David Owen Dodd

History of War - Spies




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The story of David Owen Dodd is one that many find sad, the reason is that he was simply a young man on a journey and took the wrong turn on his way home during the American Civil War. Unfortunately for David Owen Dodd this wrong turn was going to cost him dearly as he was summarily hanged for his misdeed.

Like many we are sure this opening paragraph has really caught your attention, how can a young man be hanged for simply making a wrong turn on a journey home? Well read on to find out more.

The Youth of David Owen Dodd

David Owen Dodd was born in Lavaca County, Texas on the 10th of November in the year 1846. Dodd was not born in to a poor family, but likewise they could not be counted as affluent with his father being a merchant.

At the age of ten years David Dodd followed his parents to Arkansas and when David was 15 the Dodd family moved again to settle in Little Rock, Arkansas where his parents first met.

In 1863 times changed for the Dodd family as the Union troops took control of Little Rock, this movement made the Dodd family move slightly south to be back behind Confederate lines in to Camden, Ouachita County.

It was also at this time that the Union soldiers started burning fields of tobacco crops, something that gave David Dodd’s father an idea. The idea was to go back into Little Rock and buy the tobacco crops left and store them so they can be sold at inflated prices when all the crops were burned. Unfortunately to do this Dodd’s father needed to send his son David Owen Dodd into the Union held Little Rock with the required letters to gain funding purchase the tobacco as he would not be seen as neutral being an adult man.

The Fateful Trip

Armed with his birth certificate, his father’s letters and a pass from Confederate General James F. Fagan to enter Union held territory, the young David Owen Dodd at 17 years of age made off on his journey.

In was the 24th December in the year 1863 when Dodd started his journey and he made his way to Little Rock with no issues, while there he became a hit with the young girls and found himself with many admirers. One of these girls was a Mary Dodge, someone who was very supportive of the Confederates, something that may have bearing on the consequences but no one can be sure.

On the 28th December the young Dodd left Little Rock and was allowed to leave Union lands, at this time his pass was taken and ripped up as there was no future need for it. After leaving Little Rock and Union held land Dodd went to Hot Springs where his uncle lived to staff for the evening before heading off to his family home.

The day after staying at his uncles Dodd set off on his way but took a wrong turn and after going through a wooded area found himself back in west Little Rock in Union controlled lands.

Union soldiers found Dodd and as he didn’t have a pass he showed them his notebook with his birth certificate, unfortunately the soldiers also found Morse code written in there giving Union soldiers positions. Because of this Dodd was arrested.

On the 30th December Dodd was taken to Little Rock where he faced the Union Brigadier General John Davidson where he was interrogated for a couple of days before he was put on trial. In the trial Dodd pleaded not guilty but was never asked to testify, for two days the trial continued until Dodd was found guilty and condemned to death by hanging.

It was the 8th January 1864 when Dodd was taken to be hanged. Here a noose was placed around his neck while he stood on the tailgate of a wagon with around five thousand standing to watch. Unfortunately when the prop was taken from underneath him the rope stretched out meaning that the young 17 years old Dodd was left dangling and strangled for a full five minutes before dying.

It is said that many in the crowd and also Union soldiers present were sick at the sight of the slow death. It is also said that Union soldiers grabbed his legs to add weight and kill him more quickly.





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