Three Union gunboats set off from Beaufort, South Carolina up the Combahee River on the night of June 1st 1863. Colonel James Montgomery a former Kansas “Jayhawker” led several Union infantry regiments including the all black 2nd South Carolina Infantry. Harriet Tubman had received information from local slaves as to the location of mines placed by Confederates along the river. As Tubman guided the boats up the river, they picked up slaves hiding along the river waiting to be rescued; they would eventually take 750 of these “contrabands” onboard.
The three boats carried the Union troops, which went onto shore June 2nd 1863, with the mission to remove mines from the river, seize supplies, and destroy the South Carolina plantations of the Hayward, Lowndes, and Middleton families. They moved quickly, and by the time the Confederates learned of the raid the damage had been done.