Lesson 8: Stories of the Confederate South — “The Hanging of David O. Dodd.”

Lesson 8: Stories of the Confederate South — “The Hanging of David O. Dodd.”

This story is about one of the two boy martyrs of the Confederacy, David O. Dodd. (The other child-martyr is Sam Davis, who was hanged in Pulaski, TN, and whom you can read about here: http://www.tennessee-scv.org/samdavis.html) David O. Dodd was a seventeen-year-old boy who was hanged by the Yankees as a spy in Little Rock, AR. Like the story of Sam Davis, Dodd’s story is a tragic one. He and his father were sutlers, merchants selling goods to soldiers. David also knew Morse code as he worked in a telegraph office in Monroe, Louisiana for a while. Dodd recorded all kinds of things he saw in his journal in code, and this of course was what got him in trouble. Here is a photo of David O. Dodd:


The Epigraph:

“Stand fast, good Fate to his hanging!
Make the rope his destiny our cable . . .” – The Tempest I.1.16

Discuss how the quotation relates to the message of this story.

Further Research:

Here is a photo of David O. Dodd Elemntary School in Little Rock, AR.

dodd school
You can read in greater detail about Dodd at these websites:

http://www.civilwarbuff.org/dodd.html and at



http://users.aristotle.net/~russjohn/warriors/dodd.html (this site has several photographs)

Project Ideas:

1. Here is a site where your students can learn and practice Morse code. http://www.omniglot.com/writing/morsecode.htm

Have students construct a small David O. Dodd or Mary journal with notes, letters, drawings, photographs, clippings, etc. Also, here is a site with an online translator: http://morsecode.scphillips.com/jtranslator.html
2. After researching his life, draw an illustrated map of Dodd’s travels.
3. Have students reeanact the trial of David O. Dodd. A school in Arkansas, using students about Dodd’s age, did this. See http://www2.arkansasonline.com/events/2008/jan/12/4954/
See also http://www.civilwarbuff.org/trial04.html

Vocabulary and Allusions

1. miser – a greedy stingy person
2. fur muff – a small cylindrical fur or cloth cover, open at both ends, in which the hands are placed for warmth.
3. magical runes – Any of the characters in several alphabets used by ancient Germanic peoples from the 3rd to the 13th century. A similar character in another alphabet, sometimes believed to have magic powers.
4. gallows – constructed platform used to hang people from
5. muleskinner – one who drives mules or drives a wagon pulled by mules.
6. provost marshal – The head of a unit of military police.
7. martinet – a puppet on a string
8. cipher – a secret code
9. Tyburn Tree – A famous hanging tree in England. See this site for more information: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/place-london/A988833
10. insurrection – a rebellion, riot.
11. “Women at the foot of the cross” – See Matthew 24:54-56

dood window

Stained glass from the Little Rock Arsenal in the Museum of Natural Science and History.

Here are photos of Dodd’s tombstone and footstone: