just take my word for it I am now about to play you the first episode of uncivil so you can listen for yourself the first episode of uncivil tells the story of one of the most daring Behind Enemy Lines raids in the history of American Warfare and The Mastermind behind it all somebody that chances are you're very familiar with and had no idea would ever be involved in something like this all right so you ready to back relax enjoy the very first episode of uncivil
00:02:00coming at you right now so it's just one more thing before that happens it was a very very mild language advisory we use a slightly slightly slightly bad word describing a person's bottom you'll hear that word twice okay you've been warned here it is without further ado uncivil
00:02:18stories about Civil War monuments have been in the news all summer but the monument the bothers us the most doesn't feature Robert E Lee or the Confederate flag in fact it features Abraham Lincoln quotes about how high is that maybe 20 feet
00:02:35Lincoln is kind of looking down on us to Handy's extended got this black man on his knees in front of Lincoln I may be trying to stand up a ride to the shackle around is on it looks like maybe the slave person might be shining Lincoln shoes or something the statues called the Freedmen's Memorial it's in Washington DC put up in 1876 so much in the Statue I mean the man lift the freedom and who may be rising is he's got a broken chain on his arm but he's dressed like he's only got like a loincloth
00:03:15otherwise he is he's actually making meanwhile Abraham Lincoln is in a full 19 century dress coat pants boots
00:03:25Lincoln still standing over to dude and it just doesn't really give any credit or represent the agency of black people in free themselves black people trying to read themselves Rebelle from slavery before the Civil War
00:03:39I hate to Statue I hate it too
00:03:45I'm Jack hit and I'm changer Aku menikah
00:03:51this is uncivil
00:03:55Toby ransack America's history and discovered that the past is never really fast
00:04:07small we're going to bring you stories of Espionage in the survive betrayal I feel like someone has put a dagger through my heart con artists he produced 15 million dollars worth of fake money and black people fighting back themselves you know the girl was bad I think the Civil War is still relevant Now American society is was Bill out of the Civil War the story of slavery the start of the Civil War the story of the Statue of the story of America
00:04:50I'm going to kick things off with a story that was written out of the official history just weeks after it happened it's about the most ambitious covert operation of the Civil War and it's about black people who never thought they pick up a gun but they did one of those people was named Cedric manigo to his family he was Pasha said he would like a little bit of a beard this is Fallon green paw sheds great great granddaughter she's a paralegal in Beaufort South Carolina just a couple of miles from where a story takes place growing up she heard a little about Paw she said she knew that he built the church our family went to bed as she got older she began digging deeper and her family history and started asking about him and it turned out wonderful living relatives Uncle baby actually new Posh yet so I was told that I should go to my uncle baby and try to find out a little bit more of the details
00:05:50I said is he the first person to tell you about your great-great-grandfather
00:06:02light was a little you know
00:06:04but very well and so it's a little it was little I was like magical kind of cascaded on him and he sat me you didn't look mean yeah I kind of like start to think about his and let me get it right and he starts to tell me about the story and it was just lightning toll Fallon was it right at the beginning of the Civil War Posh it was sold to a plantation in South Carolina called Hazel Farm
00:06:39whoever it is that they're so he decides to run away to do it you got to remember I said was deep in the Confederate controlled South Maps now show the sound does rad the north is blue but there were patches of blue in the South one of them was a union control Fort on an island in Port Royal sound and it happened to be not far from where I said was enslaved so on the Fly he came up with a plan to get over to the fort and then they put it by the banks of the river cover it with brush they come back in the Dark Knight Waiting For Fun cover the pine lot
00:07:26and the visual that I'm given with the story is that they straddle that pineloch and they loaded as it was said to me loaded to mail and Beaufort
00:07:40that morning passion is brother made it to Freedom as it turned out just a few weeks before they got their new military leaders had arrived at Port Royal and among them was a radical abolitionist Colonel James Montgomery to really get a sense of this guy you need to see a daguerreotype picture of him he has that thousand-mile stare of an underfed lunatic and bed hair that looks like he cut himself with broken glass Montgomery wasn't trained at West Point he learned gorilla Warfare fighting against pro-slavery settlers in Kansas one time after his farm was attacked he tracked them in back to where they lived and burn down the entire town
