A fitting tribute

Published 9:23 pm Thursday, June 13, 2013

As with many successful projects, this one was the brainchild of a man with a passion whose passion would not be limited by thoughts of how things had always been done in the past. The new “Siege of Suffolk” publication, available now from the Suffolk News-Herald and the Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society, exists today because Suffolk amateur historian Kermit Hobbs wasn’t satisfied with simply taking a busload of visitors on a tour of the city’s significant Civil War sites.

Hobbs has had a longstanding love of Suffolk’s history, and his bus tours, offered in conjunction with the historical society, are a perennial favorite because of his broad knowledge and engaging delivery. But after conducting the tour in April, Hobbs felt compelled to do more, so he contacted the Suffolk News-Herald with a near-last-minute offer to put together a series of articles on the then-approaching 150th anniversary of the Siege of Suffolk.

Hobbs’ series quickly became one of the most popular features the newspaper has published in recent memory. But it was easy for readers to miss installments, as new parts in the series were designed to be published on the anniversary of each corresponding significant date. Not every date during the 23-day siege of the Union-occupied city by Confederate troops featured a historic event, so only the most careful of readers caught all of the installments recognizing the historic dates.


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Well before the conclusion of the series, it became clear that readers wanted a collection of Hobbs’ articles, so Hobbs agreed to expand on what he’d done for the newspaper, providing a bit more information and some new artistic elements, and collaborate with the News-Herald and the historical society to publish a “book” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the siege.

“Siege of Suffolk: The 150th Anniversary” was the result of that collaboration. The 40-page, full-color magazine features 18 historical essays by Hobbs, along with a treasure trove of maps, photos and sketches from various historical archives and collections. It’s available for $9.95, plus tax, at the Suffolk News-Herald’s office or at the Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum. Shipping is available from either location.

Kermit Hobbs is a true Suffolk treasure, and we hope the people of Suffolk (as well as Civil War buffs from all around) will treasure the results of his grand idea and the many hours of hard work that he and others devoted to the project. It’s a fitting tribute to the people involved in the historical event 150 years ago.