Harriet Tubman—abolitionist, conductor on the Underground Railroad, and, soon, the new face of the $20 bill—did many amazing things, but this story is a strong contender for the amazing-est. In this episode of Drunk History, Crissle West, co-host of the beloved podcast The Read, remembers the time that Tubman, played with aplomb by Octavia Spencer, led “an army of bad bitches” to burn down plantations and liberate enslaved people during the Civil War.
Tubman planned and led the Union Army raid, along the Combahee River in South Carolina, spiriting away at least 727 escaping slaves who might otherwise have been unable to reach Union lines. The telling may be slurred, but impressive as the story is, it’s all more or less true. (Though I am unable to confirm whether Tubman actually uttered the words “Goddamn, I freed 750 slaves. This s–t was dope as hell.”)
For a fuller—and, somehow, no less entertaining—account of the Combahee raid, check out the New York Times’ Disunion blog.