00:08:21in Kansas people like Montgomery recalled jayhawkers nowadays they call him a terrorist I'm Brody James Montgomery I am the third great-grandson Colonel James Montgomery I am the owner and founder of Brody Spirits we make moonshine Brody is proof the genetics is not always Destiny the colonel wasn't your standard Frontier wild man he was fiercely religious which was great-grandsons dismay he was also a prohibitionist he wasn't going to drink who doesn't drink Montgomery came to Port Royal ready to fight and he wanted to recruit free black people like Pasha to fill out his regiment but military leaders of North Warren into it in fact they specifically for bid arming black men
00:09:10Montgomery Inn is Commander's did it anyway and I can see I'm just going outside and going all right everybody coming over grab some guns go kill some people these guys going to die
00:09:23it's hard to know exactly how Montgomery's new black recruits don't about all this. Just risked his life to gain his freedom but then he found out he only had one to enlist in the United States Army in that kind of fervor of other men saying you don't I'm taking up arms and I'm going to fight for my freedom you get this feeling of power this is big
00:09:51One Summer Morning Montgomery and the other officers lined up their new recruits
00:10:02form they tell you how to keep it clean you put on the trousers you never really had trousers that went all the way down but now you do you know you've you've got to polish buttons that are your own buttons not some other person's buttons piano you got to learn how to March you know you got hacked you got a gun was be clear about something the history of slavery 250 years of it is a history of keeping guns out of the hands of black people even being found near a gun could get you hang now men like Pie shed were going to pick up guns and use them everything he did but just stumbled into this great moment in history and happened to be standing us to Colonel James Montgomery
00:10:53Montgomery called this new unit the 2nd regiment South Carolina volunteer infantry African descent and even though lots of slaves were escaping the Port Royal Montgomery still needed more soldiers so he and his commanders decided why wait from them like paw she had to come to them why not go straight to the plantations but he needed a plan he needed good Intel and a strategy what he really needed was a spy
00:11:21and the perfect person was already at Port Royal to her and her to be really handsome and some people don't necessarily think that's the best description of any woman but I mean I think she had incredible bone structure at she was shorter than I am I'm five to choose like five five feet she's just you know a little tiny thing but she did this massive job right that's Kimberly Cornish a descendant of the spy and here's another descendant I think that and that damn time you had to be a spy there had to be a lot of Buy in used to be black and the survive she grew up on a slave plantation so she knew what it was like food maybe walk by a master you hear information then tell another slave that information she had a lot of experience being a spy and being under a lot of pressure by the time she met Montgomery
00:12:21my name is Jayden Lee and I am the great great great grand niece of Harriet Tubman the conductor of the Underground Railroad the government to sign of the Port Royal to work as a nurse and teacher but she quickly took on a new role as well escaping slaves were debrief by Harriet Tubman so they would have had some intelligence and and that's where Harriet Tubman kind of shines let's see if Greg he runs a boat motor repair shop near Port Royal and spends many of his weekend researching this Expedition he wrote a book about it it's the only book exclusively dedicated to Montgomery and Tubman's plan what they came up with was audacious bordering on Reckless
00:13:07they would take boats up in nearby river deep in the heavily fortified Confederate territory Andrade eight separate plantations they would recruit all the black people enslaved along the shore and somehow make it out alive how would they pull it off Harriet Tubman could help the banks of these Rivers we usually line with cannons but the Confederates had pulled them from several of these Rivers one of them was to come be only a few Rifleman remained and why the river was filled with explosive mines the men who laid them had escaped and told Tubman exactly where they were she is not so much the the scouter the Spy she's the one who took the information gathered it put together disseminated to the proper people which made this rate possible I think that's what the CIA would come into and said she was not the James Bond she was him who is more important at James Bond although a good figure for the movie
00:14:07let's Expendable and was not expendable
