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Dodge, Grenville M. (1831-1916)


Posted By: Transcriber
Date: 1/7/2003 at 13:34:12

Grenville M. Dodge
(April 12, 1831 - January 3, 1916)

GRENVILLE M. DODGE was born in Putnamville, Danvers County, Massachusetts, on the 12th of April, 1831. He received a liberal education, having graduated as a civil engineer from Norwich University in 1850. He then entered a military school from which he graduated the following year. Mr. Dodge went to Illinois, locating at Peru, where he engaged in land surveying. In 1851 he secured a position with the Illinois Central Railroad Company and was employed in surveying the line from Dixon to Bloomington. Soon after he was employed in surveying the line of the Mississippi & Missouri Railroad from Davenport to Council Bluffs. In 1854 he removed to Council Bluffs and engaged in overland freighting across the plains to Colorado. He also became a member of the banking firm of Baldwin & Dodge. During the years from 1854 to 1860 he was engaged in surveying a line for the Union Pacific Railroad.
At the beginning of the Rebellion he was appointed on the staff of Governor Kirkwood and, going to Washington, secured for Iowa 6,000 muskets to arm the regiments being organized. When the Fourth Iowa Infantry was organized Dodge was appointed colonel. His regiment was sent to Missouri and was actively engaged in the battles of Sugar Creek and Pea Ridge. He was severely wounded in the latter where he held the extreme right and lost one-third of his command. He was promoted to Brigadier-General and assigned by General Grant to the command of the Second Division of the Army of the Tennessee. In the campaigns which followed General Grant recognized General Dodge as one of his ablest officers. He said of the Iowa commander: "Besides being a most capable soldier General Dodge was an experienced railroad builder. At one time he constructed more than one hundred miles of railroad and built one hundred eighty-two bridges, many of them over wide chasms." He was with Sherman's army in the march to the sea and was promoted to Major-General for gallant services. In Novembeer, 1864, General Dodge was placed in command of the Department of Missouri by order of General Grant. In January, 1865, the Department of Kansas, Nebraska and Utah were added to his command, where he served to the end of the war. A history of his military services would fill a volume, and frequent mention of them will be found in the volume on the Civil War. In July, 1866, he was nominated for Representative in Congress for the Fifth District and elected. While a member of that body he was the recognized authority on all subjects relating to the army, and was prominent in promoting the act for putting the army on a peace footing. He was an active supporter of the legislation promoting internal improvements in the West, and was regarded as the sagacious leader who had accomplished difficult tasks in railway construction in that then wild country. He declined a reelection, preferring to give his entire time and energies to the construction of the Union Pacific Railway, including the building of the great bridge across the Missouri River between Council Bluffs and Omaha. As an able military commander General Dodge had received the warmest indorsements of the three great chiefs of the War Department-Secretary Stanton, Generals Grant and Sherman; so also after his services in the construction of the Union Pacific Railway he received testimonials of his remarkable efficiency and ability from the highest officials of the company. During his busy life since the war and the construction of the first great line of railway across the continent, General Dodge has served as president, chief engineer or director in the construction companies of the following railway enterprises: American Railway Improvement Company of Colorado, 1880; International Railway Imporvement Company of Colorado, 1880; Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company, 1880; Oriental Construction Company, 1882; Fort Worth and Denver Railway Company, 1889; St. Louis, Des Moines and Northern Railway Company, 1884; Des Moines Union Railway Company, 1884; Colorado and Texas Construction Company, 1887; Iron Steamboat Company, 1888; Denver, Texas and Fort Worth Railway Company, 1889; Des Moines and Northern Railway Company, 1890; Western Industrial Company, 1891; Wichita Valley Railway Company, 1891; Union Pacific, Denver and Gulf Railway Company, 1891.
Although for many years residing in New York to superintend his multitude of great business enterprises, General Dodge has retained his loyalty to his Iowa home and never ceased to keep intimate relations with his Iowa friends of pioneer years. He has been president of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee, and vice-president of the Grant Monument Association of New York. He recently had the remains of General Kinsman exhumed form the battlefield of Black River Bridge and buried at his old home at Council Bluffs where he caused to be erected a fine monument to the memory of his gallant comrade of war times.

