Richmond Pearson Hobson was a United States Navy Rear Admiral who served from 1907–1915 as a U. S. A veteran of the Spanish–American War, he received the Medal of Honor years later for his part in that conflict and he was born at Magnolia Grove in Greensboro in Hale County in the western Black Belt of Alabama. He was the son of Sarah Pearson and James M Hobson and he was the nephew of Richmond Pearson and the grandson of Justice Richmond Mumford Pearson. He graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1889 and he was ostracized by his fellow midshipmen for his total abstinence from alcohol and tobacco. He maintained an academic record, graduating first in his class and became the highest ranking midshipman. After duty in Chicago, he underwent additional training and was appointed Assistant Naval Constructor in 1891, Hobson then served at various Navy Yards and facilities, including a tour of duty as instructor at the Naval Academy. In the early days of Spanish–American War, he was with Admiral William T. Sampson in New York, and arrived off Santiago on June 1,1898. In order to bottle up the Spanish squadron of Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete, Hobson took temporary command of the collier Merrimac, the attempt was made early June 3, under heavy Spanish fire, which disabled the steering gear of the collier. Hobson did sink the Merrimac, but was unable to place her in the shallowest part of the channel, with his crew of six, he was picked up by Admiral Cervera himself and treated quite chivalrously. Hobson became a hero of the American press while he was a prisoner of war in Cuba and his portrait appeared in hundreds of newspapers with embellished stories of his bravery in volunteering for what was perceived as a suicide mission. A fund was raised to aid his parents in avoiding foreclosure of their mortgage, when Hobson was released during a prisoner exchange on July 6,1898, hundreds of American troops snapped to attention, then burst into cheers as he passed. He was deluged with speaking invitations when he returned to the United States, after dining with President William McKinley, Hobson traveled west by train en route to San Francisco and the Philippines. Crowds greeted his train at stations, and his enthusiasm for kissing admiring young women made him a sex symbol of the Victorian age. He became a sort of celebrity during the rise of journalism at the turn of the century and was referred to as the most kissed man in America. Hobson authored a book about the surrounding the sinking of the Merrimac. Hobson was advanced ten numbers in grade after the war and was promoted to naval constructor with the rank of lieutenant to date from June 23,1898. Following the end of the war, he helped repair and refit captured Spanish cruisers at Cavite, in 1899 he became a Veteran Companion of the Pennsylvania Commandery of the Military Order of Foreign Wars. He was also a Companion of the New York Commandery of the Naval, as of January 1,1902 Hobson had been promoted to captain with date of rank of June 23,1898
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Painting of Rear Admiral Richmond P. Hobson (Retired), dated 1937. He is depicted wearing his Medal of Honor and standing before an artwork of the sinking of the USS Merrimac.
RADM Richmond P. Hobson receives Medal of Honor from President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House, 1933