Today in Texas History – January 8

From the Annals of the Civil War – In 1864, the Boy Martyr of the Confederacy was hanged in Little Rock, Arkansas.  David Owen Dodd, a native of Victoria then living in Arkansas, had carried some letters to business associates of his father in Union held Little Rock.  He obtained a pass to return to his family in Camden, but a guard destroyed it when he  entered Confederate held ground.  After spending the night with his uncle, he wandered back into Union territory.  Union soldiers determined that he did not have a pass and upon a search found that he was carrying a notebook with Morse code annotations describing the location and strength of Union troops. He was arrested and tried by a military tribunal.  Dodd represented by attorneys T.D.W. Yonley and William Fishback, who was pro-Union and later became Governor of Arkansas. The defense consisted mostly of a plea for amnesty, which was rejected by the tribunal. Dodd was found guilty of spying and sentenced to death.  His hanging before a crowd estimated at 5000 was reportedly botched likely resulting in a slow death.  At the time, Union sympathies were strong in Arkansas and a constitutional convention was in session to enable the state to rejoin the Union.  Dodd’s execution renewed tensions between Union and Confederate factions. Dodd quickly became a folk hero and a force behind renewed support for the Confederacy.

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