The story of DAVID O. DODD,. the boy spy is told at
In addition, the following is quoted from the book "Arkansas in War and Reconstruction" by David Y. Thomas, Phd in 1926. Pages 251-253.
"And on January 8, 1864, he was hanged by order of General Steele.
Leander Stillwell, a private in Steele's army. has left an account of the execution which is well worth quoting:
"The most painful sight that I saw during the war was here at Little Rock this winter. It was the execution, by hanging, on January 1, 1864 of a Confederate Spy, by the name of David O. Dodd. He was a mere boy, seemingly not more than nineteen or twenty years old. There was no question as to his guilt. When arrested there was found on his person a memorandum book containing information, written in telegraphic characters, in regard to all troops, batteries, and other military matters at Little Rock. He was tried by a court-martial, and sentenced to the mode of death always inflicted on a spy, namely, by hanging. I suppose that the military authorities desired to render his death as impressive as possible , in order to deter others from engaging in a business so frought with danger to our armies; therefore, on the day fixed for carrying out the sentence of the court, all our troops in Little Rock turned out under arms and marched to the place of execution. It was in a large field near the town; a gallows had been erected in the center of this open space and the troops formed around it in the form of an extensive hollow square, and stood at parade rest. The spy rode through the lines to the gallows in an open ambulance, sitting on his coffin. I happened to be not far from the point where he passed through, and saw him plainly. For one so young, he displayed remarkable coolness and courage when in the immediate presence of death. The manner of his execution was wretchedly bungled in some way, and the whole thing was to me indescribeably repulsive. In the crisis of the affair there was a sudden clang of military arms and accounterments in the line not far from me, and looking in that direction I saw that a soldier in the front rank had fainted and fallen headlong to the ground. I didn't faint, but the spectacle , for the time being , well nigh made me sick. It is true that from time immemorial the punishment of a convicted spy has been death by hanging. The safety of whole armies even the fate of a nation, may perhaps depend on the prompt and summary extinction of the life of a spy. As long as he is alive he may escape, or, even if closely guarded, may suceed in imparting his dangerous intelligence to others who will transmit it in his stead; hence no mercy can be shown. But in spite of all that. that event impressed me as somehow being unspeakably cruel and cold-blooded. On one side were thousands of men with weapons in their hands, coolly looking on; on the other was one lone, unfortunate boy. My conscience has never troubled me for anything I may have done on the firing line, in time of battle. There were the other fellows in plain sight shooting, and doing all in their power to kill us. It was my duty to shoot at them, aim low and kill some of them, if possible, and I did the best I could, and have no remorse whatever. But whenever my memory recalls the choking to death of that boy (for that was what was done), I feel bad, and I don't like to write or think about it. But, for fear of being misunderstood, it will be repeated that the fate of a spy, when caught, is death. It ias military necessity. The other side hanged our spies, with relentless severity, and were justified in so doing by law and usages of war. Even the great and good Washington approved of the hanging of the British spy, Major Andre, and refused to commute the manner of his execution to being shot , although Andre made a personal appeal to him to grant him that favor, in order that he might die the death of a soldier. While the work of a spy is honorable, his fate is always death, if caught. No one denies the right of the British to execute Nathan Hale or of Steele to execute David O, Dodd. Yet, while the right was his , he might, in consideration of the extreme youth of the offender, have commuted the sentence and kept the boy in duress uintil the danger was past."
NOTE: We found nothing in the OFFICIAL RECORD concerning any of this execution. It must be remembered, however, that the OFFICIAL RECORD was edited by the US War Department.
The above information may be used for non-commercial historical and genealogical purposes only and with the consent of the page owner may be copied for the same purposes so long as this notice remains a part of the copied material. EDWARD G. GERDES
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see related story on the "Jenkins Ferry Merry Green Press"- Pg 12
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