They called her “Moses” because she led enslaved people from the south to freedom.
We have all read or heard about her exploits as an Underground Railroad conductor and how in the decades preceding the Civil War, she helped up to 100,000 slaves to escape to freedom in the Northern States and Canada.
But I had never heard that she went beyond this role to serving as a soldier and spy for the Union Army.
During the Civil War, Tubman became the first woman to lead a military operation in the United States.
After the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, Tubman went to South Carolina at the request of Massachusettes governor John Andrew.
Hilton Head Island had fallen to the Union Army early in the war.
Tubman established herself as a laundress and a nurse, forming relationships and gathering clandestine information until she was given orders to assume leadership of a secret military operation in the area.
First, her priorities were to destroy the system of slavery, which would in turn, defeat the Confederacy.
She partnered with Colonel James Montgomery who commanded the South Carolina volunteers, a black regiment.
Together they planned a raid along the Combahee River. They were to free slaves, recruit freed men into the Union Army, and destroy some of the wealthiest plantations in the area.
Montgomery had about 300 men and Tubman had recruited eight scouts who helped her map out the region and get word to the slaves concerning when the raid would take place.
On the night of June 1, 1863, Tubman and Montgomery boarded a federal ship known as the John Adams.
Two other gunboats followed as they set out of St. Helena sound towards the Combahee river.
One of the gunboats ran aground, causing the men on that ship to transfer to the remaining two boats.
Because Tubman was illiterate, she couldn't write down the intelligence she and the scouts had gathered, but she committed it all to memory, guiding the ships to strategic points near the shore where fleeing slaves were to be waiting.  
If it were not for Tubman's intelligence, the boats would have been torpedoed before they could get upriver.
Around 2 a.m. the John Adams and the other gunboat split up to conduct two different raids. Tubman had 150 men with her on the John Adams.
Once they gave a signal to the waiting slaves, slaves started running from everywhere, carrying crying children, squealing pigs, and pots of rice.
The black troops waiting in rowboats transported them to the ships, but chaos ensued.
Tubman couldn't speak their language so she went on deck and began to sing a popular abolitionist song to calm the fleeing slaves down.
More than 700 slaves made it on to the gunboats, several plantations were destroyed and a pontoon bridge was destroyed by the gunboats. It was a humiliating defeat for the Confederacy.
The ships docked in Beaufort, South Carolina and a reporter from the Wisconsin State Journal wrote a glowing report of the raid, mentioning a “she-Moses” but not mentioning Harriet Tubman's name.
However, the editor of the Boston Globe picked up the story and was a friend of Tubman so he rewrote it naming Tubman as the heroine.
Despite the spectacular success of this mission, Harriet Tubman was never compensated for her work.
She had petitioned the government several times, asking that she be paid for her duties as a soldier, but she was denied because she was a woman.
Eventually she got a small pension as a widow of a black Union soldier but she never was rewarded in any way for her own courageous services to the country.