The Preacher Big Bob

The Sacred History
The Gospel
Study Guide

Big Bob
Battle of Port Hudson
Millikens Bend
Fort Wagner
Gen. Wild Expedition
Battle of Honey Hill
Fort Pillow
Poison Springs
Petersburg Va.
The Crater
New Market Heights
Battle of Nashville
Battle of Saltville
Richmond Va.



Big Bob & his Boy's


"  The siege of Washington, N.C., had carried consternation among the planters of the surrounding country, and contrabands were flocking in by hundreds. when, just at day-break one morning, a band of seventeen came to the shore, and hailed the nearest gunboat.

 The blacks were soon taken on board, when it was ascertained that they had traveled fifty miles the previous night, guided by their leader, a negro whom they called "Big Bob."  This man was without a drop of Anglo Saxon blood in his veins, if color was a true index.  It was also soon known that he was a preacher, or had been, among his fellow-slaves.  These men all expressed a desire to be put to work, and, if allowed, to fight for " de ole flag."  " Big  Bob " sported a suit of rebel gray, which his fellow-slaves could not ; and the way in which he obtained it was rather amusing.  In the region from which they escaped, the blacks were being enrolled in the rebel army ; and Bob and his companions were taken, and put under guard, preparatory to their being removed to the nearest military post.  Bob, however, resolved that he would not fight for the rebel cause, and induced his comrades to join in the plan of seizing the guard, and bringing him away with them ; which they ' did, Bob claiming the rebel soldier's clothes, when that individual was dismissed, after a march of thirty miles from their home.  Bob made an amusing appearance, being above six feet in height, and dressed in a suit, the legs of the pants of which were five or six inches too short, and the arms of the coat proportionally short.

 A few days after the arrival of the contrabands, their services were needed in an important expedition in the interior.  These negroes, upon being told what was wanted of them, although knowing that the enterprise would be attended with the greatest danger, and would require the utmost skill, volunteered their services, and, upon being furnished with arms and implements, immediately started upon the expedition.  Being landed upon a point some little distance from Washington, they started with a determination to accomplish the object for which they had been sent. There objective was to destroy the production facilities at the Mill

Having finished their mission, which was the destroying of The Mill, breaking up fifty salt-kettles, a large tannery, and liberating twenty-three slaves, some of whom they armed with guns taken in their fight with the rebels, Bob commenced retracing his steps.  The return was not so easily accomplished, for the enemy were well distributed on the line between them and the gunboats.  After getting within four miles of the fleet, and near Point Rodman, a fight took place between the colored men and the rebels, which lasted nearly an hour.  The blacks numbered less than forty; while the whites were more than one hundred...Bob answered, “No, I never surrenders.”  And then he cried out; “Come on, boys! ef we’s captud, we’s got to hang; and dat’s a fack. They charge the Confederates firing their guns.

 And nobly did they fight, whipping their assailants, and reaching the gunboats with but the loss of three men killed and ten wounded.  Bob and his companions were greatly praised when once more on the fleet.

But Bob's days were numbered; for the next day a flat full of soldiers, with four blacks, including Bob, attempted to land at Rodman's Point, but were repulsed by a terrible fire  of rebel bullets, all  tumbling into the boat, and lying fiat to escape being shot.  Meanwhile the boat stuck fast on the sand-bar, while the balls were still whizzing over and around the flat.  Seeing that something must be done at once, or all would be lost, Big Bob exclaimed, "Somebody's got to die to get us out of this, and it may as well be me ! "  He then deliberately got out, and pushed the boat of, and fell into it, pierced by five bullets."

The Negro in the American Rebellion, William Wells Brown



Big Bob  Re-enactment   

Thanks to the Tennessee Brigade for supporting the Big Bob Re-enactment


The Gospel Army Black History Group

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Revised: 08/22/08.