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Bill Thayer

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[image ALT: A photograph of a middle-aged man with an oval face, thinning wispy hair and a short drooping moustache; he wears a 19c U. S. Army uniform. He is Frank Loring Dodds, a West Point graduate whose career is detailed on this webpage.]

Frank Loring Dodds

The preceding image, and the text that follows, are reproduced from (the report of the) Sixty-First Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 11th, 1930.

 p133  Frank Loring Dodds
No. 2779. Class of 1876.
Died August 23, 1929, in New York City, aged 74 years.

Frank Loring Dodds was born in Butler County, Pennsylvania, December 8th, 1854. He was of pioneer stock on both sides, and was the oldest child of Ford S. and Mary Lusk Dodds.

In 1860 his father, a physician, moved west with his family and settled in southern Illinois. At the outbreak of the Civil War he went with the Union Army, serving under Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sherman at Missionary Ridge and on part of the march to the sea. One of Frank Dodds' earliest recollections was of visiting his father at the close of the war at Huntsville, Alabama, where Dr. Dodds was on duty with a large military hospital. His mother, a woman of courage, beauty and great charm, guided her children wisely during their father's long absence and left an indelible impress on the character of her eldest son.

Frank Dodds finished the later years of his schooling in Pennsylvania, and in 1875 was appointed to West Point, where his cousin, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.James Loring Lusk of '78, had just finished his plebe year. A strong taste for music, inherited from both parents, had already colored his youth. He was one of the gallant boy "band" that played its way down to New Orleans and back on a Mississippi River steamboat, and at West Point he played the cornet in a small and genial orchestra, and added his fine bass voice to the cadet choir in the old chapel.

In his first class year he became engaged to Miss Caroline McMurran, who had visited West Point at the home of her aunt, Mrs. Gardiner, wife of the professor of Law, Major A. B. Gardiner. They were married August 24, 1880, and went to Wyoming, where his regiment, the 9th Infantry, was stationed. Their oldest daughter, Alice, was born in 1881, their second daughter, Mary, in 1883 and their son, Frank Loring Jr., in 1887.

In 1882 Colonel Dodds went as military instructor to Rutgers College, where he made many warm friends and, among other worthy deeds, coached General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.William Weigel for his entrance examinations to West Point.

In the Geronimo campaign of 1886, he marched out of old Fort Wingate, New Mexico, with his company of the 9th, which was denied the glories of the chase and spent the greater part of its time in the field in the monotonous but necessary duty of guarding waterholes.

 p134  He was at San Diego Barracks, California, in 1887 when he received orders to report as instructor in French at West Point. Later he went to the Departments of Law and History, and eventually was made assistant professor of History under Professor Postlethwaite. It was at this time too that, after passing the required examinations, he was admitted to the Bar of New York.

In 1892 he rejoined his regiment at Madison Barracks, New York, and for four years was regimental quartermaster.

In 1896 he was detailed assistant judge advocate of the Department of Texas, where General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Zenas R. Bliss — "Teniente Bliss" — was in command. Headquarters went to Atlanta in 1898, and from there early in 1899 he was ordered to the Philippines, and joined the 9th Infantry again on the line in Northern Luzon. He commanded L Company at Guagua for some months, and then was detailed as judge advocate on the staff of General Arthur MacArthur, with whom he had served in Texas. His knowledge of Spanish as well as of law made his services invaluable in those days of intricate adjustments.

He was judge advocate on General Wheaton's staff when the Boxer troubles started in China, and after more than one request to be relieved he once more joined his regiment in Peking, where for a considerable part of the time he commanded a battalion.

This tour of duty on the edge of the Mongolian Desert, in the ancient and imperial city of the Manchus, was an experience which he valued all his life, not only for the insight it gave him into the history, traditions and customs of the Chinese, but for lasting friendships and broadening contacts with officers of the other foreign armies.

When his regiment returned to Manila he received the news of his appointment to the Judge Advocate Corps. His first station thereafter was Omaha. Thence he went to Cebu, and then to Iloilo. During this tour he helped defend Major Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Glenn when the activities of that officer during Insurrecto days were under political fire.

After his return to the States he was stationed at Vancouver Barracks, and then at St. Paul and while at the latter station he made an interesting contribution to military history by translating the story of the Siege of Baler. An account, in Spanish, of this obscure but immortal episode had appeared serially in one of the Manila papers. With some difficulty Colonel Dodds secured a complete file and made the translation, which was published by Hudson-Kimberly at Kansas City in 1909.​a

He had one more tour in the Philippines. Then he went to Governor's Island where, except for a year in Washington, he remained  p135 from 1913 till the Fall of 1918. He then went as head of the Law Department at West Point, and from there he was retired.

He went first with his family to Maryland, then to Santa Barbara, California, where his wife died in 1922. After the death of his beloved daughter "Polly" in 1926 he travelled most of the time. His last voyage was around South America where, at Punta Arenas, he became ill with influenza, which left him with heart trouble so severe that he lived only a few months afterward.

Colonel Dodds was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, the Loyal Legion, the Order of the Carabao and the Order of the Dragon and was of course eligible to the Society of Indian Wars. Not least in his affections, he belonged to the Squirrels, that Lost Battalion marooned on Governor's Island during the World War.

The happiest event of his latest years was the graduation from West Point, in 1927, of his grandson, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.G. V. H. Moseley, Jr.,º and the latter's marriage the following year was also a source of pleasure to him. His younger grandson and namesake, Francis Loring Moseley,º was very near his heart; and if he had lived another two months he would have saluted a great-grandson.

Colonel Dodds was a constant and studious reader, of a range so wide and tastes so intelligent that his well-stored mind was a delight to everyone that knew him. He had a reading knowledge of French and German, and knew Spanish well. He traveled with a keen zest for the history, the color and the national feeling of every country, and without a shadow of effort he drew to himself friends from every station and walk of life. He was generous in his judgments and tolerant of everything except fanatical uplifters and their meddlesome experiments in legislation. He knew not only the law, but justice, and his integrity was above praise.

His love and reverence for West Point were too deep for heroics, but they went with him from the day he joined the corps of cadets till taps sounded across his grave on the sunny August day last year when the cadet escort followed him to his last resting place. He lies beside his wife and younger daughter in the cemetery at West Point, held forever in the arms of the great hills, and with the flow of the beloved river far below for an endless requiem.

A. A. Mosely.º

Thayer's Note:

a Maj. Dodds' translation was published with the title Under the Red and Gold; being Notes and Recollections of the Siege of Baler. It is online at Archive.Org.

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Page updated: 1 Mar 16