Re-Enactors hold memorial for teenager hanged as spy

Posted on Sunday, January 8, 2006

Parents must teach their children about Confederate history because they won’t hear an accurate portrayal of it at public schools or through the media, said the keynote speaker at a Saturday memorial service for a 17-year-old boy hanged in 1864 by Union forces occupying Little Rock.

More than 100 people attended the graveside service at Mt. Holly Cemetery in Little Rock where Confederate re-enactors fired a gun salute and others laid red carnations and white alstroemeria at the grave of David O. Dodd, known as the Boy Martyr of the Confederacy.

Dodd, who was not a Confederate soldier, was convicted as a spy and hanged after Union troops caught him carrying a coded message that supposedly contained information about Union troop numbers and artillery in Little Rock.

Dodd was given the opportunity to save his life if he identified the source of the coded information, but he refused, according to accounts.

Steve Westerfield of Hot Springs and a member of the David O. Dodd Camp 1619 Sons of Confederate Veterans, said Dodd’s actions set him apart from others who died fighting for the Confederacy.

“David O. Dodd was more of a man as a boy than perhaps I am today,” Westerfield said under bright blue skies as a brisk wind whipped Confederate division flags.

Keynote speaker Ron Casteel of Jefferson City, Mo., is chief of staff for the Tennessee-based Sons of Confederate Veterans, a nonprofit organization composed of male descendants of Confederate soldiers.

Casteel formerly lived in Arkansas and was news director of KAAY-AM radio station in the early 1980 s.

Casteel said the Civil War is not over today, but instead of fighting on the battlefield, supporters are fighting to save Confederate heritage.

“We’re losing our young because they are taught in schools that are politically correct,” Casteel said.

News media give disproportionate coverage to efforts by American Indian groups or black groups to preserve or recognize their heritage, he said.

Not all reporters are anti-Southern, but the attitude comes from the management, he said.

Casteel said he is planning to produce a documentary about David O. Dodd.

Charissa Bratcher of Little Rock attended the service with her 2-year-old son.

“I like to support the people who come here,” said Bratcher, whose father participated as a commander in the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“It’s important to understand history.”

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