A Narrative History of the People of Iowa
with Special Treatment of their Chief Enterprises in Education, Religion, Valor, Industry, Business, etc. by Edgar Rubey Harlan, Curator of the Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa
Volume IV, the American Historical Society, Inc., Chicago and New York, 1931

GEN. GRENVILLE MELLEN DODGE was one of the great Americans of his generation. His contribution to Iowa history and his influence upon the history of the state have been adequately treated in the historical volumes. In this sketch the purpose is to note some of his achievements, and experiences that lie outside the general history of the state, and belong rather to the field of biography.
General Dodge was in an important sense a man of the world, yet for over fifty years he maintained a home in Council Bluffs, and after 1894 he spent most of his time there. He never voted elsewhere. His affection for his home city is shown in some of the trusts established by his will - $50,000 for a railway men's club and library; a similar sum used by the city council for the relief of Civil War veterans and their dependents. To the Historical Department of Iowa he gave all the records of his military and engineering career
and the manuscript records of his life, and provided for their publication. From this has come one of the notable biographies of recent years, Trails,Rails and War, which is the authentic life of General Dodge.
Grenville M. Dodge was born at Danvers, Essex County, Massachusetts, April 12, 1831, and died at Council Bluffs January 3, 1916. He was a son of
Sylvanus and Julia Theresa (Phillips) Dodge, and a descendant of Richard Dodge, who came from his native England to the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts in 1689,in company with his brother William. General Dodge depended on his own
resources in advancing his education. At the age of fourteen years he became a student in an academy at Durham, New Hampshire, and in the following year entered Norwich University in Vermont, a semi-military institution in which he
completed the scientific course and was graduated as a member of the class of 1850, as a civil and military engineer. Soon afterward he came west, and his connection with railroad surveys and construction in Iowa have been noted.
In 1854 General Dodge established residence at Council Bluffs, then a mere frontier village but one of vitality and territorial importance. Out of the real estate firm of Baldwin & Dodge, came later the Council Bluffs Savings Bank, of which his only brother, Nathan P., served thirty-two years as president. General Dodge organized and at the inception of the Civil war he and his
little military organization tendered service to the state government. Then followed the brilliant military career which is here reviewed.
"General Dodge was successful in many brilliant engagements and especially distinguished himself in the greatest and most decisive battle of the Atlanta campaign, July 22, 1864, in first meeting and checking and finally in defeating, with the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Corps, General Hood's able and desperate movement to the rear of the Army of the Tennessee. While standing in a
trench before Atlanta he was severely wounded in the head, August 19, 1864, and was sent north to recover. Within his period of convalescence he visited General Grant at City Point, Virginia, and saw the splendid Armies of the Potomac and James. On the restoration of his health he was assigned, in November,1864 to command of the Department and Army of Missouri. The western country was overrun with guerillas and the army was in bad condition. General Dodge at once proceeded to restore order, introduce discipline and demand obedience, besides which he quelled the general Indian outbreak that threatened along the entire frontier, thus opening the overland mail routes to Denver, Salt Lake City and California, which had been closed by the Indians three months. At the same time he made a vigorous war on the guerillas. General Jefferson
Thompson's command, with 8,000 officers and men, surrendered to him in Arkansas. At the close of the war General Dodge's command was made to include all the Indian country west of the Missouri River and north of Indian Territory,
and for a year thereafter he was in command of the Indian campaigns that extended from the Arkansas to the Yellowstone River. Many Indian battles were
fought by his troops, and thus was brought about a temporary peace with all the plains tribes."
His resignation from the United States Army was accepted May 30, 1866. General Grant had desired to retain him in the regular army with the rank of major general, and had placed his name at the head of the list of those recommended for such preferment.
Returning to civil life, General Dodge was elected, on the Republican ticket, to represent his Iowa district in the United States Congress, his nomination having been made with no solicitation on his part. While in Congress he
