Tubman carefully planned each escape and boasted of having never lost a "passenger." These trips remain shrouded in mystery because of Tubman's illiteracy and the secret nature of underground railroad activity.
By working as a cook, laundress, and scrubwoman in Philadelphia and Cape May, New Jersey, she financed the first of her famous expeditions into the South—a journey to Baltimore to rescue her sister and two children. She made at least nine trips during the 1850s to lead some 180 slaves to freedom—most were relatives and friends from plantations near Cambridge.
From 1862 to 1865 she served as a scout, as well as nurse and laundress, for Union forces in South Carolina. For the Second Carolina Volunteers, under the command of Colonel James Montgomery, Tubman spied on Confederate territory. When she returned with information about the locations of warehouses and ammunition, Montgomery’s troops were able to make carefully planned attacks.
She led hundreds to freedom in the North as the most famous "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, an elaborate secret network of safe houses organized for that purpose.
By her extraordinary courage, ingenuity, persistence, and iron discipline, which she enforced upon her charges, Tubman became the railroad’s most famous conductor and was known as the “Moses of her people.” It has been said that she never lost a fugitive she was leading to freedom.
One abolitionist whom she befriended was William Still, himself the son of escaped slaves and a leader in the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee. From Still, Tubman learned of the Underground Railroad and its secret networks of white and black abolitionists who aided escaped slaves as they made their way north.
Harriet Tubman was an American bondwoman who escaped from slavery in the South to become a leading abolitionist before the American Civil War. She was born in Maryland in 1820, and successfully escaped in 1849.
In 1844 she married John Tubman, a free black who lived on a nearby plantation. Her husband's free status, however, did not transfer to Harriet through marriage.
At age thirteen, Ross suffered permanent neurological damage after either her overseer or owner struck her in the head with a two-pound lead weight when she placed herself between her master and a fleeing slave. For the rest of her life, she experienced sudden blackouts.
Her name spread through slave quarters and abolitionist societies alike. Slaveholders in Maryland also took sharp notice and offered a $40,000 reward for her capture.