On this day in Alabama history: Hobson sank his own ship, and became a hero

On this day in Alabama history: Hobson sank his own ship, and became a hero
Portrait of R.P. Hobson, Feb. 21, 1916. (Bain News Service, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

June 3, 1898

Richmond Pearson Hobson was a Greensboro native and Naval Academy graduate. During the Spanish-American War, then-Lt. Hobson and a crew of seven attempted a daring mission to block Cuba’s Santiago Harbor in support of the U.S. blockade. Their weapon was the collier USS Merrimac, which they intended to sink at the harbor’s entrance. The Merrimac quickly came under heavy Spanish fire, and its steering disabled before Hobson and his crew could blow the ship’s torpedoes. By the time they sank their own vessel, it had drifted beyond the narrow entrance of the harbor, leaving it open to the Spanish. Hobson and his crew were captured and held briefly as prisoners of war, but they became heroes for their efforts. After the war in 1906, Hobson – a staunch prohibitionist but also a supporter of women’s suffrage – was elected to Congress in Alabama’s Sixth District, where he served four terms. In 1933, nearly 35 years after the sinking of the Merrimac, Hobson was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Franklin Roosevelt. Hobson died in 1937. Four years later, in 1941, the Navy christened the destroyer USS Hobson in his honor.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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