Title: The Tubman Command
Author: Elizabeth Cobbs
Genre: Historical Fiction
Harriet Tubman is well known as the African American woman who started the underground railroad and liberated hundreds of slaves in the south during the Civil War. What you may not know is that Tubman also was a spy for the Union Army. In 1863, the north was losing to the Confederate Army so Harriet Tubman created a plan to free hundreds of slaves in Beaufort, South Carolina and have them join the Union Army. To do this, Tubman had to go behind enemy lines and hide her identity, as many plantation owners knew of her accomplishments by that time. This raid became the largest plantation raid in the Civil War and played a vital role in the victory of the north.
I appreciated the accuracy of the dialogue and other aspects of The Tubman Command. Harriet Tubman, along with other African American characters, spoke the traditional dialect similar to what you will find in The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Elizabeth Cobbs also made sure to describe the setting in a way that told you what time period the events took place in. The clothes that the characters wore, the tools that they used to cook, and the methods to which they traveled all were accurate for the 1860s.
The story itself was very captivating and educational. Not many high schools teach about Harriet Tubman, so I think this would be a great book for a high school reading assignment. It is educational in the sense that it explains how the underground railroad worked, what laws were in place for slaves, and the Union Army initiatives.
I find this book especially interesting because I live in Charleston, SC and have visited plantations that Harriet Tubman traveled through. I have even been to the Combahee River which is the river in The Tubman Command that she traveled through to liberate the slaves from the bordering plantations. Imagine traveling down this river on a tiny boat in the dead of night with enemies and alligators all around you…terrifying.
My only fault with this book is that Elizabeth Cobbs added a romance element between Harriet Tubman and one of the other spies which wasn’t necessary. The author’s purpose was to show that even in trying times, everyone deserves love and happiness, but I think it really took away from the purpose of this book which was to show how smart and brave Tubman was. Harriet Tubman was a strong, fearless woman who wouldn’t have needed the comforts of a man to be happy. Freeing her people and fighting for a future where her daughter could live a life of her choosing was what she wanted.