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Big Bob, The Slave Martyr

by | Dec 2, 2014 | Beaufort, Confederate affiliation

As a little African American girl, I grew up hearing stories about Big Bob, the slave martyr who gave his life for the U.S. Army and Captain Charles Lyons on a Union vessel off Rodman’s Point near Washington, N.C., March 31, 1863. It was during the Siege of Washington that Capt. Lyons’ flatboat got stuck on a sandbar while under enemy fire. Big Bob pushed the boat off the sandbar, declaring, “Somebody’s got to die to git us out of this, it might as well be me.” He was shot five times and killed. With the flatboat off the sandbar, Capt. Lyons and his men made it safely back to shore. As a slave, Big Bob never received recognition for this heroic act, but his story encourages me to do great things and stand up for the right thing even though it might cost me. There were other heroic deeds Big Bob and other contraband slaves did while they were Union Army in Washington and other eastern North Carolina locations, and they deserve to have their stories told. They were vital to the Civil war efforts here in Beaufort County and beyond.

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