continued his service as chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad, a position he had accepted upon his retirement from the army. To his enduring honor will in large measure be attributed the successful completion of this first of American's great transcontinental railroad. The Union Pacific's original line of 1,086 miles was completed in three years, with 550 miles completed in a single year. The driving of the golden spike that marked the completion of the road was driven at Promontory Point, Utah, May 10, 1869, and up to the present time this time-record in railroad construction has not since been equaled. In 1871 General Dodge was chief engineer in teh building of the Texas & Pacific Railroad from Shreveport to Dallas and from Marshall to Sherman, and he located and constructed the eastward line from San Diego, California.
During the period of 1880-85 he was engaged in the construction of the Texas & Pacific Railroad line from Fort Worth to El Paso; the new Orleans & Pacific Railroad from Shreveport to New Orleans; the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad; the International & Great Northern Railroad; the Mexican Central Railroad in Mexico; and the Fort Worth & Denver City Railroad. In the interval of
1886-90 he was engaged in the construction of the Denver, Texas & Fort Worth, the Denver, Texas & Gulf and other railroads, and in 1894 he was elected president of the Union Pacific, Denver & Gulf Railroad. The name of General Dodge will ever rank high among those of the great railroad builders of the nation and the world, and through his professional activities along this line he
added much to the development of the great western and southwestern areas of our national domain. From 1874 until 1900 General Dodge passed a portion of his time abroad, and was a valued advisor in connection with the building of the
great Russian trans-Siberan railway from St. Petersburg to the Pacific ocean, besides which he was consulted in other foreign enterprises and was solicited to assume charge of a system of internal improvements in China. General Dodge served as delegate at large from Iowa to the Republican
National Conventions held in Philadelphia, Chicago and Cincinnati. & In September, 1869 he declined appointment to the office of secretary of war in the cabinet of President Grant, and in January, 1876, refused candidacy for the office of United States senator from Iowa. Honors of highest order came to this great Iowa citizen. His equestrian statue is an outstanding part of the Soldiers'
Monument in the Iowa state capital, Des Moines, and in the national capital his statue appears in bold relief upon the pedestal of the fine statue of General William T. Sherman. He continued the close friend of his commanding officers in the Civil war, and in his memoirs General Grant paid to him high tribute, and concerning his relations with General Sherman the following tribute was paid by General O. O. Howard: "General G. M. Dodge was Sherman's special favorite, on account of his work with the bridge making and railway
construction on marches or in battles. Dodge's capabilities and personality alike drew Sherman to him. I never knew an officer who on all occasions could talk so freely and frankly to Sherman as Dodge. One good reason for this was that Dodge's courage was always calm and his equanimity contagious, no matter how great or trying the disturbing cause."
President Roosevelt stated that when the construction of the Panama Canal was instituted General Dodge would have been given entire control of the work had he been ten years younger, and in a speech, delivered at Indianapolis, Indiana, Colonel Roosevelt paid the following tribute: "Iowa did its share in the work of building railroads when the business was one that demanded men of the utmost daring and resourcefulness - men like that gallant soldier and real captain of industry, Grenville M. Dodge; men who ran risks and preformed feats for which it was difficult to make reward too high; men who staked everything on the chances of a business which today happily involves no such hazards."
General Dodge was associated with the founding of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United Stares, and was two years commander of its New York Commandery, besides which he received the ultimate distinction of being chosen commander-in-chief of the national organization of this great patriotic order. He was a revered and appreciative member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and upon the death of General Sherman he was elected the latter's successor in the presidency of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee. He served
as vice president of the Grant Monument Association, and was grand marshal, in 1897, at the dedication of the beautiful tomb of General Grant, on Riverside Drive, New York City. In that city he was likewise president of the Grant
Birthday Association.
In April, 1898, General Dodge was appointed major general of volunteers for service in the Spanish-American war, and in September of the same year he
became president of the commission appointed by President McKinley to investigate the actions of the war department in its relations to the conduct of the war. In New York City General Dodge had membership in the Union League, the Army and Navy Club and the National Geographic Society, besides having there served as president of the Iowa Society. He likewise was called to the presidency of the Norwich University Alumni Association.
Debbie Clough Gerischer
Iowa History Project
Scott County, Iowa


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