Clara Hobbs

Clara / Clarissa (Gear) Hobbs (1829 – 1923)

Omaha, Douglas County, Nebraska

Mrs. Hobbs was in the Civil War as a nurse. She was buried with military honors. Her obituary says she was buried with military honors, and as far as her family knew, she was the only woman “who was regularly enlisted in the U. S. army as a soldier.”
It went on to say “her husband, answered Lincoln’s call for troops. Upon his enlistment, Mrs. Hobbs announced that she was going with him. There was no way at that time by which a woman could be employed officially as a nurse in the army, so the colonel of the Twelfth Iowa regiment declared that she could go along only if she became a member of the regiment. She enlisted as a soldier and her name went down on the roster of the regiment.”

Emily Clarissa Gear was born December 18, 1829 near Galena, Illinois. This seems to have been her maiden name. It was Clara Gear Hobbs in her obituary, Clarissa Gear Hobbs on the tombstone, .Emily C. Hobbs in the cemetery records. The obituary said that
her grandfather had founded Galena, Illinois in 1824, and she often told of “hearing her grandmother tell of sewing buttons on the coats of Washington’s soldiers and of helping melt the family pewter into bullets with which to fight the British.”

The Regimental Roster record shows that James C.H. Hobbs listed in the 12th Iowa, age 36, residence Joliet, Ill, born Indiana, enlisted Sept. 22, 1861, mustered Oct. 17, 1861, promoted Hospital Steward, discharged April 2, 1862 at St. Louis, Missouri. Mrs.
Hobbs’ name is not in the Regimental roster, but the impression is that women’s names were generally later deleted from soldiers records.

“During the war the Hobbs’ small children were left with an aunt in Joliet. Through months of privation and the horrors of the battle front, Mrs. Hobbs served heroically beside her husband. At Smithland [Kentucky] there came a transport bearing
the wounded from Fort Donelson. Among the number was a young lieutenant shot through the throat. As his would was being dressed Mrs. Hobbs held the young officer’s head. During the painful operation he fainted. Years later this man was sent to congress
from the Third district of Iowa, becoming speaker of the house. It was his boast that he had never fainted but once-and then  it was in the arms of a woman. He was D. B. Henderson.” Fort Henry was captured February 6. The battle of Fort Donelson
ended February 16, 1862.

They had 4 children: Harriet, Mrs. G. M. Barnes of Delaware, Ohio, formerly 1318 S 28 St, Omaha, Nebraska; Annie; Mrs. J. F. Woodcock at Garden City, Missouri; Richard G. Hobbs of Springfield, Illinois; and Mrs. Otise Sergeant of Lincoln, Nebraska..

“After the war Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs returned to Andrew [Iowa]. In 1866 Dr. Hobbs became a Methodist preacher, belonging  to the Illinois conference and for years afterward upon coming to Omaha was in the Nebraska conference. He died 1900 and was buried from the Hanscom Park Methodist church.” He was not a minister of Hanscom Park Methodist church. Mrs. Hobbs then lived almost 20 years with her daughter Mrs. Barnes in Omaha. She was a member of the Hanscom Park Methodist church and was made a permanent member of the Women’s Home Missionary Society.

Clara Hobbs died about January 21, 1923. She is buried in a family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Omaha, Nebraska.



– Obituary: Morning World-Herald, Omaha, Jan. 23,
1923. Provided by of Margaret Forsythe, first discovered years
ago by Dave Wells. Almost all information comes from this obituary.

– Regimental Roster and History, 12th Iowa. Roster information
from Becky Peterson, Denver, 12th Iowa contact person.