Letter Best: History lesson

July 13, 2014 

I read with interest Terry Maurer's June 29 column about military medals. What surprised me is that he mentioned a lesser-known hero of the Spanish-American War, Lt. Richmond Hobson. I am directly descended from his Hobson family. My mother used to talk about Hobson and told me that he had sunk the Merrimac. She said he was a Medal of Honor winner and that he died about 7 months before I was born.

The USS Merrimac was a Navy coal collier and was to be sunk in Santiago Harbor, Cuba, to bottle up the Spanish Fleet during the Spanish-American War.

Hobson and several men took the Merrimac into the harbor, but it was damaged by Spanish cannon fire. When Hobson touched off the torpedoes, only one or two fired. The others were defective. Hobson and his men were captured, spending about a month in prison.

When he returned home, he was quite popular until he was overshadowed by the Rough Riders and Teddy Roosevelt.

Hobson retired from the Navy in 1903 and served as a congressman from Alabama from 1907-15. He died in his New York home on March 17, 1937, of a heart attack. At that time he was president of the World Conference on Narcotic Education. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His family home in Greensboro, Ala. is a historic site.



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