It all started 134 years ago when Edward Edwin Dodds (aka Dodd) was born. Most say he was born in Canada but he was born in North Cumberland County England where he spent his earliest years before the family moved to Kentucky USA. While records are unclear about the reasons why, it seems his family was chased out of the US around 1859 or 60 and the family ended up in the Hamilton County area of Ontario. Within a few years Edward would apparently run away from home and by age 19 he had enlisted for a three year stint in the Civil War with the 21st New York Cavalry at Rochester.
Dodds started his service in C Company as a Private in Aug. 1863. Within 9 months he would be promoted to Sergeant. He'd really prove his worth to the 21st just 2 months later at a place called Ashby's Gap.
This gap was one of three that allowed passage through the Blue Mountain ranges of Western Virgina. The area had repeatedly changed hands between the Confederates and the Union and no less than 320 battles and slrirmishes would take place in this area. Some 30,000 soldiers would get wounded, die or go missing over this piece of America.
But on 19 June 1964 the area was held and heavily protected by the Confederates and their General JEB Stuart (who later in the war would be killed by a sharpshooter born in Toronto Ontario) The union troops were led by General George Hooker who was well liked by his troops. (It seems the officer did not distract some of the women who liked to follow the troops on the march for the purposes of "comfort", a profession still with us today and known by the same surname)
One of the Union's youngest generals of the war also fought in this area. His name was George Armstrong Custer. And about a year earlier another famous fellow passed through this very gap. His name was General Lee and he was heading for a place called Gettysburg.
But back in June of 1864 Sgt Edwin Dodds and his Company Commander, Captain Lewis Truesdell had just crossed the Shenandoah River and made it through the pass when they were approaching the woods and got caught in very heavy enemy gunfire. Dodds' horse was wounded. The Captain was also wounded and his horse was shot out from under him. It landed on the Captain who could not get away. Dodds then dismounted and rescued the officer, put him on the Dodd's horse, re mounted and the two galloped off to what was supposed to be friendly territory close by. It wasn't and so they had to again swim across the river and eventually catch up with Union troops.
Much later a newspaper report from an eye witness would write that..." Very many cases of conspiculous bravery occured during the war, but I question if many instances are on record of more persistent heroism than that displayed by Mr. Dodds. And as he enlisted in Rochester, that city should be proud of having furnished such a soldier."
While at Port Hope he was also the issuer of several types of licensing uncluding marriages and for your pet dog.
He would marry a woman from the East Zorra area. (You have read of BF Youngs in other blogs. He was from West Zorra..just a few miles away)
In the early 1890's Edwin applied for a Medal of Honor. One of the very officers supporting his claim that he was entitled to one was his old Captain... the very man who's life he saved. It took 4 years but one arrived in the mail for him in 1896.
He would die just a few years later, and many years after that the Ontario Government , the Durham Historical Society and members of the Southern Ontario Civil War Round Table of Burlington joined efforts and saw to it that a plaque in hounor of this brave hero was erected at his grave site in Port Hope. Unfortnately it states that he is the only MOH recipient buried in Canada. This is wrong but obviously not known back then.
Sergeant Edward Edwin Dodds died on 12 Jan 1901, 112 years ago today.