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An Arkansas Youth Who Preferred Death to Dishonor.
The execution of David O. Dodd at Little Rock, Ark., Tanuary 8, 1864, should have been recorded in the Veteran long since. Dodd was a youth of seventeen years. M. C. Morris is the author of a sketch published several years ago, which is elaborate and shows a record quite similar to that of Sam Davis. On the 10th of September Gen. Price evacuated Little Rock, taking up winter quarters eighteen miles west of Camden. The Federals, under Gen. Fred Steele, occupied the city on the same day. The father of young Dodd had refugeed with his family to Texas. In November following he sent David back to Saline County, Ark., some fifteen miles southwest of Little Rock, to settle some business matters. Young Dodd procured a pass from Gen. J. F. Fagan, commanding the Confederate cavalry in that section, to pass the pickets on Saline River. Gen. Fagan's home was in Saline County, and he had known David from his infancy. He jocularly told the boy that, as he knew the country, he would expect him to find out all about the enemy and report on his return.
With an ambition to comply, Dodd went into Little Rock, pretending to be in search of business. He remained three weeks, informing himself fully as practicable, mixing much with the Federals, and, when ready to go, applied to Gen. Steele for a pass to go to the country. The pass was procured, and he left the city on the old military road, going southwest. He passed the infantry pickets and also the cavalry farther out, where he was permitted to go, but the pass was taken up, according to rule. Unhappily, he afterwards was met by a foraging party of Federals, who examined him and found secreted in the soles of his boots papers that proved to be of much importance. He was taken to Little Rock, and Gen. Steele had him placed under heavy guard. A court martial was ordered, and he was charged with being a spy and declared guilty.
Like Sam Davis, David Dodd was offered his life and freedom if he would give the source of his information, but he refused. On the day appointed for his execution there was anguish among the citizens, for they knew the lad and his family. It is stated that "ten thousand soldiers were in battle array around the scaffold.'' David was taken to the scaffold, in front of St. John's College, where he had attended school.
In a letter to his parents and sisters he wrote:
"Military Prison, Little Rock, January 8, 1864,
ten o'clock a.m.
"My Dear Parents and Sisters: I was arrested as a spy, tried, and sentenced to be hung to-day at three
o'clock. The time is fast approaching, but, thank God! I am prepared to die. I expect to meet you all in
heaven. I will soon be out of this world of sorrow and trouble. I would like to see you all before I die,
but let God's will be done, not ours. I pray God to give you strength to bear your troubles while in this
world. I hope God will receive you in heaven; there I will meet you. Mother, I know it will be hard for
you to give up your only son, but you must remember it is God's will. Good-bye. God will give you strength to bear your trouble. I pray that we meet in heaven. Good-bye. God bless you all! Your son and brother,
"David O. Dodd."
On the scaffold the boy preserved manly fortitude. Many of the soldiers refused to witness the scene, turning their backs to the scaffold. Gen. Steele in person made a plea for him to divulge the traitor in his camp, but he would not do it.
Soon after the execution Frank Henry began a subscription to erect a monument in his honor, but he died, and his father took it up. .-' ssisted by patriotic women of Little Rock, he procured a modest marble slab, on which is inscribed: "Sacred to the memory of David O. Dodd. Born in Lavaca County, Tex., November 10, 1846; died January 8, 1864."