Smalls monument falls a month after dedication
A monument to Robert Smalls apparently fell just a month after it was dedicated, and some officials say it may have been vandalism.
The state historical marker stood on The Battery near the Historic Charleston Foundation, not far from the spot where Smalls — a slave in Confederate Charleston — commandeered the CSS Planter and sailed it to freedom with his family and a half-dozen other slaves on board.
Smalls’ story made national headlines during the Civil War ,and he become the first black man to command a U.S. vessel. During Reconstruction, he became an influential South Carolina congressman.
Over the weekend of May 12-13, the 150th anniversary of Smalls’ voyage, his descendants were on hand for the dedication of this monument and another in Waterfront Park.
The sign was discovered scratched and banged up over the weekend. It looks like the post it stood on had been shaken loose from the concrete.
“I know a car didn’t hit it up there,” said Michael Allen of the National Park Service. “Whatever happened to it was done on purpose. I don’t think it was an accident. If some people can’t respect history, there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Melissa Nelson at the Historic Charleston Foundation said that the sign is safe in their building and the city has pledged to repair this sign or replace it with a new one.
“It will be back up as soon as possible,” Nelson said.
Allen said that’s the bottom line — the sign will be back, and Smalls’ story will continue to be told.
“History doesn’t just go away,” Allen said.