Once thought to be lost forever, the wreckage of “The Planter,” a Confederate ship used in a daring slave escape, has been found.

The discovery was announced by officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

Sonar was used to locate the ship near Charleston Harbor in about 15 feet of sand and water.

Former slave Robert Smalls commandeered his way to freedom on “The Planter.” On May 12th, 1862, Smalls helped several other slaves and some family members get on the ship at about four in the morning.

“They steamed out into the harbor as if they were going to work as they normally did, Smalls had the Captain’s struck head on, kept his back to the centenaries at Fort Sumter and the other fortifications,” explains NOAA maritime historian Bruce Terrell. “Smalls then guided The Planter passed Fort Sumter and out to the Union blockade just outside Charleston Harbor.”

Thanks to Smalls, the ship was taken over by the Union, and after the Civil War Smalls would go on to serve in the South Carolina statehouse.

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