00:14:16on June 1st 1863 some 300 mostly black soldiers including Pie shed got on 3 gunboats led by Tubman and Montgomery and steamed off into the harbor
00:14:28eventually we'll get to the mouth of the comfy
00:14:33where to braid really started
00:14:37after the break the second South Carolina regiment goes deep into Confederate territory
00:14:51Jeff Greg took us out on the water so we could see what Pacha would have seen this the bolts approach to come be by the the dark Waters of the st. Helena sound this area is filled with Dolphin Turtles even summer time we can manatees come up and see this area the gunboats it said off under the cover of night
00:15:19three ships Left Behind Buford approximately 9 p.m. on the 1st of June what's the soldiers into the mouth of the river they sent silence all night
00:15:33I could just see Pasha there in that boat wondering what's going to happen when he gets up River to the plantations you been enslaved there and now he was going back and if you got caught he knew it be shy or tortured and sent back to slavery
00:15:48the trip upriver took all night it was gone when the boats pulled up to the first Plantation people were already working in the fields
00:15:58the soldiers jumped off the boats and began marching at the Levee it didn't take long for the enslaved families to figure out what was happening and just start running to The Landings
00:16:10and then Montgomery gave his regiment another order
00:16:14burn it all down
00:16:23when they went on these rage they would literally burn everything with the exception of the slave streets because if there is any that did not come they want them to still have housings put the main house where is the Barnes the rice Mills all that would have been burned anything to economically hurt the the plantation owners so if you know part of like one of the second volunteers under Montgomery I'm still going to a place that was like hell for me and what I've been thinking at that moment you know I would think that if if you had come from on these plantations should be glad to be going back to liberating your people when they got to the Hayward until Lounge plantations that's across a mile wide Marsh that was nothing but open rice fields there's no trees there is no cover absolutely open ground there L train they'd only been in existence for a few months
00:17:21not the first man turn around nobody shirt and I think it's one of the greatest examples of Bravery by any troops anytime in the more now imagine you're one of the plantation owners you get up at 5 in the morning like you always do walk over to the window and what do you see hundreds of uniform black soldiers heading straight towards you we actually found a letter from one of these plantation owners his name was Joshua Nichols and he wrote to the local paper describing what happened when he sees the soldiers he panics and calls together all his faithful slaves he actually use the word baseball you let me read this part my house servants did all around me professing the utmost attachment and they're perfect willingness to obey my commands I ordered them to follow me and take to the woods the um Professor willingness to do so but not one made a sign of moving so I was forced to fly to the woods for protection picture that scene Nichols turns to his slave
00:18:21and says the union is coming let's go and they're like yeah you first it's like when is gumbo showed up the power dynamics switched up so fast Nichols can't catch up if you really thinks his slaves are going to follow his ass these folks are looking at those same black soldiers and what they see is freedom see something else hears what he says in the letter I saw the enemy come up to my house in a very short time it was set on fire gear was really Panic it puts it the Negroes men and women were rushing to the boat with their children now and then greeting someone who may recognize early transformed drunk with excitement incapable of the wildest excesses the Roaring of the Flames the Barbara's house the blowing of horn the heart steam whistle in the tower and column smoke made an impression on my mind which can never be effaced
00:19:17Up and Down the River plantation's burned hundreds of now Free People climbed onto the soldiers boats
00:19:24my passion would have been on that boat looking out you know after women coming I see him there I got to the bank so that Plantation we think they saw
00:19:36the world being right again I think they saw the families I think they knew each other and baby had someone rescue over there you know they may be able to bring your kids
00:19:51when I look at who I would be if I was in that time I think wow you know I think it's beautiful I think it is something I never would have dreamed of you. Really you need something so much and it just never happened you just forget it and you don't ever think about it because just terrible thing to think about cuz it hurts and then one day that one thing happens that you need and you just overwhelmed
