Wellington Hobbs

Among the first Norway settlers was Jeremiah Hobbs. He came here and began clearing land in what is the North Norway area thinking he was in Rustfield. It turned out he was actually on the Cummings purchase; his great-grandson, Wellington Hobbs, is the focus of this tale.

Wellington was born Dec. 25, 1844. His parents were Jeremiah Wellington Hobbs and Fanny O. Greenleaf. The family lived in the village at the corner of Main Street and Greenleaf Avenue. With the beginning of the Civil War, Wellington joined the First Regiment Maine Volunteer Militia, Company G commanded by Captain George L. Beal, also of Norway. At the age of 17 he was mustered in at Portland for a three month enlistment on May 3, 1861. He was listed in the Adjutant General report as a musician.

We have to think of the word musician in very broad terms. There has been no mention that Hobbs had any musical training or natural ability in that area. Although there were actual brass bands attached to some companies, musicians in the Civil War were frequently drummers. To be a drummer seemed to require only a willingness to learn or try. Often the drummers were young boys, some as young as 12. Drummers were used to relay orders in battle, to keep a steady pace during marching, to provide entertainment, and to boost morale. Many learned on-the-job and became quite accomplished.

Wellington Hobbs was far more than a drummer. He was a dedicated soldier. In August 1862 he re- enlisted, this time with the 17th Maine Regiment where he was awarded the Kearney Medal for bravery under fire. He was assigned to Company G as a corporal and was later promoted to sergeant. When assigned to Company H he was promoted to 2nd lieutenant and then 1st lieutenant. A handwritten document indicates that during his time with the 17th Maine, the good people of Norway thought Hobbs deserved a visit home and agreed to contribute “towards defraying his expenses home and back to the army.” Contributions ranged from 25 cents to five dollars. The contributions may not seem like very much, however at that time, a dollar was a good day’s pay.

The 17th Maine was highly regarded and saw action at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness Campaign and, finally, the Siege at Petersburg. It was at Petersburg, two months and a day before his 20th birthday, 1st Lieutenant Wellington Hobbs was shot and killed while on picket duty. The date was Oct. 27, 1864. The next day the papers arrived for his promotion to captain. His body was returned to Norway for burial with military honors.

On April 9, 1865 at Appomattox, Virginia General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General U.S. Grant and the American Civil War officially came to an end. The final battle was at Petersburg, Virginia, 23 miles from the state capital at Richmond. Petersburg had been protected with fortifications because it was a major railroad center, providing supplies and communications essential to the Confederacy. General
Grant had the area surrounded by close to 100,000 Union troops while Lee’s force numbered around 50,000. Total loss of life in this battle is estimated at close to 80,000.

The Norway Museum and Historical Society is now open to the public on Tuesday from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Stop by and tour the exhibits or conduct research of a local nature.

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