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James Shaw Dodge

Judge James Shaw Dodge was born in Morrow County, Ohio on aug.24, 1846, a son of Charles and Malissa (Shaw) Dodge. When he was than three years old the family moved to Elkhart county. In 1850 Melissa died and his father died in 1856.

James Shaw Dodge was now orphaned at 10 years old and he moved back to Ohio to live with the Shaw family and othe relatives and went to work on a farm and went to a common school.

In June 1863 he entered the Army at age 17 as a private in Co. M of the third Ohio cavalry, joining his regiment at Chattanooga on Sept.17 and received his baptism of fire the following day, in the battle of Chickamauga, The youth soldier that day suffered a sabre wound, which, however did not keep him away from his duties. He participated in the battles of Missionary Ridge, Rockyfaced Ridge, Snake Creek Gap, Big Shanty, Kennesaw Mountains, Peach tree Creek and other engagements marking the advance on Atlanta. At Atlanta he again was wounded. Private Dodge particicipated in a raid on Andersonville prison to liberate Union prisoners and in the pursuit and capture of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. a horse was shot from under him at Farmington, Tenn. He was honorably discharged in July, 1865 being mustered out an orderly sergeant at the age of 19.

In Sept.1865 he came to Elkhart and after attending High School one term he secured a teacher's license. In 1866, in his spare time from taching, he studied medicine with Dr. Haggerty and in 1869 he graduated from the department of medicine of the University of Michigan. He practiced in Elkhart, but desiring more information he attended lectures At Jefferson Medical School i;n Philadelphia and a a school in New York. He practised medicine for 15 years in Elkhart and Bristol and then decided to study law.and was admitted to the bar in 1884. He became a judge in 1904 - 1911 and was active in the Republican party.

He was a forceful , ready and eloquent public speaker on patriotic, political and civic questions. He had an imposing appearance and possessed a voice that would carry over a large audience.

This was written by my grandfather, James Shaw Dodge, 1846-1923. He was a physician, lawyer and Judge in Indiana He joined the Grand Army of the Republic at the age of 17 to fight in the Civil War.

This letter was written to the officers and comrades of Elmer Post #37

First Experience of a Soldier Comrades: The writer of this sketch first enlisted as a volunteer soldier in the war for the preservation of the Union, on June 22n,1863 as a recruit in Co. M 3rd Ohio Vol. Cavl, and joined the regiment on the 17th day of September in the same year, while near Rossville gap, in the Chickamagua valley, and was given the horse, arms and accouterments belonging to David Kyle, a member of the same company, who was then sick.

Wholly inexperienced in the use of arms, unused to horses and not acquainted with any member of the company, excepting four other recruits equally ignorant and inexperienced. On the 18th of September we were moved to Ried's bridge across Chickamagua creek, while Wilder's brigade of the same division was moved farther on the Union left to Alexander's bridge. After considerable firing on our left, the rebel advances attacked our brigade and attempted to carry Reid's bridge. The writer, wholly without previous experience or drill, remained with his command which held the bridge until some time after dark, taking part in charge and counter charge, not knowing half the time whether he was with his company or not, but managing to remain with the boys wearing the blue uniform. During our efforts to hold this bridge the writer took part in no less than four distinct cavalry charges with drawn saber.

After dark on the night of the 18th, our cavalry was moved to the extreme left of the Union line and after forming were engaged in vedette duty the entire night. The fight opened about 9 o'clock Saturday morning the 10th of September, on our right, we were in the saddle before eight o'clock that morning and by ten o'clock were busily fighting to prevent the rebel cavalry from swinging around the Union left. From thhe time the writer for the first time in his life, on the morning of the 18th day of September 1863, saddled a horse until after midnight on the 21st of the same month, he neigher slept or unsaddled his horse.

During these three days experience the writer saw Union men fall dead on every hand, saw them shot from their horses and knocked from their saddles with the saber, saw them killed by exploding shells and by saber thrust, and was all of the time himself so fightened that he could scarsely eat the scanty rations with which he was provided and yet did not know where to run or what to do, and these are undoubtly the reasons why he remained through the struggle. When on the morning of the 21st, we found ourselves across the Tennessee River from Chatanooga, and were for the first time in forty eight hours told to unsaddle our horses, the writer spread his blanket and lay down and cried, cried just like a great big frightened boy for more than an hour.

During a saber charge on the enemy's right on the afternoon of the 19th. The writer met with an adventure that well illustrates the true comradeship of soldiers in battle; in this charge the writer unfortunately became engaged in a hand to hand encounter with a rebel soldier and was about to be unhorsed or killed by his adversary when his predicament was discovered by a comrade of the same company, John B. Vealey, who came charging through rebels and unions alike to his assistance and by one stroke of his saber over the head of the rebel released the writer from further danger in that particular quarter, and then said t me "Come boy, you better stick to me", and stick I did full as closely as I had found the "grey backs" could stick to me.

The comrade spoken of, John B. Vealey, although a member of the same company, had not spoken to the writer until the above incident occurred. He had served seven years in the regular army prior to his enlistment in Co. M. 34d Ohio Vol. Cavl. In November 1861, and from the date of his last enlistment until after the battle of Chickamagua, he had persistently refused to either bunk or mess with any of his comrades, but expressed the utmost contempt for the volunteer, but after the battle of Chickamagua he and the writer were

inseparable companions until his death which occurred at Selma, Alabama April 2nd, 1865. While the writer became able during his two years and four months service to take part in a battle with less outward manifestations of fear, yet he never became wholly able to enter a skirmish or battle without a feeling that it were much better not to be here.

Respectfully Submitted, July 12,th 1898
James S. Dodge
James served in Union Army. Worked as a medic/Surgeon untill his fingers stiffened from the cold camping conditions. After the he became a Lawyer and Circuit judge of the 34th Judicial district, Elkart Co., Indiana

James Shaw Dodge who for over half a centaury had been one of the best known citizens of Elkhart, Indiana - and who served his country as a Union soldier, had taught rural school,practiced the professions of medicine and law, served as a circuit judge and department commander of G.A.R (grand army of the republic) and weilded wide influence as a publicist - died Jan. 19, 1923

The burial took place at Grace Lawn Cemetery, Elkhart, Indiana He had a half-sister Mrs. Alice Stoner who lived with her daughter in N.Mex.

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