00:20:20the boats headed back down to Cumby River at the last Ben and rage Confederates appeared with cannons but Montgomery's troops fired first and slip past with just enough time to check out of range on board with more than 700 newly freed people
00:20:37just to put that in context if you look at Tubman's work on the Underground Railroad most conservative estimates say that she helped free roughly 75 people over the course of 10 years but in the Cumby raid more than 700 in a single trip after they got the Port Royal nearly all the freedmen a fighting age immediately enlisted and by the end of the war 10% of the US Army was African American
00:21:08the success of the Cumby raid was front-page news in 1863 North and South heading upriver daringly making a strike Behind Enemy Lines a month later Robert E Lee tried the exact same tactic of Gettysburg a daring Dash Behind Enemy Lines and we all know how that worked out major movies have been made about Lee's greatest disaster but there's never been a movie about the success of the Combee rate in fact I only heard of it because it was the name of the feminist collective in the 1960s took their name from Harriet Tubman's leadership in the rain it's not in any standard history textbooks the only official recognition is a tiny Bridge down where the highway crosses the company is named after Harriet Tubman but it took two years of political wrangling to get a small sign place at the river
00:21:55to change if you did make a big Gettysburg like moving out of this I mean why haven't they made a movie out of this well probably cuz it wouldn't have liked that typical Civil War ending you know the kind where everybody just dies and Glory at the end you know especially the black Heroes so how would it in then well you know you have to talk about Harriet Tubman so she buys a piece of land up in Auburn and then basically spend all kinds of time and energy trying to fight for her pension but you have to talk about crazy ass Montgomery you know he basically moved back to Kansas and just continues being a terrorist for good or something and then you have to talk about Josh yet I mean what's his legacy well number one he lives you know he has a family becomes like this local leader so what would be the last scene in your movie
00:22:45for me the last seen wearing Beaufort right and you just see this log and ask comes down the law and but this time Pasha it isn't making a raft to escape slavery Explain the law to build his church you know and so then you see him take the pine logs and then maybe you have one of those sequences where we see them build the church and then the camera falls back Riders the church it's like a beautiful Southern day Blue Sky clouds in the harbor Spanish moss on the trees and you see the crowd beginning to file in for the church service and then you realize from the clothes they're wearing this is 2017 wow it's not sheds church and this is his family and then you hear the final voice over
00:23:35basically built a community where we live in now like he in 1892 he donated the four acres that we have now for acres to build the church it was his son hit him and his sons who like split the pine logs to build second-guessing me to church today you Baptist Church in the stands today and people still worship and go my mom so close
00:24:29uncivil is produced by Chris Neary Chiquita Pascal and Syed T John Thomas we had more help from Stevie Lane and Alvin Malave are senior producer is Kimmy regular editing by Pat Walters Jorge just Caitlin Kenny and Alex blumberg our show is mix by Bobby Lord the music for uncivil was composed by Bobby Lord and Matthew Bowl in collaboration with and Caldwell in the Magnolia singers as well as Mount Zion AME church on Glebe Street in Charleston South Carolina we like to thank everyone in the Lowcountry for a fantastic week of recording additional music features JC Brooks son Little Rocker Walker hailee Shaw and Syed tejan-thomas fact-checking by Michelle Harris our secret weapon is Christopher Peak special thanks to Captain Meg of Botany Bay Eco tours in South Carolina the pain center staff Eric Bailey Joan and John is a production of gimlet media our website is uncivil. Show where on Twitter and Facebook and uncivil show I'm Jack hit I'm changing right
00:25:29when you go on next week's episode of uncivil a 19th century promise and a 21st century betrayal I feel like someone has put a dagger through my heart my siblings and I have been robbed will see you next week
00:25:56alright so there was uncivil I really hope you enjoyed it I hope you had an interesting and informative and I hope that you want to subscribe if you do it's super easy go to uncivil and apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and go ahead and click subscribe and if you are listening to my voice right now you have gotten to the end of this unexpected surprise in your feed and if that was a good thing for you then by all means stay subscribe to the speed we will be coming down periodically when we have a new show that we think will be up your alley I hope you like them civil and thanks so much for listening

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