There's no way his plan should've worked. But it did.
On May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls donned a straw hat, hoisted a Confederate flag over a warship, and piloted himself to freedom.
At 22, Robert Smalls was working in servitude for the Confederacy. Desperate for deliverance, the young man planned an extraordinary and daring escape, and when an opportunity presented itself, he risked life and limb to free himself and 16 others.