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FIRST BIOGRAPHY REVEALS FACTS,
CLEARS UP MYTHS
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (January 2002) -- David Owen Dodd has long been known as the "Boy Martyr of the Confederacy" by those who study Arkansas history. Dodd was 17 when a Union army court convicted him of spying and hanged him in what is now Macarthur Park in Little Rock on January 8, 1864. Now, a book has been published that is the first definitive biography of Dodd.
Since then, Dodd has become a legend and his story has grown. Each year, historians gather at his grave site in Little Rock's historic Mt. Holly Cemetery to remember his legacy as solemn reenactors in a variety of Confederate gray uniforms march to honor this youngster who was not in the Army but who died for the Cause.
There are those who call Dodd the foremost folk hero in Arkansas history, but no definitive history of his life had ever been written until now.
Camden native Jim Lair spent more than three years in research to write "Boy Hero of the Confederacy," which is subtitled "The Life, Legend and Execution of David Owen Dodd." He interviewed several descendants of the Dodd family, including Anthony Rushing of Benton, who has published a treatise on Dodd's final days and his trial and execution.
Lair's 184-page book is illustrated, indexed and heavily annotated. He quotes from original family letters and documents and carefully lays out the facts to rebut the myths that have grown up. Lair also found that several stories and articles about Dodd that appeared in newspapers and publications down through the years have included inaccurate statements that have not been corrected until now.
The book is about more than Dodd. Lair has taken the time to describe life in Little Rock under the Federal occupation of the time. He sensed that the mood of the community was reflected in the actions of Dodd and on his accusers and was important as background information leading up to Dodd's arrest and conviction.
Lair recalls, "It has been said that the most significant impact of the Civil War upon southern culture lay not in its reality but in its memory." With his new book, Lair seeks to reinforce memory with facts.
Published by Oak Hills Publishing of Springfield, Mo., "Boy Hero of the Confederacy" is currently being distributed to bookstores throughout the South. It is soft bound and retails for $17.95.
Lair is a former history instructor who has written three other books on Arkansas history. He is completing a series of five books on the War Between the States.