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That shortly after war broke out in 1861, Tubman joined a group of other abolitionists who headed south to assist refuge slaves who has escaped to safety behind Union lines. Working in a series of camps in Union-held portions of South Carolina, Tubman quickly learned the lay of the land and offered her services to the army as a spy, leading a group of scouts who mapped out much of the region. Tubman’s reconnaissance work laid the foundation for one of the more daring raids of the Civil War, when she personally accompanied Union soldiers in their nighttime raid at Combahee Ferry in June 1863. 

After guiding Union boats along the mine-filled waters and coming ashore, Tubman and her group successfully rescued more than 700 slaves working on nearby plantations, while dodging bullets and artillery shells from slave owners and Confederate soldiers rushing to the scene. 

The success of the raid, which had also included the brave service of African-American soldiers, increased Tubman’s fame, and she went on to work on similar missions with the famed Massachusetts 54th Infantry before spending the final years of the war tending to injured soldiers.

~ Excerpt from History Channel biography on Harriet Tubman