JOHN C. COBB is a native of the old town of Westbrook, having been born in that
part of the town now composing the city of Deering, March 3, 1837. The old homestead was situated on what was then
known as Cobb's Lane, now called River Street, and stands to-day, with some trifling exterior changes made in late
years by Colonel Cobb, as originally built by his grandfather nearly one hundred and fifty years ago.
Mr. Cobb's father died when the boy was but four years old, and when he was ten years old circumstances made it
necessary for him to earn his own living. He educated himself in the public schools and at Westbrook Academy, and
at sixteen began to teach school, which profession he followed for several years. He read law with Chadbourne &
Miller, and was admitted to the Bar in 1860 at Belfast, Me., soon after locating in Rockland.
In 1861 the war broke out, and, in answer to President Lincoln's call for seventy-five thousand men, young Cobb
enlisted in April of that year in Company H, Fourth Maine Regiment of Volunteers, soon receiving a commission as
First Lieutenant. He served until August 1861, when he returned to Maine to accept a First Lieutenant's commission
in Company D, Fifteenth Regiment Maine Volunteers, for three years' service.
This regiment was assigned to service in the Department of the Gulf, and formed part of Butler's expedilion to
Ship Island and up the Mississippi River. Lieutenant Cobb took part in the capture of New Orleans, and was then
ordered to Fort Pickens, Florida. Here he was Post Adjutant, Acting Assistant Commissary of Subsistence, and Acting
Assistant Quartermaster United States Army. In the summer of 1863 he was on duty at Carrolton. La., as Acting Assistant
Adjutant-General. While on this service he, by order of General Banks, commanding the Department of the Gulf, organized,
equipped, and mustered into the United States service the Second Regiment of Engineers, and on the 15th day of
August of that year he was commissioned and mustered into service as Colonel of the Second Regiment of Engineers,
afterwards called the Ninety-sixth United States Colored Infantry.
In the fall of that year he constructed the fort at Brashear City, La., this being the first service of his regiment.
In November, 1863, he and his command were ordered to Matagorda Island on engineering duty, and by order of Major-General
Dana he was made Chief Engineer of the coast of Texas, as well as Commandant of the post on Matagorda Island, which
contained several thousand men. Afterwards General Dana made that post the head-quarters of the Thirteenth Army
Corps, and Colonel Cobb was appointed to the command of a provisional brigade in the Thirteenth Corps, which command
he held until the corps was ordered on the Red River Expedition. After the departure of the Thirteenth Corps, Colonel
Cobb continued to prosecute his work on fortifications at Matagorda Island, when in June, 1864, he received orders
to abandon the island and report with his command at New Orleans. It was with regret that he was compelled to leave
the fortifications on which the labor of many thousands of men for six months had been expended, and by himself
great thought and solicitude.
Colonel Cobb's next field of operation was at Port Hudson, where he reconstructed the works after their surrender,
which followed the fall of Vicksburg. He and his command were then ordered to Mobile Bay, where they assisted in
the capture of Fort Gaines. Next he was ordered to Mobile Point to conduct the approaches to Fort Morgan, and after
its surrender in November, 1864, he, with his command, engaged in the work of repairing the fort.
Before completing this work Colonel Cobb was detached and odered by General Canby to service on a military commission
at New Orleans, of which Maj. DeWitt Clinton was Judge Advocate. He served on this commission nearly five months,
during which time many very important cases, involving large sums of money and the personal liberty of citizens
as well, were decided in favor of the Government. Many of the ablest counsel in the Southwest appeared before this
commission in defense of these cases.
In the winter of 1864-5 Major.General Huriburt, commanding the Department of the Gulf, organized a brigade of five
regiments, and Colonel Cobb was placed in command thereof, with head-quarters at New Orleans. Here he remained
until the spring of 1865, when he accompanied General Canby and staff to Mobile, and soon assumed command of his
old regiment of engineers. Here he was engaged in the siege of the defenses and in the taking of Mobile, and was
placed in command by General Canby of the engineer brigade of the army and division of West Mississippi. After
the surrender of Mobile his command was employed in reconstructing the rebel earth-works around that city and constructing
the lines of defense up to June, 1865.
Feeling that he had earned a little respite, after continuous service of more than four years, Colonel Cobb obtained
sixty days' leave of absence to visit his family in Maine. At the expiration of his furlough, the rebellion having
collapsed and the purposes for which he engaged in the service having been accomplished, he tendered his resignation
to the War Department and received an honorable discharge. In his more than four years' service in defense of his
country, Colonel Cobb made a record that is an honor to his State and one which he and his descendants may well
feel proud of. Colonel Cobb. is prominently mentioned in the "Records of the War of the Rebellion," published
by the War Department, under act of Congress. His photograph is in the Album of Distinguished Officers in the War
Department, by special request of the Adjutant General of the Army.
Colonel Cobb, at the close of his brilliant military career, returned to the practice of the law, locating at Windham.
Here he lived until 1872, when he removed to Portland. where he has built up a fine business. In 1871 he formed
a law partnership with F. M. Ray, under the firm name of Cobb & Ray, which continued five years. Besides a
considerable law practice, he has carried on many outside business operations most successfully.
He has held various public offices since he left the service, and been one year a Representative in the State Legislature.
He is a member of Ivanhoe Lodge, K. of P., Beacon Lodge, I. 0. 0. F., and of Presumpscot Lodge, Eagle Chapter,
and Portland Commandery of F. and A. Masons. In politics Colonel Cobb is a Democrat; in religion, a liberal and
believes in the religion of humanity.
Mr. Cobb married Hannah M., daughter of Samuel M. Hawkes, of Windham, September 14, 1859. They have seven children,
of whom the oldest, Albert Clifford Cobb, is a lawyer in Minneapolis, and Fred. H. is in business with his father,
the firm being J C. & F. H. Cobb.