Great Uncle George
Carroll W. Dodge & Bertha S. Dodge (1986)
(Richard(1), Richard(2), Richard(3), Richard(4) Richard(5), Amasa(6))


Great uncle, George Franklin Dodge, was of the stuff of which folk heroes are made.  The reason for his failing to become a recognized folk hero having been that no one ever informed him that that was his destiny. Like many other still unsung folk hero, he was born in a small town - Pittsford, Vermont - the year being 1827. Nourished on tales told by aging grandparents and/or neighbors, whose lives had climaxed in the Revolution and/or the War of 1812, George must have regretted that he was born too late for achieving military glory.

By the time in 1850 he had attained the advanced age of twenty three, George was working as a driver of a stagecoach running between Albany, New York, and Rutland, Vermont, the most adventurous aspect of which was stopping in taverns while horses were being changed and passengers plus baggage being put off or taken on. At one such stop, he became involved with the driver of another stage, presumably about the rights and wrongs of the recently ended Mexican War. The argument ended in blows with George's opponent stretched on the floor and George, appalled, rushing off to Boston where he hastened to enlist in the army under the name Charles F. Dodge because he dreaded lest there might soon be a warrant out for the arrest of George F. Dodge, murderer. However, as George was not to learn for some time, the "murdered" man was by then back at stage driving while George became a member of Company D, 1st Infantry, being promptly shipped off to help keep the peace on the Texas border. In October, 1853, George was promoted to First Sergeant, which he remained during the last two years of his service.

One of the Border Patrol's chief duties then was to try to control the Apaches who had a custom of raiding civilians, white and/or Indian...Dodge and his squad were involved in such a duty when they found themselves in one of those rare but notorious blinding Texas snowstorms. Finding themselves approaching an. Apache village, George realized that they had no alternative but to throw themselves on the Indians' mercy. His winning personality appealed to the chief who ordered that these uninvited guests be cared for as should any such in their plight. For his part, Sergeant Dodge promised that he would arrange to have those Apaches sent food for themselves and forage for their livestock, the Indians already being on almost starvation rations thanks to recent Comanche raids. George was able to keep his word, having been equally persuasive with his commanding officer who duly dispatched the promised supplies.

Discharged from the army in 1855, George returned to Vermont where he purchased a small subsistence farm and settled down to domesticity with the woman he married, Jane Jones. For a while he lived an, unexciting life, amusing himself by training his horse to respond to whistled cavalry bugle calls such as he had been hearing on the Border. Soon George himself was hearing the summons of bugle calls as Fort Sumter was fired upon. Wanting to enlist, George felt restrained as a married man until he thought how much worse it might be if his brother Joel, with two young sons and a third child on the way, were drafted. So George offered to enlist in Joel's place if Joel agree to look after Jane and see she had things she needed like firewood and garden vegetables. Joel agreed and George was off again, this time with the 6th regiment of the Vermont Brigade. He fought in the battles of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness and Winchester, in which latter engagement he received his second and most serious wound - a shattered ulna which the surgeon wanted to remove but was prevented by George's protests. Discharged in 1864 and pensioned as a veteran without an arm, George still was able to get some use out of the wounded arm.

Again he returned to Brandon, this time, because of his wound, he did not try to farm but bought a small house on the "street" leading to Pittsford. There, in a small adjoining barn, he kept the Morgan horse he had purchased and which he had trained to respond to his master's signals by backing in between the buggy thills then waiting patiently while George, in spite of the damaged arm, managed to do the harnessing. Then George with his wife Hannah (Jane had died shortly after his return from the war) went for a ride while the Morgan horse saw to it that, as George had trained it, no other horse-drawn vehicle should be permitted to pass. A fascinating pair they must have been - Hannah sitting primly beside George who happily directed his steed by whistled bugle calls.

What special attraction there may have been between Hannah and George, we can now only guess but when George died in 1914 during a war in which he might have wished to take part and was interred with due ceremony by his surviving friends of the G.A.R., all his property was left to Hannah. He trusted her implicitly to see to it that when she died the property should be divided between his heirs. And Aunt Hannah, true to the code by which George had lived, kept her word.