Grenville Mellen Dodge

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Grenville Mellen Dodge was born on April 12, 1831, at Danvers, Massachusetts. He was educated at Durham Academy, New Hampshire; and Captain Partridge's school in Norwich, Vermont, where he received a diploma in 1851 as a military and civil engineer. For the next decade, Dodge engaged mainly in railroad engineering and surveying in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, making his home at Council Bluffs. He had organized a militia company, the Council Bluffs Guards, in 1856; on July 6, 1861, he was mustered into the U. S. Army as colonel of the 4th Iowa Infantry. He served in Missouri under John C. Fremont; commanded a brigade in the Army of the Southwest; and took part in the battle of Elkhorn (Pea Ridge), where he had three horses shot from under him and was severely wounded. Promoted to brigadier general to rank from March 21, 1862, and major general from June 7, 1864, Dodge was given steadily increasing responsibilities, first as commander of the District of the Mississippi and later as leader of the XVI Corps during the Atlanta campaign, where he was again wounded. In December, 1864, U. S. Grant put him in command of the Department of Missouri and in February, 1865, of the Department of Kansas as well. In these areas he operated against bands of guerrillas and hostile Indians with signal success until the end of the war. In January, 1866, Dodge was appointed chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad, which at the time had but forty miles of poorly laid track west of Omaha. Resigning his army commission in May, 1866, Dodge had located, laid, and equipped one thousand and eighty-six miles of rail by May, 1869. (By 1933, modernization had eliminated only thirty miles of curves from the track built by him sixty-four years before.) In 1873, Dodge joined the Jay Gould organization and in the next decade was associated with the construction of more than nine thousand miles of road. After the war with Spain he constructed a line in Cuba. Meantime, he found time to serve a term in Congress (1867-69); survey and map some sixty thousand miles of railroad; and act as one of the foremost railway lobbyists of his day. He was prominent in patriotic organizations in his later years. He died in Council Bluffs, January 3, 1916, and was buried there.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.