David Owen Dodd is perhaps one of the best-known Civil War figures in Arkansas history. The city of Little Rock remembered the boy, hanged as a Confederate spy in January 1864, by naming a school and a road in his honor. While many see him as a martyr, others argue his execution was justified according to military rules of war. Dodd's story has captivated audiences for years due to a combination of unanswered questions and unfortunate twists of fate. In November 1984, the Sons of Confederate Veterans awarded the Confederate Medal of Honor to Dodd, one of only twenty-two persons so honored by that organization.

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    David Owen Dodd was born in Victoria, Texas in 1846 and moved to Arkansas ten years later. In September 1863, after Little Rock fell to Union forces Dodd's father moved the family to Camden. In December, he sent his 17-year-old son, David to Little Rock on Business. Dodd completed the business and obtained a military pass to rejoin his family later that month.

    As he traveled through the Union Post, a sentry took his pass and David proceeded into Confederate territory.

    Rather than continuing straight home, David veered off to visit a family relative near Federal lines. When Dodd resumed his journey he took a short cut, re-entering Union-held territory and encountered a scouting patrol of soldiers. Unable to produce a military pass or identity, Dodd was escorted to a guardhouse and searched. Among the items found in his possession was a record book containing Morse coded messages. When translated they gave an accurate account of Union troops and artillery strength in Little Rock.

    Despite his young age a military court tried Dodd for espionage and condemned him to a spy's death. He was hanged on January 8, 1864 on the grounds of St. John's College adjacent to the old Little Rock Arsenal-the present day site of MacArthur Park. Despite offers of leniency from Union General Fredrick Steele. Dodd steadfastly refused to identify his accomplice. His words, " I can die, but I cannot betray the trust of a friend." His words implied the existence of an accomplice but no evidence definitively pointed to any of his friends or associates. Dodd was buried in Mount Holly Cemetery

    SOURCE: http://www.arkmilitaryheritage.com/exhibits/dodd2.htm

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