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Edwin La Fayette Hobson. [from the Richmond, Va., dispatch, November 17, 1901.]

A Glowing tribute from an old commander.


To the Editor of the Dispatch:
The Dispatch of the 10th of November announced the sudden death in your city of Colonel Edwin L. Hobson. Having been intimately associated with him during the war between the States, I [282] ask leave to speak of him through the columns of your most excellent paper.

The Fifth Alabama Regiment was organized in the spring of 1861, with Robert E. Rodes, late Captain of the Warrior Guards, of Tuscaloosa, as its Colonel, and Edwin L. Hobson one of its subordinate officers. Very soon it was sent to Centreville, near Manassas, where it was organized into a brigade with the Sixth, Twelfth and Twenty-sixth Alabama regiments, and the Twelfth Mississippi, under the command of Robert E. Rodes, who had just been made a brigadier-general.

The brigade, thus constituted, did effective service in the vicinity of Manassas, was conspicuous for gallantry at Williamsburg, and greatly distinguished at Seven Pines. Soon afterwards, about the time General Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Twelfth Mississippi was transferred from Rodes' brigade, and its place taken by the Third Alabama, a splended regiment that had formerly belonged to Mahone's brigade. During the Seven Days battle around Richmond, the brigade was organized as follows, the commanders ranking in the order named: Twenty-sixth Alabama, Colonel E. A. O'Neal; Sixth Alabama, Colonel John B. Gordon; Fifth Alabama, Colonel J. M. Hall; Twelfth Alabama, Colonel B. B. Gale; Third Alabama, Colonel C. A. Battle. General Rodes and Colonel O'Neal having been wounded at Seven Pines, the command of the brigade in the Seven Days battles devolved on Colonel Gordon, and then and there he laid the foundation of his world-wide fame. In his report of these battles Colonel Gordon while paying merited compliment to Rodes' entire brigade, especially made honorable mention of Major Hobson, of the Fifth Alabama.

At Boonesboro and Sharpsburg General Rodes was upon the field, and in his report of these engagements says: ‘While all the troops did well, I especially commend Colonel Gordon, Sixth Alabama, Major Hobson, Fifth Alabama, and Colonel Battle, Third Alabama, for highly meritorious conduct throughout the campaign.’ Very soon after the battle of Sharpsburg Gordon was promoted to brigadier-general, and assigned to a Georgia brigade.

A little later Major-General D. H. Hill, who had commanded the division, was made lieutenant-general, and sent West, and Brigadier-General Rodes was assigned to the command of Hill's division, while E. A. O'Neal, as senior colonel, commanded Rodes' brigade. With the brigade thus organized, the battle of Chancellorsville was fought, and it was here that Hobson was shot down while gallantly leading [283] his regiment. At Gettysburg Colonel Battle was promoted to brigadier-general, and Rodes' brigade became Battle's brigade, the only change in its constitution being the transfer of the Twenty-sixth Alabama to the West, and the substitution of the Sixty-first Alabama in its stead.

From this time forward Hobson was constantly under the eye of the writer. He was distinguished in the Wilderness campaign—especially so at the ‘Bloody Angle’ and second Cold Harbor.

Battle's brigade was a part of Early's forces in the Valley, and participated in all the engagements of that memorable campaign. General Early gave it the honor of having saved the day in the enemy's first attack at Winchester on the 19th of September, when General Rodes was killed, and was succeeded by Major-General Ramseur. General Grimes, who assumed command of the division after the gallant Ramseur fell at Cedar Creek, on the 19th of October, in his report of that engagement, says: * * * ‘The order of march was as follows: Battle, Cook, Cox, Grimes. On arriving within half a mile of the Valley pike, Battle's brigade was formed parallel with the same, and moved forward in line of battle. The other brigades continued moving by the flank for about 300 yards, when they were faced to the left and ordered forward, changing direction to the right. Battle soon struck the Eighth corps of the enemy, and, charging gallantly, drove them in great confusion, but was himself seriously wounded while nobly leading his brigade, the command of which then devolved on Lieutenant-Colonel Hobson, Fifth Alabama. Cook and Cox continued to advance, swinging to the right, driving the enemy in their front, with but little resistance, for upward of half a mile. Cook captured several cannon, caissons, ammunition, wagons, etc. This movement left a wide interval between Cook's right and Battle's left, which was subsequently filled by Pegram's division. In the mean time, Grimes' brigade was recalled from the left and moved by the right flank through the abandoned camp of the Eighth corps, which had been completely routed; faced to the front and advanced to the pike, connecting with Battle's right. This projection was perfected about sunrise, the enemy being then in position on a small creek to the left of the pike, with their artillery on a high ridge in their rear, and firing into our line of battle, but the smoke and fog obscured the troops so that their fire was inaccurate. Here Major-General Ramseur had skirmishers thrown to the front and to the right, driving the sharpshooters of the enemy from Middletown. The division remained here perhaps [284] half an hour, until a battery was brought into position on the right of the pike, when General Ramseur again ordered an advance, which was made in good order and with a gallantry never exceeded. In this advance Battle's brigade charged a battery in its front, capturing, in addition to six guns, many prisoners and a flag.’

General Battle never sufficiently recovered from his wounds to enable him to return to the field, and Colonel Hobson remained in command of the brigade until the end, and surrendered it at Appomattox.

I have known many men of character and renown, but I have never known one who more admirably combined the officer and the gentleman than did Edwin LaFayette Hobson. He was the flower of chivalry and the soul of honor.

Cullen A. Battle. Petersburg, Va., November 11, 1910.


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